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field school certification


The Register of Professional Archaeologists advocates for the professional growth of all archaeologists and believes that a strong professional career begins with a sound introduction to archaeological field methods since field schools are the primary introduction to the discipline. RPA-certification of archaeological field schools strengthens these important training and learning contexts by requiring certain standards for basic research methods, field experiences, and reporting.

Rolling Deadlines

    • Application submission deadlines are March 1, April 1, June 1, and July 1
    • Notification date is typically 30 days of submission


Certifying your field school with the Register of Professional Archaeologists means that your field school meets a set of professional standards in the following five areas:

    • Purpose. The field school must have a clear research design and curriculum design that integrates research with experiential learning.
    • Personnel. The Director or Principal Investigator of the field school must be a registered RPA.
    • Operational Procedure. The field school must include formal instruction on field techniques including excavation, survey, and laboratory work.
    • Field Procedure. The field school must include proper data recovery and recording techniques.
    • Sponsor. The sponsoring institution must provide appropriate resources for laboratory work, curation, and publication/distribution of the research.


Field schools are essential training grounds for the next generation of archaeologists and an important public face of archaeology. They should display our discipline’s highest standards of research and site stewardship. Both students and prospective employers can be confident that a RPA-certified field school meets established professional standards.

Benefits of certification include:

    • National recognition of your field school’s high standards of student training and site recording.
    • Advertisement of your field school on the organization’s and affiliated-organization’s web sites.


1.       The Director or Principal Investigator (PI) of the field program must be RPA-certified by the beginning of the field school program. The Director or PI should have primary responsibility for direct supervision of field school participants in the field and in the laboratory.

2.       The Register of Professional Archaeologists realizes that field school research programs include a wide variety of research objectives, field methods, and differing theoretical perspectives. For that reason, we do not list a set of procedures that all field schools must follow. We do, however, require a basic criterion of standards to be met for certification if they employ particular field methods.

3.       Field school duration has a direct influence on the education and training process; therefore, we rank field schools in three distinct categories through our evaluation:
Certification level
Basic criteria met
A minimum of 20 days of field and/or combined lab work
Prerequisite course(s) required



4.       All field schools are expected to produce a report summarizing their findings within one (1) calendar year of the end date of the field school. Reports must be produced for each year a field school is conducted. The report should be accessible to the research community.

5.       To be considered for RPA certification, field school directors must submit an Online Application,  and complete all required fields. There is a processing fee of $50 USD.

6.       Field schools will be certified for two years. Re-certification after the end of the second certification year will require the submission of a new application form.


    Before applying, please read our Guidelines and Standards for Field Schools to make sure your field school meets the required criteria for certification.

    To certify a field school, the Register must make a determination if the proposed program meets the published guidelines and standards. Please complete the online application and submit it. Once we receive it you will sent an invoice for the processing fee of $50. If approved, field schools will be certified for two years. Re-certification after the end of the second certification year will require completion of a new application form.


    Once the Certification Committee has reviewed your application, you will be notified of the results. If you application is approved, you are welcome to publicize you field school as being certified by the Register for Professional Archaeologists.



      Full List of Register-Certified Field Schools

      Certified Field School Scholarships Info


      If you have any questions about the Field School Certification program, please contact us at

      Updated March 2023

      Register of Professional Archaeologists
      411 East Northfield Drive, Box 9
      Brownsburg, IN  46112

      Phone: (317) 798-3001

      Grievance Hotline: (410) 246-2150

      You do not have to be an RPA/RA to file a Grievance


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