Volunteer or Intern with the OSA

Why get involved at the OSA?

The University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), established in 1959, is a nationally recognized archaeological research center. The OSA staffs over 20 archaeologists who have experience working with volunteers and students on a number of archaeological research, fieldwork, and laboratory projects. Some examples of what we do at the OSA include:

  • conduct archaeological research and public education programs around the state
  • preserve ancient burial sites and examines and reinters ancient human remains
  • maintain the Iowa state archaeological repository with over 4 million objects from more than 11,000 if Iowa's nearly 27,000 recorded sites
  • manage data on all recorded archaeological sites in Iowa,
  • publish technical and popular books and reports on Iowa archaeology  

The archaeological collections at the OSA are comprised of artifactual materials from Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, Late Prehistoric, and Historic Cultures, as well as related photographs, written records, and other research material. In addition to the archaeological collections, the OSA maintains comparative and teaching collections including prehistoric and historic artifact types; lithic resources; fresh water bivalves; botanical specimens; and faunal collections of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. 


The OSA is continually soliciting interest for reliable and responsible students and community members seeking volunteer positions at our facilities in Iowa City. We can develop flexible short-term or long-term volunteer schedules, dependent on the need for volunteers throughout the year. The OSA does not typically offer volunteer fieldwork positions, but projects do occasionally arise with the Iowa Archeological Society. Join them to stay posted!

Previous archaeology experience is not necessary to volunteer at the OSA. Volunteering is a great way to build credentials in research, lab work, or fieldwork, or just to exercise your passion for archaeology and learning. We will help you to track your volunteer hours to help bolster your resume, and can also provide letters of reference.   

Potential volunteer activities at the OSA may include, but are not limited to:

  • cleaning and cataloging artifacts
  • archaeological research
  • archival and curation work
  • maintaining GIS and site records
  • conducting education programs at local schools and learning centers


Students from across Iowa, including the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and Cornell College, have assisted with projects at the OSA that align with course goals in other University departments or fulfill requirements for independent study. Such opportunities are available for academic credit. Internships are open to both undergraduate and graduate-level students, as well as recent graduates, of all majors. The OSA also supports opportunities for undergraduate research in conjunction with the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates (ICRU) at the University of Iowa. 

Existing internships at the University of Iowa can be found at the Pomerantz Career Center, or contact us to help you develop a customized internship to fit your academic and research needs and interests.

Pre-collegiate Students

Students in Grades 10-11 who have an interest in archaeology may have an opportunity to get involved with archaeology research at the OSA through the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa. Summer programs at the Belin-Blank Center welcome students from across the country to experience college life. The competitive summertime Secondary Student Training Program allows students to conduct scientific research in university laboratories under the guidance of a faculty member. 

How to Get Involved

If you are interested in learning more about volunteer, internship, or student research opportunities at the OSA, please email the Education Director a letter of interest detailing your personal volunteer interests, availability of time, current contact information, and what you would like to get out of the experience. We can offer flexible scheduling during our office hours, Monday through Friday year-round from 8:00-4:30, excluding University holidays.