M.A. Program

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The M.A. in Classics at Cornell is designed to offer advanced training in Classics for students who want to prepare themselves for successful admission to a major Ph.D. program in Classics. An M.A. degree in Classics could also enhance a career in teaching ancient languages at the secondary level. The Department of Classics also offers a Ph.D. degree; the M.A. in Classics does not qualify applicants for admittance to the Ph.D. program.

We expect applicants to have studied both Greek and Latin, with a minimum of 4 semesters in one of the two languages and 2 semesters in the other. The ideal trajectory toward the M.A. should result in the completion of all requirements within 12 to 18 months. We will give consideration to students who want to prpare themselves for admission to a Ph.D. in Classical archaeology and have less 4 semesters in one of the two languages and 2 semesters in the other, including students who have training in only one language. Choice of classes and choice of thesis topic allow students to shape their M.A. to direct them generally or more specifically into particular areas of the overall Classics field.

Why an M.A.?

Cornell’s M.A. in Classics will enable you to:

  • read Latin and Greek prose and poetry accurately and efficiently;
  • gain familiarity with a variety of subfields and research methodologies in Classics;
  • analyze ancient texts within an interdisciplinary context of historical and material culture;
  • build sustained arguments on a foundation of intensive research into primary and secondary sources;
  • present original work to colleagues in seminars and colloquia;
  • complete an article-length thesis suitable for submission to journals.


  • minimum of 32 credits;
  • minimum of 1 course at the 4000 level or higher in Latin or Greek language, and of 2 courses at the 6000 level or higher;
  • a thesis;
  • successful completion of the M.A. oral exam;
  • minimum of 2 registration units (2 terms of full-time study in residence).

Special Committee

Entering students receive guidance from the Director of Graduate Studies. Students should form a Special Committee of 2 members (a Chair and a Minor Member) by the end of the first semester.


The final thesis for the M.A. in Classics should present a piece of original research. It should not exceed 30 pages including tables, figures, bibliography and notes (using standard formatting in accordance with graduate school requirements). It should aim to be similar in quality and scale to those published in professional journals.

No later than the first day of spring semester, students must submit to their Special Committee a short (maximum 4 pages) proposal detailing the focus of their thesis.

After submission of the M.A. thesis an oral examination is convened with the Special Committee.

How to Apply

Complete the application online at Apply Now by April 30. Applications will be evaluated regularly between May and June, and applicants notified of their status as soon as possible.

In addition to all Graduate School requirements, including the TOEFL Exam for Non-Native English Applicants, the Field of Classics requires the following:

  • three letters of recommendation;
  • GRE scores;
  • a ten to twenty page writing sample.


Q: How is the M.A. in Classics distinct from a Post-Baccalaureate program?

A: The Cornell M.A. in Classics is an official graduate degree-granting program. In conjunction with their ancient language study, MA students choose a special committee in their area of research interest, take graduate seminars, write a graduate thesis, and receive a diploma.  Finally, the M.A. program involves 12-18 months of study and writing, whereas typical post-bac programs are two semesters long.

Q: How is the M.A. in Classics distinct from an M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching)?

A: The M.A. is a graduate research degree (Cornell does not offer an M.A.T. in Classics). The program trains students in Latin and Greek and independent research. While it does not offer teaching certification, many students find that having an MA in Classics enhances their desirability and compensation in subsequent careers teaching Latin and Greek at the secondary level.

Q: Are there prerequisites for application?

A: We expect applicants to have studied both Greek and Latin, with a minimum of 4 semesters in one of the two languages and 2 semesters in the other. We will give consideration to students who were trained in a non-academic setting for one of the two languages.

Q: What is the deadline for application?

A: For Fall 2019, we will accept application until April 30.

Q: How do I apply?

In addition to all Graduate School requirements, including the TOEFL for Non-Native English applicants, the Field of Classics requires GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, and a writing sample. Applications are through the Graduate School.

Q: Can M.A. students apply to the Cornell Classics PhD program?

A: Yes, although completion of the M.A. does not guarantee admission to the Cornell Classics PhD program. The MA is intended to offer advanced training for students who want to prepare themselves for application to PhD programs in Classics and related fields (which could include Cornell). If you are looking to apply directly to the PhD program, please click here.

Q: Do I need to commit to a disciplinary track?

A: No; each M.A. student designs an individual program of study and research in conjunction with his or her special committee and interests.  The department has strengths across the subfields of Classics and in interdisciplinary areas, and students are encouraged to engage with this range of resources as they work toward their degree.

Q: Do M.A. students teach/TA classes?

A: No; M.A. students devote all their time to their own coursework and thesis.

Q: Does Cornell offer funding for the M.A. in Classics?

A: Unfortunately Cornell is unable to offer funding assistance for the M.A.  

Q: How much does the program cost?

A: For tuition and costs, please click here.

Q: Where is Cornell located?

A: Cornell is located in Ithaca, NY, in the scenic Finger Lakes region of Central New York. Ithaca is known for its natural beauty, active music and arts scenes, and vibrant university town atmosphere. Students often find the cost of living here affordable in comparison to many major U.S. cities.  For more information, click here.