The Ph.D. Program

A student's career may be thought of as covering three stages: course work, preparation for qualifying exams, and candidacy (dissertation). For Ph. D. students the normative limits for completion of the program are four years to advancement to candidacy, two years to final approval of the dissertation, and a maximum of seven years in total. Students are only admitted into the Ph.D. program. Entering students who do not already hold a master's degree in Classics from another institution will be required to complete M.A. requirements while pursuing the Ph.D.

Course Work for the Ph.D.

Ph.D. students must successfully complete a minimum of eighteen approved, seminar-level courses. The eighteen courses must be distributed as follows:

  • Four quarters of Classics 200A-B-C, and 201.
  • Twelve quarters of Classics 220.
  • Two external graduate seminars, from departments or programs outside of classics. These may be taken from the offerings of any of the three campuses.
  • Students may take up to two quarters of enhanced upper-division Greek or Latin courses (enrolled as 280s) in place of Classics 220s, with permission of the graduate adviser if remedial work is required in Greek     or Latin.
  • Where appropriate, in the third year of course work, a second Classics 200A, B, or C, may be substituted for a 220
  • Classics 280, Independent Study (supervised research) may be substituted for Classics 220s only with the permission of the graduate adviser.
  • Up to twelve equivalent graduate-level courses completed elsewhere may be substituted for Tri-Campus Program courses with approval of the JEC.

Classics 280 may be used, normally in the fourth year, to provide time to work on the Greek and Latin reading lists and to prepare for qualifying exams, but these courses do not count towards the required eighteen courses. Ph.D. students must meet with the graduate adviser early every fall quarter to discuss their progress through the curriculum and their plans for the coming academic year. A student who accumulates more than one outstanding grade of incomplete is considered to be at risk.

Faculty teaching graduate courses will submit to the graduate adviser for student files a brief written evaluation for each student, commenting on the student's performance and noting whether the student wrote a seminar paper for the course. The graduate adviser will lead the JEC in an annual review of all active graduate students in the program at the JEC's spring meeting.

Sample Ph.D. Program


Diagnostic Exams

Immediately upon entering the program, the student takes diagnostic translation examinations in both Greek and Latin to establish his or her level of competency and to determine where effort should be directed. In the second year of course work, students will take as diagnostic exams the Latin and Greek translation exams administered as part of the qualifying exam battery.

Exams for the Ph.D.

  1. Foreign Language Requirements: Ph.D. students must demonstrate reading proficiency in one modern research language (normally German and French or Italian) by the end of their second year either through appropriate course work or by examination. Proficiency in a second modern research language is expected by the end of the third year.
  2. Ph.D. Qualifying Exams: In order to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. and enter the dissertation stage, a student must pass a set of seven qualifying exams. The translation exams, history exams, and history of the literatures exam are administered and evaluated on a regular schedule over the academic year by examination boards composed of one faculty member from each campus and appointed for that purpose by the JEC at the graduate adviser's recommendation. The JEC, in consultation with the graduate adviser and the student, recommends to the graduate dean a five-member candidacy committee composed of four program faculty (from at least two campuses) and one outside member holding tenure on one of the participating campuses (i.e., not a member of the program faculty) to organize and administer the special-area exam and the oral exam taken by the candidate after successful completion of the other exams. All committee members for both candidacy and doctoral committees should normally be voting members of the Academic Senate of the Irvine, Riverside, or San Diego divisions. Any exceptions must hold a Ph.D., be qualified for a UC faculty appointment, and be supported by a memo of justification and a CV submitted by the graduate adviser to the graduate dean for approval at least two weeks prior to an exam. The qualifying examinations include written examinations and a final oral examination:
    • Greek and Latin translation (three hours each)
    • Greek and Roman history (two hours each)
    • History of Greek and Roman literature (three hours)
    • A "special area" that can be fulfilled by either an extensive research paper or a three-hour written exam
    • Oral examination to be administered by the candidacy committee and taken only after the other exams have been passed (two hours: one hour general knowledge and one hour special-area exam paper or research paper)

These exams are based on the Tri-Campus Reading Lists and should be completed by the end of the fourth year. The exams on Greek and Roman history are based on up to six books each, three prescribed on the reading list for this exam and up to three agreed to by the student and graduate adviser. The exam on the history of Greek and Roman literature is based on the Greek and Latin Reading Lists and the books prescribed on the reading list for this exam. Students are expected to read, in the original, all works on the Greek and Latin Reading Lists, whether or not they have appeared in courses. (Students may negotiate with the graduate adviser substitutions on the Greek and Latin Reading Lists comprising up to twenty percent of their total length in order to accommodate the particular interests of the individual student.) Upon successful completion of the written examinations the oral exam will be scheduled. Students failing segments of the qualifying exams may normally retake those sections only once after the interval of one quarter or the summer break, as the case may be. Students may retake segments of the qualifying exams more than once only at the discretion of the JEC. A grade of "pass" in all examinations is required for admission to candidacy.

Thesis & Defense for the Ph.D.

When the student has advanced to candidacy, the JEC in consultation with the candidate, the graduate adviser, and the proposed chair of the doctoral committee will recommend to the Dean of the Graduate Division a doctoral committee composed of at least three program faculty (from at least two of the three campuses) and one outside member who holds tenure at one of the participating campuses. The doctoral committee will serve as the examination committee for the thesis defense. Within the first quarter after completion of the qualifying exams and all other prerequisites, the candidate will submit a dissertation proposal for discussion and evaluation to the doctoral committee.

A public oral defense of the dissertation will be scheduled upon its submission to the doctoral committee. Members of the committee must be supplied with a copy of the dissertation at least three weeks before the exam date.

The Emphasis in Comparative Literature

Course Work

For the emphasis in comparative literature, students must take at least five graduate courses in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. One course should be Criticism 222A or C, or Comparative Literature 200. At least three of the courses should have a Comparative Literature designation. One of the courses could be Humanities 270 (Critical Theory). Classics students can devote the required outside seminars to this emphasis and may, with the graduate adviser's approval, make appropriate substitutions of courses.

Qualifying Exams

One topic on the Ph.D. qualifying examination must be on a comparative literature topic and should be prepared with a professor from the Comparative Literature Program who would serve as a member of the student's exam committee. The student should be able to demonstrate some expertise in comparative critical methodologies as well as knowledge of a literature and tradition other than classics. Normally classics students will fulfill this requirement by selecting the research-paper option for the oral-exam stage of the qualifying examinations.


One member of the student's doctoral committee must be from the Program in Comparative Literature.

Students must submit an application for the emphasis to the graduate adviser in classics , and the department will track the student's progress and fulfillment of the emphasis requirements. Upon graduation, students will receive a letter from the graduate adviser certifying completion of the emphasis.

Attendance at Colloquia & Other Departmental Activities

Seminars, colloquia, and other activities of interest to classics graduate students are organized regularly by the Tri-Campus Graduate Program. Since these activities are considered part of the student's professional training, all students are required to attend them. Students are also urged to acquaint themselves with colloquia offered in other fields.

Support for Graduate Students

A variety of fellowships and teaching assistantships is available to classics graduate students on a competitive basis. They include Chancellor's Fellowships, Regents' Fellowships, and Dissertation Fellowships, as well as the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae Fellowship. Several teaching and research assistantships are also available, and provide a stipend in addition to tuition and fees. Some fourth- and fifth-year teaching assistantships are held at UC Riverside and UCSD. Continuation of support is contingent upon satisfactory academic progress. Support from various sources is normally extended to students in good standing for up to six years.

Resources of the Tri-Campus Program

The Department of Classics at UC Irvine, which is the administrative center of the Tri-Campus Program, is housed in pleasant quarters in Humanities Office Building 2. Tri-Campus graduate students avail themselves of

  • Superior library holdings in classics and related fields in the combined collections of all nine University of California research libraries, accessed to the holdings of the California Digital Library, and expeditious Interlibrary Loan Services with other U.S. And international libraries.
  • The facilities of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae Project (TLG) at UC Irvine, including the complete TLG data bank, the Classics/TLG Computing Lab, and the large collection of primary texts, commentaries, and reference materials housed in the TLG's Marianne Eirene McDonald Library. Formal (Classics 201) and informal instruction in computer-related methodologies for research and teaching are conducted at the Classics/TLG Computing Lab.
  • The Consortium for Latin Lexicography (CLL) at UC Irvine, a collaborative research group whose primary goal is to create a computerized Latin dictionary based on the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (TLL) in Munich.
  • The faculty and program in comparative ancient civilizations at UC Riverside, which are dedicated to a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary approach to the study of ancient cultures.
  • Combined UCI-UCSD Ph.D. Program in theatre, which has a strong classics component, and the nationally renowned regional theatre at La Jolla.
  • Seminars, colloquia, and lectures regularly offered by the Critical Theory Institute at UC Irvine and by the University of California Humanities Research Institute that is housed on the UC Irvine campus. Tri-Campus doctoral students may add an emphasis in critical theory under the supervision of the Committee on Critical Theory. The Tri-Campus Program also has its own colloquia series of lectures by visiting scholars on the three campuses.
  • The Southern California Graduate Resource-Sharing Consortium, a cooperative association of the Tri-Campus Program and the graduate classics programs of UCLA and the University of Southern California. Every year a faculty member from each of these units offers a graduate seminar in his or her area of expertise at one of the other units. In the spring of every year faculty and graduate students conjoin at an annual consortium luncheon and lecture by a distinguished visiting scholar.

Tri-Campus Graduate Program