Secondary PhD Field



Ancient Studies Secondary

The Ancient Studies Secondary Field offers PhD students from across the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences an opportunity to take advantage of Harvard’s extensive expertise in the ancient world, here understood globally and flexibly as everything pre-medieval. By providing an instructional framework for students to engage substantively with interdisciplinary coursework and research, the Ancient Studies Secondary fosters productive interaction among faculty and graduate students across a vast array of Harvard departments, programs, committees, and institutions dedicated to the study of the ancient world. The secondary provides space and support for students to follow research questions beyond disciplinary or methodological limits imposed by departmental boundaries, to provide evidence of sustained and programmatic interdisciplinary work on job and fellowship applications, and to establish a community and network of peers and advisors across a diverse collection of Harvard departments and programs.

The Ancient Studies initiative was established in 2019 in order to increase the visibility of the historical, archaeological, literary, and theological engagement with antiquity, broadly understood, from all relevant Harvard departments and divisions. Central to the ambition of Ancient Studies is the fostering of intellectual community.



Secondary PhD Fields at Harvard

Secondary fields allow PhD students to broaden their course of study and enhance the competitiveness and professional reach of their degree programs (the secondary field appears on the student transcript but not on the diploma). Students engage in coursework and other activities defined by the program offering the secondary field and must meet all degree milestones and deadlines in their home PhD programs and at GSAS.

Students should first speak with their primary advisor and/or their academic program, then apply for a secondary field by completing this secondary field form and sending it to the registrar’s office. Please note:

  • Graduate students may not complete a secondary field in their own program and may only declare one secondary field.
  • Courses may count toward the secondary field and toward the course requirements for the PhD.
  • Language courses taken on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis may not be used to fulfill secondary field requirements.

Graduate Student Eligibility

The Ancient Studies secondary may be applied for at any point in the student’s academic progression, with the understanding that enough time is allotted for the coursework and seminar requirements (see below). Courses completed prior to the student’s application count retroactively toward their requirements. Students from any PhD program in FAS may apply; the Ancient Studies secondary may not be pursued concurrently with any other secondary. Ancient Studies Seminars are purposefully designed to circumvent language or disciplinary prerequisites. 



Ancient Studies Requirements:

  1. One Ancient Studies Graduate Seminar
  2. Two graduate-level courses in ancient studies disciplines outside the student’s home field, as approved by the student’s Ancient Studies’ advisor
  3. A capstone project on an interdisciplinary topic of antiquity or employing a comparative methodology, together with a draft syllabus for teaching this topic at an undergraduate level. This capstone project should be on a substantial scale, such as an essay of 15,000-20,000 words, a digital humanities project, or a public exhibit, as approved by the student’s Ancient Studies’ advisor


The Executive Board will appoint from among itself the most appropriate advisor for each student. The advisor will have three main responsibilities: guiding and approving course selection; approving the capstone project; and identifying two additional faculty members to guide and evaluate the capstone project. The assigned advisor will play the role of DGS on all GSAS forms.

The current Executive Board (AY 2022-23) is Gojko Barjamovic (NELC), Paul Kosmin (Classics), Rachel Love (Classics), and Annette Yoshiko Reed (HDS). The Executive Board rotates yearly, but advisors are assigned for the duration of the Secondary Field.



Any questions or requests for further information may be directed to



To apply to the Ancient Studies program, please email to arrange an advising meeting with a member of the executive board. Please include your name, home department, and areas of interest in your initial email to ensure the best advising match. All secondary fields require a formal application to GSAS to be filled out with your advisor and submitted to the registrar upon completion of the requirements.