Graduate School in Classics

The Classics Department has had success placing students in graduate programs, and most of those students have received full or ample funding. We as a faculty are committed to preparing you for graduate school, should you wish to attend, and to maintaining our own standing in our discipline so that our recommendations are read with confidence. Graduate school generally comprises the M.A. and/or Ph.D. degrees. Some schools offer only an M.A. (UNC-G, Georgia, Washington in St. Louis), some only the Ph.D. (Duke, Princeton, Harvard), but most offer both the M.A. and the Ph.D.

There are several dozen institutions that grant advanced degrees in Classics, but there are considerable differences among them. There is also considerable competition for spots and fellowships, so you will do well to think carefully about what you want to do, read as much as you can about the various programs and their faculties, and make your choices accordingly. The size of the program and the geographical location are also aspects that you may want to consider.

Undergraduate Preparation

If you are considering graduate school in Classics, your major concentration would best be Greek and Latin. Optimally, your GPA in Classics will be above 3.7, your overall GPA above 3.5, and your professors will be able to write well of your demonstrated ability, your discipline, and your promise.

To that end, it behooves you to get to know the faculty. You should first and foremost hone your proficiency in the ancient languages. For most graduate programs, your coursework will involve much more translation than you have to do in undergraduate courses, and the better prepared you are, the less the difficulty of the transition. Graduate programs in Mediterranean archaeology also typically require graduate level courses in two ancient languages; hence, your ability to make a transition into upper level/graduate level courses immediately upon entry to a Ph.D. program will allow you to spend more time in courses directly relevant to material culture and your own specialization. Ideally, you will want to take mo recourses than the minimum required (36 hours for concentration in Greek and Latin) so that your experience is as deep and broad as possible, and so that you are a more competitive candidate for fellowships.


Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores are also an important component of a graduate school application. The GRE has three sections (verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytic writing); there is no subject test for Classics. Since most graduate programs want applications between January and March (and some earlier) for matriculation the following fall, you should take the GRE before your application materials are due. Ph.D. programs will also require a reading knowledge of German and one other European language, and it would be beneficial to take a year or more of German (and French, if possible) so that you will not have to learn those during graduate school. Some graduate programs also require a writing sample as part of their application, and you will do a great deal of writing in graduate school, so you will also do well to learn the tools and crafts of scholarly writing in Classics as well as you can.

Application Timeline

The faculty advises you to begin the process of applying for graduate school the summer before your senior year. That will mean gathering and organizing materials, and knowing what your top programs require. You will be quite busy with your senior thesis during the fall semester of your senior year, and early preparation in the application process will relieve stress.The Classics Department at UNC Asheville has some material about various programs—every department now has all information available online—and we will be happy to talk to you realistically about your prospects and make recommendations about what programs would best suit you and how you might best prepare yourself. Other graduate programs may view a major in Classics as an excellent preparation for their discipline, including Art History, Linguistics, Ancient History (though most graduate programs in Classics have a History track), Medieval Studies,Comparative Literature, Religion, and Philosophy.