The Doctor of Philosophy in Greek and Latin

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Greek and Latin

This page presents the rules and requirements of the Ph.D. in Greek and Latin. The department does not offer an M.A. degree in Greek and Latin, except as a terminal degree (given to students leaving the program who have fulfilled the requirements of an M.A. degree). The following rules apply to students who begin the program with a B.A.; students who enter the program holding an M.A. may have some of the following requirements waived. The Graduate School Handbook should be consulted to ensure complete adherence to all current graduation policies and deadlines.

The Ph.D. degree in Greek and Latin is awarded upon successful completion of a program of study in the Latin and Greek languages, literatures, and related subjects. The requirements of the program include courses, language examinations (ancient and modern), the candidacy examination, and the dissertation. Students’ progress is supervised by the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) until the appointment of an advisor for each student. The department faculty, upon recommendation of the Graduate Studies Committee, may propose terminating a student's enrollment if his or her progress is deemed unsatisfactory.



  • Credit hours: A minimum of 80 graduate credit hours beyond the B.A. degree is required to earn a Ph.D. degree. If an M.A. has already been earned by the student, then a minimum of 50 graduate credit hours beyond the M.A. is required. Moreover, the following specific requirements are discrete, that is, one cannot use, say, a seminar to satisfy a survey requirement (unless as specified below), or a seminar to fulfill an ancillary or history requirement. The required courses listed below do not total 80 credits, and students achieve the required minimum number of credits in a variety of ways (additional seminars, courses outside the classics department, independent studies, vel sim.)
  • Survey sequences in Latin and in Greek (6891 and 6892 for either language, for a total of 20 credits): the student may opt out of one sequence if he or she has passed the language exam of that sequence at the Ph.D. level. In that case, the student will be required to take one graduate seminar in that same language (Greek or Latin) for each semester of the survey sequence.
  • Seminars (18 credits total): three 7000-level graduate courses in Greek and three 7000-level graduate courses in Latin. A 7000-level course under the Classics heading may count for either a Greek or a Latin seminar based on the nature of the course and the focus of a student’s work. It is expected that from these or other similar courses each student will be able to submit three research papers to the Candidacy Examination Committee that may be discussed during the oral portion of the candidacy examination (see “Research Papers” below).
  • History (3 credits): One course offered by the Department of History, whether in Greek, Roman, or relevant medieval, Byzantine, or Near Eastern history.
  • Ancillary field (3 credits): One course in an ancillary discipline, which may be on but not limited to Greek or Latin paleography, linguistics, epigraphy, topography, literary theory, art and archaeology, ancient philosophy, ancient religion, and Near Eastern languages and cultures. The DGS will determine which courses fulfill the Ancillary Requirement.



  • Greek and Latin language examinations: these examinations require students to translate a selection of Greek and Latin passages. Each examination contains three passages of prose and three of poetry to be translated in three hours, with no choice or dictionary. The Department does not endorse a formal reading list but expects that students will have acquainted themselves with a wide spectrum of authors, genres, styles, and periods. The exams are offered twice annually, on two consecutive days: right before the start of autumn semester and towards the end of spring semester. These examinations are set by a committee of two faculty members per language appointed by the DGS, who coordinates and administers the examination.  Examiners offer passages that exclude unusual vocabulary and grammatical structures, or, where necessary, provide glosses for those. The author and a brief context of each passage are provided (e.g.: "Lucian, A True History 1.5: the narrator sets out on a voyage"). The passages are approved by the DGS before they are given to students, to ensure consistency and fairness. The Academic Programs Coordinator retains copies of all exams. The examiners grade student translations anonymously and place them into three categories per language: no pass; pass at M.A. level; pass at Ph.D. level. If the examiners do not agree on the grade, the examination will be read by the DGS or a tenured faculty member appointed by the DGS and, if necessary, by the Graduate Studies Committee. Each student will be informed of the results of the examination via e-mail by the DGS.
    • Once students pass the examination in a language at the Ph.D. level they do not have to take it again in that language. Students are expected to pass at the M.A. level normally by the end of their first year in the program and at the Ph.D. level at the end of their second year at most or at the start of the third year. For incoming students beginning the program, the examination results are used for diagnostic and advising purposes, though if they pass at any level those positive results are valid.
  • Modern language competence: Students must acquire reading proficiency in French and German before taking their candidacy examination. The advisor can require or advise a student to acquire reading proficiency in an additional language if deemed necessary for the field in which dissertation research is to be conducted. Unless students are native speakers of these languages, they will be required to pass one-hour translation examinations (with dictionary) set by the department. Students may prepare for these exams on their own or by taking OSU’s language courses (German 6101 and 6102, French 6571 and 6572). Students for whom English is not their native language may also use a modern dictionary in their native language, e.g., Russian-English.



  • Appointment and function of the advisor: The DGS initially serves as the advisor for all students in the program. As students begin to prepare for the candidacy examination, they select an advisor in consultation with the DGS. The advisor helps the student form a Candidacy Exam Committee, which he/she chairs, and, when the examination has been passed, facilitates the formation of a Dissertation Committee (of which the advisor may or may not become the Chair). The student can change advisors at any time.
  • Scope and function: The candidacy examination tests depth of knowledge in four specialized fields spanning different areas and disciplines (see below) that are pertinent to the student’s research interests (in preparation for dissertation work) and desired professional qualifications. It also tests the ability to interpret literature, to analyze problems, and to discuss interpretation and analysis in writing and orally. Students are expected to pass the candidacy examination no later than the end of their fourth year in the program. Students who do not pass the candidacy examination on the initial attempt must retake and pass it within one semester of the first attempt.
  • Timing: The normal pattern for the candidacy exam and prospectus defense is to hold both within a single semester: written candidacy exams should be sat early in the semester, the oral exam toward the middle of the semester (and no more than four weeks after the last written exam), thus leaving time for the prospectus defense to be held within six weeks of the candidacy exam and before the end of the semester. Prospectus defenses must be held in term-time, between 8am and 4pm.
  • The Candidacy Examination Committee is created by the student and his or her advisor and with the approval of the DGS. The Candidacy Examination Committee consists of four faculty members, including the student’s advisor, who will serve as the chair of the Committee. The composition of the Candidacy Examination Committee may be changed only by the advisor in consultation with the student and the DGS.
  • The written portion of the candidacy examination has two components, which the student must submit to the Candidacy Examination Committee before the oral portion of the examination:
    • Research papers: Three papers that qualify as research papers shall be submitted to the Committee, whether they were written in seminars, other courses, or independent research. Each student should ask the professor for whom the paper was written (or the best qualified professor in our department, if written outside our courses) to evaluate whether it fulfills research criteria and confirm this via e-mail. The student will forward this confirmation to the DGS and the Academic Programs Coordinator to be entered into the student’s Record of Examinations. The papers may be discussed at the oral portion of the examination (see below).
    • The timed portion of the written examination: The student will answer at least one and usually two questions in each of the student’s four fields; students will typically be given a choice among the questions to be answered. Fields may be designed around specific authors, genres, periods (focusing either on its history or literature), broad topics or research areas (e.g., ancient religion, politics, etc.), or sub-disciplines (e.g., epigraphy, paleography, etc.), with the following restrictions: (a) only two fields may be on specific authors (and they cannot both be in the same language); and (b) the two languages must be equally represented.
      • Copies of the exams should be deposited with the Academic Programs Coordinator. The examination in each of the four fields will last for three hours, and these segments of the examination may be taken in combination or separately, in accordance with the rules of the Graduate School Handbook. All portions of the Written Examination must be completed to the satisfaction of the Committee before the candidate may proceed to the oral portion of the examination. The chair of the Committee will discuss with the student the Committee's evaluation and advise the student regarding his or her option to continue with the oral portion of the examination. If the student fails the examination at this point and if the Committee grants the student permission to take the examination a second time, the student must retake the failed sections of the Written Examination; an oral portion must be included in the second attempt. All completed examinations become a permanent part of the student's file.
  • The oral portion of the candidacy examination is administered and evaluated by the Candidacy Examination Committee. To schedule the oral exam, the student must submit an Application for Candidacy in GRADFORMS and have this approved by his or her program and advisor at least two weeks before the proposed date. Exams can begin no earlier than 7:30am and no later than 3:30pm. Exams are scheduled for two hours and can only be held at an authorized campus location, Monday through Friday, any day the university is open. Last day to complete the oral exam is the last weekday before the semester commencement. The examination itself will not exceed two hours and will be normally administered within one week of the completion of the written portion. The oral examination will explore the student's fields of expertise and interest as reflected in the four areas of examination, the research papers submitted to the Committee, and the written examination, but it will not necessarily be confined to the topics addressed there. The student will be orally informed as to whether he or she passed the Candidacy Examination immediately after the oral examination.
  • The dissertation prospectus: Each student admitted to Candidacy must submit a written dissertation prospectus to his or her Dissertation Committee within six weeks of completing the candidacy examination. The entire Dissertation Committee needs to provide feedback and approve the prospectus in order for the dissertation to proceed. The student will also arrange with the department's Lecture Committee to make an oral presentation of the prospectus before the department.



Once a student has completed the candidacy examination and has been admitted to Candidacy (i.e., is ABD), he or she begins work on the dissertation. While working on this project, students continue to earn credit hours, typically three credits of dissertation research (Greek or Latin 8999) per semester. The dissertation is the culminating experience of the Ph.D. program, in which the student writes a substantial work of innovative scholarship. The dissertation is developed in close coordination with the student’s advising committee, and it usually becomes the foundation of a student’s professional academic profile.

  • The Dissertation Committee: The Candidacy Examination Committee will be modified to serve as the Dissertation Committee, though changes can be made to its composition at this stage by the student and advisor in consultation with the DGS. According to University regulations, the chair of the Dissertation Committee must be a member of the Classics Department. The other two members may be from outside the department, but must be OSU faculty. A committee may have more than three members, and professors from outside OSU may be added (this requires special paperwork).
  • The dissertation: Rules governing the dissertation may be found in the Graduate School Handbook. In accordance with those rules, a student must submit the final copy of his or her dissertation within five years of being admitted to Candidacy. The student must submit an Application to Graduate in GRADFORMS at start of the semester they are planning to graduate. 
  • Final oral examination: Rules governing the final oral examination may be found in the Graduate School Handbook. The student must submit an Application for Final Examination in GRADFORMS and have this approved by his or her program and advisor at least two weeks before the proposed date. Exams can begin no earlier than 7:30am and no later than 3:30pm. Exams are scheduled for two hours and can only be held at an authorized campus location, Monday through Friday, any day the university is open. The following departmental rules and procedures also apply: the final oral examination is held after the dissertation has been approved by all members of the Dissertation Committee. The examination deals intensively with the field of the candidate's dissertation. The dissertation defense will be open to all members of the department and, space permitting, to the general public. The date will be announced in advance and a copy of the submitted dissertation will be made available to faculty and students for previous consultation. Only members of the Dissertation Committee are allowed to be present at the discussion of the candidate's performance and to participate in the decision about the outcome of the examination. The student is considered to have completed the final oral examination successfully only when the decision of the final oral examination committee is unanimously affirmative.

Terminal M.A.

If a student leaves the program before obtaining the Ph.D., a terminal M.A. degree may be provided upon the fulfillment of the following requirements: completion of credit hours required by the College to grant an M.A. degree; completion of specific courses required by our program (consult with the DGS for these); passing at least one of the Greek and Latin examinations at the M.A. level. If the student has not passed the other language at the M.A. level, the student may submit a research paper on a topic that engages with texts in that language.