Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations: Mesopotamian Civilization, PhD

NELC’s PhD program in Mesopotamian Civilizations offers advanced study of the languages and philology of ancient Mesopotamia as well as the history and archaeology of that region in its Near Eastern context. 

Students in the Mesopotamian Civilization program may specialize in either Archaeology and Art History or History, Language and Literature, but all students are expected to command a primary and secondary ancient language, as well as the general history and culture of the region. The specific distribution of courses varies by specialization. Students are expected to work out the broad outlines of their programs in consultation with their faculty advisor when they begin their studies.

View the department's PhD general procedures.

View the University’s Academic Rules for PhD Programs.


A total of 20 course units are required for graduation.

Primary Field

  • Specialization in History, Language, and Literature
    • Languages
    • History
    • Art and archaeology
  • Specialization in Archaeology and Art History
    • Languages and Literatures
    • History
    • Archaeology and Art History

Other Program Milestones

In addition to the above-described required course work, PhD students are responsible for two (2) European language reading exams, candidacy exams, and qualifying exams before preparing a dissertation proposal. 

Secondary Field

Students concentrating in other NELC programs such as Biblical Studies or Egyptology may acquire secondary field competence in Mesopotamian Civilization with six courses. The distribution of the courses ought to reflect the student’s focus on history, language and literature or archaeology. Students in history, language and literature must take at least two art or archaeology courses and students in archaeology and art history must complete at least one introductory language sequence.

The degree and major requirements displayed are intended as a guide for students entering in the Fall of 2022 and later. Students should consult with their academic program regarding final certifications and requirements for graduation.

Sample Plan of Study

Students in the PhD program are required to take 20 course units.  The coursework component is normally three years in length, but with the potential for transfer credit for other graduate courses within the field.  Students entering the PhD program will be assigned a faculty advisor who will supervise the student's program until the Candidacy Examinations in the 4th year of study have been completed.  

Year 1
Semester 1
Select 4 courses
Semester 2
Select 4 courses
First modern language exam by Semester 3
Year 2
Semester 3
Select 3 courses
Teaching Assistantship
Semester 4
Select 3 courses
Teaching Assistantship
Completion of AM
Qualifying Examinations at end of Semester 3 or early in Semester 4
Second modern language exam by Semester 5
Year 3
Semester 5
Select 3 courses
Teaching Assistantship
Semester 6
Select 3 courses (including NELC 9999)
Teaching Assistantship
Preparation for Candidacy Examinations
Year 4
Semester 7
Candidacy Examinations
Semester 8
Dissertation Research and Writing
Year 5
Semester 9
Dissertation Research and Writing
Semester 10
Dissertation Research and Writing