Special Graduate Program in Byzantine Studies

Harvard University’s Byzantine Studies graduate program 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 do 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. It is an interdepartmental program administered by the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies, one 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 Ph.D. degree in History, the Classics, or the History of Art and Architecture.


Students are required to seek admission into the department of History, Classics, or History of Art & Architecture. Once admitted, they are expected to work for one year in that department's regular program. After one year, students may petition the Special Program's Steering Committee for admission to the program, submitting a letter expressing their interest in the program and their qualifications to the Steering Committee chair by 30 March of their first year of graduate study. Graduate Students in their second year also may petition to transfer to the Special Program, provided they are on a good track to meet the Program's coursework requirements. If the Steering Committee approves a student's 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 in the Special Program to keep in touch with their original admitting department, both as a source of recommendations for fellowships and, later, of teaching positions. Upon the successful conclusion of their studies, students will receive the doctoral degree in Byzantine Studies, or Byzantine History, Literature, and Art.

Admissions Requirements

1) Good standing in the department of admission; 2) 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.

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 his or hers 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.

A. By May of the second year, students will take a three-hour written examination, consisting of:

1. Translation of a Byzantine author

2. A special subject within Byzantine art history

3. A special subject within Byzantine history

B. By the end of the third year, students will take a two-hour oral examination in the following fields:

1. Byzantine history

2. Byzantine literature and philology

3. Byzantine art history

4. 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, he or she 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.

Members of the Steering Committee

Ioli Kalavrezou, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine Art History (Chair of the Steering Committee; on leave Fall 2022)

Dimiter Angelov, Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine History

Michael Flier, Oleksandr Potebnja Professor of Ukrainian Philology (on leave 2022-2023)

Eurydice Georganteli, Lecturer in the History of Art and Architecture

Christina Maranci, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies

Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History (on leave 2022-2023)

Alexander Riehle, Assistant Professor of the Classics

Panagiotis Roilos, George Seferis Professor of Modern Greek Studies and of Comparative Literature (on leave Spring 2023)

Charles Stang, Professor of Early Christian Thought, Harvard Divinity School

Nicholas Watson (ex officio), Chair of the Standing Committee on Medieval Studies