The Doctor of Philosophy program in Classics requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit, including the courses listed below (18 s.h.). Students may count no more than 12 s.h. earned in courses numbered 3000-4999 toward the degree. Courses taken to complete the Postbaccalaureate Certificate in Classics do not count toward the degree. Students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.00 to earn the degree.

The formal course of study typically consists of three phases:

The first phase emphasizes developing a broad knowledge of Greek and Roman literature and history and providing a solid foundation for reading Greek and Latin. The course work includes Greek and Latin literature and history as well as Latin and Greek composition. Intensive readings courses in each language prepare students for sight-reading examinations in each language, which must be completed during this phase of study.

The second phase is devoted to specialized seminars that employ language skills to interpret literature and history. Courses focus on specific authors, genres, and periods. During this period, students must complete examinations on two authors/genres, one in Greek and the other in Latin. Students also are tested on the Greek and Latin reading lists.

After successful completion of all course work and examinations, students are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy and begin work on a dissertation.

For more specific information on the Doctor of Philosophy in Classics, please contact the Graduate Advisor.

Important Deadlines

Application and Financial Support Deadline: January 15th (for Fall semester enrollment)


All applicants to the Masters and Doctorate programs must have a bachelor's degree and a minimum overall grade-point average of 2.80, with at least a 3.00 in classical languages.

Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, and the applicant's statement about background and purpose. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the Graduate Admissions Process page.

Language Requirement

Students pursuing a Ph.D. must be proficient in reading two modern foreign languages, typically French and German. Other modern languages may be substituted with the approval of the student's faculty adviser and the department chair. The requirements in one foreign language must be fulfilled by the beginning of the second year and in the other by the beginning of the third year.

Comprehensive Examination

The purpose of the Comprehensive Examination is to assess the candidate’s mastery of the reading lists in Greek and Latin literature. It is offered in the spring semester of the candidate’s fourth year in the program. The Comprehensive Examination consists of a six-hour written examination on four questions about Greek poetry, Greek prose, Latin poetry, and Latin prose. Previous exams are available for inspection. The exam is graded by two graduate faculty. If both judge it satisfactory, it passes with a grade of Satisfactory; if either or both judges it unsatisfactory, the exam is read by the entire graduate faculty. A simple majority dictates the outcome, and a tie favors the student. In some cases the graduate faculty may offer the candidate an opportunity to expand upon one of their written answers in an oral exam. In the case of a report of unsatisfactory on a comprehensive examination, the committee may grant the candidate permission to attempt a reexamination not sooner than four months after the first examination. The examination may be repeated only once, at the option of the department. Within two weeks following the exam, the Graduate Exam Coordinator or Director of Graduate Studies will report the results to the candidate. The Report of Doctoral Comprehensive Exam will be placed in the candidate's academic file.


The final requirement for the Ph.D. is the dissertation. A dissertation in Classics is a substantive work of scholarship that involves research and analysis of primary sources (texts and/or material evidence), engages extensively with the history of scholarship on the topic, and represents an original contribution to knowledge. The dissertation typically takes the form of a book-length manuscript. With the advisor's approval, a Final Examination (oral defense) is scheduled. At least two weeks prior to the defense, a copy of the dissertation to be defended must be distributed to each member of the dissertation committee. According to Graduate College regulations, the defense will be publicly announced and is open to the public. Possible outcomes for the Final Examination are Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The Dissertation itself may be: approved, conditionally approved (with specification of changes to be made before final approval is granted), or failed. The Final Examination (oral defense) may be repeated once at the option of the dissertation committee. All dissertations must be approved by a committee of five faculty members, including at least three from the Department of Classics.