The Catholic University of America

Ph.D. Degree in Medieval and Byzantine Studies

A minimum of 60 hours of graduate credit is required of candidates for the Ph.D. in Medieval and Byzantine Studies. The program incorporates the M.A. curriculum while also requiring an additional thirty semester hours of course work (in the area of specialization and one minor field), comprehensive exams, and a dissertation.  Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2 in order to continue in the program.


Program Description and Requirements (Effective Fall 2010)

1. Course Work (60 credit-hours)

a)      The M.A. Program in Medieval and Byzantine Studies at CUA (30 credit-hours).* 

b)     Six approved graduate courses (18 credit-hours) in the area of specialization, i.e., in one of the following three categories, selected in one discipline or in a combination of two or more disciplines with the approval of the MBS director and the major faculty adviser:

a.      History and Social Structures

b.     Thought and Worship

c.      Cultural and Artistic Expressions

c)      Four approved graduate courses (12 credit-hours) in the minor area, with the approval of the MBS director and the minor faculty adviser. The minor area should be a separate area of interest, with only limited overlap with the major area. The minor area can be a traditional discipline (e.g., history, philosophy), a subject area (e.g., Anglo-Saxon England), a methodologically based field (e.g., gender studies), or any other coherent field of study.  

*Students with master’s degrees in other programs or from other accredited institutions can apply to transfer up to 24 hours of graduate credit.  Students whose request to transfer 24 credits is granted will need to take a total of 36 credit hours (30 in categories b and c + 6 additional credits from either category) as their PhD coursework requirement.  Students who are allowed to transfer fewer credits will need to take additional credit hours to complete a total of 60 approved credit hours.

2. Language Requirements

a)      Demonstrated competence, as determined by examination or by performance in a designated course (grade no lower than ‘B’) or in a translation project, in Latin, Greek or Arabic, and, in accordance with the student’s planned dissertation research, in any necessary medieval vernacular languages.

b)     Demonstrated reading knowledge of two modern foreign languages (French, German, Italian, Spanish, or other approved modern language).

3. Comprehensive Examinations

Written comprehensive examinations in (a) the area of specialization and (b) the minor area. Reading lists and preparation for the examination will be developed in collaboration between the student and the major and minor faculty advisers and must be approved by the MBS director. For information on the structure of the exam click here (pdf).

4. Doctoral Dissertation

Doctoral dissertation supervised by the major faculty adviser. The dissertation committee must include faculty from more than one discipline.      

Guidelines for preparing a dissertation proposal (pdf).                           

Note on Advising:

Each student will have three advisers: the MBS director as general adviser, a major faculty advisor in the area of specialization (supervisor of the doctoral dissertation), and a minor faculty advisor in the minor area. Students’ choice of courses is subject to the final approval of the director of MBS.



Old version (Prior to Fall 2010)

I. The M.A. Program in Medieval or Byzantine Studies (30 hours)

Students with masters' degrees in other programs or from other accredited institutions may apply for the transfer of up to 24 hours of graduate courses (equivalent to those required for the M.A. in Medieval Studies) Six of the transferred credits can be applied towards the M.A. degree, and the balance will count as credits for the Ph.D.

II. Medieval Languages

Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate competence in medieval vernacular languages required for research (unless chosen as part of M.A. program).

III. Modern Languages

Beyond the one language required for the Masters degree, the candidate must exhibit reading comprehension in a second modern language. The student may fulfill this requirement either by taking and passing the 500-level offered by the Department of Modern Languages course or by passing the Princeton Language Exam in one of the following languages: French, German, Spanish, or Italian. The languages chosen should be the ones most relevant to the candidate's area of research.

IV. Area of Concentration (18 hours)

Six 3-credit graduate courses in a major area of concentration (i.e. History, Medieval Latin, English, Music, Philosophy, etc.) will be required of all Ph.D. candidates.

V. Minors (12 hours)

Ph.D. candidates will select two minor concentrations in each of which two 3-credit courses (6 hours total for each minor) will be required.

VI. Comprehensive examination

The candidate must complete a written set of comprehensive exams based on a reading list agreed upon by the student and a directing professor in each of the student's three fields of study. The reading list must consist of the equivalent of seventy (70) books, in which it is understood that several articles may equal one book.

Major Field: 30 books

Minor Fields: 20 books each

Preparation for the examination usually involves eight to ten months of intensive reading and study, and may require further course work.

VII. Doctoral Dissertation

The traditional Doctoral Dissertation is required of all candidates for the Ph. D.