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Application, Admission, and Financial Support

Students entering the program are expected to have a broad familiarity with ancient history and sufficient language preparation to begin graduate work in two ancient languages. For languages generally taught at the undergraduate level, such as Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Biblical Hebrew, this characteristically amounts to a minimum of three years’ study in one language, and two in another. The student will be expected to demonstrate competence in each of these languages by passing exams, typically administered at the end of the third semester, and at the end of the sixth semester. For languages not generally taught at the undergraduate level, such as Akkadian, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, or Sumerian, expectations of competence at the moment of entry into the program are necessarily different. In these circumstances, the student should identify the proposed language(s) in the application, and plan upon arrival to enroll in introductory courses as part of his or her regular course load. Having attained an appropriate level of competence, s/he will be expected to demonstrate that competence by passing exams¸ on a comparable schedule to that outlined above. Applicants who are in doubt as to their language preparation should contact the Graduate Group Chair directly, prior to submitting their application. (Students needing additional language training before applying to the Graduate Group may be interested in Penn’s Post-Baccalaureate Program in Classical Studies. Applicants to the Post-Baccalaureate Program may also apply for the Elsie Phare Fellowship). It is also desirable for applicants to have knowledge of one or more modern languages, especially German and either French or Italian. Applicants are required to submit an example of their academic writing, demonstrating investigative and analytical skills appropriate to historical research, along with their applications; a research paper of about 15 pages in length (but of no more than 20) is sufficient to meet this requirement. The GRE General Test is not required.

Students in the Graduate Group in Ancient History are eligible for five-year Benjamin Franklin Fellowships. This award covers full tuition and pays a generous stipend; the student will also undertake teaching assignments for 4 semesters (during the second and third years) as a condition of the grant. Additional Teaching Assistantships and opportunities in the College of Liberal and Professional Studies are also available. Students in the Group are regularly successful in competitions for funding for study abroad and for dissertation fellowships from both Penn and external grant-awarding bodies, as well as Dissertation Research Fellowships and Dissertation Completion Fellowships administered by the Graduate Division of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Students who have already taken courses at the graduate level may petition for transfer credit for up to eight courses. The actual award of credit can be made only after satisfactory completion of the first year at Penn, and is by no means guaranteed. Rather, it forms part of a broader evaluation of the most effective way for the student to fulfil the various requirements of the program. Ordinarily, any transfer of credit is used to fulfil language or other requirements so that there is more room in the student’s schedule to broaden his or her interests and skills, rather than as a means to accelerate through the coursework portion of the program.

All applications to the Graduate Group in Ancient History must be submitted online between October 1 and no later than midnight of December 15th. The application fee for 2019/2020 is $90.00. A limited number of fee waivers is available for applicants who demonstrate a need for one; arrangements should be made before completing the online application. Please contact Pat Rea, the Associate Director for Admission in the Graduate Division, for more information:

For more information, access the electronic application form. All writing samples should be uploaded in the online application.