Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The interdisciplinary program of graduate study in Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology (AHMA) is conducted by a group that includes more than 20 faculty members affiliated with seven different Berkeley departments as well as the Graduate Theological Union. A chair, a graduate adviser, and a student affairs officer administer the program.

The AHMA program offers PhD degrees in areas that combine work in archaeology and history and related disciplines of ancient studies. Most of its graduates have successfully secured teaching positions in Departments of Classics, Art History, History, Anthropology or Near Eastern Studies in colleges and universities in the US or abroad, including Bar-Ilan, Haifa, Volos, Oxford, Toronto, Columbia, Madison, Austin, and Pennsylvania.

Students are not admitted to work specifically for the MA degree, although those working toward the PhD may file for an MA after fulfillment of the requirements for Stage 1. Students work closely with faculty in courses, seminars, and independent research projects to develop independent thought as well as a thorough knowledge of their fields and their critical methods.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. A complete list of graduate academic departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

The AHMA program is open to students with a BA degree in a relevant field of study (such as Classics, Near Eastern Studies, History, or History of Art) that have completed at least one year of undergraduate work in ancient history, ancient art, archaeology, or related fields. Applicants primarily interested in the Greek and Roman worlds should be prepared to undertake advanced work in either Greek or Latin and its culture, and also should have basic competence in the second of these two languages. Applicants primarily interested in the ancient Near East and Egypt do not have to display competence in one of the area’s ancient languages before applying, but to do so may strengthen their application considerably.

Students who have already acquired the MA degree in a relevant field are especially encouraged to apply and will be considered for direct admission to the PhD program. The AHMA faculty as a group approves all applicants for admission. AHMA policy is to limit enrollment to the number of students who can be adequately supported for the first five years of their graduate career. Although AHMA receives around 35 applications per year, we can only enroll one to two students each fall. Competition therefore is extremely keen. As a result, while some applicants may be rejected for lack of preparation or for undistinguished academic records, a substantial number who are capable of doing good graduate work unfortunately also must be denied admission.

The AHMA faculty judges and ranks applicants on a combination of criteria that includes:

  • Preparation to undertake advanced scholarly work.
  • Academic distinction as reflected in overall GPA, major GPA, and junior and senior year GPA, as well as awards, prizes, or publications.
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation.
  • A statement of purpose, which should be clearly and cogently written and indicate why the applicant is interested in the AHMA program and where his or her specialization might lie.
  • A scholarly writing sample between 25-30 pages and indicating the origin of the writing sample (i.e. a class paper, senior honors thesis, MA thesis.

An applicant with an MA is expected to offer substantially stronger preparation than one with only a BA. Applications must be submitted electronically either via Graduate Division’s online application. The online application process for fall normally opens in early September. The deadline for applications is early December.

Doctoral Degree Requirements


Students declare three fields: a First field, a Second field, and a Special field. The First and Second fields are chosen from the following four options: North Africa; Greek world; West and/or Central Asia; and Roman world. All four First/Second fields embrace both history and archaeology/material culture. A third, Special field, is tailored to the student’s specific interests.


Pre-MA students are required to take at least 12 courses. They are also required to write no fewer than 8 seminar papers in those 12 courses.

Post-MA students are required to take at least 8 courses. They are also required to write no fewer than 5 seminar papers in these 8 courses.

Courses that normally satisfy these requirements will be from AGRS, AHMA, ANTHRO, CLASSIC, HISTART, HISTORY, and MELC.


Students satisfy program requirements in four languages, two ancient and two modern. One ancient language is designated as primary, the other as secondary. 


Students are required to participate in either (a) at least one season of excavation or survey, or (b) one summer program in archaeology, material culture, or a relevant technical discipline, or (c) a summer internship, usually in a museum.

Petition to Proceed

Every student must submit a Petition to Proceed to Stage II of the program. This occurs for pre-MA students no later than the beginning of the fifth semester, and for post-MA students no later than the beginning of the third semester. 


In order to advance to PhD candidacy, students must pass a written exam covering the First field and an oral Qualifying Examination (QE) covering all three fields. 


After passing their QE, students must compose a prospectus of the intended dissertation, present it at a colloquium for approval, and then, under the supervision of a Dissertation Committee, complete a dissertation that makes an original contribution to the subject.


Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

Contact Information

Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology

7233 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4218

Fax: 510-643-2959

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Emily Mackil (History)

2312 Dwinelle Hall

Head Graduate Advisor

Benjamin Porter

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Grant Tompkins

3414 Dwinelle Hall

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