Rural Humanities FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

1.     What paths do graduates pursue after completing the MA in Archaeology?

CIAMS alumni follow a range of career paths. Approximately half of the students in our MA program (49 per cent) go on to pursue a PhD in Anthropology, Classics, or Near Eastern Studies. A number of our alumni (23 percent) choose to work in the heritage sector, from cultural and national resource management, to laboratories and libraries. For others still, CIAMS is a stepping stone to careers in education, information technology, or other fields (23 percent). Some of our students (6 percent) choose to pursue additional master’s degrees in such diverse fields as Conservation, Roman History, and Education.


2.     How does the MA program support students who wish to go on for a PhD?

We have a very high success rate of PhD placement. From 2007-2018, 85 percent of all students who applied to at least one PhD program were admitted. A full 100 percent of all students who applied to multiple PhD programs were admitted. Our students have gone on to pursue a PhD at such institutions as Brown University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, McGill University, University of Oregon, Southern Methodist University, SUNY Buffalo, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Yale University. CIAMS provides students with the training, guidance, and support necessary to be competitive for PhD admissions.


3.     How long does it take to complete the MA degree?

The average time to degree for the MA in Archaeology is four semesters, but many students finish in three semesters or even one calendar year. The duration of the degree depends in large measure on the time needed to develop and complete the MA thesis. Students spend the first two semesters fulfilling coursework requirements. The summer after the first year is dedicated to fieldwork or other thesis-related research. In the fall of Year 2, most students turn their full attention to writing the thesis, and typically go on in absentia status to conduct research away from Ithaca. Those who wish to take additional coursework in the second year to deepen their training in a given area are permitted to do so. Upon completion of the thesis, students take the MA exam. This is the final requirement of the degree, and is usually held in the fall or spring semester of the second year. In some cases, as when students are able to begin thesis research prior to entering the program, or otherwise make swift progress on the thesis during the first year, it is possible to complete the requirements of the degree in the summer after the first year.


4.     Is there funding available to support MA students?

We make every effort to help our students manage the costs of the MA in Archaeology by maintaining competitive tuition rates and offering various funding opportunities. Our MA students pay the graduate research tuition rate of the Cornell’s contract colleges, currently $10,400 per semester. To further defray these costs, each year two teaching assistantship packages are awarded on the basis of merit to incoming MA students at the point of admission. These packages are “half-TAships”, which cover half the cost of tuition and health benefits, and include a half-stipend. For those who do not receive half-TAships, in the first year of the program we provide fellowships of $2,500 in the fall semester, and an additional $2,500 in the spring semester, provided students remain in good academic standing. Occasionally, other opportunities arise for MA students to work as teaching assistants for other departments, and we make every effort to identify and secure such positions for our students. Likewise, students are sometimes able to work as assistants to faculty, supporting research in labs and on individual projects. CIAMS is also pleased to sponsor various grant programs, including the Hirsch Graduate Travel Scholarship and the CIAMS Research Grants. In addition, we welcome opportunities to diversify our student body, and make every effort to support diversity students by nominating them for competitive fellowships offered by the Graduate School. When possible, we also offer one CIAMS Diversity Fellowship per year, consisting of $5,000 in the fall semester and an additional $5,000 in the spring semester, provided students remain in good academic standing.


Our students are also encouraged to apply for external funding in support of graduate training. Nationally, although funding opportunities for MA students are limited, in the past our students have received fellowships from the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and various scholarships for postgraduate scholar-athletes. Finally, we understand that students may need to maintain part-time employment while in our program, and are supportive of such arrangements to the extent that they comply with Graduate School regulations. 

What are the goals of the RH Seminar?

The seminar is conceived to introduce students to the public humanities as both a disciplinary inquiry and a set of practices grounded in public and community engagement. It is intended to train cohorts of graduate students and advanced undergraduates in the various theories, methods, and practices of public humanities, to think collectively with and beyond disciplinary interests, and to bring these discipline-defined research agendas to much wider communities by first focusing on local rural communities.

What is public scholarship?

Methodologically, RH recognizes that public scholarship is multifaceted: it may mean scholarship on public issues, for public purposes, with public partners, and/or the (co-) creation of public goods. From public-facing scholarly work on the rural (public humanities) to direct collaboration with community partners in the co-creation of scholarly projects (engaged humanities), we embrace all these forms of scholarly commitment, recognizing that we need them all if we are to address the staggering challenges that face our world today.

What are the public humanities?

Within the field of public scholarship, we consider the public humanities to mean humanistic inquiries whose findings are made available to a broad public and/or that incorporate community partners in the research process. Examples of public-facing deliverables would be events, media coverage and dissemination, podcasts, Op Eds, performances, exhibits, projects with public-facing institutes, museums, digital humanities, etc.

What is community-engaged learning?

In community-engaged learning courses, students go beyond the classroom, seeing firsthand how theory and practice connect in the real world. They collaborate with communities—in Ithaca and around the globe—to design, implement and evaluate real solutions to real problems. These academically rigorous courses advance knowledge within specific fields of study while challenging students to grow as global citizens.

Are there pre-requisites for the seminar?


Does the seminar fit into a broader RH curriculum?

In addition to the seminar, which will be offered every spring semester, there will be a 6-week RH  summer practicum in which students will have the opportunity to work on their RH projects with a community partner. A stipend of up to $8,000 will be provided to help students to develop and complete their projects.

Do I need to have a project already to enroll?

No, the course will help you develop your ideas into a public humanities project. 

Some students will have ideas for projects that they want to work on at the start of the seminar; we expect these ideas to evolve and become more refined during the seminar. Others may be new to the seminar’s goals, and we will take these various points of departure into account. Bear in mind that the RH is an open and collective experiment, and we value students’ intellectual profiles, experiences, and contributions in this campus-wide initiative. The seminar’s orientation will provide more specific information about the kinds and feasibility of projects.

How do I enroll in the seminar?

For graduate and undergraduate students who wish to be considered for enrollment in our Rural Humanities Seminar, please apply by submitting a statement of no more than 300 words in which you describe: (1) why you are interested public humanities and/or community-engaged work; (2) what it means for your intellectual development; and (3) the type of project in these areas that you are interested in developing. If you have previous experience in public or engaged work, please also briefly discuss it. Spaces are limited, and an early response will assure consideration for enrollment. Please submit your statement and provide requested information using this application form no later than January 10th. If you are an undergraduate and would like to hear back before pre-enroll begins, submit your application EARLY by October 31st.

What is the purpose of the stipend?

The purpose of the stipend of up to $2,000 is to assist students with expenses as they develop their RH projects during the spring semester. Funds may be used for transportation, food, and supplies for public facing projects.

The stipend will be made available through the Society for the Humanities once you have been accepted and enrolled in the seminar. Students will receive more information about the stipend on the first day of the seminar.