M.A. in Classics

The M.A. in Classics is a 2-year degree designed for students who wish to explore the ancient Greco-Roman world from various perspectives, including post-graduates preparing to apply for Ph.D. programs in classics, ancient history or archaeology, Latin teachers or prospective Latin teachers, and those who wish to continue studying the classical past for its own sake. Both full and part-time students are welcome. 

Course offerings cover a variety of subjects in Greek and Latin literature, ancient history, and philosophy ranging from masters level surveys and composition courses to research seminars at the Ph.D. level. Through a consortium with Fordham and New York Universities we offer students 7-9 graduate courses each semester, and students may choose to specialize in Classical Philology or Ancient History. Students may register for courses offered in the field at any of the participating institutions and have access to all their libraries.

We also sponsor a series of guest lectures, student-faculty roundtables and other special events throughout the year.

Courses of related interest are also available through the Graduate Center's Ph.D. Programs in Philosophy, Comparative Literature and History, and the Certificate Programs in Medieval Studies and Renaissance Studies.

Find the Reading Lists on the Student Resources page.

Path to Degree

Courses: 15 credits including the Proseminar in Classical Studies (CLAS 80100), if available; Greek (and/or Latin) Rhetoric and Stylistics (CLAS 70100 and 70200)

Exam: one modern language

Courses: 15 credits including Proseminar in Classical Studies (CLAS 80100) if not taken in year 1 and the other Rhetoric and Stylistics course, if not taken in year 1

Exams: M.A. translation, Greek or Latin; M.A. History of Greek or Latin Literature

Complete thesis

Degree: M.A. after thesis is deposited

Curriculum Requirements

The M.A. in Linguistics requires thirty (30) credits of approved graduate course work, including 18 credits of required core curriculum courses:

  • Proseminar: Introduction to Classical Studies (3 credits)
  • Either Latin or Greek Rhetoric and Stylistics (3 credits)
  • 4 courses in either Latin or Greek (12 credits)

The remaining 12 credits are taken as a selection of 4 elective courses relevant to ancient studies from any of the following programs: Art History, Philosophy, History, Comparative Literature, MALS or courses in the other ancient language.

M.A. students generally take their examinations after they have completed all 30 required credits and have passed a reading exam in German, French or Italian. This can be an exam administered by the Program, but this requirement can also be fulfilled by taking a level-two reading course at The Graduate Center and earning a grade of B or higher.

All M.A. students must complete and pass:

  • A written translation exam in either Latin or Greek
  • A written exam on the history Latin or Greek literature

The language selected for the two exams need not be the same, but generally they are.

Latin or Greek Translation Exam

The translation exam is based on the Latin Reading List for Translation or the Greek Reading List for Translation. The exam consists of three passages of poetry and three of prose, from which the student must choose two in each category. The passages are about 20 lines long and the student has three hours to complete the exam. No dictionaries are allowed and no digital devises may be taken into the exam room. Sample exams are available in the Program office from the Assistant Program Officer.

History of Latin or Greek Literature Exam

Students will be invited by the executive officer to register their intention to take the history of Latin or Greek literature, and upon acceptance will recieve 12 essay topics that have been set for the exam that semester. On the day of the exam, the student will be given 4 of these topics selected by the faculty and asked to write on 3 of them. The student will have three hours to complete the exam. Notes will not be permitted during the exam, but it is expected that students will have prepared for the exam by performing research and planning responses. Students are expected to support their arguments with specific examples and demonstrate a broad range of knowledge in their responses.

The History of Latin or Greek Literature exams at the M.A. level are not the equivalent of the Ph.D. History of Literature exams, which are oral.

Students who express an interest in applying to Ph.D. Programs in classics, ancient history or archaeology will be advised to take courses in both ancient languages, to write a thesis as a capstone project and to achieve a reading knowledge of German and either Italian or French. Students planning to apply to Ph.D. Programs in archaeology should also pursue opportunities to do field work during the summer.

Thesis Requirements

All M.A. students will plan and complete a thesis project under the supervision of a faculty adviser. A master’s thesis usually has between 75-125 double-spaced pages including a bibliography. It is often an expanded version of a previously written research paper, but it could be on any suitable topic in the area of classical studies. As a rule, a master’s thesis shows competency in research and writing, but need not create new knowledge in the field.

The Masters Thesis Process: Download printable version (PDF)

While students are encouraged to think about possible topics early in their graduate careers, the master’s thesis process starts only after a student has completed all other requirements for the M.A. degree. At this point students should begin to talk with faculty members and the executive officer about the advisability of writing on a variety of topics and about choosing an advisor.

Any member of the CUNY Graduate Faculty may advise an M.A. thesis. When the student has chosen an advisor and a topic has been agreed upon, the advisor will recommend another faculty member to be the second reader, and communicate the decisions to the executive officer.

When the thesis is complete and has been approved by the advisor and the second reader, it is ready to deposit. The student is responsible for making certain that the format of the thesis conforms to the Graduate Center’s requirements, and that it is correctly deposited. As work on the thesis goes forward, students should consult with the Dissertation Librarian at the Mina Rees Library about formatting and deposit procedures. The cover page must have signatures of the executive officer and the advisor. If one or both of them are unavailable to sign in person, signed copies may be scanned and returned by email or faxed to the Program office.

Theses must be deposited at the beginning of each semester and in April for degrees granted in October, February and May. Specific deposit deadlines are posted in the official Graduate Center Academic Calendar. A student must be registered in order to deposit a thesis and receive a degree.

M.A. students who have received degree in the previous calendar year are invited to participate in the May commencement ceremonies, but it is not necessary to attend commencement in order to receive the degree