Classical Archaeology

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Classics offers both the MA and PhD in Classical Archaeology (the archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds).  All students apply to the PhD program. Those with the BA as their highest degree are admitted to the MA program, while in some instances those who hold an MA in classical archaeology or a related field are admitted directly to the PhD program. Students admitted to the MA program receive the MA upon completion of the MA requirements and then apply for advancement to the PhD program.

The Program in Classical Archaeology accepts a broad definition of the field, recognizing its grounding in both the humanities and the social sciences. It accordingly provides a rigorous general preparation in the archaeology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds while allowing students to develop one or more specializations in a variety of specific areas. Students are required to participate in archaeological fieldwork in the Mediterranean (in many cases, participating in projects directed by UC Berkeley faculty) and are also encouraged to work with the unusually rich array of artifactual, epigraphical, and papyrological materials housed on the UC Berkeley campus. At the PhD level students opt to focus on either Greek archaeology or Roman archaeology, with their specific fieldwork, course, and ancient and modern language requirements determined by this choice.

Students who complete the PhD program should be well-qualified candidates for college and university-level teaching positions in classical archaeology and — depending upon their specific course of study — curatorial appointments in ancient art.

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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. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, 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 and steps to take to apply 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

Competition for admission to graduate study at Berkeley is extremely keen. In recent years there have been from 60-80 applicants per year, and the department’s admission quota has been around 12 to 16 admits, with the expectation that 5 to 7 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. 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 five to seven 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:

  1. 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: courses in Greek or Latin composition; especially extensive reading in one or both languages; reading knowledge of modern languages (particularly German and/or French or Italian); 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.
  2. 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. Successful applicants in recent years have usually offered a junior/senior GPA in the range of 3.6 to 4.0, with many above 3.8. 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.
    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.
  3. 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. If possible, recommenders should make comparisons with other students they know have applied to or enrolled at Berkeley. 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.
  4. GRE Scores: The program no longer requires GRE scores for applications to the program.
  5. 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.
  6. Writing Sample: The committee finds it helpful for candidates to submit a sample of scholarly writing, such as a paper written for a course or a portion of a senior honors thesis. (A candidate who wishes to submit an entire honors thesis should submit a summary with the application and indicate its most representative sections.) Writing samples are submitted as part of the online application. Members of committees differ in their treatment of writing samples. Some refer to them only if they judge the previous five criteria insufficiently indicative.

Doctoral Degree Requirements


CLASSIC C204Proseminar in Classical Archaeology and Ancient Art2,4
CLASSIC 375Teaching of Classics: Methods and Problems3
Elective Courses:12
12 units in Classical Archaeology, Art History, or Classics, courses numbered above 204
Elective Seminar in Ancient History, unless exam is taken in this field
Two Electives in Greek History, unless exam is taken in this field
Two Roman History Electives, unless exam is taken in this field


Classical Archaeology

Contact Information

Department of Classics

3413 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-4218

Fax: 510-643-2959

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Department Chair

Dylan Sailor

Head Graduate Advisor

Leslie Kurke

Graduate Student Advisor

Kristen Brooks

3411 Dwinelle

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