• RA’ANAN BOUSTAN: Ph. D., Religion, Princeton University, 2004.
    Ancient Jewish history; History of late antiquity
    310.825.1977; boustan@history.ucla.edu
  • DAVID PHILLIPS: Ph.D., Classical Studies, University of Michigan, 2000.
    Greek history; Legal history
    310-825-4715; phillips@history.ucla.edu

Emeritus Faculty

  • RONALD MELLOR: Ph. D., Classics, Princeton University, 1968.
    Roman history
    310-825-4157; mellor@history.ucla.edu

Continuing Lecturer


UCLA grants graduate degrees in Ancient History through the Department of History. The Department aims to provide students with both broad and deep training in the history of the ancient Mediterranean world. Students are expected to acquire familiarity with all periods of ancient Mediterranean history, from Archaic Greece to the end of Late Antiquity, and to gain appropriate competencies in cognate disciplines (e.g., Classics, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Art History, Archaeology). Moreover, it is essential that students master the languages, analytical skills, research methods, and bodies of evidence that will enable them to contribute new knowledge to their chosen area of research. Finally, historians of the ancient Mediterranean world are expected to learn to understand and engage with the historiographic methods and concerns of the wider discipline of history.

Faculty members in the Ancient History field are: David Phillips (Ph. D., Classical Studies, University of Michigan: Associate Professor; Greek history, legal history) and Ra‘anan Boustan (Ph. D., Religion, Princeton University: Associate Professor; ancient Jewish history, history of late antiquity). There are two emeritus members of the faculty, Mortimer Chambers (Ph. D., Classics, Harvard University: Greek history) and Ronald Mellor (Ph. D., Classics, Princeton University: Roman history). A Byzantine historian, John Langdon (Ph. D., Ancient History, UCLA), serves as a Continuing Lecturer in the Department of History.


Incoming graduate students are expected to have a strong background (demonstrated by multiple years of university-level study, with excellent grades) in ancient languages, especially Greek and Latin, but also, as applicable, other relevant ancient languages. Preference is given to students who have begun work on modern research languages other than English, especially German and French. In addition, students should have strong backgrounds in the history of the ancient Mediterranean world. For further information, please contact the field coordinator, Professor David Phillips, at phillips@history.ucla.edu.

Financial aid is available. Candidates for admission are offered recruitment fellowships for five years. In two of these years, the student will serve as a teaching assistant in a large undergraduate lecture course (commonly History 1, Introduction to Western Civilization). Opportunities exist as well to teach in the Classics Department as a TA (but those appointments are naturally made by that department). Research assistantships and readerships may also become available on a quarterly basis.  Students are encouraged to seek external funding during the program. More information is available on Graduate Division’s website.

We encourage study abroad at, for example, the American Academy in Rome and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Several of our students have received fellowships for the summer seminar of the American Numismatic Society in New York.

We provide a high degree of attention from our faculty, for normally there are about eight students in our program in various stages. We are pleased to correspond with potential students.

Requirements for the Doctorate in Ancient History

Strong emphasis is placed on mastery of ancient languages, and students constantly take courses in cognate departments, such as Classics or Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. For the Ph.D., competence in French and German is also required, along with Italian for those working in Roman history.

For the Ph.D., students present four fields for preliminary examinations, which must be passed prior to beginning the dissertation. Three of these must be in History (e.g., Greece, Rome, Late Antiquity), and the fourth may be either another history field or a related field from another department (e.g., Greek sculpture, Roman law, literary history, or paleography). At least two of these examinations must be written, including the examination in the student’s major field (see Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations below). The preliminary examinations are normally taken after approximately three years of work in the Department. If these are passed, the student proceeds to an oral examination, which will cover all four fields.

Writing the dissertation is likely to take a couple of years. Thus exemplary progress through the degree program would complete it in five years. The faculty of the Ancient History field who serve on the candidate’s committee may, at their discretion, require an oral defense of the completed dissertation.


Students in the Ancient history field must have a reading knowledge of one foreign language approved by the field. In cases where the field deems it appropriate, coursework or alternate languages may be used to fulfill the language requirement, subject to the approval of the field coordinator and faculty adviser. If the student decides the option of coursework, they need to have a grade of B+ or better in a qualifying graduate seminar in History or Classics with a heavy language component.

Ancient: two ancient languages chosen in consultation with your faculty advisor (most commonly Latin and Greek, but other possible languages include, e.g., Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, Egyptian).

Modern: French and German for all students, plus Italian for students whose major field is Roman history.


In addition to the requirements for admission to and satisfactory progress within the Ancient History field, you must meet the general requirements set forth by (a) the Graduate Division and (b) the Department of History that govern coursework. These requirements include the following:

  • an excellent command of English, spoken and written;
  • the ability to read at least two foreign languages, except for the field of U.S. History where only one foreign language is required (but for the Ancient field, see above);
  • an acquaintance with general history.

Candidates for the Ph.D. are required to complete at least one continuing two-or three-quarter seminar, or alternatively, a continuing sequence of at least two graduate courses approved by the GGCC. This seminar, or its alternative, must include completion of a substantial research paper based at least in part on primary sources.

All students must write a dissertation prospectus (which could be written for credit as a history 596 or 597), which is expected to contain:

  • a full statement of the dissertation topic;
  • an historiographical discussion of the literature bearing on the topic;
  • a statement of the methodology to be employed;
  • a survey of the sources sufficient to demonstrate the viability of the topic
  • a summary of each chapter;
  • a select bibliography bearing on the topic.

The prospectus must be approved by the dissertation adviser prior to the dissertation prospectus defense. Copies of the prospectus will be given to each member of the dissertation committee prior to the defense.

Faculty serving on doctoral committees may require such courses as they deem necessary for preparation for qualifying examinations. Courses taken to fulfill M.A. degree requirements may also be used to satisfy Ph.D. requirements.

Doctoral Written and Oral Examinations

Before admission to candidacy, you must pass written and oral examinations. Students with outstanding incompletes are not permitted to sit for these examinations.

  • Written Examination

In the written qualifying examinations, you are expected to show not only a mastery of your special subject, but also an adequate grasp of the wider field of historical knowledge and an ability to correlate historical data and to explain their significance. These examinations are designed to test not merely factual knowledge, but also your power of historical analysis and synthesis, critical ability, and capacity for reflective thinking. A knowledge of the history of any area includes a reasonable knowledge of its historiography and bibliography; of its geography; and of its political, cultural, economic, and other historical aspects.

You should select the fields for your examinations in consultation with your faculty adviser. A full-time graduate student must begin the written qualifying examinations not later than the end of the ninth quarter of graduate work.

For the Ancient History field in particular, students must take written examinations in at least two of the following three fields: Greece, Rome, and Late Antiquity. Each of these examinations includes two separate components: (a) translation and analysis of passages selected from a reading list of ancient sources in their original languages (reading lists are available upon request) and (b) expository essays answering questions regarding the history and historiography of a given field. The written qualifying examination is not to exceed eight (8) hours and must be turned in to the Graduate Adviser’s Office no later than 5:00 pm of the day of the examination.

  • Oral Examination

Within six months of completing the written components of the qualifying examinations, students must pass an oral examination. The oral examination will include questions from each of the student’s four fields. As stipulated above (see Requirements for the Doctorate in Ancient History), three of the fields must be in History, while the fourth may be either another history field or a related field from another department.

The written qualifying examinations must be passed before the oral qualifying examination can be taken. The members of the doctoral committee determine whether or not an examination may be repeated (normally only once), based on their prognosis of the student’s potential for successfully completing both the written and oral examinations within a specified period of time to be designated by the doctoral committee, but not to exceed one calendar year. You can find more information on how to form your doctoral committee in the Graduate Intranet.