I'm planning on my PhD to be in CS, but it occurs to me that my research as it applies to archaeology/anthropology will be just as unique and valuable (hopefully) to that field in and of itself.

I haven't been able to find anything on this specifically as in most cases the two fields concerned are closely related and two separate degrees would be unnecessary. In this case, however, it seems fair to ask the question as the two fields are both widely different and at the same time this research in particular would be completely overlapping between the two disciplines.

If this isn't a thing I'd appreciate any insight on schools which have strong graduate programs in both of these fields; regardless of whether I can earn two degrees (which I'm not expecting) I want to tailor my research and my access to experts/labs/programs as much as possible.



3 Answers 3


You will need to check with the university/universities where you plan to submit your PhD thesis. Before you ask anybody in person, I suggest to check the examination guidelines first. I found a couple of negative examples in a quick Google search:

"A doctoral thesis that was already submitted to another faculty may not be the basis of the doctoral examination." Uni Bonn

"A student may not submit for assessment thesis material which has already been submitted for another degree at Sultan Qaboos University or any other academic institution." Sultan Qaboos University

"The application to become a doctoral candidate shall be rejected if the doctoral committee finds that ... the subject of the candidate's dissertation has already been submitted successfully in another subject." Uni Frankfurt


It's hard to say something is definitely not possible, but I think this is a case where it just really isn't worthwhile. A PhD says you can do research; from there, it's more your research output that matters rather than the title of your degree.

What I would strongly suggest, however, is that you pursue having a mixture of faculty on your thesis committee. The exact rules will depend on your program and graduate school policies, but even if there is a requirement that official committee members come from a particular department, at a minimum you should be able to add some "outside" people who can help advise you in your second research area.

You should also pursue publishing papers in both fields.

Of course, all of this will depend on support from your main advisor, so when you look for particular programs, make that part of your search and part of the early conversations you have about your fit.

  • 1
    A case where it's worthwhile to have a PhD in a given field is when you want to land a job in that field. A hiring committee in archaeology may definitely weigh a PhD in archaeology higher than a PhD in CS where the thesis has applications in archaeology. Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 7:48
  • It might also be worthwhile to ask if you’d be able to do a “double degree” PhD like some universities offer for undergraduates, so that you’ve got a PhD in Archaeology and Computer Science.
    – nick012000
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 2:19
  • 2
    This is the best answer. I know people typically say the did a PhD in Computer Science, but I've seen equally as many people say they were PhD students in the CS Dpt. and did their PhD in <field>. So it doesn't seem too far fetched to say that you did a PhD in Computational Archeology if your thesis committee consists of CS and Archeology faculty.
    – kjacks21
    Commented Dec 20, 2019 at 22:08

Before I answer, I'll say this. As someone with a PhD in archaeology...certainly get your PhD in CS. If for some reason later on you found yourself wanting to apply for a job in an archaeology department, a PhD in CS focused on archaeology is perfectly acceptable, depending on the position.

To answer your question in a round about way, I wonder if your idea of a PhD is just a little bit inaccurate. The PhD is a bar you pass, a bit of proof that you are able to do a certain level of analysis that leads to a (very small) development in one or more academic fields. A single PhD can contribute to one field or it could contribute to several fields, but you don't get a separate PhD for every field you make a contribution to. A lot of research is multidisciplinary, but that doesn't warrant a PhD in every discipline that you're working in. You get a PhD from the (almost always) one field that the bulk of your method+theory rests in, in the department who agrees to accept and examine your work. Further, this is the department that you or some funder has been paying for the years of your PhD.

Take me for example. I got a PhD in Archaeology. Aside from a terrifying viva comment that was basically "We think this is a PhD, just maybe not an Archaeology PhD", all was fine. However my research was more in Criminology and Politics, with a bit of Law, and since then I've had a strong academic career...though I've never been in an archaeology department again. I do, however, know how to lay down a tight 1x1m square and always know where my trowel is.

Here's something you may not have considered: would an archaeology department accept you? If you don't have a background or previous degrees in archaeology, and don't know the full background of archaeological method and theory, it doesn't matter if your project helps archaeology, you likely aren't going to make it past the admission hurdle. Now perhaps you were some sort of double major, okay, but take a good look at your project. Is it a CS project that just uses some aspect of archaeology as an example, test case, or data set? If so, there isn't an archaeology PhD in that.

Another thought: does your project actually require archaeology supervision? Will your CS department be able to advise you on the archaeological aspects of your project. At my Uni, if this really was a crossover project, we would suggest you have an archaeologist on your supervisory team. You'd still only get the one PhD of course, but you'd have someone who was there to make sure what you were doing wouldn't be considered insane in archaeological circles.

Lastly, some advice. It looks like you're thinking that it can't hurt to ask about getting two PhDs for one project. It might not hurt if you don't plan on having ties with archaeology but, really, they are going to think you're a bit mad for asking. At best, it sounds naive about, again, what a PhD is. Better would be to introduce yourself and your project and ask about collaboration or supervision arrangements.

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