Course Requirements

Students admitted directly to the PhD program without previous graduate study must take a minimum of sixteen courses (64 credits), with grades of B- or higher, preferably over a period of five or six semesters. No student is admitted into the program at the Post-Masters level, but for those entering with a MA the department reserves the right to change their status to Post-Masters after the first full year of study, dependent upon their progress toward the PhD. Students entering with a MA are required to take between eight and fourteen courses (32 – 56 credits), preferably within five semesters. The exact number of courses depends on how closely the student’s prior work parallels the PhD course requirements. All students must take Greek Composition (CL 520) and Latin Composition (CL 521).

In addition to the sixteen required 4-credit courses, all students who serve as Teaching Fellows must take CL 699 each semester. All first-year students must also take the Pro-Seminar both semesters.

A student with two failing grades (grades below B- or an incomplete older than 12 months) is no longer in academic good standing.

Modern Language Requirements

Proficiency in German and French must be demonstrated by written examination or by successfully completing GRS LG 621 Reading German or GRS LF 621 Reading French. With the consent of the department, another language may be substituted for French.

Qualifying Examination Requirements

Candidates must demonstrate, by written examination, proficiency in the following:

  • Modern Foreign Language: German
  • Modern Foreign Language: French
  • Greek Translation
  • History of Greek Literature
  • Latin Translation
  • History of Latin Literature
  • Special Author or Topic

Satisfactory Academic Progress Requirements

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS) and the Department of Classical Studies (CL) guarantee five full years of financial support for students who maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. This support will be in the form of Teaching Fellowships or Graduate Fellowships. Funding beyond five years may be available from outside the department. The time limit for completion of the PhD is seven years (exceptions require a petition to GRS). A leave of absence of up to two semesters is permitted for appropriate cause, but the leave period counts towards the seven-year time limit. The following achievements are required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. For greater detail consult the Classics Graduate Student Handbook:

End of First Year
Passing one PhD Translation Examination.

No Later than End of Second Year
Passing 2 of the 4 PhD Qualifying Examinations: Greek Translation, History of Greek Literature, Latin Translation, History of Latin Literature; fulfilling one modern foreign language examination.

No Later than End of Third Year
Completion of all course requirements; passing all PhD Qualifying Examinations; fulfilling the second modern foreign language requirement; fulfillment of the ancient history requirement.

No Later than End of Fourth Year
Completion of the Special Topic Examination; progress toward the Prospectus.

By January of Fifth Year
Successful defense of the Prospectus.

PhD Candidacy/Time Limits

When a student’s course and examination requirements are satisfied, the department will notify the Graduate School of the student’s candidacy. The Graduate School allows PhD students accepted into the post-B.A. program seven years to complete the PhD. If the degree is not finished within this period, a petition for extension must be filed. The Graduate School allows PhD students accepted into the post-M.A. program five years to complete the PhD. If the degree is not finished within this period, a petition for extension must be filed.

Dissertation Prospectus Procedures

As soon as possible after candidacy, each candidate should determine a dissertation topic in consultation with his/her advisor, identify a first reader and a second reader (a third reader is optional), and submit the topic and the names of the readers to the Director of Graduate Studies for approval by the department faculty. Except in unusual cases the readers will be members of the Department of Classical Studies.

Upon approval of the topic and readers, the candidate, in consultation with the readers, will develop and draft a dissertation prospectus that demonstrates the viability of the proposed topic and the candidate’s ability to complete the dissertation within a specified schedule. The prospectus should be completed before the main phase of dissertation research is begun. The prospectus should include a statement of the principal problems to be addressed, the general scholarly importance of the subject, the principal methodologies to be deployed, tentative subdivisions or chapters, and a bibliography of significant previous work on and relevant to the topic. The prospectus must not exceed twenty double-spaced (or ten single-spaced) pages, not including bibliography (i.e., about 8500 words).

When the candidate and readers are satisfied with the draft prospectus, they will submit it to the director of graduate studies, who will circulate copies to all faculty, make copies available to interested graduate students, and schedule an oral presentation that is open to all members of the department. For the candidate and readers, the oral presentation is an opportunity for collegial discussion of the prospectus, for eliciting advice and suggestions and for identifying and clearing up potential problems. For the faculty, the oral presentation is an opportunity to participate in the planning of the candidate’s topic and to determine its soundness and likely success or failure as a dissertation. The director will discuss with the candidate and readers the outcome of the oral presentation and supervise whatever changes are in order (these may range from minor revisions to abandonment of the topic altogether). The final version of the prospectus is then submitted to the department and, through the department, to the Graduate School on or before the date specified in the Graduate School Graduation Calendar.

Dissertation Procedures

The dissertation must demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct original research and creative scholarship. In writing the dissertation, the candidate should work closely with the readers and submit sections of the work in progress to them regularly for review and revision.

The candidate must conduct an oral defense of the dissertation in final draft before the examining committee and demonstrate a mastery of the subject with which the research is concerned. The examining committee is composed of at least five Graduate School faculty members, at least two of whom are from the Department of Classical Studies. One examiner may be from outside the University. The membership of the committee is nominated by the first reader, in consultation with the student, but must be approved by the Chairman or the Director of Graduate Studies.

At least six weeks before the tentative date of the final oral exam the candidate must:

  • give the readers and the committee the final draft of the dissertation

At least three weeks before the final oral exam is held the candidate must:

  • obtain approval of the final draft from the readers and from all members of the examining committee
  • obtain initial approval of the dissertation abstract from the readers, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chairman (the abstract is a summary of the dissertation that cannot exceed 350 words in length and describes its thesis, methods, and general content for publication)
  • submit the approved abstract to the Graduate School
  • submit the approved abstract, along with the official Graduate School form for the oral defense (prepared by the first reader), to the department office

At least two weeks before the final oral exam the candidate must:

  • submit the schedule of the examination to the Graduate School
  • submit fourteen (14) copies of the approved abstract to the Graduate School

The Graduate School determines the deadlines for registering the candidate’s thesis topic, for presentation of the official draft of the dissertation to the members of the examining committee, for delivery of the fair copy of the dissertation, and for the awarding of the degree. The Graduate School also controls the format of the published version of the dissertation (paper size, style-sheet, binding, etc.). For these deadlines and requirements, the candidate should consult the Graduate School Records Coordinator (617-353-2696) located at 705 Commonwealth Avenue Room 112. In addition, the Graduate School provides a Guide to the Writing of Dissertations and Theses and Mugar Library provides a pamphlet on dissertation-writing.

Refer to the Bulletin of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for more information on deadlines, and contact Professor Stephen Scully, Director of Graduate Studies, (617-353-2427) for more information regarding these requirements.