Program Requirements

I. Admissions Procedures and Requirements
II. General Information
III. Stage I of the PhD Program and the MA Degree 
IV. Stage II of the PhD Program and the PhD Degree

Graduate Program in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology Guidelines and Procedures

The University of California at Berkeley offers an interdisciplinary program of graduate study in Ancient History and Ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology (AHMA). The program is conducted by an inter- disciplinary Group that includes more than twenty faculty members affiliated with seven different UC Berkeley departments and the Graduate Theological Union. A Chair, a Graduate Advisor, and Student Affairs Officers administer the program.

The AHMA program offers MA and PhD degrees in areas that combine work in archaeology and history and related disciplines of ancient studies. Most of its graduates have successfully secured teaching positions in Departments of Classics, Art History, History, Anthropology or Near Eastern Studies in colleges and universities in the U.S. or abroad, including Bar-Ilan, Haifa, Volos, Oxford, Toronto, Columbia, Madison, Austin, and Penn.

Students in "the Group," as the AHMA program is also known, are expected to acquire command of two ancient and two modern languages; to enroll in advanced courses and seminars from two or more departments; and to obtain practical archaeological experience. All requirements for the PhD degree (from entrance with either a BA or an MA to completion of the dissertation) must be concluded within a period of eight years. Students who enter with a BA are required to complete a Qualifying Paper (which may be converted into an MA) before proceeding to the PhD.

Students are considered as making satisfactory progress if they submit their Qualifying Paper during the fourth semester after admission and complete all PhD requirements except the dissertation within five years after admission. This allows for two years--or more in some cases--for the writing of the dissertation. Highly motivated and well-prepared students may complete the program more quickly.

I. Admissions Procedures and Requirements

The AHMA program is open to students with a BA degree in a relevant field of study (such as Classics, Near Eastern Studies, History, or History of Art) that have completed at least one year of undergraduate work in ancient history, ancient art, archaeology, or related fields. Applicants primarily interested in the Greek and Roman worlds should be prepared to undertake advanced work in either Greek or Latin and its culture, and also should have basic competence in the second of these two languages. Applicants primarily interested in the ancient Near East and Egypt do not have to display competence in one of the area’s ancient languages before applying, but to do so may strengthen their application considerably.

Students who have already acquired the MA degree in a relevant field are especially encouraged to apply, and will be considered for direct admission to the PhD program.

The AHMA faculty as a group approves all applicants for admission. AHMA policy is to limit enrollment to the number of students who can be adequately supported for the first five years of their graduate career. Although AHMA receives around 50 applications per year, its admission quota (set by Graduate Division) is currently only around 5-6, with the expectation that 2-3 new students will enroll each fall. Competition therefore is extremely keen. As a result, while some applicants may be rejected for lack of preparation or for undistinguished academic records, a substantial number who are capable of doing good graduate work unfortunately also must be denied admission.

The AHMA faculty judges and ranks applicants on a combination of criteria that includes: (1) preparation to undertake advanced scholarly work; (2) academic distinction as reflected in overall GPA, major GPA, and junior and senior year GPA, as well as awards,  prizes, or publications; (3) a minimum of three letters of recommendation; (4)GRE scores (use 2901- Classics, or 2609 - Classical Languages  for scores to be reported by ETS); (5) a statement of purpose, which should be clearly and cogently written and indicate why the applicant is interested in the AHMA program and where his or her specialization might lie; and (6) a scholarly writing sample of no more than 25 pages and indicating  the origin of the writing sample (ie. a class paper, senior honors thesis, MA thesis).  An applicant with an M.A. is expected to offer substantially stronger preparation than one with only a B.A.  Applications must be submitted electronically either via Graduate Division’s online application at or  via the link on the AHMA web site. The online application process for fall normally opens in early September.

The deadline for all online applications is December 5th.  The online application allows applicants to upload their supplemental material required by AHMA such as, unofficial transcripts, writing sample, and reading lists (sample reading list) in ancient languages. Upon admission, Graduate Division will require submission of your official transcripts.

Applicants must submit a list of three contacts for letters of recommendation during the online application process. These recommenders will be contacted by email to submit their recommendations online.  We strongly urge you to request the letters of recommendation from your recommenders well before the time of submitting your online application.

The Berkeley campus has a commitment to increasing the diversity of its graduate student population. The AHMA program strongly encourages applications from members of underrepresented groups (such as U.S. citizens or residents of African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, or Native American descent) who are qualified to pursue interdisciplinary graduate work in areas appropriate to the program.

II. General Information

The AHMA program is housed in the seventh floor of Dwinelle Hall in an administrative cluster known as CASMA. CASMA comprises the Departments of Classics and South and Southeast Asian Studies, and the graduate program in Medieval Studies, as well as AHMA.Dwinelle Hall facilities available to our students include a student lounge, a coffee shop, the Nemea/Sardis Archives, the Sara B. Aleshire Center for Greek Epigraphy, the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri,GSI offices, and a dedicated office for research equipment and computers. The office provides a focus for mail pick-up (every student has a mail slot), copying, advising, and consulting.

Some program specifics are provided below. Further details are available in the AHMA Graduate Student Handbook, or from the Student Affairs Officer.

A. Advising

There is a three-tiered advisory system for AHMA students. The Student Affairs Officer counsels students on campus policies, regulations and procedures, helps monitor students' degree progress, and assists students with bureaucratic problems related to the completion of degree requirements. A Graduate Advisor takes responsibility for general academic counseling, offers suggestions on programs of study and advisory committees, and monitors the student's overall academic progress. Direct supervision of each student's academic progress is conducted by a faculty Advisory Committee selected by the student in accordance with his or her areas of interest. Committee members meet with the student to recommend a suitable program of study and to help determine his or her major and minor fields. The committee also periodically reviews the student's progress.

B. Coursework and Requirements

There is no prescribed course of study for the AHMA program and work is tailored to suit the interests and goals of the individual student. Recommendations for particular courses are generally made by the student's advisory committee in consultation with the student. Work in the ancient languages is an early and high priority, however, and students should plan to continue course work in languages already begun. Those who begin an ancient language after admission should plan to study that language continuously for at least two years. In addition, students are expected to enroll in methodology and interdisciplinary courses and seminars, and in courses and seminars relevant to their major and minor fields (see below, under PhD). Independent study courses with individual faculty members can also be arranged.

C. Financial Support

The AHMA program makes every effort to support students throughout their graduate career, provided they continue to make good progress towards their degree(s). Entering students are eligible to compete for a number of university-wide fellowships. Usually only three entering students can be offered support, in various three or four year packages. The recipients of such packages are also regularly supported by additional fellowships and graduate student instructorships (teaching assistantships) right through to the PhD, provided they make good progress. Applicants are strongly encouraged also to apply to external programs for funding, such as the Mellon Fellowship Program, Danforth Foundation, and Javits Fellowship Program. Your undergraduate institution and home department should be able to provide information about these programs.

Available awards for continuing students include resident fellowships, travelling fellowships, extramural fellowships, and dissertation fellowships. Students in the Group are also urged to compete for Graduate Student Instructorships in a number of different departments, including Classics, History, Near Eastern Studies, and History of Art, as well as in programs such as Religious Studies or Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies. GSI-ships are rarely awarded in the first year of graduate study.

Financial aid may also take the form of Research Assistantships (collaboration in the work of a particular faculty member) or Readerships (grading papers in a particular course. Such appointments depend upon the recommendation of individual faculty members.

III. Stage I of the PhD Program and the MA Degree

Requirements for Stage I include: (i) successful completion of a minimum of six courses, including a methodology course in the area of the student’s main focus of interest and an interdisciplinary AHMA seminar team-taught by faculty from two different departments; (ii) the achievement of competence in one ancient and one modern language; (iii) Successful completion of a third semester review; and (iv) production of a Qualifying Paper, which may be turned into an MA thesis if the student wishes.

IV. Stage II of the PhD Program and the PhD Degree

Requirements for the Stage II include: (i) successful completion of a total of eight courses (of which up to three may be courses taken at Stage I level) in one major field of study, one minor field, and one outside field, normally distributed in a 4:2:2 ratio; (ii) a three-hour written examination in the major field; (iii) competence in a second ancient language and reading ability in at least two modern languages; (iv) a dissertation prospectus prepared in consultation with the student’s advisory committee; (v) successful completion of the PhD Oral Qualifying Examination; (vi) fieldwork experience; and (vii) successful completion of a dissertation. The student should plan to complete all the qualifying examinations (including the oral) within five years after admission to the program and two and a half years after completing Stage I.

To accommodate individual student programs, a wide range of choices is available for both major and minor fields, which the student selects in consultation with his or her advisory committee. These fields should be distributed across the geographical and disciplinary areas covered by the AHMA program (the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece, and Rome; archaeology, history, art history, and so on). So, for example, students whose major field is in the Greco-Roman world should choose an outside field in Pharaonic Egypt and/or the Ancient Near East, and vice-versa. Students whose major field is text-based must choose a minor field in the material culture of that field (excluding epigraphy and papyrology), and vice-versa.

Each AHMA student is also expected to acquire practical experience in archaeology and material culture, broadly defined. This experience may be obtained in a number of ways: through participation in excavations, such as AHMA sponsored projects like those at Nemea and Mycenae in Greece, Dhiban in Jordan, El-Hibeh in Egypt, or Sardis in Turkey; through topographical and other on-site work such as that sponsored by AHMA at Pompeii; through enrollment in approved study programs abroad (e.g., at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens or the American Academy in Rome); or through supervised research projects conducted at approved museums or research institutions such as the American Numismatic Society, the Getty Center and Museum, the Albright Institute of Archaeology at Jerusalem, the Cyprus American Research Institute, the American Research Center in Egypt, or the American Center for Oriental Research in Amman. In the interests of broadening the student's experience, this dimension of the program must be fulfilled outside Berkeley.

Upon completion of all qualifying exams and all requirements, the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD. He or she then proceeds to select a dissertation topic and a committee of three faculty members from at least two different departments who will guide the research and writing. The committee member most closely involved with the student's research is usually named as Chair.