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The Classics Program at the Graduate Center offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Greek and Roman classics.

Program Goals

The students of the PhD Program in Classics will achieve mastery of the languages, literatures, and civilization of the Greco-Roman world. To accomplish this they 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 several research papers grounded in primary sources in the process of their course work, as well as a doctoral dissertation that demonstrates their ability to do original, documented research in the field.

1. The First Examination

The first examination assesses the student’s ability to translate Greek and Latin literary texts by means of written exams in each language grounded in a reading list approved by the faculty and posted on the Program’s website. These exams demonstrate that a student has achieved the first Program goal: “mastery of the languages of the Greco-Roman world.” Students are expected to take both parts when they have earned between 30 and 45 credits. The Greek and Latin examinations are taken separately and are offered twice a year. They are composed by two examiners and graded pass/fail by two other examiners. Students who fail either examination on the first try may take it again. A student who fails the same examination a second time must petition the Program’s Executive Committee for the right to take it a third time.

2. The Second Examination

The second exam demonstrates that the student has achieved parts two and three of the Progam’s goals: “mastery of the literature and civilization of the Greco-Roman world.” It is given in three parts: a written examination in ancient history, an oral examination in the history of Greek literature, and an oral examination in the history of Latin literature. These may be taken in any order. The ancient history examination, composed by two examiners and graded by two others, is given twice a year; the oral examinations are each administered by a panel of three faculty members, and are offered at mutually convenient times during the academic year. For each of the three exams, the student will choose in advance a special topic and work on that topic with a faculty advisor who is also one of the examiners. A portion of the exam addresses the special topic, while the remainder is grounded in general knowledge. Students will prepare for the general knowledge portion of the oral examinations using a reading list posted on the Program’s website that is more expansive than the list used for the first examination. Students who fail any part of the Second Examination may take it again, but if it is failed a second time, they must petition the Program’s Executive Committee for the right to take it a third time.

3. The Dissertation

The dissertation demonstrates that students have achieved the final Program goal: “to do original, documented research in the field.” It is evaluated by a committee of three members of the CUNY Graduate Faculty chosen by the student and the Executive Officer in consultation with one another. Outside experts may also be added to the committee at the student’s request.

The first stage is the presentation of a prospectus, including a statement of the problem, a bibliography and an outline. This prospectus is assembled by the student in consultation with the dissertation director and formally discussed with the committee. If the committee sees serious problems, the student will be asked to address them and return to meet with the committee once again with a revised prospectus.

During the period when the student is working on the dissertation, he or she meets frequently with the dissertation director and communicates by e-mail. The other committee members begin to participate as readers as the project advances. The student’s final responsibility is a formal defense of the dissertation before the committee and if the student wishes, invited guests.

The dissertation is expected to constitute a new contribution to knowledge. It tests the student’s ability to engage with both primary and secondary sources, and to apply the skills learned in the writing of seminar papers to a larger project. It also enables committee members to assess the student’s capacity to read Greek and/or Latin texts with precision and nuance. It is the final measure of the student’s readiness to enter the academic profession.

4. Professional Development and Ethics Learning Goals

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Ph.D. Degree

The following requirements are in addition to the University requirements for the Ph.D. stated in the Bulletin.

The Program in Classics offers the Ph.D. in Classics, with the option of a specialization in Ancient History. Students must declare which option they intend to pursue by the time they have completed 30 credits of course work.

Course of Study.  The curriculum for all doctoral students in Classics consists of a minimum of 60 graduate credits beyond the baccalaureate degree.

Required courses.  Students concentrating in Classical Philology and students concentrating in Ancient History will follow similar courses of study through the first 30 credits of course work.

Within the first 30 credits all students must take:

  • Greek Rhetoric and Stylistics
  • Latin Rhetoric and Stylistics
  • Proseminar in Classics

Students concentrating in Classical Philology will also take one course from each of the following categories:

  • Greek poetry, 8-6th cen. BCE
  • Greek poetry, 5th cen. BCE
  • Greek prose, any period
  • Latin poetry, Republican
  • Latin poetry, Augustan
  • Latin prose, any period
  • Greek or Roman history or archaeology

Students concentrating in Ancient History will choose their courses from each of the following categories:

  • Greek history, 2 courses
  • Roman history, 2 courses
  • Greek poetry, any period
  • Latin poetry, any period
  • Greek prose, any period, preferably a historical author
  • Latin prose, any period, preferably a historical author

Elective courses.  For the remaining credits the student will plan a program of study, with the approval of an adviser, from among the listed author and special topics courses. Students are encouraged to balance as evenly as possible courses in ancient Greek and Latin.

First examination.  This is a written examination in two parts that are taken separately in the period following the completion of 30 credits and before the completion of 45 credits. For students concentrating in Classical Philology, the areas are (1) Greek translation and (2) Latin translation. For students concentrating in Ancient History, the areas are (1) Greek or Latin translation and (2) Greek and Roman history.

Modern Languages.  All students will be required to demonstrate by written examination a knowledge of German and either French or Italian adequate to read scholarly works in those languages.

Ongoing MA. 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.

Second examination.  The second examination is in three parts. The parts are taken separately when the student has completed, or is close to completing, 60 credits and all other requirements for the Ph.D. with the exception of the dissertation.

Students concentrating in Classical Philology will be examined in (1) the History of Greek literature, (2) the History of Latin literature, (3) Greek and Roman History. The parts may be taken in any order. The History of Greek literature and the History of Latin literature exams will be oral and will include a section on a special topic or author approved by a faculty adviser and the Executive Officer. The ancient history examination is a written examination.

Students concentrating in Ancient History will take the following examinations: (1) a written translation examination in the classical language not taken as part of the first exam; (2) a written examination in Greek and Roman literature; (3) an oral examination in Greek and Roman history.

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

Advancement to Candidacy and the M. Phil. degree. 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.

Dissertation.  The candidate is required to write a dissertation on a subject approved by a committee of the doctoral faculty. As part of this approval process the student will write a dissertation proposal and meet with the committee to answer questions on the proposal and the general area(s) of the dissertation. After the dissertation has been completed and approved by this committee, the candidate will defend the dissertation at a final oral examination.

Masters Degree

The MA Program in Classics offers a terminal Master of Arts degree. MA graduates wishing to matriculate in the PhD Program must apply in the usual way, and will be considered on an equal basis with the other applicants. There is no automatic pass-through between the programs, but if an MA graduate is admitted to the PhD Program, all 30 of the credits earned at the masters level will be counted toward the PhD.

Course of Study. The students must follow a program of study approved by an adviser, including graduate courses totaling a minimum of 30 credits, distributed as follows:

Required courses:

  • Greek Rhetoric and Stylistics (3 credits);
  • Latin Rhetoric and Stylistics (3 credits);
  • One course each on texts from the following categories: Greek poetry, Greek prose, Latin poetry, Latin prose.

Elective courses:

The student is encouraged to balance elective courses as evenly as possible between Greek and Latin authors.

Upon completion of course requirements, the student must pass a comprehensive examination that will test general competence and competence in a special area selected by the student with the adviser's approval. Part of this comprehensive examination will test the student's ability to translate into English selected passages of either ancient Greek or Latin; this part is normally taken separately.

The student must pass an examination demonstrating a reading knowledge of French, German, or Italian. This requirement should be discharged as early as possible.

The final requirement for the degree is a thesis approved by a designated faculty committee. The student must maintain matriculation while writing the thesis.