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The Minnesota Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) requires that applicants for State Archaeological Licenses meet certain professional qualifications standards. These standards meet or exceed both the Secretary of the Interior's standards and the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office's (MnHPO) standards.

There are separate OSA standards for each of the following:

  • Reconnaissance (Phase I) surveys
  • Evaluation (Phase II) surveys
  • Intensive Investigations and Excavations (Phase III)
  • Burial Site Investigations (Authentications under MS 307.08).

Because OSA only regulates archaeological projects on non-federal public land and burial authentications on all non-federal land, it can only require qualification standards for those types of activities. However, professional archaeologists, agencies, and project sponsors are encouraged to apply these standards to all unlicensed archaeological activities in Minnesota. All Principal Investigators on licensed projects including co-principals must meet OSA professional qualifications standards.

Basic Professional Standards

These five OSA requirements apply to all four types of archaeological projects in Minnesota:

  • A graduate degree with a specialty in archaeology, preferably North American archaeology.
  • One year's supervised experience doing archaeology.
  • Four months of supervised experience doing North American archaeology.
  • Demonstrated ability to carry research to completion.
  • One year's supervisory experience in either prehistoric or historical archaeology.
    • Some demonstration of familiarity with both Midwestern prehistoric and historic period artifacts, features, and contexts is also expected.

Supervised experience means work under the direction of a person meeting basic professional qualifications standards.

Demonstrated ability to carry research to completion means evidence of timely submittal of professional quality reports and other documents.

Supervisory experience is defined as comprehensive project supervision, which means providing principal direction for all aspects of an archaeological project including planning, agency coordination, records search, fieldwork, artifact analysis, and reporting. Supervisory experience does not include simply being a field supervisor, lab supervisor, or crew chief.

All experience must be explicitly documented in an attachment to the license application unless an applicant has been previously licensed by OSA at the same project level and on a similar project (region, context) with regard to Phase II, Phase III, and Authentication work. For supervisory experience, this documentation must include totals number of days for each project when the individual was actively supervising a specific project. There are approximately 250 work days in a given year.

The tabs below show the OSA standards for each type of archaeological license. If you have questions regarding these standards, please contact Amanda Gronhovd, Minnesota State Archaeologist, by phone at 651.201.2263, by fax at 612-725-2427, or by email at

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