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Byzantine Studies

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Questions about these requirements? See the contact info at the bottom of the page. 

Students interested in pursuing a degree in the Special Graduate Program in Byzantine Studies must have been admitted to Harvard Griffin GSAS in the Department of History, the Department of the Classics, or the Department of the History of Art and Architecture and completed one year of study in that department’s regular program, before petitioning the Byzantine Studies graduate program’s steering committee for admission to the program.

Course of Study

Students will take at least two semester-long courses in each of the three Byzantine fields. At least one of the courses taken in each of the three fields must be a semester-long seminar, and two of these seminars should be taken in the second year. Students also will be expected to acquire familiarity with one auxiliary discipline, such as Greek paleography, codicology, epigraphy, numismatics, sigillography, or archaeology. As long as these general requirements are satisfied, the student’s academic program can be tailored to fit their research interests, with courses chosen in consultation with the department’s graduate advisor and the chair of the steering committee.


Students will be examined in the three Byzantine fields, plus one field among those offered by the department of admission.

  • By May of the second year, students will take a three-hour written examination, consisting of:
    • Translation of a Byzantine author
    • A special subject within Byzantine art history
    • A special subject within Byzantine history
  • By the end of the third year, students will take a two-hour oral examination in the following fields:
    • Byzantine history
    • Byzantine literature and philology
    • Byzantine art history
    • A related field chosen from those offered by the department of admission

After successful completion of the oral examinations, and provided that the student is in good standing, they may apply to Dumbarton Oaks for a William R. Tyler Fellowship or Junior Fellowship. It is expected that students will normally become teaching fellows in their department of admission. In order to invoke any guaranteed teaching offered at the time of admission, students must meet all program-specific teaching criteria established by the relevant department.


By the end of the term following the oral examination, students will present a dissertation prospectus to a committee composed of three Byzantinists and one other faculty member. The optimal time for completion of the dissertation is by the end of the sixth year. It then will be read and judged by the student’s dissertation committee.

Contact Info

Special Graduate Program in Byzantine Studies

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