The Joint Program in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy

The study of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy is inherently interdisciplinary.  Scholars must be able to situate philosophical texts in their broader cultural context.  They must also be alive to the way a given text engages with and contributes to its philosophical tradition.  Finally, they must be able to communicate effectively with scholars trained in either Classics or Philosophy. 

Thus, a student who plans to specialize in ancient philosophy ought to receive an interdisciplinary training.  Since both Classics and Philosophy have exacting and distinct standards of disciplinary training, we decided that it is not advisable for most students to pursue a joint PhD, the sort of degree which would equip them to be hired in either sort of department.  Instead, it seemed better to establish a cooperative program, one in which students will enroll either in the PhD program in Classics or in the PhD program in Philosophy but will be required to take certain courses in the department in which they are not enrolled.  The program is a cooperative program in the sense that the faculty of both departments are committed to training students in the other department in the ways specified below and in the sense that the students will develop a working relationship with each other, both through participation in seminars and in the Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy workshop.

Faculty Regularly Engaged in the Teaching of Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy:
Elizabeth Asmis (Classics) - Link
Agnes Callard (Philosophy) - Link
Anton Ford (Philosophy - Link
Michael Forster (Philosophy) - Link
Gabriel Lear (Philosophy) - Link
Jonathan Lear (Committee on Social Thought and Philosophy) - Link
Martha Nussbaum (Law School and Philosophy) - Link
David Wray (Classics) - Link

Units Affiliated with the Joint Program

Requirements for the Joint Program in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy

Please note that, in addition to the Department's requirements, the Humanities Division also has requirements for the Ph.D. They are given on page 57 of the current year's University of Chicago Graduate Programs in the Divisions: Announcements and the Humanities Division's online catalog page.

The requirements for the joint program given below are are in many ways the same as those for students in the regular Philosophy Ph.D. program. (Note: these requirements apply only to graduate students also enrolled in the Philosophy PhD program. For the requirements for the joint program that apply to graduate students also enrolled in the Classics Ph.D. program, please click here.) Differences are found in the distribution of courses (some must be Classics department courses); in the required rate of progress through the program (in certain cases the required Greek or Latin literature survey may be completed after the Preliminary Essay); and in the language requirement.  Below you will find a complete list of the requirements with those special to the Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy program highlighted in boldface. 

Contact the director of the program, Gabriel Lear ( with any questions or if you are considering this joint program.

Please use the subnavigation links below to view the required components of the Joint Program in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy.

Course Requirement

Foreign Language Exam

Preliminary Essay, Topical, and Dissertation

The Placement Workshop

Summary of Time Expectations

Annual Evaluations

Course Requirement

The Course Requirement has six parts concerning: (a) the number of required courses, (b) the distribution of required courses, (c) the logic requirement, (d) required progress, (e) policies concerning incompletes, and (f) grades.

a. Number of required courses

Students must complete at least thirteen courses in their first two years of study: the first year seminar and twelve graduate courses. (An exception with respect to completing the Greek (or Latin) prose survey is noted below.)

First-year students must enroll in the first-year seminar. This is a year-long course that has generally met in past years four or five times a quarter, although its exact organization and scheduling varies from year to year according to the instructor's discretion. It is graded on a pass-fail basis.

In addition, twelve graduate courses must be completed with a grade of B or better.

  • at least ten of these courses must be in the Philosophy Department listings;
  • at least two of these courses must be graduate-level courses in the Classics Department
  • reading and research courses do not count among these twelve classes
  • at least one must be a graduate seminar in Philosophy
  • Participation in a Workshop can count at most for one course toward the 12 course requirement, and only at the discretion of the faculty director(s). Workshops do not fulfill field distribution requirements.

b. Distribution of required courses

Students are required to take one course in each of the following three areas of contemporary philosophy:

  • Value theory (listed in the course descriptions as I)
  • Philosophy of science and logic (listed in the course descriptions as II)
  • Epistemology and metaphysics (listed in the course descriptions as III)

and three courses on the history of philosophy as follows:

  • A figure or movement in either Ancient or Medieval Philosophy (listed in the course descriptions as IV)
  • A figure or movement in Modern Philosophy from the 17th through 19th centuries (listed in the course descriptions as V)
  • One additional course on a figure or movement in either IV or V
  • Either the fall or winter quarter of the graduate-level literature survey offered in the Classics Department.  Normally, students will take the quarter devoted to Greek prose (winter, alternating years), but may take Greek poetry, Latin prose, or Latin poetry if that better suits the student’s philosophical interests.  Students are advised that they must have the equivalent of three years of language study before they will be allowed to take the survey.

It should be noted that not all graduate courses satisfy a field distribution requirement; those not classified in the published course descriptions as belonging to I-V cannot be used to satisfy the distribution requirement. Nor can Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic) be used to satisfy a field distribution requirement.

c. Logic requirement

There is a requirement in logic that can be satisfied in several ways.

  • By passing Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic) with a grade of B or higher.
    Philosophy 30000 is offered every Autumn quarter. It counts toward the twelve course requirement but does not satisfy the field II distribution requirement.
  • By passing a course equivalent (or better) to Philosophy 30000 (Elementary Logic), at another institution or in another department at Chicago, with a grade of B+ or higher. the equivalence of the course in question to Philosophy 30000 will be determined by the instructor in Philosophy 30000 in the year in question, on the basis of an interview with the student, and such evidence as the syllabus for the course, the textbook for the course, and any other course materials which the student can provide. Note that satisfying the logic requirement in this way will count neither towards one of the twelve required courses nor towards satisfying the field II distribution requirment.
  • By passing an advanced graduate course in logic with a grade of B or higher.
    Passing an advanced graduate course in logic would both satisfy the logic requirement and count towards the field II distribution requirement.

Back to top/Requirements

d. Required progress

Courses must be completed, with a grade of B or better, according to the following timetable.

  • two courses should be completed by the beginning of the winter quarter of the first year
  • four courses (at least three in the Philosophy Department) should be completed by the beginning of the third quarter
  • six courses should be completed by 30 September of the second year
  • ten courses should be completed by the end of the fifth quarter
  • all thirteen courses (twelve plus the first year seminar) must be completed by 30 September following the sixth quarter September following the sixth quarter with the following exception: if the Greek (or Latin) literature survey was offered in the student’s first year and if s/he was not prepared at that time to take it, s/he may complete that requirement in the winter of the third year.

In addition to this timetable, students should keep in mind that because they are expected to be working on their Preliminary Essay over the summer following their sixth quarter, they would be ill-advised not to have their course requirements completed by the early part of the summer or earlier.

Back to top/Requirements

e. Incompletes

At the discretion of the instructor, coursework not completed on time may be regarded as an "incomplete." This means that the instructor will permit a student to complete the work for a course after the normal deadline.

The instructor sets the time period for completion of the incomplete, subject to the following limitation: all coursework must be submitted by September 30th following the quarter in which the course was taken in order to count toward fulfillment of the requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. This date is an absolute deadline and is not subject to further extensions by individual faculty members.

Back to top/Requirements

f. Grades

Satisfactory grades for work toward the Ph.D. in philosophy are A, A-, B+, and B.

For Philosophy faculty, those grades mean the following. A: pass with distinction; A-: high pass; B+: pass; B: low pass.


Foreign Language Exam

Any student intending to write a thesis on ancient philosophy must pass the Departmental or University exam in Greek (the latter with a "High Pass"). Any student intending to write a thesis on Hellenistic or Roman philosophy must also pass the Departmental or University exam in Latin (the latter with a "High Pass").
Such students may take the Departmental exam in Greek or Latin a maximum of three times (as opposed to two times, which is the rule for other languages). 


Preliminary Essay, Topical, and Dissertation

Requirements are the same as for students in the standard track with the exception that the Preliminary Essay and Dissertation must be on a topic in ancient Greek or Roman philosophy.

Back to top/Requirements


The Placement Workshop

This workshop is for Philosophy Ph.D. students who are planning on seeking an academic job as a philosophy professor. The workshop is taught by the Placement Director, with the assistance of other members of the departmental faculty. It is designed to help students to complete and polish all the required components of a job dossier and to provide other sorts of preparation for going on the academic job market. For more information on the Placement Workshop, please click here.

Summary of Time Expectations

By the end of the sixth quarter (normally, the second year):

  • Eleven courses (not including Greek prose survey) plus first year seminar completed
  • Preliminary essay topic proposal completed
  • Language exam completed.

By the first day of the eight quarter (normally, winter quarter of the third year):

  • Preliminary essay completed.

By the end of the ninth quarter (normally, spring of the third year):

  • Greek (or Latin) prose survey completed
  • A first tentative draft of a Dissertation Sketch submitted and a preliminary meeting with the potential committee held.

By the beginning of the tenth quarter (normally, fall of the fourth year):

  • A final Dissertation Sketch, including the schedule and format for the approved, following a meeting with the dissertation committee.

By the beginning of the eleventh quarter (normally, winter of the fourth year):

  • Topical passed.
  • At this point the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph. D.

By the end of the fourteenth quarter (normally, winter of the fifth year):

  • The student should have completed enough material to be competitive for dissertation year fellowships: at least one chapter of the dissertation and enough material blocked out to give advisors reason to believe that the thesis can be completed by the beginning of the student's seventh year.

The end of the fifteenth quarter (normally, spring of the fifth year):

  • Century fellowships, hence, guaranteed funding, expires.

Students who do not meet the above expectations may not be permitted to continue in the program.

  • Prior to the fall quarter in which they wish to go on the job market, graduate students must enroll in The Placement Workshop.

Units Affilliated with the Joint Program:

Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy Workshop

Chicago Area Consortium on Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy

Department of Classics


Back to Requirements