Graduate Programs

ADMISSIONS

Interested in applying to one of our PhD programs? Visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences website. Note that as of the fall 2022 application cycle, the GRE is optional, and is no longer required for applicants.

Introduction

The Department offers doctoral degrees in ancient history, Byzantine Greek, classical archaeology, classical philology, classical philosophy, medieval Latin, and modern Greek. Our faculty and graduate students take innovative approaches to the study of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, drawing from fields and methodologies that include archaeology and art history, ancient history, ancient science, comparative literature, digital humanities, historical linguistics, history of rhetoric, literary theory, pedagogy of classical languages, philosophy, textual transmission, classical reception, and performance studies. We consider Byzantium, the Latin Middle Ages, and Modern Greek integral parts of the study of Greek and Roman antiquity. In addition, our affiliate faculty have interests in early Christianity and Second Temple Judaism, Greek law and comparative legal theory, early modern reception of the Classics, and Byzantine history. The department also offers specialized training in such disciplines as papyrology, epigraphy, paleography, and numismatics. The resources of other Harvard departments are open to those interested in other ancient languages and scripts, comparative theories and methodologies, the history of science, the relations of the Greeks and the Romans with other ancient cultures, and the reception of classical culture in subsequent periods.

Classics is an active participant in Ancient Studies, Harvard’s interdisciplinary community of scholars working on the ancient world broadly construed. The department hosts numerous recurrent workshops organized by faculty and graduate students in collaboration with GSAS, the Mahindra Center for the Humanities, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, among others. We are fortunate to host guest speakers and researchers from all over the world through our workshops and visiting speakers series.

Graduate students can take advantage of Harvard’s world-class library and collections, including Widener Library, which is home to the Smyth Classical Library and the Medieval Studies Library, as well as the Tozzer, Fine Arts, and Harvard Divinity School libraries. The Houghton Library houses Harvard’s magnificent early books and manuscripts collection in addition to a rich archive in the performing arts, while the Harvard Art Museums have renowned strengths in the art, archaeology, and numismatics of Greece and Rome. Other special collections of interest to students include the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature, the Historical Textbooks collection at the Gutman Library, and the collections of the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East. Our graduate students benefit from the programming, collections, and fellowship opportunities at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, Dumbarton Oaks, and the Villa I Tatti.

Professional development plays a key role in the graduate student experience at Harvard. Faculty advisers are available to discuss career opportunities and assist all students in advancing their career objectives in academia or other fields. The department emphasizes the acquisition not only of knowledge, but also of skills—in teaching, in analysis, in research—which will enable its graduates to find a wide range of academic and non-academic careers. Students have access to an array of professional development workshops and resources both within the department and through GSAS. We encourage students to explore career options from the earliest stages of the program. 

The doctoral program typically consists of six years of study. The structure of all PhD tracks follows a broad division between the first two years, primarily focused on coursework, and the following years, which are mostly devoted to teaching and research. Funding for the duration of graduate study is normally provided by fellowship grants in the first two years, by a dissertation completion fellowship in the final year, and by a combination of tuition grants and teaching fellowships in the intervening years. Candidates who have successfully completed their General Examinations are normally assigned teaching fellowships in undergraduate courses, which include elementary and intermediate language courses,  junior tutorials, literature surveys, and courses taught in translation. Teaching is guaranteed in the third and fourth year. Generous fellowships and study abroad opportunities are available for the summer and the dissertation-writing stages. Grants are available to support students’ participation at conferences, including the annual meeting of the SCS.

The department will not admit applicants for the degree of master of arts (AM) only. However, any student who has completed two years of full-time study (16 applicable courses) will qualify for the degree of AM in their track, which the department will normally recommend upon application by the student. No examinations beyond those required in the courses are mandated.