The Special Program in Byzantine Studies is based on the philosophy that a Byzantinist should be fully conversant with the history, literature, and art of the Empire and be able to conduct research in all three areas. Its aim, therefore, is to offer students the opportunity to pursue a course of studies that will give them competence in all three fields. Byzantine Studies is an interdepartmental program administered by the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies that draws upon the resources of Harvard University and Dumbarton Oaks. It is supplementary to, and does not preempt, the departmental programs, through which a student whose primary interest is in the Byzantine field also may receive a PhD degree in history, the classics, or the history of art and architecture.


Prospective students are first required to seek admission into the Department of History, the Department of the Classics, or the Department of the History of Art and Architecture. Once admitted, they are expected to study for one year in that department’s regular program.

After a year, students may petition the Byzantine Studies graduate program’s steering committee for admission to the program, by submitting a letter to the steering committee chair by March 30 of their first year of graduate study that expresses their interest and their qualifications. Graduate students in their second year also may petition to transfer to Byzantine Studies, provided they are on a good track to meet the program’s coursework requirements. If the steering committee approves the petition, it will forward it to the dean of GSAS for final approval.

Once approved, students will move outside the departmental framework. It is wise, however, for students to remain in touch with their original admitting department, both as a source of recommendations for fellowships and, later, for teaching positions. Upon the successful conclusion of their studies, students will receive a doctoral degree in Byzantine Studies, or Byzantine History, Literature, and Art.

Admissions Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Special Program in Byzantine Studies, students must:

  1. Be in good standing in the department of admission;
  2. Have demonstrated language proficiency in Greek and Latin, as well as reading knowledge of two of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Russian, or modern Greek (examinations in the modern languages should normally be completed by the end of the student’s first year).

Byzantine Studies Faculty