The comprehensive exams for the Ph.D. in Greek and Latin are preceded by one foundational requirement: the modern language exam(s).
Modern language examination(s)
The comprehensives for the Ph.D. in Greek and Latin consist of three individually developed exams, two in a major field and one in a minor field. All of these are customized to the student's areas of interest and specialization under the supervision of one or more faculty members. Most students complete the minor field area first.
The major field is broadly conceived around a topic, theme, or genre (e.g. "Early Christian asceticism," "Late antique and medieval epistolography," etc.). It is understood as being within the general area of a student's anticipated dissertation research.
A student preparing for the major field exams begins by identifying a general topic and requesting that a faculty member, usually the future dissertation supervisor, oversee the major field. Together, the student and the faculty member work to refine the topic and develop a "major field proposal" that is presented to the entire departmental faculty for revision and approval. The proposal consists of a significant primary and secondary bibliography accompanying a series of open-ended question prompts; the primary bibliography furnishes the reading list for the major field translation exam, while the secondary bibliography supports the responses that the student prepares for the major field essay exam.
- Major field translation: one 4-hour translation examination, based on the major field reading list of Greek and Latin texts from the postclassical (i.e. patristic/late antique and/or medieval) period.
- Major field essay: one 6-hour essay examination in late antique/patristic and/or medieval literature and/or history, based on the major field secondary bibliography and drawn from the major field question list.
The minor field is conceptualized as a contrast to the major field. Both smaller and potentially more specific than the major field, it may investigate an individual author, or even an author's perspective on a given issue (e.g. "Plato on poetry"). In keeping with the department's broad definition of "antiquity" and the later emphasis of the doctoral program generally, it is most often recommended that the minor field investigate a classical topic.
A student preparing for the minor field exam begins by identifying a general topic and requesting that a faculty member oversee it. Together, the student and the faculty member work to refine the topic and develop a "minor field proposal" that is presented to the entire departmental faculty for revision and approval. The proposal consists of a primary and secondary bibliography accompanying a series of open-ended question prompts; both types of materials support the responses that the student prepares for the minor field essay exam.
- Minor field: one 3-hour essay examination based on the minor field primary and secondary bibliography and drawn from the minor field question list.
A passing grade on comprehensive examinations is B minus (80%). Each part is graded separately and awarded a high pass (90-100%), pass (80-89%), or failure (below 80%). Students who fail any part may take that part a second time; failure on the second attempt at any one examination will result in dismissal from the program.