The PhD program in classics is designed to be completed in five years. It is structured to focus strongly on ancient Greek and Latin in the first two years, and in the third year on perfecting skills in a set of elective areas including ancient literature, history, art, archaeology, and philosophy. The final two years are devoted to dissertation research and writing.



Diagnostic Sight Exams
Students are required to take diagnostic sight exams—in Greek poetry, Greek prose, Latin poetry, and Latin prose—immediately upon entering the program. These exams allow the facdlty to identify strengths and weaknesses so that appropriate courses can be selected from the first semester onward.
Reading List Examinations in Greek and Latin
Students take the reading list translation examinations in Greek and Latin language, offered in alternate Octobers, so that one is completed in October of their second year and the other in October of their third year. These three-hour written examinations involve translating passages selected from the Greek and Latin reading lists. The examination to be offered in any given October is in the language for which the survey course was offered the previous spring. Thus each student will work through an “arc” of training and preparation in each language, running from January (the start of the survey course) through the summer (intensive preparation on the student’s own) to October (the exam) in two successive years. Students are expected to devote the summers following the first and second years to preparing for the upcoming October exam. In the event an exam is failed, the exam must be retaken the following February. A second failure may constitute grounds for dismissal from the program.Download the Greek literature reading listDownload the Latin literature reading list
Foreign Language Exams in French and German
These exams evaluate students’ competence in reading scholarly French and German. One must be taken at the start of the second year and the other at the start of the third year. These exams last one hour, and involve translating an appropriate amount of classical scholarship in French and German.Comprehensive Oral Examination
Students take a two-hour comprehensive oral exam at the end of their third year. This exam covers three areas, which the student selects from the following categories: Greek literature, Latin literature, Greek history, Roman history, Greek art/archaeology, Roman art/archaeology, and philosophy. The selection of areas must be approved by the director of graduate studies. Each area is prepared in consultation with a member of the faculty whose expertise is relevant to that area. A panel of Department of Classics faculty attends and participates in the oral exam, which constitutes the last formal pre-dissertation requirement of the program. If some or all of this exam is failed, the necessary portions can be retaken, at faculty discretion, the following September. Failure at the second attempt (and possibly at the first) may constitute grounds for dismissal from the program.

Students are required to take the proseminars in classics and classical archaeology (offered in alternate fall semesters) in their first and third semesters in the program.

Students will normally take three graduate courses or seminars per semester through their first two years, then one seminar per semester in the third year. Beyond the third year it is not expected that students will enroll in seminars for credit, though they may audit as interest and time allows.

Surveys of Greek and Latin
Students are required to take one-semester, reading-list-based intensive survey courses in Greek and Latin (offered in alternate spring semesters) in their second and fourth semesters in the program.
If you would like to see our current course offerings, please see the department’s listing in ISIS. To view more detailed course descriptions, please consult the online course catalog. Courses listed here may not be offered every semester.


Seminar Research Papers
Students will write a total of six seminar papers: three are to be completed over the course of the first year; and three, or at least two, in the second year; the last paper must be completed at the latest in the fall of the third year, such that all six papers are complete by December of the third year.

Dissertation Prospectus and First Chapter
At the end of the fourth year, students present a large and detailed prospectus of the dissertation, with substantial bibliography, together with a relatively polished first chapter.  The aim of this “midpoint” dissertation checkup is to keep the student and adviser on track, so that the student is in a position to apply for grants or jobs in the following fall (i.e., during the fifth year of guaranteed funding) and to complete the dissertation in the course of the fifth year if needed. This prospectus and chapter are presented to at least two members of the faculty, one of whom is the dissertation adviser.


Every student will teach at least four semesters, and probably five, in the course of their third, fourth, and fifth years in the program.