Why Berkeley?

Berkeley has long been a vibrant center for the study of Mediterranean antiquity. Its dynamism stems from its large faculty with diverse research agendas and innovative teaching methods, spread across several departments within the university, a dynamic graduate student body, and world-class research facilities.

Our distinguished faculty in Anthropology, Classics, History, History of Art, and Near Eastern Studies have been decorated with many honors and awards, including fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the American Academy in Rome and receipt of the Goodwin Award of Merit from the Society for Classical Studies. For their excellence in teaching and graduate advising many faculty in this group have also received awards from the University of California.

Berkeley boasts a graduate population of more than 10,000 students from all over the world, whose interactions on this campus foster an unparalleled sense of intellectual community. Those who are committed to the study of Mediterranean antiquity have their departmental homes in five departments or groups, including AHMA, depending upon their specialization, and together they form one of our greatest treasures, a vigorous intellectual community. 

The Berkeley campus boasts tremendous research facilities. The richly stocked Doe Library, the university’s main research library, embraces the specialized, non-circulating collection in the Art History and Classics Library, which includes holdings in literature, archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics. The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, part of the Bancroft Library, houses the largest collection of papyri in the western hemisphere, primarily from the Egyptian site of Tebtunis, and a specialized library for papyrological research. Epigraphy, a traditional strength on the Berkeley campus, is supported by the massive collection of squeezes and photographs in the Sara B. Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy, which also has its own library. The collection of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology includes treasures from Egypt, the Near East, Greece, and Rome.


All of these resources make Berkeley an exciting and rewarding center for graduate study in the history and material culture of the ancient Mediterranean. With several other potential departmental homes, why should a prospective student choose to apply to AHMA? The program is distinguished by its commitment to interdisciplinary approaches to the ancient past, including the study of material culture, broadly construed, and interests in the ancient Near East as well as the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome. Prospective applicants to AHMA should also read, as relevant to their interests, about the separate programs in Anthropology, Classics, History, History of Art, and Near Eastern Studies in order to determine which program would best fit their interests. Despite the distinct programs, students in all of them combine to form a large and vibrant intellectual community, participating in many of the same seminars, attending the same events, and working with the same faculty.

The AHMA program combines an open curriculum with rigorous examinations to produce innovative scholars fully trained in the technical skills necessary to become distinguished researchers and effective teachers.

AHMA graduates have, since 2003, taken jobs at The British Museum, Brown University, California State University Los Angeles, Carleton College, Claremont McKenna College, Duquesne University, Durham University, Georgetown University, Macalaster College, State University of New York, Tulane University, University of Cincinnati, University of Maryland, University of Oxford, University of Patras, University of Queensland, Washington and Lee University, the University of Tübingen, Michigan State University, and the University of Seattle.

Admission Guidelines

Successful applicants to the AHMA program are expected to be able to hit the ground running when they arrive at Berkeley. This means that they will have already acquired an intermediate to advanced knowledge of the relevant ancient languages, and reading knowledge of at least one relevant research language (French, German, modern Greek, Italian). They will also have taken upper-division undergraduate courses in their intended area of specialization. The brief writing sample, which must be submitted with the online application, will demonstrate a thoughtful engagement with the primary and secondary sources of the topic in question, as well as analytical rigor and clear writing skills.