Ph.D. in Classics

The Ph.D. Program in Classics at the Graduate Center aims for students to achieve mastery of the languages, literatures, and civilization of the Greco-Roman world, with special emphasis on teaching and conducting original research. In its course offerings the program emphasizes the study of Greek and Latin literature and intellectual history. Students can choose to concentrate their studies in ancient history or classical philology.

Students of the Ph.D. Program in Classics will:

  • Achieve mastery of the languages of the Greco-Roman world
  • Achieve mastery of the literature and civilization of the Greco-Roman world
  • Conduct original, documented research in the field

To accomplish this, students take a broad spectrum of courses in Greek and Latin prose and poetry, one course each in Greek and Latin rhetoric and stylistics, a proseminar in the methodologies of classical studies, and a course in ancient history or archaeology. They also write research papers grounded in primary sources in the process of their course work.

Three assessments are designed to evaluate the above goals:

  • The First Examination (written exams)
  • The Second Examination (written and oral exams)
  • The Dissertation (including oral dissertation defense)

Learn more about Examination and Dissertation requirements for the Ph.D. in Classics »

The goals for professional development and ethics in teaching and research have three parts.

1. Students who are interested in careers in education will be prepared to become effective teachers who manage their classrooms with integrity.

This goal is met by facilitating appointments for the students as adjunct instructors throughout the City University and in other undergraduate institutions in the New York area. In this context, a student’s teaching is assessed by classroom observations performed by senior faculty and by student evaluation forms administered by the undergraduate department in which the student teaches. Both the observations and the student evaluations are required by the contract that governs employment at CUNY. Students also may enroll in short courses in pedagogy offered by the Provost’s Office and in our own semester-long course in Teaching Classics where they are assessed by the instructor. All the courses address the issue of ethics in teaching.

2. Students will learn to carry on research in the field and to present it in formats suitable for reading at conferences or for publication in professional journals.

While almost every course requires students to write papers and to make an oral presentation, two courses, the proseminar at the beginning of the students’ program, and the Greek and Latin Poetry seminars at the end, focus on the various issues involved in doing research at the professional level and in thoroughly documenting it. These include ethical issues such as how to avoid plagiarism. Students in the poetry seminars present their papers in a panel at the end of the semester and many are subsequently submitted to conferences and journals. In these courses students are assessed by grades given by the instructors.

3. Students will master techniques of communicating research to the academic community and the public by organizing a professional conference.

This goal is met through an annual, international conference on a theme chosen by the students. They promulgate the call for papers, select the participants anonymously, raise the necessary funds, set up the schedule, advertise and host the conference in a professional manner.

Past student conference themes have included:

  • Secret Knowledge in the Ancient World: Acquisition and Concealment (2022)
  • Honor and Shame in Classical Antiquity (2020)
  • Xenoi: Hospitality and Xenophobia in the Graeco-Roman World (2019)
  • Sing, Muse, Literary, Theorical, and Historical Approaches to Music in Classical Antiquity (2018)
  • Crafting Ancient Identity: Mythological and Philosophical Approaches to the Self and Society in Antiquity (2017)
  • Through Their Words: Poetics, Aesthetics and Literary Theory in the Graeco-Roman World (2016)
  • Looking at the Stage: New Perspectives on Greek and Roman Performance (2015)
  • Dynamics of Friendship in the Graeco-Roman World (2014)
  • Beyond Words: Translation and the Classical World (2013)
  • Classica Africana: The African and African American Presence in the Classical Tradition (2012)
  • Spes et Ratio Studiorum: Education in the Classical World (2011)
  • Living on the Edge (2010)
  • Call It Peace (2009)
  • Profanum Vulgus (2008)

En-Route Degree Options for Ph.D. Students

Master of Arts (M.A.)

When a student has completed 45 credits and has passed the First Examination and one modern language exam, s/he may submit a research paper to the Executive Officer and receive an MA degree.

Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.)

When a student has completed 60 credits including all required courses, passed the Second Examination and both modern language exams, s/he may advance to candidacy and receive the M. Phil. degree by application to the Office of the Registrar.

Doctoral Certificates

While also working towards a Ph.D. in Classics, students can choose to complete a Certificate Program in one of the following interdisciplinary fields: Africana Studies, Critical Theory, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, Women's Studies and Interactive Technology and Pedagogy.