Admissions to the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Hebrew Bible, M.A. have been suspended as of spring 2019. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

This is a named option within the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies M.A.

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 scholarshipliterary criticismarchaeology, 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, andphilological 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.

Admissions to the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies: Hebrew Bible, M.A. have been suspended as of spring 2019. If you have any questions, please contact the department.

Applicants for graduate study may enter the program with either a B.A. or M.A. (M.A., M.Div., Th.M.) degree. For the Classics 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 option in Hebrew Bible program, 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.

All applicants to the program must apply on-line by January 5. ONLY select the M.A. application if you plan on a terminal M.A. at UW–Madison; all other applicants select the Ph.D. application even if you have not yet received an M.A. Please note: the $75 application fee must be paid at the time of application (international students will be charged an additional $6 for processing).

As part of the online application process, you will be asked supplemental questions regarding your level of language preparation and expected to upload the information listed below: 

  1.  Writing sample of scholarly work no more than 25 pages (optional). 
  2. Transcripts or academic records from each institution attended. You may upload unofficial copies for department review. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Please note: official transcripts will only be requested by the Graduate School upon department recommendation for admission. Further information will be provided upon admission. 
  3. Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score report sent from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Use institution code 1846 to route your results to the UW Grad School. Once results are received, they will populate in your online application.
  4. TOEFL or MELAB for all international applicants.
  5. Statement of purpose (citing your reasons for graduate study). 
  6. Curriculum vitae listing language experience, awards, honors, etc. 
  7. Three letters of reference. You must submit your requests to all three of your references as part of the online application. Recommenders will receive a notice via email and will submit their letters accordingly. 

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

The Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies works to support all graduate students in good standing who continue to make satisfactory progress toward their degree. The department makes every attempt to distribute its resources as fairly as possible outside of guaranteed support offers. Thus, it is the department’s intention to give the maximum number of graduate students in the Classics and Hebrew Bible programs an opportunity to hold teaching assistantships (TA) consistent with the department’s needs and criteria. It should be remembered that teaching funds are variable, depending on budget and class enrollments. All students are encouraged to pursue opportunities for support outside the department at all stages of their study.  Details can be found below.

Teaching Assistantships

Criteria: Teaching assistant appointments will be offered to eligible graduate students on the basis of the following criteria: contractual obligations made to the student, satisfactory progress towards degree, satisfactory student evaluations and faculty teaching observations, departmental judgment of the student’s qualification to teach scheduled courses, and availability of budgeted positions.

Eligibility: To be eligible to become a teaching assistant, graduate students should ordinarily meet the following requirements: students should be enrolled in the Classics or Hebrew Bible graduate program (exceptions will be made due to lack of qualified or available students), students should be making satisfactory progress towards an advanced degree, and students should not have exceeded the limited allotment of teaching within the department (five years after the B.A. or three years after the M.A.).

Students who are non-native speakers of English must complete the SPEAK test for assessing English proficiency. The SPEAK test is the institutional version of the Test of Spoken English (TSE), which is administered by the Educational Testing Service. The SPEAK test measures oral proficiency and is frequently used to evaluate the spoken English of international TAs. The test is available only to students holding or under consideration for a teaching assistantship. For information and scheduled tests, please consult the English as a Second Language website. Students must achieve a score of 45 or higher before being placed in the classroom.

Class Assignments: Class assignments are made by the department chair in consultation with department faculty with consideration of the following items in order of importance: previous positive assessment of teaching ability, fair rotation of teaching among qualified graduate students,  background and experience of the TA in course materials, the need for graduate students to have a variety of teaching experiences, the preference of the TA, and the preference of the instructor.

Training Program:  All TAs are required to attend the department’s annual Graduate Student Orientation and Teaching Assistant Workshop. Subjects discussed in the department’s annual workshop include preparation, organization, sensitivity to ethnic and gender issues, and pedagogical methods. Experienced TAs are encouraged to share successful teaching methods and ideas with the group in an open discussion. Information is also provided on such university resources as the Writing Center. 

New TAs are also required to attend the L&S Teaching Assistant Workshop and the Graduate Assistants Equity Workshop within the first two semesters of teaching appointments. In addition, for TAs with a first-time Comm B appointment, the Writing Across Campus Comm B Training workshop will also be required. TAs are also encouraged to take advantage of the writing workshops offered by the Writing Center at the start of the academic year and throughout each semester.

For each course, the TA must meet with the professor to outline the goals and objectives of the course, the exam and grading procedures, the syllabus and assigned readings, and specific pedagogical methods appropriate for the course. The syllabus of each course should include the name, office number, and phone number, of the supervising professor, the TA, and the current department chair. Should there be concerns about the course that the TA feels unable to address, he or she can refer students to the professor in charge of the course for initial consultation. Regular meetings between the TA and the professor are held throughout the semester to discuss the progress and success of the course.

Review:  Within the first few weeks of class, the supervising professor will observe the TA, with new TAs being a priority. After the visit, the professor will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the class and put forward a set of recommendations for further teaching development. A written evaluation, to be discussed in person, is then provided to the department chair and will be placed in the student's file. If the chair deems necessary, a second faculty member will make an additional classroom observation with a written evaluation. At the end of each semester or course, student evaluations for the TA classes are to be completed and kept on file in the department for future reference.

Workload/Percentage of Appointment: Teaching assistantship appointments are percentage based. All CANES appointments are 50% which corresponds to the total expected hours of work throughout the course of the semester. Each TA will receive a breakdown of expected workload with their official appointment letter. The TA is expected to review and discuss the workload with the supervising faculty member of the course. By signing and returning the workload to the department administrator, the TA is accepting his or her appointment for the semester.

Stipend & Benefits: Please review the Graduate School’s resource webpage, Graduate Assistantships, for details.

Departmental Travel Support

Eligibility Guidelines: The CANES department can provide some funding for Classics students who are presenting a paper addressing a topic in the classics field or interviewing for hire. Applicable conferences include the ASA and CAMWS, but other conferences such as graduate student colloquia will also be considered. First time recipients of this award may be asked to present a departmental Pillinger Talk in preparation for their conference presentation. 

All applications for department travel must be supported by satisfactory progress in the student's program. Graduate students may submit one request for travel support to the department per academic year. Every attempt will be made to fund student travel up to a maximum of $750. Students should recognize that funding is based on availability. The Fellowships Committee will assess the validity of all applications and determine the amount of each individual award if granted.

Before requesting travel funds from the department, graduate students should conduct due diligence to learn about and apply for travel awards offered by other units (Graduate School, ASM, etc.) at UW–Madison and by sponsors of the event for which travel funds are requested. Evidence of awards applied for and/or received should accompany all requests for department travel funding. Being competitive for awards outside the department is a matter of professional development.

Application: Having applied for travel awards and supplements from external sources, students should then petition the CANES department for travel support. All petitions are considered on a case by case basis and evaluated on the basis of academic merit and satisfactory progress in the graduate program. 

Petitions should take form of a letter addressed to the chair of the graduate Fellowships Committee detailing the title of the talk, proof of acceptance, the date and place of the conference, and any other relevant information. All petitions should include a budget and should disclose details of awards or denial of funding from other sources. 

Awards from other sources will not necessarily disqualify students from classics department funding. The applications will be read and voted on by the committee which will attempt to respond to requests in a timely fashion. The student will be notified in writing by the chair of the committee normally within a few weeks of the submission of application. 

Since applications will be read on a rolling basis and funds are usually more plentiful at the beginning of the year, students are encouraged to apply early.

Scholarships & Fellowships

Adams-Lemoine Dissertation Fellowship: This fellowship is awarded in memory of C.K. Adams, Professor of Latin & History and University of Wisconsin President from 1892 to 1902, and Fannie Lemoine, Professor of Latin from 1906 to 1923. The Adams-Lemoine Fellowship is utilized for student recruitment or completion of degree. It provides tuition remission, a stipend, and benefits in accordance with published University award amounts.  Award periods vary and funding may be available for one or two semesters of study. 

Moses S. Slaughter Fellowship: This fellowship is awarded in memory of Moses S. Slaughter, University of Wisconsin Professor of Latin from 1906 to 1923. The Slaughter Fellowship is given to a current or incoming graduate student who maintains Wisconsin residency. It provides tuition remission, a stipend, and benefits in accordance with published university award amounts and may supply funding for one or two semesters of study.

Frank R. Kramer Summer Fellowship: A predoctoral summer research grant awarded in memory of Dr. Frank R. Kramer, who earned a B.A. in Humanities in 1929, an M.A. in Greek & Latin in 1931, and a Ph.D. in Classics in 1936. The Kramer Fellowship is meant to enable graduate students in their second year of study or above (pre-dissertation) to receive support for research connected to the advancement of their studies in Classics.  Calls for applications typically come out in December and recipients are notified in late January. Award totals range between $750-$2,000.

Hieronimus Prize for Greek Composition: This monetary award is given in memory of Professor John Paul Hieronimus (Ph.D. '31). Entrants are asked to translate a selected passage into ancient Greek or compose an original piece in ancient Greek addressing a specific topic. Awards are given in late spring.

Pillinger Prize for Latin Composition: This monetary award is given in memory of Assistant Professor Hugh Edward Pillinger (1965–70).  Entrants are asked to translate a selected passage into Latin or compose an original piece in Latin addressing a specific topic. Awards are given in late spring.

Other Funding Options

The Graduate School provides additional information helpful to graduate students in need of funding.

Find information about:

Types of funding available

How to search for funding

Funding for international students

General funding resources on campus 

External funding options (includes some prizes & modest awards) (found near the bottom of the page)

Conference presentation funds

Research Travel Awards

Research travel awards available through the Graduate School

Albright Institute of Archeological Research

American Academy in Rome

American Center of Oriental Research

American Council of Learned Societies

American School of Classical Studies at Athens

American Schools of Oriental Research

Biblical Archaeological Society Dig Scholarships

Chateaubriand Fellowship

Classical Association of the Middle West and South

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Getty Foundation

Harvard Society of Fellows

Lady Davis Fellowship Trust

The Palestine Exploration Fund

Royal Historical Society

Marshall & Centenary Fellowships

Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship

Society for Classical Studies

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 36 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 18 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 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 (
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
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.
Assessments and Examinations 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, typically at the end of the summer of the second year. An exam can be taken no more than twice.

All M.A. Candidates

Hebrew Texts and Grammar Exam
Translation from Hebrew to English, including some sight passages
Hebrew grammar and syntax (including parsing and producing forms)
Translation from English to pointed Biblical Hebrew
Oral Defense
This exam will include oral reading, translation, and discussion of sight passages, as well as questions calling for synthesis of knowledge learned in course work and readings.

Terminal M.A. Candidates Only

General Exam
M.A. candidates should have a basic familiarity with the history and methodology of biblical studies, especially of the 19th–20th centuries. They should know the main features of the Pentateuchal sources, according to the classical source division. In text criticism, they should demonstrate a familiarity with the major documents used, the methodology of textual criticism, and the history of the masoretic text and the Septuagint. They should be able to identify the masorahs and to explain the meaning of the most common masoretic notes. The exam includes questions on biblical literature and its interpretation; history and archaeology of Israel and the ancient Near East; postbiblical Judaism; Hebrew language, biblical text and canon, and the ancient versions.
Exegetical Presentation
The candidate will prepare an exegetical presentation on a selected passage from the Hebrew Bible in consultation with director of graduate studies.
Language Requirements In addition to coursework in Hebrew and Semitic languages (Aramaic, Ugaritc & Canaanite, Syriac, and Akkadian), M.A. students must pass a proficiency exam in Hebrew.


6 credits across two semesters of Biblical Hebrew. The number of credits depends on the student's preparation6
6 credits of Semitic language:6
Aramaic I
Aramaic II
Ugaritic Texts
Canaanite Dialects
Syriac I
Syriac II
Advanced Near Eastern Languages (Akkadian I & II)
12 credits advanced text courses to include two of the following text-based sequences:12
Pentateuchal Narratives
Pentateuchal Legal Codes
The Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah
Wisdom Literature: Proverbs and Qohelet
Independent Study (Samuel I & II)
3 credits in one of the following courses:3
Classical Hebrew Linguistics: Historical and Descriptive
Biblical Archaeology
3 credits in one graduate level course in the department as approved by the Hebrew Bible director of graduate studies (this may be a 799 or, preferably, an approved course in Classics)
3 credits in one graduate level course in the department (this may be a 799 or, preferably, an approved course in Classics)3
3 credits in a CANES Advanced Seminar:3
Advanced Seminar in Theory and Methodology
3 credits in one seminar in Hebrew Bible or in a second CANES Advanced Seminar with a different topic than the first3
Total Credits36

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

A Graduate Program Handbook containing all of the program's policies and requirements is forthcoming from the program.

Prior Coursework

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. Normally, 6 of these credits will be allocated to fulfilling the Intermediate Hebrew requirement (HEBR-BIB 323 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, I - HEBR-BIB 324 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, II).  Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, no more than 6 credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree by fulfilling the Intermediate Hebrew requirement (HEBR-BIB 323 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, I- HEBR-BIB 324 Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, II ).

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 student. 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.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  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).


All Hebrew Bible M.A. candidates will meet with the Director of Graduate Studies on a regular basis.


15 credits

Time Constraints

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.


All applications received by January 5 are eligible for fellowship, scholarship, and graduate assistantship opportunities. For applications received after the deadline, applicants will not be eligible for university fellowships or scholarships, although you may be eligible for department funds such as teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, or department fellowship.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Please visit the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies website for a complete list of faculty, instructional, and academic staff.