Courses: Students in Ancient history are required to take GR8910 Introduction to History and Historiography in the first year and GR8061 Topics in Pre-Modern European History at some point during the first two years (if offered). All students are required to take a total of ten courses taken for credit (6 courses in the first year, 4 courses in the second year). For students in Greek and Roman History at least three of these courses must be at the 2000-level, three at the 8000-level, and two in ancillary disciplines (epigraphy, numismatics, papyrology, law). All students need to plan their courses with their advisor.

Languages: Students are required to pass language exams in four foreign languages before taking the oral exam. All students need to pass exams in French, and German. Students in Greek and Roman History need to sit for both Greek and Latin upon their arrival at Columbia. Students are expected to pass the department’s language examination in at least one of these two languages within one year from the beginning of the first semester, and to pass the other classical language within two years from the beginning of the first semester. Exceptions will be made only for students who demonstrate, on entering the program, that their language preparation has been unusually weak; these students will reach an agreement at that time with their advisors about the maximum time they will take to pass the classical language exams. Students in ancient Near Eastern History need to pass exams in two ancient Near East languages before taking the oral exam.

Orals: Oral exams are to be taken in the sixth term. Students in Greek and Roman History may choose either of the following routes for the major field.


  1. A set of periods, namely three out of the following, the only limitation being that at least one period must be Greek and one Roman: 800-479 B.C. (Greek), 754-167 B.C. (Roman), 479-323 B.C. (Greek), 323-30 B.C. (Greek), 30 B.C. – A.D. 235, 167-30 (Roman), A.D. 235-565.
  2. A set of three thematic fields from the following list, covering all or most of classical antiquity (any chronological limitations must be agreed to beforehand by the student’s advisor): economic history, constitutions, social history, religious history, intellectual history, gender and sexuality, law, historiography, slavery, environmental history, warfare, political history. Students in Ancient Near Eastern History will be examined on all periods of Near Eastern history from 3200-300 B.C. for the major field. Candidates will also present a minor field, to be agreed upon with their advisors. Students who wish to delay their orals beyond the sixth semester, which is discouraged, will be required to seek the approval of the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.