Graduate Studies

Pursuing a MA or PhD in the Department of Classics

The Department of Classics welcomes students who wish to pursue MA and PhD degrees. Study may focus on the traditional subdisciplines of Greek and Roman Literature and History, as well as on Ancient Philosophy. Alternatively, students may opt to explore Classical culture and its legacy in several other areas of interest distinctively cultivated by members of the Classics faculty, along with colleagues in the Program in Religious Studies and Arabic. Such areas include late-antique, patristic, Byzantine and medieval philosophy, theology and religion.

Take a look at our current Graduate Handbook.

Language requirements

Greek and Latin are taught at all levels, and competency in both languages is required for theses in the traditional areas of Classical Studies. Students focussing on the intersections of Classical and later thought in the Mediterranean world and the Middle East may, in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and supervising faculty member, substitute Classical Arabic for either or Latin or Greek. Students focussing mainly on Ancient Philosophy, Greek patristics, Byzantine philosophy and theology, Latin patristics, and Latin medieval philosophy and planning to continue their studies or pursue an academic career in these areas may, as appropriate, in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and supervising faculty member, limit their language study to ancient and Byzantine Greek, or ancient and medieval Latin, or either of these in combination with Arabic. In addition to ancient languages, students are required to conduct research in the most relevant modern languages as well.

Faculty areas of expertise

The following indicates faculty expertise  in the several broad areas in which graduate students may focus (for further particulars, candidates should consult individual faculty profiles posted on the Classics webpage):

Greek and Roman History
E. Varto, P. O’Brien, J. Mitchell

Greek and Roman Literature
E. Varto, L. MacLeod, P. O’Brien, J. Mitchell

Greek, Roman, and Hellenistic Philosophy
E. Diamond, M. Fournier, W. Hankey

Late Ancient, Patristic, Byzantine & Medieval Philosophy, Theology & Religion
M. Fournier, W. Hankey, P. O’Brien, G. Thorne, A. Treiger

MA students may concentrate in any of the above fields. PhD candidates must limit their work to Hellenic and Hellenistic Studies.

Masters degree

Admission requirements

Candidates must satisfy the admission requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. For students wishing to pursue traditional Classics degrees, the requirement of both Classical languages at the Honours level may sometimes be relaxed, for example when a student has taken a Combined Honours course involving only one Classical language. In such cases, at least two classes in the second language will be taken in addition to the MA course proper. Students focussing mainly on ancient Philosophy, Greek patristics, Byzantine philosophy and theology, Latin patristics, and Latin medieval philosophy should see the statement above. In certain programs, a knowledge of other ancient languages may be required.


Students contemplating studying for a Masters degree should count on spending at least a full year to complete their classes and thesis. It typically takes two full years.
Three graduate seminars in the general area of interest are required. It may be possible to substitute a reading and research course for a seminar. Candidates are expected to attend graduate seminars related to their thesis throughout their period of full-time study. A thesis, usually between 100 and 150 pages, is required.

MA students should consult the Department’s Graduate Studies Handbook for further departmental regulations for the MA. They should also consult the Graduate Calendar.

Doctor of Philosophy degree

Admission Requirements

The normal admission requirement is the MA in Classics or equivalent preparation. The minimum residence requirement for such candidates is two years, during which time they must satisfy the general requirements of the Faculty, and, in addition, must demonstrate competence in the languages (ancient and modern) necessary for research in their particular fields of study.


All candidates are expected to have a broad understanding of all aspects of Classical culture. Within the general area of Hellenic-Hellenistic Studies, each candidate is expected to concentrate, with the guidance of a supervising committee, in one of three fields: History, Literature, and Philosophy.

In consultation with their supervising committee, PhD candidates will take such courses as are deemed necessary preparation.

Before submitting a thesis, the candidate must pass a comprehensive examination (written and oral) in his or her special field. This will normally be taken towards the end of the second or beginning of the third year of study.

PhD students should consult the Department’s Graduate Studies Handbook,  the Graduate Calendar,  and obtain a copy of the departmental regulations governing the PhD program for further information.


Masters and doctoral applicants should apply using the forms available at the Faculty of Graduate Studies website. Please note that in addition to the materials required by the Dalhousie FGS, the Department of Classics requests an additional letter of reference (for a total of three),  a writing sample (e.g. a term paper or thesis chapter of about twenty pages) and a list of Greek and Latin texts which the applicant has read in the original language.


All applicants for the MA program will be considered, on a competitive basis, for scholarship funding. Such funding is available in three forms: Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) Scholarships, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Scholarships, and Izaak Walton Killam Predoctoral Scholarships (more information on the Killam Scholarship here: ). Candidates who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents and who wish to be considered for FGS Scholarships are strongly encouraged to apply for the relevant scholarships or fellowships offered by SSHRC (further information available at The deadlines for SSHRC applications fall in the autumn of the year preceding the year in which studies begin. Candidates who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents and who wish to be considered for the Killam scholarship MUST apply for the relevant scholarships or fellowships offered by SSHRC.

All candidates wishing to be considered for departmentally administered scholarships should note the application deadline set by the Department, April 1, which falls well in advance of the admission deadline of June 1: Killam Scholarships and FGS Scholarships, December 1.

PhD students will only be accepted with external scholarship funding (e.g. SSHRC or Killam Scholarships). They are not eligible for FGS Scholarships in the Department of Classics.

All admitted students (MA and PhD) will be considered for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship.

For more information, email our Graduate Advisor at