Ancient Latin text written on a large piece of stone.

Admissions and Requirements

Thank you for your interest in the graduate program in Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies! Our Department offers both an M.A. program and a Ph.D. program.

Applicants for graduate study may enter the program with either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. Candidates are expected to have covered at least the equivalent of an undergraduate major in Classics, which consists of at least three years of both Greek and Latin.  Candidates whose preparation falls short of the minimum requirements may be admitted with deficiencies at the discretion of the Department, but will be required to do additional work within the first year of the program. Applications are evaluated on the basis of previous academic record, letters of recommendation, the writing sample, and a personal statement.

All applicants to the program must apply online by January 5Only select the M.A. application if you plan on a terminal M.A. at UW-Madison—all other applicants select the Ph.D. application, even if you have not yet received a master’s degree. Please note: the $75 application fee must be paid at the time of application (international students will be charged an additional $6 for processing).

  • Waivers for this application fee are available for students who think they may be eligible for an Advanced Opportunity Fellowship (or Graduate Research Scholars) from the graduate school.  We encourage such students to contact Andrew Bartsch (apbartsch@wisc.edu) “AOF question” and briefly explain the conditions for which they think they may qualify for such a waiver.

As part of the online application process, you will be asked supplemental questions regarding your level of language preparation and expected to upload the information listed below:

  1. Writing sample of scholarly work of no more than 25 pages (optional).
  2. Transcripts or academic records from each institution attended. You may upload unofficial copies for department review. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Please note: official, hard copy transcripts will only be requested by the Graduate School upon department recommendation for admission. Further information will be provided upon department admission.
  3. Statement of purpose (citing your reasons for graduate study).
  4. Curriculum vitae listing language experience, awards, honors, etc.
  5. Three letters of reference. You must submit your requests to all three of your references as part of the online application. Recommenders will receive a notice via email and will submit their letters accordingly.

In addition to University funds, there are limited scholarship funds available which are administered independently by the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies. All applications received in full by January 5 will be eligible for fellowship opportunities from the Graduate School. If application materials are received after the deadline, you will no longer be eligible for a University Fellowship, although you may be eligible for consideration for financial assistance through department funds such as Teaching Assistantships, Project Assistantships, Research Assistantships, or Departmental Fellowships.

Please contact Andrew Bartsch (apbartsch@wisc.edu) should you have any questions about the application process.

Coursework

  • 27 credits must be completed in Greek and Latin graduate-level coursework
  • 6 credits must be completed in graduate seminars, including 3 credits in pro-seminar (Classics 900 or equivalent as approved by Director of Graduate Studies)
  • Coursework in one modern language (German, French, or Italian) may be completed in one of the following ways:
    • through the 300-level, or
    • one to two courses in German, French, or Italian “for graduate reading knowledge” (varies by department), or
    • graduate reading knowledge exam, offered through Continuing Studies (these must be discussed with the DGS and requested through Bill Bach; do NOT register on your own).

Note: Non-language courses in related fields must be approved by Director of Graduate Studies

Total: 33 credits

Read more details in The Guide
Transfer credit information

Language Requirements

  • General Greek language/literature examination, or “Greek General
  • General Latin language/literature examination, or “Latin General
  • Modern language examination in German or French and Italian, or equivalent coursework (see above).

Assessments and Examinations

  • Two ancient language examinations (the Greek & Latin Generals) and one modern language examination (or equivalent).

Information on Preparation: General Exams
Information on Execution: General Exams
Criteria for Passing/Protocol for Failing: General Exams

Continuation in Ph.D. Program

Any candidate who wishes to continue in the doctoral program must complete a thesis (for more information see below) and present a formal application to the Director of Graduate Studies before the final department meeting of their fourth semester in the program. The faculty will then vote on the application and notify the candidate of their decision by letter.

Each application must contain the following materials:

  • the final version of the thesis
  • a completed “Continuation in PhD” form
  • a cover letter that addresses the following
    • capacity for original and creative contributions to classical scholarship;
    • ability to work with feedback and develop scholarly contributions in a systematic, independent, and timely fashion;
    • plans for a tenable research program going forward; and
    • research interests compatible with the specializations of current faculty.

Thesis Details

  • Form a provisional thesis committee no later than the end of their third semester in the program. The committee should consist of the thesis advisor (committee chair) and two other faculty members from Classics or affiliated with Classics.
  • Meet with a thesis committee no later than the end of the third week in their fourth semester. In order to evaluate the viability of the thesis topic, candidates should submit an abstract to the committee. This meeting should be scheduled by the thesis advisor and scheduled through the graduate program coordinator.
    • Abstract: In 1-2 pages (single-spaced) or 2-4 pages (double-spaced), write an abstract including:
      1. Your thesis (i.e., the position that you will defend).
      2. A statement of the problem and/or research question to be addressed.
      3. A review of previous scholarship
      4. An outline of the evidence to be consulted
      5. A summary of your proposed argument, including references to key evidence to support your points.
      6. Bigger conclusions, future directions, or identification of possible problems or points in need of clarification/guidance.
  • Present a paper, typically 25-35 double-spaced pages, written under the supervision of the thesis advisor. The paper should be written in a scholarly manner following the stylistic guidelines specified by the thesis adviser, and demonstrating familiarity with the appropriate bibliographical resources. The thesis is usually developed out of a graduate seminar paper.
  • Take an oral examination and defend thesis, set by the thesis advisor and scheduled through the graduate program coordinator. The completed thesis should be delivered to all three committee members at least one week in advance of this oral defense. Oral defenses will not be scheduled during the summer semester.

Note: All students seeking to continue in the Ph.D. program after receiving the M.A. are required to complete a program thesis and an application before the end of the fourth semester. For information on how to do so, click here.

In addition to requirements for the M.A., 27 credits must be completed in a combination of coursework including the following:

  • 21 credits in Greek and Latin 500-level courses or seminars
  • 3 credits in pro-seminar (Classics 900 Advanced Seminar in Theory and Methodology or equivalent)
  • Coursework in a modern language (German and French or Italian), excluding language assessed for M.A., which may be completed in one of three following ways:
    • through the 300-level, or
    • one to two courses in German, French, or Italian “for graduate reading knowledge” (varies by department), or
    • graduate reading knowledge exam, offered through Continuing Studies (these must be discussed with your advisor or the DGS and requested through Bill Bach; do NOT register on your own).
  • Credits required for Doctoral Minor

Total: 69 credits (includes M.A. coursework)

Read more details in The Guide
Transfer credit information

Language Requirements

  • Special Ancient Greek language/literature examination, or “Greek Special
  • Special Latin language/literature examination, “Latin Special
  • One Greek and Latin literature preliminary examination, or “Lit. Prelim.
  • Modern language examination, excluding language assessed for M.A., or equivalent coursework (see above).*

Assessments and Examinations

  • Three preliminary examinations related to ancient languages (the Greek and Latin Specials & the Lit. Prelim.) and one modern language examination (or equivalent), as detailed above in Coursework and Language Requirements.
  • Dissertation required.
  • Thesis is required for students continuing to PhD.

*Students may substitute another modern language related to their research with approval of Director of Graduate Studies.

Information on Preparation: Special Exams
Information on Execution: Special Exams
Criteria for Passing/Protocol for Failing: Special Exams

Exam format details, including guidelines for faculty responsible for developing the exam.

Dissertation Details

Proposal Defense

Candidates for the doctorate program should form a provisional dissertation committee the semester before they intend to complete their last preliminary exam and reach dissertator status. This committee should consist of a Dissertation Advisor and at least two additional faculty advisors.

During the first semester of dissertator status, candidates will schedule a dissertation proposal defense to discuss the proposal’s viability. Under the guidance of their Dissertation Advisor, candidates will provide all committee members with a detailed abstract of the proposed dissertation, including a synopsis of each chapter and a timeline for scheduled completion. After the provisional committee has approved the proposal, the candidate may begin writing in consultation with their committee.

Dissertation and defense

The final composition of the dissertation committee requires four members in total (one of whom should be from outside the department). Once the dissertation has been completed and approved by the Dissertation Advisor, the candidate will distribute the final document to all committee members at least four weeks before the anticipated defense date. If the committee supports the dissertation, the Advisor will set a date for the oral defense in conjunction with the department administrator. Dissertation defenses will be scheduled for the academic year only. Graduate students may not hold a dissertation fellowship in any semester following the semester of their defense, regardless of whether or not they have filed their thesis for graduation.

Additional guidelines set by the Graduate School for dissertation completion can be found at their website.

Minor

The doctorate degree includes course work in a minor field. Students should consider a minor which broadens their knowledge, supports their dissertation, and helps situate them well in the job market. Course work for the minor may be started before completion of the master’s program.

Two types of minors are available:

  • Option A (external): minor or certificate consisting of at least 9 credits in another department, according to their specifications for a minor. Students must have approval of outside department and Director of Graduate Studies and/or faculty advisor approval.
  • Option B (distributed): minor consisting of at least 9 credits in one or more departments, ideally with a focused theme. Selection of this minor requires the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and/or faculty advisor.

Additional guidelines set by the Graduate School for minor completion can be found at their website.

General Ancient Greek and Latin Language and Literature Examinations (or “Generals”)

Taken in the course of preparing for the M.A. degree, usually in the first two years of the program, the General Ancient Greek and Latin Language and Literature Exams or “Generals” assess mastery of language and stylistic analysis based on six credits’ worth of classes (usu.= 2 classes) with a graduate attribute, including “course material” assigned in the class and “supplementary materials,” read in conjunction with the class, selected in consultation with the Instructor of Record and Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), on the basis of department reading lists or approved substitutes.

The format of the Generals is a three-hour, closed book exam taken in the Department at the beginning of the semester following completion of preparation, comprising 2/6 translation of course and supplementary materials, 3/6 linguistic and stylistic commentary on the same material, 1/6 sight reading of material relevant in genre, period, author, topic, etc., from the reading lists.

For more information on preparation, execution, and criteria for passing, see the following links:

Information on Preparation: General Exams
Information on Execution: General Exams
Criteria for Passing/Protocol for Failing: General Exams

Modern Language Exams

The minimum amount of study required in one of the modern languages includes a “for reading knowledge” course in one of the relevant languages (French 391, German 391, Italian 301, e.g.), more comprehensive study (through a minimum of four semesters of study), and/or independent study. The required languages are German and French or Italian, but students may substitute another modern language with permission of the Director of Graduate Study (DGS) for reasons related to their individual research trajectory. If students have completed sufficient course work in one modern language, or acquired proficiency by other means, they may take a modern language proficiency exam to fulfill the requirement for one of the languages through Continuing Studies for a fee of $65. Students who require assistance with the fee should contact the DGS and Graduate Program Coordinator.

Special Ancient Greek and Latin Literature and Scholarship Examinations (or “Specials”)

Taken after completing each “General” in the same language, usually in the third and fourth years of the program, after receiving the M.A., the Special Ancient Greek and Latin Literature and Scholarship Exams, or “Specials,” assess mastery of stylistic analysis and ability to engage critically with established scholarship for a selection of authors, based on nine credits’ worth of classes (usu.=3 classes) with a graduate attribute, including “course material” assigned in class and “supplementary material,” read in conjunction with the class, selected on the basis of department reading lists or approved substitutes, in consultation with the Instructor of Record and Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), and prepared under the direction of the Instructor of Record or other qualified adviser in a minimum of three half-hour meetings over the course of each semester in which the student is preparing for the exam.

The format of the Specials is a 72-hour (three day), open book exam, administered by email at the beginning of the semester following completion of preparation. The format includes 40% commentary on select passages of course and supplementary material and 60% essays (2-3 in number) on issues of interpretation in the same material, with a special emphasis on common, dominant, and/or historically significant scholarly contributions. Essay options: two essays of approximately 2700 words each OR three essays of approximately 1800 words each, accompanied by a bibliography of two to three double-spaced pages of secondary scholarship for each topic (chapters from monographs count as separate entries).

For more information on preparation, execution, and criteria for passing, see the following links:

Information on Preparation: Special Exams
Information on Execution: Special Exams
Criteria for Passing/Protocol for Failing: Special Exams

Exam format details, including guidelines for faculty responsible for developing the exam.

Greek and Latin Literature Preliminary Examination (or Lit. Prelim.)

The purpose of the Greek and Latin Literature Exam Preliminary to the Ph.D., or “Lit. Prelim.,” is to fill gaps in the student’s knowledge of Greek and Latin literature and scholarship relevant to that literature before the student begins final specialization in the doctoral dissertation, after they have successfully completed the Generals and Specials in Greek and Latin Language, Literature, and Scholarship outlined above.

Students will meet with at least two faculty members to identify three to four topics needing further study. Over the course of the semester in which the exam is to be taken, the student will meet with each faculty member at least three times to set the expectations of work for the semester; check in on progress over the course of the semester, including academic discussion of relevant literature and scholarship; and create a bank of questions to be used as the basis of the Lit. Prelim. The student will prepare fifteen OCT pages and a list of two to three double-spaced pages of secondary scholarship for each topic (chapters from monographs count as separate entries). Finally, the student will provide a one-page summary of the readings to the examiners.

Assessment takes the form of an oral examination based on the question bank developed over the course of the semester. The exam will be approximately 1-1.5 hours and is administered by the faculty with whom the student has prepared their topic, who serve as examiners. Students may bring a bibliography to the exam but no other notes or aids. The student will receive a grade of pass/fail and qualitative written feedback from the two examiners.

Satisfactory progress while completing the MA and PhD is defined by fulfillment of all the following criteria within the maximum stipulated time of two years per degree (excluding time taken to complete the dissertation): 

  • Completing course work sufficient to obtain all the credits and kinds of credits commensurate with the student’s time in the program; 
  • Completing all graduate exams and the thesis (for students seeking to continue into the PhD from the MA program);  
  • Upholding a GPA of at least 3.25 after two or more semesters of graduate work;  
  • Maintaining no more than one Incomplete from semester to semester. 
  • For dissertators, unsatisfactory progress (U) reported for no more than one semester (more below)

If a student is making unsatisfactory progress according to any one of these criteria, they enter academic probation.  Academic probation is defined as the following: 

  • A hold on enrollment and the requirement of permission to enroll; 
  • Loss of funding guarantee; 
  • Under the supervision of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate Program Coordinator, the development of a specific plan with dates in place to remove probationary status. 

Students who succeed in removing their probationary status return to good standing: any remaining funding is guaranteed, and they no longer require permission to enroll.  Students who, on the other hand, remain in academic probation for two semesters are subject to the following: 

  • Withdrawal of funding; 
  • Dismissal from the program. 

If you have questions about this policy, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies. 

 

Satisfactory progress for dissertators

Progress is graded as Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) at the end of each semester. If a student is on track to complete their dissertation in a total of two years and can demonstrate such momentum through regular submission of written drafts to their adviser, they are making satisfactory progress. If the adviser finds that a student has failed to achieve satisfactory progress in a semester, the student receives a grade of U for that semester; assignment of a U in the semester immediately following this results in academic probation; assignment of a U in a third consecutive semester will result in withdrawal of funding and dismissal from the program.  The student has the right to submit an appeal in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies for review by the whole faculty after each assigned U. If a student earns a grade of S in any semester after the assignment of a U, they will return to good standing.

  • Greek: 9 credits in Greek courses beyond the elementary level
  • Latin: 9 credits in Latin courses beyond the elementary level
  • Classics: 12 credits in Greek and Latin courses beyond the elementary level
  • Hebrew Bible: 9 credits in Biblical Hebrew courses beyond the elementary level

All Graduate School requirements for minors must be completed.

Students who seek to appeal a grade should familiarize themselves with the policy governing grade appeals in the College of Letters & Science. In brief, this policy only permits changes to grades in cases of clerical error, miscalculation, or discrimination against individuals based on their protected status or affiliation with someone of protected status. For students who believe they have been discriminated against in the grading process, please see UW information on allegations of discrimination in the awarding of a grade.

Once students have familiarized themselves with L&S policy, if they still wish to appeal their grade, the first person whom they should consult is the person who assigned the grade. Appeals for final grades must occur no later than the first semester after the semester in which the course has been completed. If the student and instructor do not come to an agreement, the student will provide a formal written grade appeal to the chair of the department. The written appeal must include: the class, instructor, copy of the course syllabus showing grading guidelines, grade received, date and conclusion of meeting with instructor, the specific reason(s) for appealing the grade, and email address and telephone number where they can be reached for follow-up. The documentation must demonstrate how the student was either incorrectly graded for the work they did or treated in a way that was inconsistent with the standard grading policy/practice for all students taking the same course.

Students who are dissatisfied with the result of this initial consultation may consult the instructor’s supervisor. If the person who assigned the grade is a teaching assistant in 100-300 level Latin classes, this is the Supervisor of the Latin Program; otherwise, it is the Instructor of Record for the course. If the grader is a lecturer or professor, their supervisor is the Chair of the Department.

Once the supervisor has received the appeal, they will request relevant information from the person who assigned the grade, including grading criteria and the reason for denying the student’s request. If the supervisor determines that there are grounds for a change of grade, that decision will be determining.

In the rare case that the dispute cannot be settled in the Department, the Associate Dean of the Humanities determines the outcome. Students will be apprised of how to proceed to this level of appeal by the Chair of the Department.