Soon after the founding of the University of Wisconsin in 1848, the department was created as one of the first academic units at the university. The Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (CANES) has enjoyed a long tradition of excellence in philological scholarship, literary criticism, archaeology, and ancient history. At the graduate level, the department offers the master of arts and doctor of philosophy in classical and ancient near eastern studies. Students may follow one of two courses of study, classical languages and literatures, or Hebrew bible.

The primary goal of the program is to familiarize students with the core linguistic, historical, and philological aspects of classical and ancient near eastern studies. Students also learn to conduct original research in such varied areas as gender studies, literary theory, translation studies, and classical reception under the guidance of established scholars in these areas.

In addition to specified coursework, students participate in directed readings with individual faculty members in their areas of specialization and gain valuable professional experience teaching in courses on the languages, literature, and culture of the ancient world. Additional work may be done in allied fields such as archaeology, art history, linguistics, comparative literature, history, philosophy, and political science. Affiliated faculty in many of these fields regularly offer courses, supervise theses and dissertations, and participate in department activities.

A wide range of professional networks provides graduate students with enhanced opportunities for education and career development. In addition to faculty connections to scholars and institutions in their fields of study, the department has formal affiliations with the Society for Classical Studies, the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research.

The Pillinger Library and Mansoor Reading Room, both located within the department, provide convenient access to a large number of texts, while the larger Greek and Latin Reading Room in the Memorial Library contains an extensive, noncirculating research collection of texts and commentaries. The Memorial Library maintains an excellent research collection of books and periodicals in classics and Hebrew bible, with many of its resources available online.

The department annually offers graduate fellowship support and teaching assistantships. In order for incoming students to be considered for fellowships, applications and all other materials should reach the department by January 5.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A., with available named option in Classics, and Hebrew Bible

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

M.A. named option in Classics: 36 credits

M.A. named option in Hebrew Bible: 32 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

M.A. named option in Classics: 18 credits

M.A. named option in Hebrew Bible: 16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

MA named option in Classics: 24 credits out of 36 total credits must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide. Of those 24 credits, at least 9 credits must come from each language.

MA named option in Hebrew Bible: 24 credits out of 36 total credits must be completed in graduate-level language courses within the department; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate course work from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.

Prior Coursework Requirement: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of course work numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special students. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. UW–Madison coursework taken as a University Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

M.A. named option in Classics: One graduate seminar (3 credits, numbered 700 or above) in Classics, Greek, or Latin is required and may count towards the 9 credits required in each language.

M.A. named option in Hebrew Bible:

  1. Language courses (Aramaic, Ugaritic and Canaanite, or Syriac) are taught in two-semester sequences. One sequence (6 credits) is required for the M.A.
  2. Text courses (Pentateuch, Isaiah, and Psalms and Wisdom) are taught in two-semester sequences. Two sequences (12 credits) are required for the M.A.
  3. 3 credits in one of the following courses: Classical Hebrew Linguistics, Biblical Archaeology, or Rabbinic Texts.
  4. 6 credits in two seminars, at least one of which must be the CANES advanced seminar in theory and method.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00

Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The status of a student can be one of three options:

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status.
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with the graduate advisor. Candidates for the M.A. should form a provisional thesis committee no later than the first week of the semester in which they plan to graduate. The committee should consist of a main advisor and two other faculty members. Candidates should meet with their thesis committee members by the end of the first month in the semester in which they plan to graduate in order to discuss the viability of the thesis.

Assessments and Examinations

M.A. named option in Classics: For the M.A. thesis, the candidate presents to the committee a paper, typically of 25–35 double-spaced pages, written under the supervision of the committee. The candidate then takes an oral examination of the thesis set by the committee.

M.A. named option in Hebrew Bible: M.A. exams are based on coursework and the M.A. Reading List. The exams are given at the end of the final semester of study for the degree. An exam can be taken no more than twice. M.A. candidates intending to advance to the Ph.D. program will take only the exam in proficiency in Hebrew. Those pursuing a terminal M.A. will also take the General Exam and the Oral Exam.

Time Constraints

The thesis, written in consultation with the major professor, must be completed no later than two semesters after thesis work begins.

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

The student must pass a sight-reading proficiency examination in either Latin or Greek. An examination in German, French, or Italian must also be passed before the M.A.

Applicants for graduate study may enter the program with either a B.A. or master’s (M.A., M.Div., Th.M.) degree. For the classics named option, candidates are expected to have covered at least the equivalent of an undergraduate major in classics, which consists of at least three years of both Greek and Latin. For the named option in Hebrew bible, candidates are expected to have taken at least two years of biblical Hebrew and one year of Greek.

Candidates whose preparation falls short of the minimum requirements may be admitted with deficiencies at the discretion of the department, but will be required to do additional work within the first year of the program. Applications are evaluated on the basis of previous academic record, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, the writing sample, and a personal statement.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Articulates, critiques, and applies the philological and theoretical approaches established in the field of Classics or Hebrew Bible.
  • Identifies appropriate sources and assembles evidence relevant to questions and challenges in Classics or Hebrew Bible.
  • Demonstrates understanding of Classical or Hebrew Bible literature in a historical and social context.
  • Selects and utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.
  • Evaluates and synthesizes information pertaining to questions and challenges.
  • Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognizes and applied principles of ethical and professional conduct.

Faculty in Classics: Professors Aylward, McClure, McKeown, Vanden Heuval; Associate Professor Beneker (department chair); Assistant Professors Brockliss, Dressler, Nelsestuen, Pandey.

Faculty in Hebrew Bible: Professor Troxel; Associate Professor Hutton

CANES Affiliate Faculty: Professors Cahill (Art History), Gottlieb (Philosophy), Kleijwegt (History), Neville (History); Associate Professor Kapust (Political Science); Assistant Professors Fletcher (Philosophy), Taylor (History)