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PhD in Classical & Near Eastern Studies

Apply to be a part of the PhD
program in CNES.

Students are encouraged to pursue a PhD in classical and Near Eastern studies at the University of Minnesota. Our CNES PhD program prepares you for a successful career in both post-secondary teaching and research.

Within this degree, students will select one of the two sub-plans: classics or religions in antiquity.

To be accepted into the PhD program, applicants should have experience in at least one relevant ancient language (Greek or Latin) sufficient to begin graduate-level reading courses in their first term.

Further details about requirements are found in the PDF iconGraduate Handbook.



Evenly balanced between the study of Greek and Latin language and literature, the classics sub-plan allows students to explore how our civilization operates today by reading ancient texts in their original languages and coming to understand their historical context as the ancestors of drama, rhetoric, romance, poetry, and more.

Students have access to all departmental faculty for courses, exams, and dissertation committees. However, the faculty with specific expertise in classical antiquity are S. Douglas Olson (Greek poetry of the archaic and classical periods), Nita Krevans (Greek and Latin poetry and Hellenistic literature), Christopher Nappa (Latin literature, gender and sexuality in Antiquity), Spencer Cole (Latin prose and Roman culture), and Andrew Gallia (Roman history, Latin literature, Greek history, Roman archaeology and topography). 

Religions of Antiquity

The PhD in religions of antiquity focuses on comparative, historical, and literary study of the religious texts and practices of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East. Students work across a range of cultures, time periods, and places, as shown in course work and exams. Students will build (1) theoretical sophistication in the study of ancient religion; (2) language competencies that will enable graduates to work with a wide range of primary sources; (3) deep understanding of the full range of cultural and historical dynamics inherent in ancient religions; and (4) interpretive skills that draw on a wealth of available literary, epigraphic, papyrological, visual, and material primary sources. There are two possible areas of study: 

Area A: Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible
Religions, literatures, and cultures of Israel, Mesopotamia, Canaan, and Israel from the 2nd millennium BCE to the early Persian period. Students will normally have their primary language proficiency be in classical Hebrew. Secondary languages proficiency include Aramaic, Akkadian, or Ugaritic.

Students have access to all departmental faculty for courses, exams, and dissertation committees. However, the faculty with primary expertise in Area A are Bernard M. Levinson (Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies; Biblical Law; textual reinterpretation in the Hebrew literature of the Second Temple period), Hanne Løland Levinson (Hebrew Bible, gender studies, metaphor theory, and biblical narratives), and Eva von Dassow (Ancient New Eastern Studies, Akkadian, and Ugaritic).

Area B: Greek and Roman Religions, Formative Judaism, Early Christianity
Religions, literatures, and cultures of the Ancient Mediterranean world, with potential focal points in early Christianity (including New Testament literature), Second Temple Judaism (including in Egypt), Greek and Hellenistic religion, and Roman religion. This Area centers on the period from Alexander the Great to Marcus Aurelius (ca. 330 BCE to 180 CE). Students will normally have their primary language proficiency in Greek or Latin, with secondary language proficiency in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, or Coptic. 

Students have access to all departmental facutly for courses, exams, and dissertation committees. However, the faculty with primary expertise in Area B are Stephen P. Ahearne-Kroll (New Testament, early Christianity, Greek and Hellenistic religion, gender in antiquity), Patricia D. Ahearne-Kroll (Second Temple Judaism, religion on Ptolemaic Egypt, Jewish Greek literature, biblical Hebrew), Spencer Cole (Republican and Imperial Roman religion), and Melissa Sellew (History of Religions in Greek and Roman Antiquity, Early Christianity, Coptic Studies; available through Fall 2018). 

Students also have access to all faculty in other departments for courses, exams, and dissertation committees. Outside faculty affiliated with CNES are Andrea Sterk (History; Late Antique Christianity), Peter Wells (Anthropology of Prehistoric and Roman-Era Europe), Richard Graff (Writing Studies; Classical Rhetoric and Modern Rhetorical Theory), and Theofanis Stavrou (History; Modern Greek and Greek Orthodoxy).

View full requirements