About the Program
The program of studies which leads to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Classics at Berkeley is designed to give a thorough preparation in the fundamentals of classical scholarship while encouraging the pursuit of intellectual inquiry and the development of original research, according to the capacity and interests of the individual student. Every student must satisfy the examination and course requirements before being advanced to candidacy to write a dissertation. These requirements are intended to ensure that all classical scholars attain at least a minimum level of specific skills and all-around competence in ancient and modern languages, history, literature, the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, 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 UC Berkeley PhD 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 we encourage our scholars to go beyond it.
Admission to the University
Minimum Requirements for Admission
The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:
- A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
- If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
- Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.
Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree
The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.
Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.
Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.
The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:
- Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
- Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.
Required Documents for Applications
- Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable).
- Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
courses in English as a Second Language,
courses conducted in a language other than English,
courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
courses of a non-academic nature.
Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.
Where to Apply
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Admission to the Program
Competition for admission to graduate study at Berkeley is extremely keen. In recent years there have been from 50-70 applicants per year, and the department’s admission quota has been around 12 admits, with the expectation that 4 to 5 new students will enroll each fall. While some applicants are denied admission for lack of adequate preparation or for undistinguished academic records, a substantial number each year who are judged capable of doing good graduate work at Berkeley are denied admission through a process of competitive ranking, based on a holistic review of the files. The department's policy is to try to limit enrollment to the number of students who can be fully supported through a normal graduate career.
Applicants are judged by an admissions committee of 5 to 7 faculty members, including the graduate adviser. The committee represents a variety of specialties and interests, and different members assign somewhat different weights to the various criteria for admission, which include the following:
- Preparation: In Greek and Latin. Whether the applicant has a major in Greek or Latin or classical languages or some other subject, the committee is looking for, as a minimum, language preparation more or less equivalent to what is received in the undergraduate major at Berkeley itself. This includes a full year of introductory language study, three additional semesters in central authors or texts of each language (e.g., Homer [3-4 books], Plato [a short dialogue], Greek drama [1 complete play], Vergil [3-4 books], Republican prose [40-50 pages], Horace [30 poems]) plus two additional semesters of more advanced reading in either Greek or Latin. In practice, a student with two years of study in the weaker language is usually considered marginally prepared. An applicant with an MA is expected to offer substantially stronger preparation in at least one of the two languages, since the committee will be judging such an applicant against a real or notional pool of other MA students and not against students with only a BA. Elements of additional preparation which reflect favorably on an applicant include: especially extensive reading in one or both languages; reading knowledge of modern languages (particularly German and/or French or Italian); experience in research and writing, such as that provided by a senior thesis; courses in ancient history, classical civilization, ancient and world literature in translation, philosophy, art history, archaeology, anthropology, and other disciplines that are helpful to the broad range of classical studies.
- Academic Distinction: The committee considers overall GPA, GPA in junior and senior years, and GPA in classics courses, with emphasis on the last two and especially on the last. A student who has floundered in other fields earlier in his or her undergraduate education and then performed well upon discovering classics is not necessarily at a disadvantage because of the earlier record, although the committee is duly impressed by candidates who have been able to achieve excellence in many disciplines. **Applicants who were earning their undergraduate degrees or MAs in spring 2020 - Classics admissions committees will review applications with special consideration of the Covid-19 situation.**
The department has had many students from overseas and in evaluating academic distinction makes every effort to make appropriate allowances for the differences in grading and examination systems. Successful applicants from Great Britain usually have a first class or a high second class degree.
- Letters of Recommendation: A minimum of three letters of recommendation is required. The Committee values letters that are frank and specific as to the applicant’s achievement and promise. The contacts for letters of recommendation will be entered by you during the online application process. Recommenders will be contacted via email to submit their recommendation online.
- GRE Scores: The Department of Classics no longer requires GRE scores with applications for admission.
- Statement of Purpose: The committee appreciates clearly-written and cogent statements of purpose explaining why applicants are interested in graduate work in classics, what they hope to accomplish, and where their eventual specialization may lie. The statement of purpose is also the appropriate place for the applicant to address and explain any particular weaknesses in the dossier.
- Writing Sample: A sample of scholarly writing (such as a paper written for a course or a portion of a senior honors thesis) offers the committee important insight into the candidate’s interpretative skills and suitability for advanced work in Classics. Where possible, the most useful writing sample is one that represents the applicant’s scholarly interests as well as abilities in analysis and argumentation.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
|CLASSIC 203||Approaches to Classical Literature||4|
|Elective Seminars (40 units in 200 series; 200, 250, 260, not counted):|
|5 Electives Letter-graded A- or Higher|
|5 Electives in minimum of three out of six specified fields (with 2 electives minimum in one of six specified fields)|
|Greek Subjects (4 units must be CLASSIC 201A, CLASSIC 201B, OR CLASSIC 250)||16|
|Latin Subjects (4 units must be CLASSIC 202A, CLASSIC 202B, OR CLASSIC 260)|
|CLASSIC 375||Teaching of Classics: Methods and Problems||3|
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Susanna Elm, Professor. History of the Later Roman Empire, pagan - Christian interactions, ancient medicine, slavery and the evolution of Christianity, leadership and empire, reception of antiquity.
Giovanni R. F. (John) Ferrari, Professor. Classics, ancient philosophy, Greek culture, ancient poetics and rhetoric.
Christopher Hallett, Professor. Classics, Roman art, visual culture, portraiture, Hellenistic art, Roman Asia Minor, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt.
Todd Hickey, Professor. Classics, papyrology, Greek, Egyptian, social and economic history, late antiquity.
+ Leslie V. Kurke, Professor. Classics, Greek literature and culture, archaic Greek poetry, Herodotus.
Duncan MacRae, Assistant Professor. Classics.
Sara Magrin, Associate Professor. Ancient epistemology and psychology, Plotinus.
Maria Mavroudi, Professor. Byzantine studies.
+ Kathleen Mccarthy, Professor. Classics, Roman literature and culture, slavery.
Trevor M. Murphy, Associate Professor. Ethnography, classics, Roman prose authors.
Ellen Oliensis, Professor. Latin Literature, Ovid.
Nikolaos Papazarkadas, Professor. Greek epigraphy, Greek history.
J. Theodore Pena, Professor. Roman archaeology, Roman and pre-Roman Italy, city of Rome, Pompeii, ancient economy, ceramic analysis, material culture studies.
James Porter, Professor. Classical Studies, philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, Nietzsche, Auerbach.
Dylan Paul Sailor, Professor. Rhetoric, classics, Greek literature, Latin Literature, ancient Greek, Latin, historiography, ancient Rome, ancient Greece.
Kim S. Shelton, Associate Professor. Ceramics, classical civilization and archaeology, Aegean prehistory, religion/mythology.
Mario Telo, Professor. Greek literature, Roman drama, critical theory.
Daniela Cammack, Assistant Professor. Ancient Greek democracy, Roman politics, the history of democracy and constitutionalism.
Timothy Clarke, Assistant Professor.
Klaus Corcilius, Associate Professor. Ancient philosophy.
+ Andrew Garrett, Professor Emeritus . Linguistics, English, California, language change, Indo-European languages, historical linguistics, northern California Indian languages, linguistic structure, typology, ancient Greek, Latin, Irish, Oceanic languages.
Kinch Hoekstra, Associate Professor. History of political, moral, and legal philosophy, ancient, renaissance, and early modern political thought.
Emily Mackil, Associate Professor. History.
Ramona Naddaff, Associate Professor. Rhetoric, aesthetics, theory of the novel, ancient Greek philosophy and literature, history of philosophy, contemporary French thought.
+ Carlos Norena, Associate Professor. History.
Martin Schwartz, Professor. Middle Eastern studies, Iranian studies.
+ Mark Griffith, Professor Emeritus. Gender and sexuality, Greek literature and performance, Greek and Roman education, Greek tragedy and comedy, Hesiod and wisdom literature, ancient music.
Anthony A. Long, Professor Emeritus . Professor of the Graduate School, Chancellor's Professor Emeritus of Classics and Irving G Stone Professor Emeritus of Literature, Affiliated Professor of Philosophy and Rhetoric: Classics, Greek literature, ancient philosophy.
Donald Mastronarde, Professor Emeritus. Professor of the Graduate School and Emeritus Melpomene Distinguished Professor of Classical Languages and Literature: classics, Greek literature, Greek drama, Greek textual transmission, Greek literary papyrology, Greek palaeography.
+ Andrew F. Stewart, Professor Emeritus. Archaeology, classics, Greek sculpture, ancient art and architecture, the Hellenistic east after Alexander, the Renaissance reception of antiquity.
Department of Classics
3413 Dwinelle Hall
Head Graduate Advisor
Graduate Student Advisor