Texas Tech University

Field School in Maya Archaeology

Study Abroad at Chan Chich, Belize: 2016 Season

MapWelcome to the homepage for Texas Tech University's Field School in Maya Archaeology (FSMA) Study Abroad program. The FSMA is part of the Chan Chich Archaeological Project, under the direction of Dr. Brett A. Houk of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Texas Tech.

Come Celebrate our Half-K'atun of Research!

In 2016, we will be offering one summer session, limited to 12 first-time students, and we expect spaces to fill fast. This is the 10th season of the FSMA and the tenth season of the CCAP. In terms of the Maya Long Count, this is our half-K'atun jubilee! You don't want to miss it.

Application Update (August 27, 2015):

We currently accepting applications for the 2016 season. See the link below for more information.

Quick Links

Chan Chich, "It's Better Here"

The field school will take place at the ancient Maya site of Chan Chich, Belize, in Central America. Chan Chich is tucked away in the jungles of northwestern Belize and is home to Chan Chich Lodge, a beautiful jungle lodge built in the main plaza of the site. Belize is an English speaking country with a stable government. It is easily reached from Texas on flights going through Dallas and Houston. Dr. Houk ran the Chan Chich Archaeological Project from 1996 to 2001, and the 2012 season renewed investigations of an important ancient Maya city. We have exciting plans for the 2016 season, and the experience is open to students at Texas Tech and elsewhere.

Burial CC-11

What is a Field School?

An archaeological field school is an intensive introduction to archaeological methods. The academic component of the program is a 6-hour course called Field Archaeology (ANTH 4642). Students learn how to excavate, how to draw maps and profiles, how to record archaeological data (using the CCAP's iPad-based digital data collection system), and how to process and analyze the artifacts found during excavations. Therefore, although students are learning by doing, they are also contributing directly to ongoing research on the ancient Maya. That's why we call this program a Research Abroad opportunity!


In 2016 students will be excavating ancient Maya ruins at Chan Chich and conducting excavations at a historic Maya village known as Kaxil Uinic.

Who Can Participate?

The field school is open to college students who have completed one year of course work and have at least a 2.5 GPA, regardless of major. Space on the Belize program is limited to 12 new students . The slots will be assigned to the most qualified students, but applying early will improve your chances of being accepted to the program because applications will be processed in two batches. Getting your application in early helps your chances of getting a slot tremendously.


Students must be physically capable of excavating and hiking in order to participate on the field school. Excavating entails lifting up to 25 pounds, swinging a pick, and using a shovel, in addition to more detailed work using a trowel and paint brush. Getting to Kaxil Uinic entails hiking through the jungle while wearing a backpack (carrying up to a gallon of water) and snake guards.

When is the Program?

Texas Tech is offering one field session.The session is 34 nights long.

Dates: May 24 to June 27, 2016.

The Facilities: Chan Chich Lodge

The field school is based at Chan Chich Lodge, which is located in the main plaza of the site. This makes getting to the field rather easy! Our project will be housed in cabanas at the lodge. The thatch-roofed cabanas will be fitted with bunk beds, and they have 24-hour electricity, ceiling fans, and private bathrooms with hot water. Up to 5 students will share a cabana; the exact number will depend on the numbers of men and women who are accepted to the program. We will be served our meals in the lodge's restaurant. The lodge has wireless internet in the restaurant and bar, cell phone coverage, and a screened-in swimming pool with hot tub.

Looter's Trench

How Much?

The estimated 2016 costs for new students are:

Tuition*: ~$1,850 for 6 hours.

Program Fee: $3,100 (Thanks to an external grant, the 2016 field school will be the same price as the 2015 field school but will be six nights longer!)

Airfare**: ~$800

Insurance: ~$40

Study Abroad Application Fee: $200

Spending Money (CASH): $300

*Tuition estimate is for in-state tuition and fees at Texas Tech University. All students at universities in Texas are required to register for credit at Texas Tech. Students from other universities should see the information packet for additional information on credit.

**Students purchase their own airfare and make their own travel arrangements to the Belize international airport.


How to Apply and Deadlines

Returning students should email Dr. Houk for information on costs and spaces.

There is a two-part application process for the field school. First, fill out a field school application form and mail or email it to Dr. Houk. The initial applications will be reviewed in two batches: December 11, 2015, and February 5, 2016. We have extended the second deadline so that we can participate in the Study Abroad Fair on February 3. Stop by between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm in the SUB Ballroom to see us!

If you miss the deadline, email Dr. Houk to inquire about any available spots or to get listed on the waitlist.

Students who are accepted to the program will then be sent a link to apply online through Texas Tech University's Study Abroad program. 

Application Form for TTU Students

Application Form for non-TTU Students

More Information

For more information, please download the information packet for new students. See the list of frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions, please email Dr. Brett A. Houk or stop by his office in Holden Hall, Room 277. You can also call him at 806-834-8107.

Also, check out the Frequently Asked Questions and visit the Accommodations page.