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University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 13, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Classics, PhD

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Overview of Degree Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in Classics is integrated into the Joint Graduate Program in Classics, Philosophy and Ancient Science,

The program is primarily designed to train professional scholars and teachers of the Classics with a specialization in ancient philosophy, and/ or ancient science. The students’ primary association is with the Department of Classics. At the same time, they will work closely with graduate students and faculty drawn from the Departments of Philosophy and the History and Philosophy of Science. The rigorous curriculum is comprised of inter-departmental seminars offered by the graduate faculty from the three participating departments, and complemented by a range of seminars from across the University’s thriving intellectual departments and communities. The Ph.D. program mentors students’ professionalization by actively supporting publication, conference participation, and membership in professional organizations. It prepares students to participate in and contribute to scholarly conversations nationally and internationally. All Ph.D. students instruct a variety of undergraduate courses under mentorship of the faculty, which include Greek and Latin language classes, Greek and Roman civilization and history. Graduates of the program are well-qualified and competitive candidates for academic positions at a variety of institutions, post-doctoral research opportunities, and non-academic employment sectors

Requirements for the PhD

Degree Requirements

Course Requirements:

72 total credits of coursework are required for the Ph.D. Up to 24 (or up to 36 if previous doctoral work)  may be transferred from the institution where a student has earned an MA in Classics or Classical Studies. Students who are admitted and wish to transfer up to 36 credits must have passed the comprehensive exam at their previous institution.

Students are required to enroll in the following courses:

  • CPAS Proseminar (two terms, during year 1 in the program)
  • CPAS Ancient Greek Seminar (four terms, during years 1 and 2 in the program)
  • Four courses in Classics, one of which may be completed at the undergraduate level with appropriate graduate components added (e.g. papers and oral examinations, as approved by the DGS). These four must include:

· at least two Classics graduate seminars in Ancient Science (2000-level)

· at least two other graduate seminars in Classics or a related subfield (e.g. ancient Greek or Roman literature, history, archaeology, rhetoric, art history) approved by the student’s advisor and the DGS.

  • Two courses in Philosophy, including Metaphysics and Epistemology.
  • One course in History and Philosophy of Science: Part One of the ‘History of Science Sequence’ (equals one course).
  • Remaining credits may be earned through electives, Independent or Directed Study, and up to 12 credits of PhD dissertation research.

Comprehensive Ph.D. Examinations

Students are required to demonstrate expertise in both Greek and Latin by passing a translation exam by the beginning of the Fall Term of their second year. As a preparation, students are required to carry out independent work on the departmental reading lists in both Latin and Ancient Greek authors (as specified on the departmental lists and in discussion with the student’s advisor). This translation exam will represent the Doctoral Preliminary Examination. Students may petition to retake the exam subject to consensus of the Dissertation Committee (see the section ‘The Dissertation Committee’, below, p.8).

Before admission to Ph.D. candidacy, students must pass three Comprehensive (“Qualifying”) Examinations by the beginning of their third year in the program:

  1. Greek and Roman History
  2. Greek and Latin Literature
  3. Special Topic: either Classical Philosophy or Ancient Science

Students are required to demonstrate expertise in a second modern research language by passing a departmental exam by the beginning of their second year (one modern language qualification must have been obtained upon entry into the graduate program, see the section Admissions Requirements). This second modern research language must be German unless prior qualification in German has already been obtained before entry into the doctoral degree program. The modern foreign language requirement may also be satisfied by earning a ‘B’ or better in an appropriate reading course offered by the Departments of German and/or French and Italian Languages and Literature.

The Prospectus

The prospectus proposes the subject and plan for the completion of the dissertation. It must include the following items:

  • Abstract (ca. 200 words). The abstract gives a clear statement of the research topic and the main conclusion(s).
  • Proposal (ca. 3000-4000 words).
  1. statement of the research topic, with review of earlier scholarship on the
topic. Make clear to the reader how your work fits into the scholarly discussion of the topic. A precise mapping of your own position relative to the views of other scholars will make it easier for you to focus your attention on your own project and to define your contribution to the scholarship.
  2. description of the method(s) you will use in conducting your research. This item is related to the review of scholarship. In the course of the review you may single out the approach of a scholar or scholars that you have decided to follow in your own research; or you may reject previous approaches in favor of your own. Here you may include a specific example or examples of what kinds of evidence you will be using and how you will treat that evidence. A sample of the argumentation you will be using allows readers to see whether your method is adequate to the material you are working with.
  3. statement of the contribution that the dissertation will make to scholarship on the topic. Here you will explain how your work marks an advance in some way on what previous scholars have written.
  4. bibliography (not a comprehensive listing at this stage of all relevant items but rather of the works that at this point have stimulated and influenced your own thinking on the topic).
  • A Chapter Outline with a brief summary of contents for each one.
  • A Timetable for Completion, setting out a realistic schedule for completing the project.

For the submission of the prospectus, the student must file the Prospectus Form with the Graduate Administrator.  A prospectus meeting is then held to discuss the student’s completed prospectus. At that meeting the prospectus must be approved by the three members of the Classics faculty plus a member from outside the department (usually drawn from within the university but may, with special permission, be chosen from outside the university). These four members, all of whom must have graduate faculty status, will constitute the student’s Dissertation Committee (see the section ‘The Dissertation Committee’ below, p.8). All these committee members must be present for the prospectus meeting and later for the dissertation defense.

The Dissertation

This written work must demonstrate the student’s capacity to carry out independent and original research in the field of Classics, ancient philosophy and/ or ancient science. It must embody an extended original investigation of a problem of significance to these fields, and is the capstone to the research program of a student’s education. A specific description of the requirements, and of the final oral examination, which completes the requirements for the PhD,  can be found in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Bulletin

Dissertation Defense

When the student completes the dissertation and the supervisor believes it is ready to be defended, a dissertation defense is scheduled and the date of the defense must be published in advance in the University Times (see the Graduate Administrator about this; also note that the date of the defense must be set at least one month in advance so that it can be published on time). The student must submit to the full Dissertation Committee a complete, polished, copy-edited text with full scholarly apparatus and images. This must be submitted by November 1 at the latest to schedule a defense in the fall semester, or by March 1 at the latest to schedule a defense in the spring semester. There are no defenses in the summer semester. The defense is normally a two-hour conversation with the Dissertation Committee; all four members must be physically present. The defense is open to the public and may thus be attended by other students in the department as well as by family or friends of the student.

Students must submit an application to graduate in the term in which they plan to defend and must be enrolled for at least one credit or for Research and Dissertation for the Ph.D. Degree (CLASS 3000). The university now requires all dissertations to be filed electronically. Complete instructions can be found at Students should have their committee members sign the Electronic Theses and Dissertations Approval Form  at the defense.

Note: The defense must be passed no later than seven calendar years after the passage of the comprehensive exams. If a student does not pass their defense in this time limit, they must re-take the comprehensive exams in a format approved by the Dean’s Office.

Summary of Milestones towards the Ph.D. Degree

  1. Modern Language Exam by beginning of Year Two
  2. PhD Preliminary Examination by Beginning of Year Two
  3. Three Comprehensive Exams (oral and written) by beginning of Year Three
  4. Dissertation Prospectus by end of Year Three Fall Term
  5. Admission to PhD candidacy at least 8 months prior to defense
  •          # of courses required (list core courses, etc.)
  •          PhD Prelim Evaluation
  •          Comprehensive Exam
  •          Proposal/overview
  •          Dissertation and Final Examination





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