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 master’s degree. For the Classics option, 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, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, 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 from the graduate school.  We encourage such students to contact the Department at info@canes.wisc.edu with the subject heading “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 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. OPTIONAL for 2021-22 cycle: Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score report sent from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Use institution code 1846 to route your results to the UW Graduate School. Once results are received, they will populate on your online application.
  4. TOEFL or MELAB for all international applicants.
  5. Statement of purpose (citing your reasons for graduate study).
  6. Curriculum vitae listing language experience, awards, honors, etc.
  7. 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 do not hesitate to contact us 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 and French or Italian) may be completed in one of the following ways (i) through the 300-level, or (ii) one to two courses in German, French, or Italian “for graduate reading knowledge” (varies by department), or (iii) graduate reading knowledge exam, offered through Continuing Studies (more below).*

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).
  • Thesis is required for students continuing to PhD.

Information on Preparation
Information on Execution
Criteria for Passing/Protocol for Failing

Thesis Details

  • Form a provisional thesis committee no later than the first week of the semester in the year in which the student intends to defend their thesis. The master’s 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 by the end of the first month in the semester in which they plan to graduate. In order to evaluate the viability of the thesis topic, candidates should submit an abstract of 1-2 pages to the committee. This meeting should be scheduled by the thesis advisor and scheduled through the department administrator.
  • 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 department administrator. The completed thesis should be delivered to all three committee members at least two weeks in advance of this oral defense. Oral defenses will not be scheduled during the summer semester.

Application for Ph.D.

Upon passing the oral examination, any candidate who wishes to continue to the doctorate program must present a formal application to the Director of Graduate Studies before the final department meeting of the spring semester (usually the first Thursday of May). The faculty will then review the application and notify the candidate of their decision by letter.

Each application must contain the following materials: A cover letter, a completed graduate student self-report form, copies of all completed exams for the master’s requirements, and the final version of the master’s thesis. In addition to fulfilling the above criteria, the record of performance and application to the doctorate program submitted by the student for completion of the master’s degree will exhibit the following characteristics: 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.

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. may be completed in one of three following ways: (i) through the 300-level, or (ii) one to two courses in German, French, or Italian “for graduate reading knowledge” (varies by department), or (iii) graduate reading knowledge exam, offered through Continuing Studies (more below).*
  • 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.

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

Information on Preparation
Information on Execution
Criteria for Passing/Protocol for Failing

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 nine credits’ worth of classes (usu.= 3 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 in the exam period of the final semester in which the student is preparing to take the exam, comprising 40% translation of course and supplementary materials, 40% linguistic and stylistic commentary on the same material, 20% 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 contact the DGS.

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 study abroad. 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 MA, the Special Ancient Greek and Latin Literature and Scholarship Exams, or “Specials,” assess mastery of stylistic analysis and ability to engage critically in 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 in the exam period of the final semester in which the student is preparing to take the exam and comprising 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.

For more information on preparation, execution, and criteria for passing contact the DGS.

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.

For more information on preparation, execution, and criteria for passing contact the Director of Graduate Studies.

In addition to departmental satisfactory progress criteria, all Graduate Students are bound by the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements published in the The Guide.

Satisfactory progress while completing the master’s degree may be achieved by completing all course work, language exam requirements, and the thesis with defense in no more than two years. In addition, candidates must maintain a GPA of at least 3.25 after two or more semesters of graduate work. More than one grade of B or below is considered unsatisfactory progress. More than one Incomplete at any one time is also considered unsatisfactory progress.

Candidates entering with deficiencies may take no more than three semesters to earn the equivalent of an undergraduate major. After completing the equivalent of the undergraduate major, the candidate must complete any remaining work for the master’s within two semesters.

The PhD Candidate

To achieve satisfactory progress in the doctorate program, candidates must enroll for nine (9) credits each semester before beginning work on the dissertation. An exception may be made with prior approval of the Director of Graduate Studies during the semesters in which the candidate is taking preliminary examinations and/or semesters where the candidate has a Teaching Assistant appointment. Once a candidate reaches the dissertation stage, he or she must enroll for three (3) credits each semester thereafter until completion of their degree. Candidates must maintain a GPA of at least 3.25 after two or more semesters of graduate work. More than one grade of B or below is considered unsatisfactory progress. More than one Incomplete at any one time is also considered unsatisfactory progress.

In addition and specifically for the Classics graduate program, candidates must pass their second examination of reading knowledge in Latin or Greek (the alternate that was completed for the master’s) as well as a second modern foreign language no more than one year after completing the MA. Students with a master’s degree from another university which did not require reading knowledge of a modern foreign language must pass examinations in two modern foreign languages within 2 years after entering the doctorate program. Candidates must also pass the Ancient History exam and begin taking the five preliminary examinations by their third year after completing the MA. After passing the preliminary examinations, candidates must complete the dissertation within three years to maintain satisfactory progress.

  • 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.