Industrial Heritage and Archaeology—PhD

The PhD in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology is an interdisciplinary, research-based degree preparing students to join a global community of scholars and professionals in studying and managing the world’s industrial heritage. Academic interest revolves around postindustrial regions and communities of the world struggling with the social and material consequences of industrial decline. Our degree program is designed to afford intellectual maturity to students pursuing academic careers in heritage science or high-level managerial positions in heritage management.

Michigan Tech offers one of the few industrial heritage and archaeology PhD programs in the world. This unique degree was created to fill a critical void in the modern intellectual and professional landscape. While existing disciplinary degree programs train students for high-level positions in planning, heritage management, economics, anthropology, industrial history, or the engineering perspective on remediation/reclamation, none of these disciplines place the complex situations of industrial society at the core of their curricula. Our students distinguish themselves through their multifaceted perspectives on industrial societies.

Funding and Research

As an advanced degree of an emerging field, the PhD in Industrial Heritage and Archaeology does not fit neatly into the conceptual framework of typical degree programs in more established disciplines. Our students develop competencies in research as well as formal and substantive bases of knowledge in multiple disciplinary areas.

Students in the PhD program can receive up to three years of funding via assistantships that cover the costs of tuition and provide a stipend. Doctoral students formulate original research projects in consultation with a faculty committee; secure financial support; define rigorous data collection and analytical schemes; and generate solutions that satisfy preestablished procedures. Research topics have included the rise and decline of industrial facilities, the environmental consequences of past industrial developments, and heritage-related tourism, among others.

Because heritage problems do not exist in theoretical vacuums, partnerships with sponsors offering real-world problems will drive many student projects in the future; in most instances, student research agendas will cohere with, or arise from the needs of sponsoring organizations. These opportunities serve to involve students in the critical business of proposal writing, sponsor negotiations, and budget generation, as well as provide sources of financial support.

Career Pathways

In addition to those seeking appointment to academic professorships, many of our doctoral students become directors of industrial heritage museums and national or international heritage organizations, as well as partners in major “brownfields” reclamation and redevelopment projects.

Progressing Through the Program

Once admitted to the PhD program, students will be expected to meet the following requirements:

  • Complete 30 credits of coursework. Plan your curriculum.
  • Identify a research advisory committee chair (an advisor) by the end of the second semester in residence. Together with their committee chair, the student will construct an advisory committee including at least one faculty member from outside the Department.
  • Pass a written and oral qualifying examination. Following the completion of all coursework, students complete their qualifying examination to demonstrate competency in three selected subfields and within the subject area of their dissertation. Qualifying exams are usually scheduled early in the third year of study; however, the examination can be held sooner for an advanced student.
  • Pass an oral and written research proposal examination before proceeding to dissertation research,; students must prepare a written research proposal, present it in a public forum, and defend it in a meeting with their advisory committee.
  • Conduct significant research and write and defend a dissertation as a final product.