Commencing with students who matriculate in Autumn 2020, the Department's doctoral program allows for four concentrations, along with joint programs with the Committee on Social Thought and Theater and Performance Studies. The University offers masters level study in classics through the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH), through which students build their own curriculum in any humanities department, including the Classics Department, over the course of one or two years.
The first two years of our PhD programs are typically comprised of course work, including two-quarter surveys of Greek and Latin literature, two-quarter research seminars, and pedagogy training, as well as additional seminars, language courses, and courses in the skills that comprise the study of classics, such as papyrology and epigraphy. We encourage our students to direct their coursework towards the development of possible dissertation topics, using departmental seminars to explore particular texts or problems in depth and workshops to test their own research ideas and acquaint themselves with the research strategies of faculty members and graduate students inside and outside our department. Students take translation examinations in Greek and Latin during their first two years.
In the third and fourth year, our PhD students take specialized examinations: a qualifying exam in secondary literature, as well as a special field exam tailored to their research interests. They also assemble a dissertation committee and draft a dissertation proposal in order to be admitted to candidacy. By this time, students will have demonstrated competence in reading two of the modern languages of classical scholarship—typically German and French—through the University’s Academic Reading Comprehension Assessment. Having completed our seminar on pedagogy, they continue their training by holding teaching assistantships and then teaching their own undergraduate classes.
After being admitted to candidacy, our students research, write, and defend their dissertations.
We offer the following concentrations:
Classical Languages and Literatures
The study of literature in Greek and Latin lies at the center of all the fields covered by the Department of Classics. The differences are in how each field construes textual evidence and defines the parameters of the literary. The Program in Classical Languages and Literatures makes literature and literary culture the focus of its curriculum. Our faculty represent a wide range of approaches and read literature in relation to: animal studies, gender, law, performance studies, philosophy, politics, religion, rhetoric, and ancient Greek and Roman society. In addition to courses originating in Classics, students may also take offerings from Comparative Literature, the Committee on Social Thought, the Divinity School, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and the various modern literature departments. The department houses the Rhetoric and Poetics workshop, which focuses on literary topics related to the ancient world. Many of the faculty and students also attend the workshops on Poetry and Poetics, Literature and Philosophy, and the Renaissance.
Ancient Mediterranean World
Through the Departments of Classics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and History, the University of Chicago offers graduate students the opportunity to study the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East from the Bronze Age to the Byzantine era. While students are expected to familiarize themselves with the important political developments that occurred in the ancient Mediterranean world, the study of ancient history at the University of Chicago is particularly distinctive for its emphasis on social, economic, cultural and religious approaches to antiquity. The recognized strengths of the Classics faculty in this area are further complemented by the expertise of a large number of affiliated faculty from the Departments of History, Anthropology, Art History, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, and the Divinity School. Apart from acquiring a firm grounding in the critical interpretation of literary documents, inscriptions, and archaeological finds, students are encouraged to pursue innovative and imaginative avenues of inquiry, partly through their own programs of study and partly within the context of intellectual forums such as the Ancient Societies Workshop and various conferences and symposia organized by the Department. Students are also eligible for travel fellowships to allow them to conduct first-hand investigations in the Mediterranean and Near East.
Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy
The Department of Classics, Department of Philosophy, and Committee on Social Thought collaborate to offer graduate students the opportunity to take a rich variety of courses and do research on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Furthermore, the Chicago Consortium on Ancient Philosophy offers the opportunity to take courses at any of the three member institutions (the University of Illinois at Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago) and receive credit for these courses in the Classics Department. At Chicago, students are invited to take part in both the Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy Workshop and the Literature and Philosophy Workshop.
Transformations of the Classical Tradition
Students at the University of Chicago can study the reception of ancient thought and literature in a wide range of historical and geographical contexts. Classics faculty publish widely in the field of reception studies and work closely with faculty in other departments on the reception of ancient poetry, drama, and political theory. In consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, students can devise a program of courses that focus on key texts or ideas in either Greek or Latin, and the reception, development, and transformation of these texts in one of the modern languages. We partner with faculty in Art History, the Committee on Social Thought, Comparative Literature, Germanic Studies, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Romance Languages & Literatures, and the Divinity School.
Dual-degree and Joint PhD Programs
The University of Chicago supports the ad-hoc pursuit of joint degrees between any two programs, with the approval of the departments in question. In addition, the Classics Department supports two standing joint PhD programs:
Joint PhD Program in Social Thought and Classics (STC)
The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought is an interdisciplinary, Ph.D. granting graduate program. Its guiding principle is that the serious study of many academic topics, and of many philosophical, historical, theological and literary works, is best prepared for by a wide and deep acquaintance with the fundamental issues presupposed in all such studies. The program with Classics is designed for students whose study of a particular issue or text from the ancient Greek and Roman world requires a broadly interdisciplinary approach alongside a professional mastery of philological skills. Requirements for the joint program.
Joint PhD Program in Classics and Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS)
The Committee on Theater and Performance Studies supports innovative work at the intersection of theory and practice across a broad spectrum of disciplines. The PhD program in TAPS is designed as an innovative joint degree program that affords students rigorous and comparative work across two disciplines. The joint program with Classics allows students to complement their work on the ancient Greek or Roman world with a program of study in Theater and Performance that encompasses both academic and artistic work. Students extend their experience through the development of performance work, engaging with nationally and internationally renowned artists. They graduate with a joint PhD in Classics and TAPS, preparing them for professional possibilities within and beyond the academy. TAPS PhD requirements.