Ancient History Graduate Programs

Jan 31, 2019

Ancient history graduate programs usually focus on the Greco-Roman period and are available at the master's and doctoral levels. Find out more about each degree level and how to apply to the programs.

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Students can typically pursue study of ancient history in Master of Arts (MA) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree programs from a variety of institutions. These programs are often interdisciplinary and allow for flexibility in coursework so students can pursue various areas of interest. Learn more about the graduation requirements for these graduate programs below.

Master of Arts vs. Doctor of Philosophy in Ancient History

Master of Arts in Ancient History

Students may pursue an MA in Ancient History or an MA in Classics with an emphasis in ancient history and can usually complete their degree in about 2 years. These programs may require around 33 credits of coursework and have a foreign language requirement in Greek or Latin. Students are also likely to need to complete a comprehensive or qualifying exam and a master's research paper to graduate. Coursework for these degree programs are usually flexible to allow students to pursue personal research interests, but students may take seminars and courses in topics such as archaeology, Greek or Roman history, literature, research methods, art and material culture. Graduates of these degree programs tend to pursue doctoral study in classics or history, but could pursue other history-based careers.

Doctor of Philosophy in Ancient History

Students may also choose to earn a PhD in Ancient History or a joint PhD in Classics and Ancient History, which are typically interdisciplinary in nature and draw from subjects and coursework in areas like art, anthropology, classics, religious studies and philosophy. Students in these programs are typically able to further specialize in very detailed areas of the field, such as researching topics like Roman slavery, Greek historiography or Late Antiquity. These degree programs usually take at least 5 to 6 years to complete and require comprehensive exams, a dissertation, teaching responsibilities and usually a foreign language requirement, which may require students to have sufficient knowledge in 2 to 3 foreign languages. Coursework for these degree programs vary greatly based on a student's interests, but students may take seminars and courses in writing, methodologies, foreign language readings and various topics in history. Graduates of doctoral programs may work in academia, research or in museums and other historical organizations.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission for graduate degree programs in ancient history may be competitive as some programs are very small and/or provide funding for students. Typically, students need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some programs may require the GRE and/or a minimum GPA requirement around a 3.0. Common application materials for these degree programs include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and a writing sample. Some programs may also request a current resume or CV. At the doctoral level, students may be encouraged to make prior contact to various faculty members to begin searching for potential advisors with similar research interests.

MA and PhD programs in ancient history are usually interdisciplinary and research-based in nature and commonly require a final research paper. Students in these programs are also likely to need to learn at least 1 foreign language and complete comprehensive exams.

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