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Institute for the Study of the Ancient World


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Student Handbook

Course Registration

Students may register for courses via the online Albert system accessible from their NYUHome page. Students should monitor the NYU Registrar deadlines for course registration each semester to ensure timely enrollment. Students wishing to register for courses after the online system has closed must see the Academic Affairs office.

All ISAW seminars and directed studies are designated with ‘controlled enrollment’. Once you have been given faculty approval, email the Academic Affairs office to request an access code for each desired course. If registering for a directed study, the appropriate number of credits should be determined by the instructor before registering. To register for courses taught outside of ISAW, contact the administrator for that department.

Students may enroll in up to 16 credits per semester. Enrollment over this amount requires approval from the DGS. Enrollment beyond 72 graduate credits must also be approved by the DGS.

Credit Transfer Requests from Master’s Degree

Students may apply to transfer up to 30 credits from a previous Master’s degree towards their doctoral credits. Only courses taken at the graduate level qualify and should have a direct bearing on the student's current course of study. Students should submit a request to their committee with a list of the classes they would like to transfer along with a brief description for each class. When committee approval has been given, students should submit the list to the ISAW Academic Affairs office along with an original copy of the school transcript, no later than APRIL 30th. Credit transfer requests must be approved within the student’s first year. Final approval will come from the GSAS Office of Academic Affairs.

Tuition Remission for Undergraduate Skills

ISAW's tuition fellowship can only be applied to graduate-level courses that count towards the doctoral degree. Students who require courses only offered at the undergraduate level must apply for ‘Tuition Remission for Undergraduate Skills’. Students must contact the ISAW Academic Affairs department when they enroll in an undergraduate course so the appropriate paperwork can be submitted. Final approval will come from the GSAS Office of Academic Affairs.

Pass/Fail Grading

Students who wish to take a course pass/fail must have the approval of the DGS and their committee. The form can be found at Please submit the completed form to the DGS for review. Once signed it can be submitted to the ISAW Academic Affairs office, which will submit it to the GSAS Office of Academic Affairs for final approval.

Inter-University Consortium

Students who have completed at least one year of graduate study (not necessarily at ISAW) may register for courses through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium (IUDC). If you wish to register for a course in the consortium, please see the Academic Affairs office as soon as possible to process the paperwork, which can take up to two weeks. For more information on the program, the list of participating schools, and the registration form, please see the GSAS website at


Before the beginning of their first semester, new students meet with the faculty to discuss their long-term academic plans, establish a course plan for the year, and to formulate the composition of their future committee.

Committees will generally consist of three members and must have at least one ISAW faculty member who will serve as the student's advisor.  The committee may change according to adjustments to the student’s course of study.

First-year students will meet with their committees again at the end of the fall and spring semesters.

Continuing students normally meet with their committees once per year at the end of the spring semester.

Doctoral Contract

The doctoral contract form is given to students after their first faculty meeting, to be filled out and submitted to the Academic Affairs office for review within the first two weeks of the semester. The contract is then revised for each annual committee meeting, usually held in the spring. First-year students submit an additional revision at the end of their first semester. Once the revised contract has been approved by the committee it should be submitted to the Academic Affairs office.

All departures from the doctoral contract must be approved by the student’s committee and communicated to the Academic Affairs office if done outside the normal committee meeting/contract revision timeline.

Student Funding Requests
--All requests should be filled out digitally and then printed or emailed to the academic affairs office with the required attachments/documentation.

Travel Funding
Students may apply for funds to travel to a conference, lecture, or other academic event that will aid them in their program of study. Applications must be submitted at least one month before travel. When funds are limited, preference will be given to students who will be presenting or otherwise participating in an academic event and to students who have not had previous support. Please see the form for further details.

Summer Funding
Student may apply for funds for summer language courses, or for similar acquisition of technical skills, that cannot be taken within NYU or consortium schools. . Applications must be submitted by February 1st each year. Please see the form for further details. Students requesting summer travel funding should submit the Travel Request Form (above) by the February 1st deadline as well. Funds are limited.

Sixth Year Funding
Students wishing to extend their funding to a sixth year should submit a letter of request to their committee by March 31st outlining the current state of their dissertation and a work plan for the coming year, including anticipated deadlines for chapter reviews. The committee will evaluate the request and then make a recommendation to the faculty, who will render the final decision.

GSAS Dissertation Fellowships and Humanities Initiative Fellowships
Students are nominated by the department for these fellowships. If a student would like to be considered, they should submit their application to the Academic Affairs Office by September 15th. Please submit separate applications if applying for both the GSAS and Humanities Initiative fellowships as they have different formats.

Study Away from ISAW

Students planning on studying away from ISAW during the academic year must get the approval of their committee and of the DGS; they are required to submit a formal request. Please see the form for further details.

Doctoral Colloquium

Second year students participate in a doctoral colloquium both semesters. The course is graded on a pass/fail basis and is worth 2 credits. The colloquium meets seven times during the semester (generally every other week). The goal of the colloquium is to give our students an understanding research being undertaken at ISAW that is outside of their own interests. Faculty, scholars, and more advanced graduate students assign a reading and make a brief presentation, generally proposing a research question that is then discussed by the students. All ISAW students are encouraged to attend as their schedule allows. Should a second-year student have a conflict with another course, the colloquium may be made up in a later semester with approval from the DGS.

Language Exams

Students are required to demonstrate reading ability in at least 4 languages (other than English) relevant to their course of study by the end of their second year. This can be done one of three ways:

  • an ISAW-administered language exam (2 hours, dictionaries always allowed for modern languages and on a case-by-case basis for ancient languages)
  • with DGS approval, the completion of at least a fourth-semester course with a grade of “B” or better not more than two years before date of first registration at ISAW
  • with DGS approval, the successful completion of an exam of equivalent level to ISAW's
  • a skill may be substituted for an ancient language were appropriate. Such substitutions must be approved by the entire faculty.

Exams are administered three times per year in September, December, and May.

    Comprehensive Exams


    • The purpose of the examinations is to satisfy the committee that the candidate is familiar with the context of his/her dissertation, is adequately prepared to begin work on his/her dissertation, has developed one or more areas of professional competence, and is familiar with typical problems, including problems of method.
    • The areas of the candidate's comprehensive examinations are determined by the candidate's supervisory committee. Requirements shall be as uniform in difficulty and time demands as possible. The areas shall be reasonably broad. In normal circumstances the candidate is to be assumed to devote the equivalent of 6-8 months to preparation for the examinations.
    • The examinations comprise three written papers followed by an oral examination.
    • The examination will be set and assessed by an examining committee normally consisting of the candidate's supervisory committee. With the DGS's approval the examining committee may have additional members if the areas call for additional expertise.
    • The written papers are set by the supervisory committee and based on a reading list drawn up by the student in consultation with the committee. The reading list will consist of primary sources and secondary material as appropriate for the areas. The candidate's areas and the format (nature of questions and number of questions/choices) of the written papers must be approved by the ISAW regular faculty at least six months before the examination. Decisions will be communicated to the candidate in writing and not departed from without prior agreement of both candidate and committee.
    • The written papers will be written under examination conditions, with a duration of 3 hours each.
    • Following the examination, the candidate will be provided with copies of his/her written answers without delay.
    • The written papers are assessed on a pass/fail basis.
    • If a candidate's written answers indicate the likelihood of a pass, the candidate will be asked to attend an oral examination. The function of the oral is to confirm or modify an opinion based on the candidate's written papers.
    • If the candidate fails either the written papers or the oral, one adjournment of each is permitted. The examining committee may rule, in voting for an adjournment, that part only of the written papers need be repeated, the candidate's answers to the other papers being allowed to stand over.
    • Unsatisfactory performance in the oral will normally result in an adjournment.
    • The candidate's supervisor will send the student, with copies to the committee and the DGS, a written summary of the committee's evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses in the written and oral components of the examinations. The contents of this summary must be approved by the examining committee before it is sent.

    Dissertation Proposal

    After passing comprehensive examinations, the student will draft a dissertation proposal in consultation with the student's supervisory committee. The composition of the committee may be altered at this stage to reflect the dissertation topic. The proposal should normally not exceed 20 pages (1.5 spacing, 12 pt type) exclusive of bibliography. Not later than one month before the end of the first semester following the comprehensive examinations, the student will submit the draft to the ISAW faculty, and will defend it before the faculty and any external committee members who are available. Students should submit their proposal at least one week in advance of the meeting (an earlier deadline may be set by their committee, one week is the deadline for distribution to the entire faculty). Students should also make a brief presentation on their proposal. The purpose of this meeting is advisory. Within four weeks of this meeting, the student will submit a revised proposal to the supervisory committee, who, together with the DGS, will approve it or require further modifications. The final draft of the proposal should be submitted to the Academic Affairs office for the approval signature.


    Dissertation Committee and Defense

    1. When the candidate's dissertation proposal has been submitted and accepted, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Supervisory Committee, in consultation with the candidate, will review the membership of the Supervisory Committee and the choice of advisor or of two coadvisors. The advisor, or at least one of the coadvisors, must be a full-time ISAW faculty member. Until the dissertation is ready to be defended the Supervisory Committee continues to serve. It will meet with the candidate at least once every academic year, normally toward the end of the second semester, and will provide a written report of the candidate's progress towards completion to the candidate and the Director of Graduate Studies. The candidate may submit a response to this report.

    2. In the case of a permanent ISAW faculty member who retires or accepts a position elsewhere, ISAW considers the faculty qualified as a full-time ISAW faculty member for the purpose of dissertation supervision and examination until the faculty member's advisees have completed their dissertations. If a faculty member is not already on a student’s committee, they may be added and counted as a full-time ISAW faculty member within five years from the date the faculty member severs ties with ISAW and serve until the dissertation is completed.

    3. The Dissertation Examination Committee must be formed not later than the approval of the dissertation for defense.

    4. The Dissertation Examination Committee must consist of five members, of whom at least two and no more than three must be members of the full-time faculty in ISAW. Normally the advisor or coadvisors will be members of the Committee. A full-time ISAW faculty member other than the advisor will be appointed as Committee Chair by the Director of Graduate Studies.

    5. The Director of Graduate Studies must approve all members of the Dissertation Examination Committee.

    6. All Dissertation Examination Committee members must have a scholarly record that is germane to the dissertation.

    7. On the advice of the Director of Graduate Studies, the ISAW full-time faculty may remove or add Dissertation Examination Committee members for any reason, subject to the preceding regulations for the composition of the Dissertation Examination Committee.

    8. Approval for Defense: Prior to the scheduling of a doctoral dissertation defense, the advisor (or both coadvisors) and the chair must approve the dissertation for defense. The Director of Graduate Studies must provide signed authorization of this approval. Approval for the defense does not constitute approval of the dissertation. This approval and the distribution of the dissertation to all readers must take place a minimum of one month before the scheduled date of the defense.

    9. Successful Defense: After the oral defense, each member of the Dissertation Examination Committee shall cast a single vote of "pass," "fail," or "incomplete" on the dissertation and its defense. An abstention will be counted as a vote of "fail."

    10a. If all or all but one members of the Dissertation Examination Committee cast a vote of "passed," the dissertation will be considered to have been accepted. The Committee may stipulate specific minor corrections and modifications of the dissertation, in which case a member of the Committee designated by the Director of Graduate Studies must report before deposit and within 90 days after the defense that these corrections and modifications have been made.

    10b. If two or more members cast a vote of ‘incomplete’, or one ‘fail’ and at least one ‘incomplete’, a three-person subcommittee will be selected from the Dissertation Examination Committee by the Director of Graduate Studies, or by the ISAW Director if the DGS is a member of the dissertation committee, to supervise revisions. At least one person must be a full-time ISAW faculty member. The dissertation will be considered accepted if the three-person subcommittee unanimously so recommends; otherwise it will be changed to a final grade of "failed."

    10c. If three or more votes of ‘fail’ are cast, the dissertation will be failed. If there are two votes of disapproval, the entire ISAW full-time faculty will review the dissertation and render a final decision. Specific minor corrections and modifications may be requested before a final verdict is rendered by either the committee or the ISAW faculty.


    Students may apply for an MPhil after all requirements except for the dissertation are completed. Deadlines for graduation application can be found on the Registrar’s website at  MPhil candidates should email Christopher James in NYU Graduation Services at Please cc Marc LeBlanc at on the email.

    PhD candidates should apply for graduation at the beginning of the semester in which they plan on completing all the program requirements. PhD candidates apply via Albert. Instruction and deadlines can be found at


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