The Department of Classics admits students into two graduate degree-granting programs and one certificate program:

  • M.A. (Full-time or Part-time)
  • Ph.D.
  • Post-baccalaureate (certificate) 

The M.A. is a Masters program in which student are not enrolled to continue on to the Ph.D. They may apply to do so if they wish. Students in this program may do so on a Part-time or Full-time basis (see below).

Students in the Ph.D. program have been admitted to a five-year fellowship during which, subject to their satisfactory completion of the requirements at each stage, they will attain an MA (usually by their third semester and no later than their fourth semester), and an MPhil (by the end of their sixth semester and no later than their eighth semester), before receiving the PhD after the completion and successful oral defense of an extended research dissertation. (Details below.)

The Post-baccalaureate Certificate Program in Classics is designed for those students who wish to improve their proficiency in reading Greek and Latin, and particularly those interested in pursuing a graduate degree in Classics or Classical Studies at Columbia or another institution who might not yet have the requisite background in Greek and Latin to be successful with those applications. This program, which is not a degree-granting program, provides intensive training in the ancient classical languages and can be completed in two semesters of full-time study (four courses per semester).  Please click here for more information about our post-baccalaureate program.


The M.A. degree is earned in either Greek or Latin, and adequate reading knowledge in that language is required for admission. Students are also expected to have completed at least one year of advanced work in the other language; transcripts of undergraduate course work are accepted as evidence that this requirement has been met. Students will generally be able to complete the M.A. degree in one academic year, but they may also enroll as a part-time student. No full-time student may take longer than four semesters to complete the degree. Part-time students may complete the degree in up to eight consecutive semesters. Leaves of absence that extend the time limit will only be granted in cases in which a student's other obligations conflict unavoidably with attendance at the University. The time limit may be extended by petition in special circumstances. A modest scholarship may be available to qualifying candidates. See the GSAS website for more information on financing the M.A.

Course Requirements

·       30 credits comprised of nine or ten courses, 7 of which must be taken for graded credit 

·       All courses must be 4000-level or above

·       Of these courses, students are required either to attend two semesters of the Graduate Research Colloquium (CLCV GR5010 – 2 credits each semester), or to write a MA thesis under the rubric of CLPH GR 5000 (4 credits). The written product of CLPH GR 5000, the MA Thesis, is designed to supplement the work done to complete the requirements for one of the primary courses. The trajectory of the assignment for CLPH GR5000, and the details of how it will be supervised, must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

·      Courses must include either Greek or Latin 4105, 4106, and 5139, and they must be taken for graded credit; exemption from Greek or Latin 5139 may be given on the basis of an examination. 

·      Courses taken for R credit or Pass/Fail do not count toward the degree.

·      Students are expected to maintain at least a B+ average.

·      Students should meet with the DGS at the beginning of each semester to review their program. In addition, a mentor who is more closely related to their academic interests will be assigned to each MA student as a further advising figure.

·      Two Residence Units (RU) are required for the degree. For more information about Residence Units click here.

·      Although there is no modern language requirement as such, students who intend to pursue a doctoral degree in the future are advised to begin acquiring a reading knowledge of German and either French or Italian.


The Ph.D. is a degree program comprised of three stages. At the successful completion of each stage, students will be awarded the corresponding degree. The MA is generally completed by the end of the second and or no later than the fourth semester of coursework. The M.Phil. should be completed in the third year of study after a completion of coursework, exams and written work, and no later than the end of the fourth year of study. The Ph.D. dissertation prospectus should be defended by the beginning of the eighth semester, but not later than the end of the eighth semester. The Ph.D. is completed after a successful defense of a doctoral dissertation.


As above, but omitting CLPH 5000 MA Thesis, and requiring students to pass one modern language exam. 


Continuation of study beyond the M.A. degree is authorized by the Director of Graduate Studies. The M.Phil. degree is always in Classics, both Greek and Latin. Thus, coursework and examinations are related to the study of both classical languages and their literatures (including their cultural and political backgrounds). Programs of study are individually arranged in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. 

[The following requirements represent changes implemented in 2017-18. Students admitted prior to 2018-19 may choose to follow these requirements or the previous ones, found here. All students admitted in 2018-19 and beyond will follow the requirements detailed below.] 

General Course Requirements

Fourteen courses, made up of twelve courses plus two semesters of the Graduate Research Colloquium (CLCV 5010) taken for P/F credit during the students' first year.

These fourteen courses must include:

  •  Greek and Latin 4105 and 4106 History of Greek Literature I & II, History of Latin Literature I & II) and both Greek and Latin 5139 (Greek Prose Composition, Latin Prose Composition) 
  • Six further courses comprised of:
    • three or more courses at 8000 level;
    • one or more courses at 6000 level;
    • no more than two courses at 4000 level;
    • among these courses may be included up to two relevant history courses.
  • Two semesters of the Graduate Research Colloquium (CLCV 5010) during the students' first year.

The Courses taken for the M.A. count toward the total of fourteen. (Students advancing from the M.A. to Ph.D. do not take CLPH 5000.)

Students are expected to maintain at least a B+ average in their graded courses.

History Requirement

Students are required to demonstrate an adequate knowledge, of both Greek and Roman history.

  • Students will complete this requirement either by taking two courses, two exams, or one exam and one course.
  • Students must complete this requirement by the end of the their sixth semester, but ideally by the end of their fourth semester. It is recommended they satisfy half the requirement by the end of their first year.
  • Courses taken at the 4000-level and above that are offered outside the Classics Department may count toward the course requirements for the M.Phil. at the discretion of the DGS in consultation with relevant Faculty.
  • Should students come with demonstrable background in one or both of these histories, and with DGS approval, substitutions may be allowed from related ancient cultures or periods.
  • A student who TAs for a history course may use this course to satisfy one part of the history requirement (at the discretion of the DGS in consultation with relevant Faculty), but this course cannot be counted toward 14 courses required by the M.Phil.

Modern Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of French or Italian and German, to be demonstrated by written tests as early as possible in the student's graduate career, and in no case later than the certification examination. This requirement includes competence in one language demonstrated as part of the work for the M.A. degree.

Qualification Examination

The qualification examination will be held three times a year: on the Friday of the first week of classes in Fall and Spring semesters; and on the first Friday of exam period in Spring semester. It consists of two two-hour examinations, most usually taken in different semesters, in the translation of Greek and Latin texts chosen from the common reading list. The examination in at least one language must be first attempted no later than the beginning of the student’s fourth semester of residence, and at least one must be attempted at the beginning of every following semester. Both must be passed no later than the beginning of the sixth semester. Students who do not pass both examinations by the required deadline will not be permitted to continue as candidates for the degree.

Each examination consists of six passages (three prose, three poetry) of about 100-150 words, of which the student must translate four (two prose, two poetry). The examination is designed less to test the student’s ability to translate Greek and Latin (which is assumed) than his or her knowledge of the texts on the reading list. The passages on the examination are chosen so as to be representative both of the breadth of the list (expect passages from different genres and different periods) and of the works in question (expect passages that are typical for the content and style of a work and/or particularly significant for its interpretation).

Certification Examination ("M.Phil. papers")

Students are required to complete two written examinations or research papers on a special author or field under the supervision of an adviser of their choice, who determines the appropriate format. The first of these should focus on the student's secondary language, the second on the primary language.  The topic of the examination or paper in the primary language may, but need not, be related to the proposed field of the student's dissertation.  It is recommended that students complete both examinations/papers in the course of their third year. Both examinations/papers must be completed by the end of the seventh semester.


Within one semester of the completion of requirements for the M.Phil. degree (i.e., by the end of the fourth year of residence), a candidate for the Ph.D. must submit to the supervisory committee a prospectus for the proposed dissertation, to consist of a statement of the topic and a rough outline of both working order and expected structure, in no more than 20 pages, with a short bibliography (no more than 30 titles) of relevant scholarship. It should be noted that all dissertation (i.e. non-teaching) fellowship awards are contingent upon the approval of the dissertation prospectus. The student must present and successfully defend a dissertation, normally on the subject approved by the supervisory committee.

Overview: Timeline of the Ph.D. Program

What follows is the ideal progress through the Ph.D. program. Individual students' careers may vary, though deadlines and rules in bold apply to everyone. Students who fail to fulfill any degree requirement in accordance with the deadlines set out here may not be permitted to continue as candidates for the degree.

Year 1

  • Fulfillment of all M.A. requirements except CLPH 5000 (courses and first foreign language exam)

Year 2
Beginning of fall semester

  • Taking of first translation exam (usually in the language studied in Survey the previous year)*
  • Fulfillment of remaining course requirements for M.Phil. and second foreign language exam
  • Teaching as a Teaching Assistant (TA)

No later than the beginning of the student’s fourth semester

  • At least one of the translation exams must be attempted every semester until both have been passed
  • By GSAS rules, all M.A. requirements must be fulfilled by the end of the second year

Year 3
Beginning of fall semester

  • Taking of second translation exam*
  • Work on certification exams (M.Phil. papers)
  • Teaching one’s own class as a Teaching Fellow (TF)

No later than the beginning of the student’s sixth semester

  • Both translation exams must be passed

Year 4

  • Teaching as Teaching Fellow

By the end of the seventh semester

  • Completion  of both certification exams (M.Phil. papers)
  • Dissertation proposal
  • By GSAS rules, all M.Phil. requirements must be fulfilled by the end of the fourth year

Year 5

  • Dissertation

*The translation exams, both Latin and Greek, will be held three times a year: on the Friday of the first week of classes in Fall and Spring semesters; and on the first Friday of exam period in Spring semester.

Students who fail to fulfill any degree requirement in accordance with the deadlines set out above may not be permitted to continue as candidates for the degree.



In order to comply with guidelines governing the disbursement of federal financial aid, GSAS has updated its policy regarding satisfactory academic progress. Students must now maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in order to be considered making satisfactory academic progress, and to remain in good academic standing with the Graduate School. This policy applies to all GSAS students regardless of their receipt of federal aid.