Prospective Students

From the Director of Graduate Studies

If you would like to pursue a Ph.D. in Classical Studies within a close-knit and vibrant community in one of the country’s top-ranked institutions, the Classical Studies program at Duke University welcomes your application.

The Ph.D. program in Classical Studies at Duke comes with amazing resources: a world-class library, including the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library; the Duke Classical Collection of Antiquities at the Nasher Museum of Art, a collegial group of excellent graduate students, and a faculty devoted to excellence in teaching, research, service, and mentorship.  This warm community of scholars is excited to welcome new colleagues like you. Duke Classical Studies offers the best of both worlds: we are a small, tight-knit group like a liberal arts college, while still being part of a high-powered research institution where the humanities – and especially interest in the ancient world – is thriving.

The interests of our core faculty range widely, from Aegean prehistory through the medieval period. In 2020, we hired four (!) new faculty, whose work on the archaeology of the Near East, the social and religious history of late antiquity, Greek tragedy, and Roman imperial literature have only added to our department’s varied, complementary areas of expertise.  In addition to the full breadth of Greek and Latin literature, from archaic Greece to late antique and medieval texts, our students can explore a diverse range of topics:

  • History from Bronze Age to Early Medieval
  • Archaeology, material culture (including Iron Age Anatolia, pre-Roman Italy)
  • Roman provinces, ethnicity and identity (especially Africa and Iberian Peninsula)
  • Gender and sexuality (including in history, literature, law)
  • Religion (including Greek and Roman, late antiquity, early medieval)
  • Theater and performance studies (including trauma, spectacle, modern reception)
  • Economics, law, philosophy, political theory, ancient medicine, science/technology
  • Papyrology, paleography, epigraphy, Digital Classics 
  • Literary theory, textual criticism, and the history of the book  

Many of our faculty and students enjoy strong intellectual ties with other departments such as Art, Art History and Visual Studies; History; Literature; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; Theater Studies; Political Science; and Religious Studies, as well as with colleagues just down the road at UNC-Chapel Hill. Here, then, is a department where you can discover not only the things that excite you, but also their many points of contact with other subjects, disciplines, and scholars.

Students work closely with faculty from the start, navigating one of two flexible tracks within the Ph.D. program.  One track emphasizes robust, broad training in Classical literature and history, and the other, new track offers specialized training in Mediterranean Archaeology, broadly defined. Admitted students are automatically awarded nationally competitive financial support for a guaranteed five years; this includes full tuition, fees, health coverage, and an annual stipend that continues to be one of the highest in the country for humanities graduate students. Our students also have the chance to apply for additional scholarships and fellowships, university and departmental travel awards, support for modern foreign-language study, and funding beyond the fifth year. You will have the opportunity to TA in your second and third year and then, in your fourth and fifth, to take the reins and teach one course per semester (Latin, Greek, or courses in translation) to some of the brightest and most accomplished undergraduates in the world.

Our department values diversity as an essential component of academic excellence.  To thrive as a scholarly community, we not only endeavor to recruit students and faculty who can contribute different experiences and perspectives, but also work to make our academic environment safe and welcome to those who have been traditionally marginalized by institutions of higher education.  The Classical Studies Department has been organizing anti-racism reading groups, planning curricular changes, and preparing written communications with the aim of decolonizing the Classics, as well as creating an academic environment that fosters equity and social justice.  “Collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging” are not only the watchwords of Duke University’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, but crucial animating principles of our intellectual community.  

Durham, which surrounds our beautiful campus, is a small city where people can feel at home., It is also filled with great restaurants, parks, nature trails, and a lively music and arts scene. Durham overflows with life, ideas, and opportunities, just the way we aim to be in Classical Studies.

To learn more about our program and decide whether Duke Classical Studies is a place where you can see yourself growing and thriving, visit our website or email me, or any of our faculty. Please note that for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, our deadline is December 15, 2022. Our department has continued to waive the GRE requirement as part of our application; we are also able to arrange for fee waivers where necessary. We look forward to hearing from you.

With every good wish for your future career,

Lauren D. Ginsberg
Associate Professor, Classical Studies
Director of Graduate Studies


Financial Support

The Department of Classical Studies supports for five years all students to whom we have offered admission and who are making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. Read more

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. Read more

Living in Durham

Durham is a great place for graduate study: affordable, green, rich in art & culture, vibrant, welcoming, family-friendly and smart--with the highest concentration of Ph.D’s in the nation. Read more