The Department of Classics at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combines strengths in traditional philology, archaeology and art with more recent critical approaches in a way that allows graduate students to gain a broad, rich, and interdisciplinary understanding of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. It offers graduate programs leading to the MA in Greek, Latin, and Classical Archaeology and to the PhD in Classics, Classics with Historical Emphasis, Classical and Medieval Latin, and Classical Archaeology. There is no terminal MA program; the department only admits students who plan to complete the PhD, although all students must complete the MA before being advanced to the PhD program.
Greek and Latin have been an important part of the University’s curriculum since it opened as the nation’s first public university in 1795. Graduate degrees in Classics were first offered toward the close of the nineteenth century. After the Second World War, the graduate program expanded, attracting students from around the country–chiefly because of the presence of such distinguished faculty as B. L. Ullman, Robert Getty, T. R. S. Broughton, and Henry Immerwahr. In the latter decades of the twentieth century many students worked under the direction of such scholars as George Kennedy, Kenneth Reckford, Philip Stadter, and Jerzy Linderski. (A full list of theses and dissertations from 1910 onwards is available here.) The program has been widened and deepened to the point that permanent faculty positions currently number 11, while colleagues in departments such as English and Comparative Literature, History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies also contribute to the program. Strong institutional support for Classics has kept these numbers up in the new century with hires at both the junior and the senior level: some three-quarters of the current faculty members in Classics joined the department within the last decade or so.
Extensive academic resources and opportunities on and off campus enhance the experiences and training of our graduate students. On campus, UNC provides a variety of research resources to Classics students. Davis Library, just around the corner from the department, holds one of the largest Classics collections in North America, and the B. L. Ullman Classics Collection, located in the department itself, is a reference library catering to the everyday needs of students and faculty alike. The Ancient World Mapping Center, overseen by Richard Talbert of the History department, is a unique research institution exploring the spatial dimensions of the Greek and Roman world and the home of the Barrington Atlas.
The Classics department also participates in a variety of inter-departmental and inter-institutional programs. The Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies or MEMS comprises some sixty faculty members from 10 different departments who cooperatively explore the Medieval and Early Modern world from an interdisciplinary perspective. The department also has a consortium with Duke University’s Department of Classical Studies. Students in Classics at each university may take classes from either Classics department. Faculty from Duke and UNC sometimes team-teach courses, and faculty from one institution can serve on the MA and PhD committees of students at the other university. Duke University is a mere eight miles away, and a shuttle bus runs between the two campuses every half hour during term.
The Classics department also participates in the university-wide strategic partnership with King’s College London. The connection between the two department provides opportunities for faculty and students on both sides to visit the partner department and to develop joint research initiatives. Faculty members on both sides can serve on MA and PhD committees of the partner department, thus enhancing the intellectual diversity and richness of each. Other opportunities for study abroad, including the American School for Classical Studies in Athens, the American Academy in Rome, and the American Research Institute in Turkey, are described under ‘Overseas Study’. The strong resources, in combination with the demanding program, enable students to meet successfully the educational and research challenges of the 21st century. The department has a good record of placing its graduates; for a full list of graduate alumni, click here.
Students with good preparation can complete the MA in two years and the PhD after an additional four. At present MA candidates take their examinations during the second year of work and finish their theses by the end of their fourth semester. Those students who continue on for their PhD take their doctoral written examinations in their fourth year and are then able to begin concerted work on their dissertations. Students who have written an MA thesis elsewhere may petition the department for permission to bypass the writing of an MA thesis and proceed directly toward the PhD. MA candidates must demonstrate reading facility in one modern foreign language (German, French, or Italian), and PhD candidates must do so in two (German and either French or Italian). For that reason the department prefers that incoming students already have reading knowledge of at least one relevant modern language. For more detailed information about our graduate degree programs, including specific degree requirements, please see the department’s Guide to Graduate Policies, Procedures and Resources.
The department has a special concern in the training of teachers, and it views teaching assistantships as invaluable preparation for one’s professional career. Most students gain teaching experience from the very start of their program, normally in their first year as instructional assistants or teaching associates, working in a course taught by a faculty member, but normally by their second year as teaching fellows, teaching their own courses under the supervision of a faculty member. In this way students become experienced in all the aspects of teaching courses in undergraduate Latin, classical civilization, and Greek and Latin literature in translation.
Classical Archaeology at UNC has remained a nationally recognized strength of the Department of Classics for over 50 years. The graduate and undergraduate programs emphasize the study of material culture as a vital component of research and teaching in classical studies, Mediterranean archaeology, and ancient Near Eastern studies. The Department participates in the interdepartmental Curriculum in Archaeology. The unusual richness and diversity of archaeology faculty at UNC — across five different units in the College of Arts and Sciences –- has allowed us to shape cross-disciplinary research and teaching objectives.
Classical Archaeology at UNC is currently represented by five faculty members in two different departments—Classics and Religious Studies—and supported by five additional classical archaeologists at neighboring Duke University through the Duke-UNC Consortium for Classical and Mediterranean Archaeology. Ten additional archaeologists in the Department of Anthropology and Research Laboratories of Archaeology offer a range of complementary courses in archaeological method and theory, landscape archaeology, complex societies, historical ecology, ceramics, palaeoethnobotany, and biological anthropology.
One goal of the program is to develop innovative field projects that engage faculty and students in collaborative research and teaching. Recent collaboration between the departments of Classics and Anthropology has led to the design and implementation of a multi-year archaeological field project on Crete, funded principally by two successive NEH grants and a collaborative NSF grant awarded to Classics. The Azoria Project has incorporated teaching and research faculty from both departments — leading to collaborative papers and publications — as well as a field school program involving undergraduate and graduate students from both departments and across the college.
Classics with Historical Emphasis
The PhD track in Classics with Historical Emphasis offers students the opportunity to take an integrated approach to literature, material culture, and documentary sources of the Greco-Roman world. Students on the Historical Emphasis track will take departmental graduate courses in literature, historiography, visual culture, and archaeology, and will be encouraged to supplement their work in Classics with seminars in allied programs such as History, Religious Studies, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, and Communication. The track aims, through individual advising and inter-departmental collaboration, to help graduate students pursue an interdisciplinary approach to Greco-Roman antiquity, to develop critical perspectives on literature and culture, and to become proficient in ancient and modern discourses about classical civilization and historiography.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to equality of educational opportunity. The University does not discriminate in offering access to its educational programs and activities on the basis of age, color, creed, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. The Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (100 E. Franklin Street, Unit 110, CB #9160, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9160 or 919-966-3576) has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the University’s non-discrimination policies.
See further the following policies and resources: