There are two different programs at Berkeley in which to pursue graduate study in ancient history. Prospective graduate students should read through the information below and on the various websites carefully, and apply to whichever program they feel best suits their interests and needs.
The first program is the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology (AHMA), a program geared toward a deeply interdisciplinary approach to ancient history, emphasizing the study of material culture (not just archaeology but also art history, epigraphy, numismatics, and papyrology) and interactions between the Greco-Roman world and its neighbors. For further information, including the student handbook and a description of the program, see the Group's website.
The second program is in Berkeley's Department of History, which is consistently ranked among the top graduate programs in History in the country. Students who are particularly interested in comparative history, those who wish to develop an additional specialization in a related field outside history (e.g. economics, law, geography, religion, art history, sociology, anthropology, etc.), and those whose interests will not require an in-depth training in the study of material culture, would be especially well-suited to the study of ancient history in the History Department. Please see a more detailed description of this program below.
Please note that we do not offer a terminal MA. Students must apply and be admitted into the PhD program. They will be awarded an MA after meeting program requirements, and upon the approval of the faculty in the field, will advance to the PhD program. When students enter the program in ancient history, they will select as their field either Greece or Rome. When they advance to the PhD program after completing all requirements for the MA, their field automatically becomes both Greece and Rome.
The field of ancient history requires excellent reading knowledge of ancient Greek and Latin, as well as of two modern scholarly languages. These are usually German and French, but for students whose focus is on the Roman world, Italian may be substituted for French. In order to keep up with graduate coursework and to maintain good progress through the requirements of the MA/PhD program, students who apply to the program should have at least two years of study in one ancient language and three in the other. More is better; exceptions are made only in truly exceptional cases. In addition, students should have at least an intermediate reading knowledge in one of the modern languages just listed. See further Appendix II of the History Department's Graduate Program Guide.
Applicants are expected to have a good background in ancient history. This can be achieved by showing high marks in a sufficient number of undergraduate upper-division courses to have a decent overview of the period. Students should have some experience with both Greek and Roman history before applying.
Please consult the FAQ section of the History Department's Graduate Program webpage for departmental expectations about the GPA's, GRE, and TOEFL scores, etc., of applicants to the graduate program, and for links to information about funding opportunities.
For details of the particular course requirements in the MA/PhD program in History, please see the Department's Graduate Program Guide.
The MA program has three components: coursework; a language requirement; and an MA examination.
1. Coursework. Students are required to take 12 units (usually the equivalent of 3 graduate courses) in their chosen MA field (Greek or Roman history), and 12 units (again, usually 3 courses) of additional graduate courses in history. One of these should be History 283, Historical Method and Theory, a requirement for the PhD that is most beneficially taken during the second year. One of the additional 3 courses may be either (i) an upper-division (100-level) undergraduate course in history or language; or (ii) one graduate course in a field other than history. For ancient history students this might mean a course in Classics, History of Art, Near Eastern Studies, AHMA, or in the field they will eventually designate their “outside field” (see below on requirements for the PhD program).
2. The MA foreign language requirement must be fulfilled by the end of the first year. For Ancient History, this may be accomplished in one of two ways. First, students may show competence in one modern language (French, German, or, with approval, Italian) by any of the options outlined under Appendix III of the Graduate Program Guide. The second option is to pass an exam in one ancient language (for details of which see below).
3. The MA examination in Ancient History is a 3-hour written exam on the student's declared field (Greek or Roman history). It must be taken during the student's third semester. Students should consult with faculty in the field about preparing for the exam.
If students meet all the requirements of the MA program, the faculty in the field will recommend that the MA degree be conferred and that the student advance to the PhD program.
1. Fields. PhD students declare three fields: two fields of history (the first and second fields) and one field in another discipline (the third or outside field). For ancient history students the first field is Ancient Greece and Rome. They must then choose a second historical field as well as an outside field. See the Graduate Program Guide for details about fields. Beyond this, there are four components of the PhD program: coursework; language requirements; the qualifying exam; and the dissertation.
2. Coursework. In addition to the 24 units of coursework completed for the MA, PhD students must complete a minimum of 8 more units, for a total of 32 (note that language courses do not count toward this total). These courses will typically be devoted to developing the second field (which requires two graduate seminars), and the third/outside field (which requires one graduate course in a field and department other than history). Please see the Graduate Program Guide for details about the distribution of required courses for the PhD.
3. PhD Language Requirements. Students must meet all remaining language requirements before the PhD Oral Qualifying Exam, which is taken at the end of the fourth year in Ancient History. Modern language requirements may be met by several means (for which see Appendix III of the Graduate Program Guide). Ancient language requirements are met only by passing examinations in each ancient language (for which see below).
4. PhD Oral Qualifying Examination. Upon completion of all coursework and language requirements, the student takes the PhD Qualifying Exam at the end of the fourth year (eighth semester). This is a two- to three-hour oral exam conducted by five faculty members who will examine the student in her or his three fields. For details of the Qualifying exam please see the Graduate Program Guide.
Graduate students in ancient history must pass exams in both Greek and Latin. The exams are based on readings lists of 750pp in each language, of which there is a core component determined by faculty in the field (=450pp.), and a choice component created by the student in consultation with the appropriate faculty in the field (=300pp.). Each language exam will consist of four passages taken from this reading list, which the student must translate without use of the dictionary. Each exam is three hours in length.