Today at about 3 PM the Master of Arts Program in Historical Archaeology at UMass Boston will achieve a significant milestone:
More MA Theses were defended than new students accepted this year.
While the difference was only 2, it is important that this achievement be celebrated. In addition to the 3 students that defended today:
And the 4 students who defended on Wednesday :
We had 5 other students who defended earlier in the school year:
This means 12 students defended during the 2017-18 school year. There are 10 graduate students in the 2017-18 matriculating Historical Archaeology class. There will always be some attenuation, thus having more students defend than enter will remain a very rare occurrence (as long as our program is thriving). Our goal is that all of our students will finish their MA’s with an outstanding thesis and they will do it in a timely manner.
The Anthropology faculty and Fiske Center staff are constantly assessing the success of our MA program, not just by career path after leaving UMass Boston, but also looking at the time to degree. The changes implemented over the last few years have probably made the MA even more rigorous. At the same time, expectations and time tables have been more formally and clearly defined in the last few years. That being said, most of the credit for this milestone goes to the hard-working students!
Just today there was an opinion piece in the New York Times by Ellen Ruppel Shell describing the financial consequences of not finishing an undergraduate degree. While there are no statistics for Archaeology MAs, I suppose the costs of failing to complete the requirements are similar, though probably not as extreme. The success of our program depends on producing well-trained students who control the local archaeological sequences they are studying, deeply understand the unique and challenging archaeological methods they are using, and contribute to the theoretical problems in archaeology. We will continue to work to put our students in a position to be successful. Congratulations to all involved!