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Application, Admission, and Financial Support

We welcome your application to our PhD Program in Ancient History. Before applying, be sure to read the following guidelines and explore this website, including the sections that outline the program's structure and requirements.

Prospective applicants are also encouraged to contact the Graduate Chair (Professor Julia Wilker, and faculty in their respective fields of interest. 



Applications are reviewed by a faculty committee of the Graduate Group headed by the Graduate Chair. The committee reviews each application very carefully and weighs all aspects of a candidate’s preparation for graduate study. Applicants may be contacted by the Graduate Chair to set up an online interview with several members of the faculty, typically to be conducted in January or February. All applications have to be submitted directly to the Graduate Division of Arts and Sciences. The online application portal opens on October 1 and closes on December 15. Applications must contain all of the following to be considered complete:

- Completed online application form

- An academic curriculum vitae that summarizes your academic background. 

- Personal statement:

In the personal statement, all Ph.D. applications within the Graduate Division of Arts & Sciences should address the following:

Please describe how your background and academic experiences have influenced your decision to pursue a graduate degree and led you to apply to Penn. Your essay should detail your specific research interests and intellectual goals within your chosen field. Please provide information about your educational trajectory, intellectual curiosity and academic ambitions. If you have overcome adversity and/or experienced limited access to resources or opportunities in your field of study, please feel free to share how that has affected the course of your education. We are interested in your lived experiences and how your particular perspective might contribute to the inclusive and dynamic learning community that Penn values and strives to create.

In the Graduate Group in Ancient History,  we also ask you to use the Personal Statement to address your reasons for applying to our graduate program, describe your areas of interest and how they have evolved, and how you hope to pursue and develop them further in a PhD program. It may also be helpful (although not required) to name the members of the faculty with whom you intend to work. 

- Academic Writing Sample: Please submit an example of your academic writing, which demonstrates investigative and analytical skills appropriate to historical research. A research paper of about 15-30 pages in length is sufficient to meet this requirement. You may also submit two shorter papers, a chapter or section from your senior research paper or MA thesis, etc. If the writing sample comes from a longer work, please explain briefly its context and scope.

· Transcripts: You must submit academic transcript(s) from all previous academic work undertaken. Screenshots or PDFs of unofficial transcripts may be submitted at the application stage. Official transcripts will be requested if you are offered and accept admission to the program.

· Letters of recommendation: Each application has to include at least three Letters of Recommendation but up to five may be submitted. Letters should come from individuals in a position to evaluate your academic work, such as an advisor or professor. Please note that the application system no longer accepts Letters of Recommendation from Interfolio. If you are using Interfolio, you may submit your Recommendations directly to the graduate coordinator (

· Language Test Scores: Applicants who are not US citizens and do not have English as their first language must submit TOEFL or IELTS test scores. If you have completed a degree in higher education from an institution in which the medium language of instruction is English, we are able to waive the TOEFL/ IELTS requirement. Please contact Kate Stoler ( after your application has been compiled, including your academic transcripts, to activate the English Language Test waiver.

The Graduate Group in Ancient History does not require GRE scores. If GRE scores are submitted, they will not be considered for the admission process.

The application fee 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:

If you are ready to begin your application, click here. 


Financial Support

Admission to the Graduate Group in Ancient History comes with a five-year fellowship, usually the GSAS Benjamin Franklin Fellowship. This fellowship covers full tuition and healthcare and pays a generous stipend. Students in the ANCH Graduate Group have also been regularly successful in securing funding for study abroad. Students who need an additional year of funding to complete their dissertation are strongly encouraged to apply for Dissertation Completion Fellowships from Penn and other sources.



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 Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Biblical Hebrew, this characteristically amounts to a minimum of three years of 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. Having attained an appropriate level of competence, they 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, although not required, for applicants to have knowledge of one or more modern languages, especially German and either French or Italian. 


Transfer of Credits

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 fulfill the various requirements of the program. Ordinarily, any transfer of credit is used to fulfill requirements so that there is more room in the student’s schedule to broaden their interests and skills, rather than as a means to accelerate through the coursework portion of the program.