PhD Program Requirements

The application fee payment deadline for a 2024-2025 academic year degree program start (i.e., September 2024) is November 30, 2023. Your supporting documents must be submitted by December 8, 2023.

Applicants can upload their transcripts and their CV as they complete the online application form. By November 30, 2023, applicants must pay the SGS application fee in the applicant status portal after submitting their application form. All other required materials for their program (e.g., statement of academic intent, writing sample, maximum two letters of reference uploaded by the referees with an institutional email address) must be uploaded by December 8, 2023 in the applicant portal after the applicant submits the application form.

To apply, please visit the Online Admissions Application.

Minimum Admission Requirements

Applicants are admitted under the General Regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants must also satisfy the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations’ additional admission requirements stated below.

  • Admission via one of two routes:
    • MA degree in a relevant program from a recognized university with at least an A- average or equivalent in courses taken for the MA program.
    • Direct entry from a bachelor’s degree for exceptionally qualified applicants, at the discretion of the department. Please note that direct entry is very rare.
  • Ability to conduct independent research.
  • Fluency in primary source language(s) relevant to the applicant's research.
  • Maximum two letters of reference.
  • Statement of academic intent of no more than one to two pages.
  • Curriculum Vitae/Resume.
  • Writing sample of no more than 12 double-spaced pages including footnotes.
  • Applicants whose primary language is not English, and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English, are required to meet the School of Graduate Studies' English-language requirements.

Program Requirements

Program of study is determined in consultation with the academic advisor/supervisor and graduate coordinator and includes written and oral general examinations. Each year of the PhD program the student is obligated to consult with their advisor and graduate coordinator to see that appropriate coursework is done for a coherent Major (3 full-course equivalents/FCEs), a coherent First Minor (2 FCEs), a coherent Second Minor (1 FCE) and that the language requirements are completed on schedule. Course work and all language requirements are to be completed by the end of the second year.

The student, in consultation with the supervisor, examining committee (if it has already been established) will prepare a short draft proposal of 2-4 pages with bibliography by May of the second year. The short draft proposal will direct some of the preparation for the comprehensive examinations which will take place by the end of the first term of the third year.

A final proposal of at least 10 pages plus bibliography is to be approved by the supervisory committee within one to two months of the completion of the comprehensive exams.

All students in all areas and fields in NMC must demonstrate competence in at least one primary source language and two modern languages of scholarship.

The primary source languages in our department are normally Akkadian, Sumerian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Pahlavi, Aramaic, Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, and Turkish. In some cases other languages such as Greek or Latin may be substituted with the permission of the supervisor and the graduate coordinator. The Academic Advisor may require additional source languages depending on the field of thesis research.

All students in all areas and fields in NMC must demonstrate reading comprehension in two pertinent modern languages of scholarship (typically French and German). They will be chosen following discussion with the student’s supervisor and with approval of the graduate coordinator. One language of modern scholarship requirement must be completed by the end of the first year of studies and the second language requirement must be completed by the end of the second year.

Please note that the language requirements are in addition to the course requirements and do not count as part of the six FCEs.

If a student’s source language is at the same time a modern language (Modern Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, or Turkish), two additional modern languages are required as languages of scholarship. [Those few students who were grandfathered in when the old system in which the source language could also be one of the languages of scholarship are under the old rule: if they fail the test in the source language twice, they are terminated from the program.]

Possible combinations of the source language and language of scholarship belonging to the same family are restricted to Biblical/Rabbinic Hebrew and Modern Hebrew or Pahlavi and Modern Persian. Language requirements can be completed by achieving a mark of 70% in a two-hour departmentally-administered language examination in which the student is given a 500-word selection from a journal article or book broadly connected to the student’s area of research in the relevant language to translate into good English. A dictionary is allowed during the examination.

These examinations are given in October, January and April. Other examination times may be arranged. Students who take the German (GER 6000H) and/or French (FSL 6000H) reading courses for doctoral students and achieve a mark of 70% and above are considered to have completed the language requirement. These courses have limited enrolment and students are encouraged to register early. It should be noted that extra language study beyond the doctoral reading course is encouraged. Completion of the Hebrew exemption exam (petor) at an Israeli university constitutes completion of the requirement.

The Department will administer two-hour language proficiency exams three times only during the academic year.

A student who fails to achieve a minimum passing grade of 70% on a language proficiency exam may retake the exam no earlier than the next scheduled exam date.

Further Requirements

  • Students are required to be registered on campus for the period during which coursework requirements are being fulfilled, and in no case for less than two academic years.
  • Students are required to receive approval from their academic advisor and the graduate coordinator concerning course choice. All students are required to meet with the graduate coordinator to fill out the Programme Memorandum at the very beginning of the school year.
  • The minimum course requirement will normally be 6.0 graduate full-course equivalents (FCEs). Students who have previously completed a two-year MA in the department may apply for a course reduction that will be granted at the discretion of the department. The reduction should normally be 1.0 FCE, but may be up to 3.0 FCEs in cases of students who also have an exceptional preparation in their field of study at the BA level and MA level.

Program Length

  • 5 years full-time

Time Limit

  • 6 years full-time