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The Graduate Program in Maritime Archaeology (GPMA) was established in 2002. It is now the largest, most successful and most active program of its kind in Australia and is rated as one of the top six programs in the world. The program has three academic staff, adjunct staff, and a part-time technical officer, as well as PhD students (on scholarships) who also work part-time in the program. The Graduate Program currently has approximately 35 graduate students and has drawn students from many different countries (including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Luxembourg, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, South Africa, UK, and the USA). Graduates of the program are now working for underwater cultural heritage management agencies, museums and consultancy companies as well as studying and teaching at universities, both in Australia and overseas.

The Graduate Program is designed both to meet the needs of students who have a four year degree in archaeology or anthropology who wish to specialize in maritime archaeology, as well as those who come from a different academic background (such as history) and wish to move to a different career path.

The program is built on the premise that a maritime archaeologist needs to be more than an archaeologist who can SCUBA dive. Therefore, in addition to practical fieldwork-based training, the program provides students with a strong academic and theoretical grounding across a wide range of areas in maritime archaeology and underwater archaeology.

Students can choose to study on-campus in Adelaide, where both full-time and part-time studies are available or to study externally (currently only available part-time). External studies are available through on-campus, distance learning and online (E-learning) topics. This flexibility means that students can study in their own time while still living and working at home.