University of Pittsburgh


Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in Classics is primarily designed to train professional scholars and teachers of the classics. Full-time students with a good background in Greek, Latin, and classical studies may complete the program in three years beyond the MA degree but they should recognize that more time may be needed.

The MA comprehensive examination, previously described, serves also as the PhD preliminary examination. Admission to the doctoral program is dependent on a high level of performance on both the MA comprehensive examination and in course work. Students who have received the MA from another institution must take the MA comprehensive/PhD preliminary examination by the end of their first year of doctoral study, as described in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Depending on the nature of a student's previous preparation and performance in course work in the first term(s) at the University of Pittsburgh, the PhD preliminary examination will consist of one or more of the examinations that normally constitute the MA comprehensive examination. If a student does not include both Greek translation and Latin translation in the MA comprehensive examination, a qualifying examination in the language not previously covered by a translation examination must be taken early in the student's doctoral program.

The requirements for the PhD degree are at least 72 graduate-level credits. Required courses are as evenly divided as the curriculum allows, between six in Greek and six in Latin, as follows:

  1. Homer, Greek tragedy, Greek philosophy, Greek historians or history, one additional course in Greek poetry, and one additional course in Greek prose.
  2. Vergil, Latin lyric or elegiac poetry, Roman historians or history, one additional course in Latin poetry, and two additional courses in Latin prose.

(These twelve courses are expected to be on the 2000-level but, with the approval of the department, some courses on the 1000-level may be substituted. At least twelve courses on the 2000 level, however, must be included as part of the student's PhD program.) Courses already taken as part of the MA program may also be included in the course requirements for the PhD.

For the PhD, a reading knowledge of German and either French or Italian must be demonstrated at the earliest possible date. This requirement may be met either by completing the appropriate courses with the grade of B or higher or by examination(s) administered by the classics department.

Normally completed by the end of three years of full time graduate study, the PhD comprehensive consists of four written examinations:

  1. special author in Greek
  2. special author in Latin
  3. special genre
  4. special field or topic

The student is given considerable latitude in choosing individual topics for the PhD comprehensives, as long as the four examinations demonstrate competence in a variety of aspects of classical studies.

Upon completion of the comprehensive examination and all other requirements, the student, in consultation with a dissertation advisor, presents a prospectus of a dissertation to a faculty committee, following the general procedure described in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Bulletin. The dissertation must demonstrate the student's capacity to carry out independent and original research in the field of classics. A specific description of the requirements can be found in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Bulletin. The final oral examination, which completes the requirements for the PhD, is also described in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

All PhD students are required to take part in the department's undergraduate teaching program as preparation for scholarly and professional careers.

Students must complete all work for the PhD within ten calendar years from the time they began their study. For students entering the PhD program with an MA from another institution, the limitation is six calendar years from initial registration at the University of Pittsburgh, if credits from the previous master's program are applied towards the doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh.




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