The Classics Ph.D. Program (Pre-2011)

Note: The requirements have been updated. Please see the 2011 revision.

The program of studies which leads to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Classics at Berkeley is designed to give a thorough preparation in the fundamentals of classical scholarship while encouraging the pursuit of intellectual enquiry and the development of original research according to the capacity and interests of the individual student. The examination and course requirements which every student must satisfy before being advanced to candidacy to write a dissertation are intended to ensure attainment, up to at least the minimum level essential for a Classical scholar, of specific skills and all-round competence, both in the languages (ancient and modern) and the fundamental techniques of scholarship, and in the ability to sustain informed and penetrating discussion; the dissertation is intended to demonstrate the student's ability to make a successfully independent and original contribution to research.

In addition the program has a practical professional aim. The holder of a Berkeley Ph.D. in Classics should be able to teach any lower division course in Greek or Latin, any upper division course in the language of special emphasis, and graduate courses in at least one area in the language of special emphasis and/or in an area common to both languages. This is the minimal aim, but all will be encouraged to go beyond it.

Ph.D. Requirements

1. Entry into the Program

1a. Students new to UC Berkeley who have an M.A. in Greek, Latin or Classics or equivalent preparation may be admitted to the Ph.D. program by the departmental admissions committee.

1b. Students in the UC Berkeley M.A. program will be reviewed, upon completion of their M.A. examinations, by a committee consisting of the M.A. Committee and the Graduate Advisor. (The Personal Advisor will normally attend this review, as a non-voting member unless already a member of the review committee.) The Committee will determine, on the basis of the student's performance in the M.A. examinations and course-work, and the written evaluations of instructors, whether or not the student should be admitted to the Ph.D. program. The decision of the review committee may be referred to a vote of the full department if (1) the student appeals the decision, or (2) there is a split vote in the committee, or (3) the committee is of the opinion that it needs the guidance of a full department meeting. This review may be waived under certain circumstances (see below under "Classics: Advising and Review").

2. Breadth Requirement

Upon entry into the Ph.D. program each student shall discuss with the GA and/or PA how most appropriately to fulfill the breadth requirement (see 5f).

3. Personal Advisor

Each student will have a Personal Advisor, that is a member of the faculty to whom the student can turn for help and advice concerning the course of study, general reading, development of research interests etc. The student will meet with his/her PA at the beginning and end of each semester and a note recording that these meetings have taken place will be appended to the student's file.

Students new to Berkeley will be advised initially by the GA, but immediately upon a student's entrance the GA will assign a temporary PA. After the student has had the opportunity to become acquainted with members of the faculty (ideally by the beginning of the second semester in the program, and in any case by the end thereof), he/she will choose a more permanent PA in consultation with the GA.

The GA himself/herself may serve as PA. A student may change Advisor at any time (this may in any case be necessitated by faculty leaves or induced by the student's advancement in the program or some change of interest).

The PA will attend any formal review of the student by the Ph.D. Committee and may attend (in a non-voting capacity unless already a member of the Committee) the student's Oral Qualifying Examination. The PA will have some obligation to represent the student's best interests and point of view at these meetings (though the extent and nature of advocacy on behalf of the advisee will naturally vary with the circumstances).

4. Annual Review

Every Ph.D. student will have a formal review meeting every year (generally every second semester) until Advancement to Candidacy with two members of the Ph.D. Committee (designated by the Ph.D. Committee Chair), for the purpose of discussing the student's overall progress in the program and giving guidance on the student's pursuit of his/her interests and long-term career; the student's PA may also attend these reviews. Minutes of the reviews will be taken and, after being agreed upon by all those present at the meeting, kept as part of the permanent record in the student's file.

The progress of students advanced to candidacy will be reviewed every year (generally every second semester) by at least two members of the student's dissertation committee. A departmental record of the review will be maintained in the student's file, and the GA will report the essence of such reports annually to the Dean of Graduate Division.

5. Course and unit Requirements

Comprehensive range

5a. Students will be advanced to candidacy only after satisfying the requirements specified below in paragraphs 6 and 8 and after demonstrating that they have studied to a satisfactory level the full range of Classics language and subject disciplines through courses offered by the Department (or occasionally courses offered by allied departments). The doctoral degree program will ordinarily involve completion, with a satisfactory grade, of at least 64 units of course work between the beginning of the M.A. program and advancement to candidacy (for new students entering the program directly the GA, in consultation with the Department Chair, may grant credit for equivalent courses completed satisfactorily elsewhere).

Graduate seminars

[Most Classics seminars may be taken in one of two different ways:

i) as "P" seminars, with the requirement of a final paper (or an equivalent workload, such as a final examination, as designated by the instructor) to be presented to the instructor and assessed as part of the final grade. P-seminars carry 4 units, with a regular letter grade.

ii) as "X" seminars, requiring full participation in the course but no paper (or equivalent as described under i) above). X-seminars carry 2 units, and are normally taken for a S/U grade only, except that arrangement may be made with the instructor beforehand, at the instructor's discretion, for a letter grade to be given. Where the regulations below refer to "P-seminars, or the equivalent number of X-seminars" one P-seminar = two X-seminars.]

5b. every student must complete satisfactorily at least 10 graduate level P-seminars, or the equivalent number of X-seminars, in Classics (or, occasionally, in an approved related field) in the 200 series (courses numbered 200, 250, 260, 298, 299 do not count for this purpose; the survey courses, Classics 201, 202, and 203 [but not any equivalent of 203] do count toward this total but not toward any of the following requirements; no more than 6 units of Classics 245 may be counted toward this requirement [subject to approval of both instructor and GA]) subject to the following further requirements:

5c. at least 5 P-seminars must be completed with a grade of A- or higher.

Language distribution

5d. at least one P-seminar shall be completed satisfactorily in a Greek subject taken in the Classics Dept., and at least one P-seminar in a Latin subject taken in the Classics Dept.;

5e. in addition to 5d at least 3 P-seminars, or the equivalent number of X-seminars, shall be completed satisfactorily in Greek subjects, and at least 3 P-seminars, or the equivalent number of X-seminars, shall be completed satisfactorily in Latin subjects; for the purposes of this requirement any one of 201A, 201B or 250 may be counted for Greek, and any one of 202A, 202B or 260 may be counted for Latin.

Breadth Requirement

5f. at least five P-seminars shall be completed satisfactorily in at least three of the following six fields: (1) archaeology/art history, (2) history, (3) linguistics, (4) literature, (5) papyrology/ epigraphy/ paleography, and (6) philosophy. Of these five P-seminars, at least two shall be completed satisfactorily in one of these fields.


5g. every student must complete satisfactorily Classics 200, the Proseminar, and Classics 203, Approaches to Literature. Exemption from either of these may be authorized by the GA only when a student has taken an equivalent course elsewhere; instead of Classics 203, a student may take an equivalent course in another department, but such equivalent shall not count toward the seminar requirement under 5b above. Classics 200 and Classics 203 will be offered in alternate years and students are encouraged to take each course the first time they have the opportunity (during the M.A. years, if applicable).

Seminars per semester

5h. at least 4 P-seminars must be taken in the first four semesters following entry to the Ph.D. program, and at least 1 X- or P- seminar each semester thereafter until Advancement to Candidacy is granted, except that a student who has fulfilled all unit and course requirements, but is not yet advanced to candidacy, may enroll instead in courses numbered 299 and 602.

300, 601, 602

5i. Units in 300-level courses and in 601 and 602 do not count toward residency or degree requirements; there is no limit on the total number of the 600 level units, but no more than 8 such units are allowed in any one semester.

6. Examinations

6a. A satisfactory level of competence must be demonstrated in all of the following:

6b.(1) Greek language translation. The examination is in two parts.

a) a 2-hour exam of unseen passages (intended to test "the ready scholar");

b) a 3-hour exam of prescribed texts (intended to test "the prepared scholar"). The passages are taken from a selection of texts comprising the Common List (as drawn up and published by the Department from time to time: see Appendix)

6c.(2) Latin Language Translation. The examination is in two parts.

a) a 2-hour exam of unseen passages (intended to test "the ready scholar");

b) a 3-hour exam of prescribed texts (intended to test "the prepared scholar"). The passages are taken from a selection of texts comprising the Common List (see Appendix)

6d.The four parts total of these examinations are separable and may be attempted in any order or combination.

6e.(3) Greek Prose Composition and Latin Prose Composition. Competence must be demonstrated in each language, either i) by passing the take-home exam set by the Ph.D. Committee, or ii) by completing the Advanced Prose Composition Course (250 or 260) with a grade of at least A-.

[Note: continuing Berkeley students may already have satisfied this requirement in one language.]

6f.(4) German and either French or Italian reading ability. 1-hour-fifteen-minute translation examinations are set in each language (a passage of 500 words for translation with the use of a dictionary, or 300 words without a dictionary).

[Note 1: these examinations are set and judged by the M.A. Committee.

Note 2: continuing Berkeley students will already have satisfied this requirement in at least one language.]

6g. Time-table

(i) All examinations are to be attempted not later than the fourth enrolled semester following admission to the Ph.D. program.

(ii) Any examinations not passed by the end of the fourth enrolled semester following admission to the Ph.D. program must be retaken each subsequent semester. Failure to pass any of the required exams by the end of the sixth enrolled semester following admission to the Ph.D. program will normally result in a request to the Dean of Graduate Division that the student be placed on probation.

(iii) New students entering the Ph.D. program directly must attempt the examination in their first modern language no later than the second enrolled semester in the Ph.D. program. If the exam is not passed on the first attempt it must be repeated in every subsequent enrolled semester until passed.

(iv) The examination in the second modern foreign language must be attempted for the first time no later than the third enrolled semester in the Ph.D. program, and if not passed must be repeated in every subsequent enrolled semester until passed.

(v) Notwithstanding 6g(ii), failure to complete the modern language requirement by the end of the fourth enrolled semester may result in termination from the program unless the examination committee votes to allow the candidate a subsequent attempt.

Individual Reading List

6h. By the beginning of the second semester after completion of the M.A., students must have constructed an Individual Reading List in consultation either with their PA or other suitable faculty member. The List must total not less than 300 pages of Oxford Text (or equivalent). (1000 lines of verse is to be taken as the equivalent of 33 pages of prose.) For the sake of individual flexibility, however, no restriction is imposed on the number of authors covered, nor on the proportion of Greek to Latin. After approval by the GA, the List will form part of the student's file, and progress on completing it will be monitored by the GA and by the faculty member originally consulted. The List will be presented to the student's Oral Examination Committee when the committee is constituted. Changes to the list may be made up until that time. The list may be taken into account by the Committee in their conduct of the examination.

7. Submission of Papers

7a. Every student is required to submit to the orals committee at least three papers in various fields of classical study demonstrating competence in methods of research, in the preparation of bibliographies, and in expository writing. One paper must be an exegetical commentary on a selected piece of Greek or Latin prose or poetry. One paper must be in the area of the proposed dissertation; or as an alternative to such a paper, the student may submit in its place a brief statement of interest concerning the probable area of dissertation research (3-10 pages in length, with an added bibliography of 2 or more pages).

Papers are to be written in an acceptable scholarly form, with documentation provided in footnotes or endnotes; a consistent scholarly style, such as would be acceptable in a scholarly periodical or other publication, should be maintained (the standard of style of Classical Antiquity is recommended but not required). Seminar papers may be submitted in unchanged form if the name of the professor as well as his/her comments on the paper (in their entirety) are included.

7b. Papers (including the alternative statement of interest) may be submitted to the GA at any time, but all three items must be in the student's file no later than two weeks after notification that the final written examination has been passed and the requisite courses and units completed.

7c. The orals committee will review the items submitted and approve them before the oral examination takes place, and will notify the GA before the oral examination of any deficiencies found in them. If an item is judged not to be in suitable form, or not to be of sufficient quality, the committee may require it to be rewritten and resubmitted before proceeding with the oral examination.

8. Oral Qualifying Examination

8a. The oral examination must take place as soon as possible after completion of all the written examinations and unit and course requirements: a student completing the requirements in the Fall Semester must take the oral no later than the 12th week of the following Spring Semester; a student completing the requirements in the Spring Semester must take the oral no later than the 5th week of the following Fall Semester.

[Note: under no circumstances may the oral examination take place before (1) all written examinations (or course-work substitutions) under 6 above and all unit and course requirements under 5 above have been completed successfully and (2) the three items under 7 above have been submitted and approved by the orals committee.]

8b. The orals committee. After consultation with the student, and taking cognizance of the distribution of the student's work as between the six fields listed in 5f and relative degree of concentration on Greek and Latin, the GA will recommend to the Graduate Division a committee of 4 members (3 of whom are members of the Classics Dept., one of whom is not) to conduct the oral exam. The committee will normally be selected within two weeks after notification that the final written examination has been passed and course and unit requirements met, and will be advised at once to review the items submitted by the student and to notify the GA as promptly as possible of any deficiencies found in them.

8c. Emphasis and scope of examination. In accordance with Graduate Council policy, at least three distinct areas are to be covered in this examination. For the purposes of the oral examination, each of the six fields listed in 5f is divided into two parts, Greek and Roman (or Latin). Students choose to be examined either in two parts of one field and one of a different field, or in three parts of three different fields (e.g. Greek literature or Roman history or Greek archaeology or Latin linguistics), with the proviso that no candidate may focus for the entire exam on areas that involve only Greek texts or only Latin texts. Papyrology/ epigraphy/ paleography is divided for this purpose into four sub-sections, any two of which are held to constitute one part of the field: papyrology, Greek epigraphy, Roman epigraphy, paleography. Philosophy is divided for this purpose into four sub-sections, any two of which are held to constitute one part of the field: Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle, post-Aristotelian philosophy. The student will also be examined in a special field connected to the probable area of his or her dissertation. This special field will usually be part of one of the broader fields just specified, and the designation of the special field is to be developed in consultation with the GA. The inclusion of the special field in the oral examination is intended to allow the student to demonstrate satisfactory plans and preparation in the proposed area of the dissertation topic. In their conduct of the examination, the examiners may also take into account the contents of the student's Individual Reading List.

8d. Judging of the oral examination shall conform to the rules set forth by the Graduate Division.

8e. Upon successful completion of this examination the student shall be eligible for award of the degree of Candidate in Philosophy (see 9b.).

9. The Dissertation

9a. Nature and scope. A dissertation is expected to be a full and original exposition of some aspect of classical study that has not previously been treated with the same fullness or from the same standpoint, and to demonstrate the ability to use the full range of methods and materials of classical scholarship in an enterprise of considerable, but limited, scope, largely on the student's own initiative.

9b. Selection of topic and supervising committee. No later than the semester following that in which the oral qualifying examination is passed, the student must file with the Graduate Division an Application for Advancement to Candidacy for Doctor of Philosophy; the application must contain a statement of title of the proposed dissertation. A supervising committee will be appointed, consisting of three members, one of whom is a Berkeley Academic Senate member from a department other than Classics. The function of the committee is to guide the candidate in research and judge the merits of the dissertation. It is the policy of the Graduate Division that the chair of this supervising committee not be the same as the chair of the oral qualifying examination committee. Selection of the chair and the other two members of the dissertation committee is made by the GA in consultation with the student, but is subject to the approval of the Administrative Committee of the Graduate Council, which is formally responsible for the appointment of the dissertation committee.

Following appointment of the supervising committee the student is required to confer with all three members before undertaking the work of a dissertation. The frequency with which the student confers with the three members of the committee is at the discretion of the student and the committee chair; however, members of the committee must be kept informed of the student's progress and must be consulted before any major changes of scope, direction or approach are made in the dissertation. Advanced candidates are reviewed annually (see §4 above).

Should it become necessary, in the opinion of the GA and the student, to replace a member of the supervising committee (e.g. because the member has left the University, or because of irreconcilable disagreement among the committee members and the student about the direction which the dissertation should take), the GA, after consultation with all three members of the committee, will apply to the Graduate Division for reconstitution of the committee, suggesting a replacement member. If at any stage in the writing of the dissertation the student and the GA are unable to agree on the constitution of the committee, the student has the right to appeal to the Department chair, or finally to the Dean of the Graduate Division.

9c. Satisfactory progress. Provisions for review of students advanced to candidacy and details about probation and lapsing of candidacy in cases of unsatisfactory progress are contained in the separate document "Evaluation of Progress of Classics Graduate Students".

9d. Final approval. When the student, after consultation with the chair of the dissertation committee, considers that the dissertation has been completed satisfactorily, a final version shall be submitted to the committee for approval. Responsibility for placing the completed dissertation in the hands of the committee members rests with the student.

If all three members of the committee approve the dissertation, they sign the official title page prepared by the Office of the Dean of the Graduate Division, where one copy is filed for later deposit in the University Library.

For further information on the format of the dissertation and on filing procedures see the Graduate Division's "Instructions for preparing and submitting Theses and Dissertations for Higher Degrees".

For the procedure to be followed in the rare event that the committee find, upon submission of a near final draft of the dissertation, that the work is not likely to be accepted without major alterations in either the research or the written presentation (i.e. more than minor revisions or editorial changes) see p.12 of the Graduate Division's document of November 1982 "Academic Progress Evaluation, Academic Standing and Appeals Procedures for Graduate Students".

After the dissertation has been approved by the candidate's committee the original is filed with the Dean of the Graduate Division, on a date specified by that office. Along with the dissertation an abstract of it in duplicate, in no more than 350 words, with one copy signed by the dissertation committee chair, is filed with the Graduate Division.

10. Normative Time

Normative Time, recommended by the Department and approved by the Graduate Council, which serves as the Graduate Division's basis for determining eligibility for Normative Time Fellowship, is as follows:

Time to Qualifying Exam/Advancement to Candidacy: 10 semesters

Time to complete dissertation: 4 semesters

Total: 14 semesters

11. Teaching Experience

Every student is required to teach at least two semesters before receiving the Ph.D. A student who completes the M.A. requirements at U.C. Berkeley and is allowed to proceed into the Ph.D. program will normally teach for two semesters in the academic year following the post-M.A. review, subject to approval by the Committee on GSIships. (If such approval is denied the student may normally expect to teach for two semesters in the following academic year.) A student who enters the Ph.D. program with an M.A. or equivalent from another university will normally teach for two semesters in the academic year following either (i) the passing of the Ph.D. Latin Translation examination or (ii) the passing of the Ph.D. Greek Translation examination plus completion of a minimum of two upper-division courses in Latin, with different instructors, at a grade of at least A- (whichever of (i) or (ii) occurs first), always subject to approval by the Committee on GSIships (if such approval is denied the student will normally expect to teach for two semesters in the following academic year).