How to Apply

Students seeking to do graduate work at Duke University for degree purposes must be formally admitted to the Graduate School by the dean. The Graduate School welcomes applications from students holding a U.S. bachelor's degree (or the international equivalent) from an accredited institution. For more information, see: Duke Graduate School Admissions.

Successful applicants to the Graduate Program in Classical Studies must have prior study of relevant ancient languages, Greek and Latin. For those applying to the Literature and History track, this means at least three years of one ancient language, and at least two of the other at the university level. For those applying to the Archaeology track, this means three years in either Latin OR Greek at the university level. (Candidates should indicate in the first paragraph of their Statement of Purpose to which track they are applying).

Advice for Statements of Purpose:

The Graduate School provides standard guidance for Statements of Purpose. The Department of Classical Studies makes the following suggestions for its own applicants:

The Statement of Purpose is a different genre than the kind of Personal Statement you wrote in applications for undergraduate programs. Successful Statements of Purpose for our program give the committee a snapshot of you as a scholar. This means describing (1) your intellectual interests, (2) the preparation behind those interests, and (3) potential future pursuits (although these need not be highly specific). The statement as a whole implicitly answers the following questions. What intersecting interests or questions about Classical Antiquity are motivating you to pursue a graduate degree in Classical Studies? What coursework, research, and work/opportunities outside of class have helped shape these questions? In what areas are you looking to grow in graduate school? And why are we, at Duke Classical Studies, a good place for you to achieve these goals?

The best Statements of Purpose are highly individual. This means you don’t want to say something that anyone could say, but rather keep the focus on you and your candidacy. It can help to include specific information, e.g., about research papers you have written of which you are proud, theories or methodologies or approaches or even a single secondary source that really grabbed your attention, programs you have attended, special skills you have acquired (inside or outside of your previous coursework), or aspects of your resume that you wish to explain which have special bearing on your future studies with us. You might also comment on anything you wish to explain about your profile.

Note that you need not outline for us a completely formed future research agenda; we welcome students who are open to exploring the wide breadth of what we study here. Rather, your statement tells us about what most sparks your interest in the ancient world (and you can have many sparks!) and about the intellectual trajectory that led you to approach those interests. We hope, of course, that answering those questions will help us see why you are interested in pursuing your education in Duke Classical Studies and what sort of research you will be interested in pursuing with us; if you know the names of specific faculty you would like to work with, feel free to name them, but more important for us is that you took the time to get to know our program as outlined on our website and that your wider intellectual snapshot speaks to why we would be a good intellectual home for you.

Note: applicants must also include directly in the first paragraph of your Statement of Purpose to which of our two tracks you are applying: Archaeology or Literature/History.

Advice for Statements of Life Experiences:

Your Statement of Purpose is an opportunity to tell us about your intellectual goals and professional aspirations and how you might grow toward them in the Department of Classical Studies and the wider Duke community. We want to know! But you are more than your intellectual interests alone. As a department we value the diversity of perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences of all of our students and faculty. These are building blocks of academic excellence and a strong community of teachers, learners, and scholars. Our experiences shape the questions that we ask and we are better classicists, historians, and archaeologists when we bring the widest possible range of questions to bear on the materials that we study. So, we also want to know about your unique life experiences and how they have contributed to your thoughts on the academic enterprise in general, your particular scholarly interests or professional goals, who you are and what you want to accomplish at Duke and beyond. Think of the Statement of Life Experiences is an opportunity for self-reflection. Consider how your background, culture, socioeconomic status, work, or life experiences have contributed to who you are and the work that you want to do. We think about our own experiences in this way all the time and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on the same!

Additional Application Requirements for Classical Studies:

As part of the materials submitted online to the Graduate School, Classical Studies also requires:

(1) Greek and Latin Works Read:
A list of the Greek and Latin authors/texts you have read in the original languages.

(2) Writing Sample:
A writing sample (20-25 pages) is required. Successful writing samples showcase research and analysis of primary sources within a subfield field of Classical Studies or within a related discipline.

These two documents can be uploaded as one file directly with your online application in the Departmental Requirements section. 

All applicants will be considered on an equal basis regardless of race, color, gender, or national and ethnic origin. The Classical Studies Department strongly encourages applications from women, International, and US minority students.

The department of Classical Studies is also able to pursue a fee-waiver for students in financial need. For information on this, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Josh Sosin. For the 2023-24 admissions cycle, the Department of Classical Studies has waived the GRE requirement; candidates are welcome but not required to submit GRE scores as part of their application dossier.

Please note that our department does not accept students wishing to pursue only a M.A. in Classical Studies.

Deadline for Applications

The deadline for completed applications is December 20, 2023, at which time all application materials (transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, writing sample, and list of Greek and Latin authors read in the original) should be received at the Graduate School office. In Classical Studies we may be able to consider applications filed late. If your application cannot be completed by December 20, 2023, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Josh Sosin.

See also our admissions statistics, completion rates, time to degree statistics and placement data.