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Ph.D Program and Requirements

Michigan's Department of Classical Studies has roots that reach back to the founding of the Ann Arbor campus in 1841. During the twentieth century, it emerged as one of the outstanding classics departments in the United States, and it has preserved this reputation particularly in the area of graduate education. The Michigan department is known for the quality and breadth of the training that it offers not only in traditional areas of language and literature, but also in related and comparative disciplines.

Many students in the Ph.D program in Classical Studies also choose to complete coursework towards additional Certificates or Master's level degrees. While not mandatory, these degrees can significantly broaden and enhance one's professional qualifications. The University of Michigan offers a diverse array of ancillary degree opportunities. Recent students have pursued Master's degrees or Certificates in a range of disciplines, including Ancient History (IPAH), Museum Studies, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and Ancient Philosophy

For more information about the Ph.D progam, please contact: 

Associate Professor Ruth Caston, Director of Graduate Studies: 

Sarah Kandell, Graduate Program Coordinator: 


The program presupposes a minimum of three years of college Latin and two years of college Greek, with strong grades (A or B.) Students with less than this amount of preparation should try to make up these gaps before starting the program. The Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies will be glad to counsel such students, either in person or by correspondence. Command of French and German, while not actually required for admission, is so important from the very beginning for advanced work in classical studies that prospective students are encouraged to equip themselves with at least one of these languages before entering. (Command of Italian is recommended.) A writing sample (limit 20 pages,) 3 recommendation letters and official transcripts are also required (in addition to Rackham requirements.)

Application Process and Requirements


The following materials are required for consideration to the Ph.D in Classical Studies program. You should submit all materials by uploading them into your online application. All materials are due on December 15.

1.     Completed Rackham application

2.    Three letters of recommendation.  Please make sure that you register three recommenders when you fill out the online application even if you don’t yet know who the third will be.  If you only enter one or two and click submit you will be unable to go in the ApplyWeb system and enter a third later.  We recommend that you enter a placeholder name which you will be able to go in and change in ApplyWeb under Review Your Activity.  If you or your recommenders will be submitting letters of recommendation by paper, include this Letter of Recommendation form with your submission.  Please have these letters sent directly to the department via US Mail.

3.     Statement of Purpose - Briefly explain the nature of your study in Classics or related fields, your primary areas of interest (if known), what studies you would like to pursue in graduate school, and whether there are any Michigan faculty with whom you would especially like to work. Upload at the Statement of Purpose page.

4.     Personal Statement - Please use this statement to help us understand how you have come to be interested in Classics, what special challenges you might have faced, what relevant experiences you might have had, and what aspirations you have for the future. Upload at the Personal Statement page.

5.     Resume or CV. Upload at the Resume or CV page.

6.     Scholarly writing sample - Preferably a paper or thesis that you have submitted in a pertinent course (20 page limit).  Upload at the Writing Sample page.

7.     Transcripts – Please scan your official transcripts and upload them with your online application. This will be sufficient for the Department’s admissions file and is our preferred method of receiving your transcripts. Please include transcripts from institutions from which you received a degree or from which you took courses relevant to your application. (If you decide to have your transcripts mailed to the department rather than upload them, we must receive them by the due date of December 15.  Please order them well ahead of time to make sure they reach us by the deadline.)

Updated 10/15/20: Applicants are no longer required to send separate official transcripts to Rackham Graduate School as part of the application process. Only students who are admitted will be required to send official transcripts to Rackham. More information about transcripts is available here.

GRE Scores on not required or evaluated.

If your first language is not English AND you do not qualify for a Rackham English Proficiency Exemption, please send one of these scores:





Degree Requirements

Financial Support

The Department offers five year support packages to incoming graduate students, providing full tuition and a stipend in the first year, with equivalent support from a combination of fellowship and graduate student instructorships in subsequent years. Qualified students will be nominated for Rackham Merit Fellowships, which also guarantees a five-year support package. These also provide a stipend plus full tuition in the first year, and equivalent support from a combination of fellowship and graduate student instructorships in subsequent years. Healthcare is included, and summer support is available.

Ordinarily, first year Ph.D. students are not expected to hold graduate student instructorships, but this is a common form of support in subsequent years. Indeed, at least two terms of work experience, in the form of a graduate student instructorship, are required for the Ph.D. A typical pattern of support would be a fellowship in the first year, graduate student instructorships during the second and third years, and part fellowship, part graduate student instructorships in the fourth and fifth years when the student is writing the dissertation.

Beyond the fifth year, support via fellowship or GSI positions may be made available, dependent upon progress to degree and/or departmental need.