General Info

  • Faculty working with students: 12 primary, 4 affiliated
  • Students: 16
  • Students receiving Financial Aid: 100%
  • Part time study available: No
  • Application Terms: Fall
  • Application Deadline: December 20
Application Info


Joshua Sosin
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Classical Studies
Duke University
Box 90103
Durham, NC 27708-0103

Phone: (919) 681-4292



Program Description

The department sponsors work across many aspects of the study of the ancient Mediterranean, including Greek and Latin literature,  history, philosophy, art, and archeology. Successful applicants to the Ph.D. track in Literature or in History must have at least three years of one ancient language (Greek and Latin), and at least two of the other; successful applicants to the Ph.D. track in Archaeology must have at least three years of one ancient language (Latin or Greek). We have a strong, balanced program in literary, historical, cultural, and archaeological studies, including special expertise in documentary studies-- papyrology, palaeography, and epigraphy. Our department is an integral part of both Duke's Center for Late Ancient Studies and Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Resources for Classical Studies include large collections of ancient Greek papyri and medieval Greek and Latin manuscripts, the Rostovtzeff-Welles library, and the Duke Immersive Environment and other virtual reality labs, and the Classical Collection of Greek and Roman Art in the Nasher Museum of Art. We participate in the programs of the American Academy in Rome and the American School in Athens; many students spend a year or a summer at one or the other. Students in our program are able, through course work, directed research, and their own teaching, to prepare for careers within the academy as broadly trained classical scholars and also to prepare for equally valued careers outside the academy through Duke’s robust programming for humanities Ph.Ds and through departmental programming and alumni networks.


Application Information

Application Terms Available: Fall

Application Deadline: December 20

Graduate School Application Requirements
See the Application Instructions page for important details about each Graduate School requirement.

  • Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts required with application submission; official transcripts required upon admission
  • Letters of Recommendation: 3 Required
  • Statement of Purpose: Required
  • Résumé: Required
  • GRE Scores: GRE General (Optional)
  • English Language Exam: TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test required* for applicants whose first language is not English
    *test waiver may apply for some applicants
  • GPA: Undergraduate GPA calculated on 4.0 scale required

Department-Specific Application Requirements (submitted through online application)

Statement of Purpose Guidelines
The Statement of Purpose is a fundamentally 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; in fact, we prefer students 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.

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

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. 

We strongly encourage you to review additional department-specific application guidance from the program to which you are applying: Departmental Application Guidance