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10 Archaeology Summer Programs for High School Students

If you’re thinking about taking up archaeology in college, or just wish to explore the subject,  high school is the perfect time to indulge your curiosity. You can spend a few weeks during your summer break building foundational knowledge in the field, learning the basics of excavation and interacting with experts – all of which will give you a solid insight into the world of archaeology. 


Not to mention, participating in summer programs offers real on-site experiences, which can make you better equipped for your college applications and interviews, and for your undergraduate studies too. Various institutes across the country offer summer programs that you can consider.  In this article, we’ve listed the top 10 archaeology summer programs for high school students.


Location: Center for American Archaeology, Kampsville, IL

Eligibility: Students aged 13-17 are eligible to apply. No prior experience is necessary. High school seniors may enroll, but graduated seniors should enroll in the Adult Field School.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Program Dates: Students can choose to attend 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks of the program. Weeks enrolled need not be consecutive.

  • Week 1: June 16-22, 2024

  • Week 2: June 23-29, 2024

  • Week 3: June 30-July 6, 2024

  • Week 4: July 7-13, 2024

Cost: $850 (1 week) | $1,675 (2 weeks) | $2,500 (3 weeks) | $3,300 (4 weeks). The cost includes housing, meals, supplies and instruction.

Financial Assistance: Scholarships for girls are available through the Women in Archaeology Scholarship program and for all applicants through the Kampsville Legacy Scholarship program. Residents of Calhoun, Pike, Greene, and Jersey receive a 10% discount on tuition.


The Center for American Archaeology (CAA) has been involved in archaeological research and outreach since 1953. The CAA runs its High School Field School program annually, with the upcoming 2024 session focused on a Late Woodland / Jersey Bluff Phase habitation site that was occupied approximately 800-1200 CE.


Students may choose to enroll for one to four weeks. The program only accepts 24 students per week. During the program, students will learn excavation techniques, such as shoveling, troweling, mapping, measuring, soil description, and flotation sampling. You will also conduct lab work, which will include artifact washing, identification, and flotation. Lectures by CAA archaeologists and experts from the field are part of the program too.


Location: University of Notre Dame, St. Joseph County, IN

Eligibility: Students who are at least 16 years old, have a high academic standing, and are current sophomores or juniors can apply.

Application Deadline: February 20, 2024

Program Dates: June 29, 2024 - July 13, 2024

Cost: $4,425 (tuition, housing, activities) + $300 (enrollment fee) + $60 (application fee)

Financial Assistance: Need-based partial to full scholarships are available, such as the Lilly Endowment Inc. Grant, Philadelphia Grant and KPMG LLP Grant. Fill out the Financial Aid Request Form by February 12, 2024.


The University of Notre Dame boasts an archaeological site on its campus, with artifacts from prehistoric Native American communities and Catholic missionaries. As part of the 2024 Summer Scholars Session, high school students will get a chance to learn from professionals and gain insight into archaeological theories and methods, how to conduct field and lab work, and what to expect from a career in the field.


Directed by Professor Mark Schurr, who has done extensive work on the Old College site where students will work, this program comprises two sessions across June and July where students will get to conduct intensive research and attend scheduled lectures and sessions.


Housing, extracurriculars, and class field trips are also included in this program. Admission into this program is selective and done based on your academic standing and extracurricular activities.


Location: University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA

Eligibility: Rising sophomores and seniors are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: Applications open in January. There is no information on the closing date at the moment.

Program Dates: July 28, 2024 - August 10, 2024

Cost: $3,635 (residential) | $2,167 (commuter)

Financial Assistance: Partial and full need-based scholarships are available. Go through the Pre-College Program Fees page for more information.


Part of the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Pre-College program, the Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology course offers a deep dive into skeletal remains, entomology, and the application and ethics of forensic science. The course includes daily sessions in the laboratory, working with plastic remains and learning how to identify trauma to the skeleton. You will engage in discussions about excavations and crime scenes with faculty and peers. A unique feature of this program is the mock investigation that you and your cohort will participate in at the end of the program, using the tools you’ve learned. You will earn 2 college credits as part of this course.


Location: You can choose from either Belize, Spain, Portugal or Greece when you apply. Indicate your first and second choice.

Eligibility: Students in grades 7-12 are eligible to apply.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Program Dates: 2 weeks in between May and August.

Cost: There is a cost to attend this program, but information on the exact amount is not available at the moment. Fees include housing, training, food, medical insurance, application, seminars, field trips, preservation, and artifact analysis. Fees do not include airfare, airport meals, and personal expenses.

Financial Assistance: Financial aid is available for deserving students with financial needs. Visit the Scholarships page for more information.


This program, offered by the prestigious non-profit organization American Foreign Academic Research (AFAR), offers pre-college students a chance to work on archaeological sites in different parts of the world. Students can expect to explore Mayan, Medieval Spain, Roman, or ancient Greek civilization sites located in Belize, Spain, Portugal and Greece, respectively.


AFAR, founded in 2006, aims to encourage students’ interest in archaeology with these programs and support the next generation of scholars. Students will work with professional archaeologists, gaining valuable insight into fieldwork and mapping, in addition to building their theoretical knowledge through lectures.


Location: Custis Square, Williamsburg, VA

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12 can apply.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Program Dates:  June 17-21, 2024 (Session 1, for 9-12 graders) | July 8-12, 2024 (Session 2, for 11-12 graders)

Cost: Free. Students will need to arrange for housing (if they are not from the city) and transportation to and from the location.


The Colonial Williamsburg Public Archaeology Institute (PAI) is a selective on-field program for 10 high school students who are keen to explore excavation techniques and learn from professional field archaeologists. The program includes 8 hours of classes during the week, covering the history of Custis Square and the Public Hospital in the area, along with other artifacts and remains.


During the rest of the program, students will work on the field carrying out excavation, mapping, recording, documenting, and guiding visitors. You will also get an opportunity to conduct a tour of the area on your own towards the end of the week.


Location: Fort St. Joseph, Niles, MI

Eligibility: Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply. There are camps for middle school students and the general public too, so make sure you sign up for the right one!

Application Deadline: Applications open in January 2024.

Program Dates: The camp is typically held over 5 days in July. The exact dates for 2024 will be announced in the spring.

Cost: $150 (approximate, exact amount will be announced in spring 2024).

Financial Assistance: Need-based scholarships are available.


Western Michigan University, in collaboration with the City of Niles, offers the Fort St. Joseph Archaeology Project Summer Camp which runs for a week in July. During the camp, students will work with seasoned archaeologists and learn about the history of Fort St. Joseph, an 18th-century mission and trading post. Students will also attend brief morning classes at the Niles District Library and spend the rest of the day conducting excavation, lab work, artifact identification, and analysis.


Location: Fairfield Foundation, Gloucester, VA

Eligibility: Students who are at least 16 years old can apply. 

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Program Dates: Internships are usually 1-2 weeks long, held between mid-May and mid-August. Internships are offered year-round as well.

Cost: $175 per week payable by the intern.

Financial Assistance: Need-based scholarships are available to cover costs. Interns have to arrange for housing, but host families are available for limited cases.


Fairfield Foundation is a non-profit organization that conducts archaeological research centered in Gloucester County in Virginia. The organization invites interns year-round (with summer being the most popular option) to research plantation landscapes. High school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for internships, which will give them the opportunity to conduct field and laboratory work while also assisting with outreach programs.


Preservation, research, artifacts, grant writing, 3D modeling, oral history, and museum studies are some concepts you will learn during your internship. You can expect an 8-hour work day, 5 days a week, and you must prepare yourself for physical and manual work. You can go through this brochure for more information.


Location: Montpelier Burial Ground of the Enslaved, Montpelier, VA

Eligibility: Students aged 12 and above can apply.

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, as 1-week sessions are held from April to October.

Program Dates: July 8-12, 2024 (high school expedition) | Other 1-week sessions are held from April to October.

Cost: There is a cost to attend this program, but information on the exact amount is not available at the moment. Check here for updates. You will get access to a welcome dinner, group photo, farewell reception and graduation ceremony.

Financial Assistance: Financial assistance is not available. However, if you need time to save up, you can pay the initial deposit to reserve your spot and pay the fees at a later point.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation hosts programs for those keen to explore archaeology at its Montpelier site. While most programs are open to everyone 12+, there is one summer program specifically suited for high schoolers. During this program, students will engage with professional archaeologists while they dig, map, excavate, and record. Students will mainly work with artifacts from the 18th and 19th centuries.


Additionally, you will gain access to lectures and tours where you can learn about the history of the site and various methods of archaeology. 

Note: You have to arrange your own accommodation.


Location: Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY

Eligibility: The teens program is open to students in grades 7-10, and the adults program is open to students aged 16 and above.

Application Deadline: Registration information will be available early 2024.

Program Dates: Both teens and adults programs will be held over 1 week in July.

Cost: $250. There is a discount for returning participants.

Financial Assistance: Full or partial scholarships are available for the teens program. Check out the Scholarships page for more information.


The Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) at Binghamton University conducts its Community Archaeology Program (CAP) to encourage those interested in the field. As part of this program, you will collaborate with and learn from university professors and professionals from the field. You will go on tours conduct fieldwork and lab work, engage in various activities, learn how to map and survey, and attend history lessons.

You will need to bring your lunch. The program provides transportation to and from the site.


Location: San Luis Valley, Alamosa County, CO

Eligibility: Middle school and high school students are eligible. Note, family members can also attend!

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Program Dates: July 7, 2024, July 14, 2024, and August 4, 2024 (tentative)

Cost: Free


The National Park Service (NPS) hosts Youth Archaeology Expeditions in San Luis Valley, Colorado. It partners with professionals and park rangers to offer valuable insights into the historical and archaeological highlights of the region. The team will take you through museums, cultural centers, and national parks in the area, guiding you as you learn. You will also engage in mapping, excavating, and documentation activities.


The NPS hosts several other youth and young adult programs across the country that you can take a look at.



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in archaeology, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: University of Notre Dame logo


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