The field of ancient history conventionally designates the historical study of the Greek and Roman worlds from the end of the Bronze Age (ca. 1,100 BCE) to the fourth century CE. While students are expected to familiarize themselves with the important political developments that occurred in Mediterranean antiquity, the program in ancient history at Chicago is distinctive for its emphasis on social and economic approaches. Its internationally recognized strengths in these areas are complemented by the expertise of affiliated faculty in Anthropology, Art History, Classics, the Oriental Institute, and the Divinity School.

Apart from acquiring a firm grounding in the critical interpretation of literary documents, inscriptions, and archaeological finds, students are encouraged to pursue innovative and imaginative avenues of inquiry through their own programs of study and within the context of intellectual forums, such as the Ancient Societies Workshop and conferences and symposia organized by the Department of Classics. Students are eligible for travel fellowships to conduct investigations in the Mediterranean. Prospective applicants are expected to already have knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek. Examinations in these and in French and German are held within the first two years of graduate study.