PhD Program

Course Work

The department normally requires that students take twenty-three courses distributed over three years (six semesters) of course work. Of the twenty-three courses, at least sixteen must be taken within the department or be department-approved, and usually within the student’s primary field of study. (Students entering the program with an M.A. or advanced graduate coursework may inquire about waiving some portion of the course requirements.)


Students are mentored by a faculty adviser from their field and by the DGS while they are undertaking their coursework. Students writing dissertations are mentored by a committee consisting of a primary adviser from NELC and one, two, or more additional faculty members, from either inside or outside the department, depending on the student’s specific needs. Committees must be approved by the DGS.

Language Requirements

The core languages in each of the major fields of study are as follows: Arabic Humanities: Arabic and one other Near Eastern language, typically Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. Assyriology: Sumerian and Akkadian. Classical Near East: Arabic and at least two of the following: Armenian, Aramaic (Babylonian or Syriac), Coptic, Greek, Hebrew, Middle Persian, New Persian, or Sanskrit. Egyptology: Egyptian, Demotic, Coptic.

Training in Teaching

NELC students normally acquire four terms of teaching experience, between their second and fourth years in residence. Teaching Fellow assignments are made by the DGS in consultation with the relevant faculty and, whenever possible, take student preferences into account.

Examinations and the Dissertation

The qualifying examination is normally taken at the end of the third year of study or no later than the beginning of the fourth. The dissertation proposal is normally submitted one month after completing the qualifying examination.

Successful completion of the comprehensive examination and submission of an acceptable prospectus will qualify the student for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. After completion of the dissertation, the candidate may receive a final examination concerned primarily with the defense of the thesis.