About Us

Unlike many programs that offer an independent or hybrid PhD in ancient philosophy, the University of Michigan has its students pursue two degrees in tandem: a PhD in either Philosophy or Classical Studies together with an MA in the companion field, in accordance with the established standards in each field. All of this can be accomplished within the usual six years for the PhD, because of overlapping requirements.

This structure reflects our approach to interdisciplinarity. Rather than look for space between the two fields, we think that the study of ancient philosophy is best stimulated by bringing together the special expertises in each discipline, whether they be logical and analytical techniques, ancient literary theory, the knowledge of politicial institutions and religious traditions, or papyrology (all strengths at Michigan). There is no one best way to study ancient philosophy; all of these approaches provide valuable insights. By bringing each into conversation with the others, all are enriched.

The structure of the program is also designed with students in mind, with regard to both their training and their future job prospects. Students pursue their foundational and specialized training in the normal way, in accordance with the established standards in each department. Because each degree is in a traditionally recognized disclipine, the hiring department can be confident in the value of the degree. The special character and emphasis in a particular student’s course of study will show itself in their selection of courses and research projects.

More detailed information on the two tracks can be found immediately below. A separate page contains information on applying, including links.

PhD in Philosophy, MA in Greek or in Latin

Students in the PhD program in Philosophy spend the first four to five terms doing course work to develop their basic philosophical and analytical skills and improve their writing, by taking a range of courses, including a required first term proseminar on philosophical method. Ten graduate courses in philosophy are required, as well as passing a logic requirement (through a course or examination), before candidacy is achieved. After a term transitioning to the dissertation (with dossier and prospectus), the remainder of the time is spent researching and writing the dissertation itself (usually two to three years), culminating in an oral defense. On the website for the Department of Philosophy, there are full details the PhD program in Philosophy and program requirements. There is also information on financial support.

Students on this track will develop their knowledge of the ancient language(s) and culture by pursuing either an MA in Greek or in Latin. The MA requires (a) six to seven graduate courses in the language studied and (b) a sight translation exam. There is some flexibility with regard to (a) for those who have both Latin and Greek: Greek MA students may count up to two courses in Latin, and Latin MA students up to two courses in Greek. Students on this track are also strong encouraged to develop a knowledge of German and either French or Italian. The website for the Department of Classical Studies has more details about the MA in Greek and the MA in Latin.

All graduate programs at Michigan require four credit hours in a cognate subject in a different program. But in dual programs such as ours, the courses for one degree can also serve as cognate credits for the other (by special application to the graduate school), so that no additional course work is required. This significantly reduces the time need to pursue both degrees.

PhD in Classical Studies, MA in Philosophy

Students in the PhD program in Classical studies spend the first three years doing course work to improve and refine their command of Greek and Latin; gain a broader and firmer grasp of the development of Greek and Roman literature in their historical settings; and acquaint themselves with the various subfields and basic tools, methods, aims, and achievements of classical scholarship, and with the methodologies (literary, historical, linguistic) currently being applied to classical texts. Ten courses of specific types are required, as well as a range of qualifying and preliminary exams, before candidacy is achieved. The student then undertakes a dissertation under the supervision of an advisor and a committee. The usual time required for its completion is one to two years. The final oral examination is on the dissertation and related topics. The website for the Department of Classical Studies has full details about the PhD program and requirements. Information about fellowship opportunities and support can be found in the last section of that page. All students are guaranteed five years of support, with a mixture of fellowship and teaching.

Students on this track will develop their philosophical skills and knowledge by pursuing an MA in the Department of Philosophy. The MA requires six to seven graduate courses in philosophy, in a range of areas, as well as passing a logic requirement (through a course or examination). The website for the Department of Philosophy has full details about the MA requirements.

All graduate programs at Michigan require four credit hours in a cognate subject in a different program. But in dual programs such as ours, the courses for one degree can also serve as cognate credits for the other (by special application to the graduate school), so that no additional course work is required. This significantly reduces the time need to pursue both degrees.