Graduate Student Handbook

Egyptology and Assyriology
Graduate Student Handbook (PDF Format)

July 2019 Edition


The Department of Egyptology and Assyriology at Brown University offers three tracks to the doctorate (PhD): Assyriology, Egyptology, and History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity. Through the Graduate School’s Open Graduate Education Program the Department also offers a master’s degree (AM) for students concurrently enrolled in a PhD program in another department at Brown.

            This document provides program-specific information for graduate students in the Department and is thus intended to complement the Graduate School’s published policies and procedures. For comprehensive information about University-wide policies on matters such as funding, leaves of absence, and the like, students should consult the Graduate School Handbook:

            Applicants to the PhD program are strongly encouraged to contact the relevant faculty and/or the Director of Graduate Studies. Prospective students should also consult the respective web pages of both the Department and the Graduate School:


Graduate School:

At present the Department does not accept applications to its master’s program from students who are not already enrolled at Brown in a PhD program.

Department Contacts

Department Chair:  Prof. Matthew Rutz ([email protected])

Director of Graduate Studies (DGS):  Prof. Leo Depuydt ([email protected])

Department Manager:  A. Catherine Hanni ([email protected])

Funding for the PhD

Financial support of five years is granted to incoming doctoral students funded through the Graduate School with the expectation that this will be their full support during the entire course of their studies. This funding includes a stipend, tuition and fees remission, and a health-insurance subsidy. The stipend is intended to cover the calendar year, not simply the academic year, and students are therefore expected to work on their research during the summer. When progress towards the degree is considered excellent, students may spend time in the summer on professional development, for instance, on outside research fellowships, archaeological fieldwork, or teaching positions.

            The University expects research and writing of the dissertation to be completed by the end of a student’s fifth year in the program, at which point guaranteed University funding ends. For students who require a sixth year of funding and do not receive it from another source (e.g., an external fellowship, the Open Graduate Education Program, University-wide interdisciplinary opportunities, or the Deans Faculty Fellows program), the Department will do its best to provide sixth year funding, although it is not guaranteed. In order to be considered for sixth year funding from the Department or to receive the Department’s support for an application to the Deans Faculty Fellows program or one of the University’s interdisciplinary opportunities, we expect students to have met two milestones:

  1. an advanced draft of one chapter of the dissertation to be submitted to the student’s advisor by the end of the August after the fourth year
  2. one third of the dissertation to be submitted to and approved by the student’s advisor by the end of December of the fifth year

Please note that completing these milestones is a minimum requirement for consideration for sixth year funding. If the dissertation has not been completed and accepted within seven years of the time the student first entered the program, the Department may require a second set of comprehensive examinations before the dissertation is finally accepted. As per Graduate School rules, students who have not completed their dissertation within five years of being admitted to candidacy must apply to the Graduate School for an extension of candidacy. Students should be aware that such extensions are not guaranteed.

      Students will receive one of the following appointments during each semester that they are funded:

      Fellowship: An award to enable the student to focus full time on either coursework or researching/writing the dissertation.

      Teaching Assistantship: The student will be assigned as a teaching assistant (TA) to a particular course to assist the instructor with course preparation, marking papers and exams, facilitating class discussions, conducting tutorials, teaching occasional classes, and holding office hours to work with students.

      Teaching Fellowship: The student will teach either a pre-existing course offered in the Department or a new course of the student's design (with significant input and guidance from the faculty and formal approval from the College Curriculum Council).

      Proctorship: Non-instructional academic employment intended to foster the graduate student’s professional development and/or research interests. The student will be assigned to a defined research project, program development, or other well-defined task. Possible proctorships could involve assisting faculty with research or editorial projects, preparing teaching materials, managing ancient artifacts in the University’s collections, and assisting in the organization of a conference.


On entering the program, students will be assigned a primary advisor in their field of interest. Students are expected to consult their advisors on a regular basis to discuss course selection, research projects or publications, exam preparation, external funding opportunities, and other aspects of academic life and professional development.  A student in coursework should expect to meet with the primary advisor a minimum of three times each semester.  Meetings for dissertating students should be more frequent and regular: at the start of each semester dissertating students and their advisors will agree on and schedule a series of regular meetings throughout the semester to confer about the students’ research and/or writing of the dissertation. For these meetings to be productive students must have submitted chapters by the agreed deadlines and faculty must have read/responded to the work in a substantive way either verbally or in writing.

            Students may elect to switch to a different advisor at any time, providing the new advisor is willing to act in that capacity. After the student has completed coursework and advanced to candidacy, it is expected that the chair of the dissertation committee will play the role of primary advisor.

Courses and Service: General Information for PhD students

The University requires 24 credits of graduate enrollment. This is accomplished over the course of six semesters by a combination of coursework and teaching assignments. The appropriate courses will be determined by the student in conjunction with the primary advisor, the DGS, and the faculty most relevant to the student’s intended course of study. The three degree tracks (Assyriology, Egyptology, and History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity) each have their own required courses, some of which may be waived depending on a student’s prior training (see PhD Tracks and Course Requirements below). However, the waiver of specific required courses does not obviate the University’s 24-credit requirement.

            For the first year, students are on fellowship and take four courses each semester. During the second through fourth years, the Graduate School requires service in the form of teaching assistant (TA) or teaching fellow assignments or, less commonly, proctorships. Each student will have one such obligation per semester; the appropriate balance and specific assignments will be determined by the faculty in consultation with the DGS. When performing service during their coursework students will take four courses during semesters they act as proctors but three courses during semesters they serve as teaching assistants; this arrangeent accommodates the 15–18 hours weekly time commitment for TAs defined by the Graduate School. TAs receive one enrollment credit per semester as a TA.

            The Department expects graduate students to meet the minimum requirement of an overall B average. In addition students should receive a grade of A or B in the required courses specified under each track below.  Failure to meet these minium requirements can result in a student being placed on academic warning (see Student Progress below).

            The Department’s policy on students receiving a provisional course grade of Incomplete (INC) is the same as that of the University. Incompletes are strongly discouraged, may only be taken in extraordinary circumstances with prior approval of the professor, and they must be completed expeditiously in order to avoid being placed on academic warning (see Student Progress below). The Office of the Registrar sets the following guidelines for the completion of incompletes: Unless an earlier date is specified by the instructor, grades of ‘INC’ must be made up as follows: for Semester I [= Fall], by mid-semester of Semester II; for Semester II [= Spring], by the first day of the following semester.

            Inadequate performance in courses, while serving as a TA, teaching fellow or proctor, or on exams can be grounds for being placed on academic warning at the discretion of the faculty of the Department (see Student Progress below). Students on warning will be given explicit instructions about milestones that must be reached to be returned to normal status. While on warning students are expected to focus exclusively on their University commitments and may not receive departmental funding for conference attendance nor take on outside employment or internships.

PhD Tracks and Course Requirements

The Department currently offers three tracks to the PhD: (1) Assyriology, (2) Egyptology, and (3) History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity. Minimum course requirements for each track are as follows (courses marked * may be waived on demonstration of existing competency):

            (1) Assyriology: six courses reading cuneiform texts (primarily Akkadian, including Introduction to Akkadian* and Intermediate Akkadian*; at least one course in Sumerian; possibly including Hittite and/or Ugaritic), two courses on Near Eastern archaeology/art history, one course on scholarship in the ancient Near East, two courses on the archaeology, history, and/or language of a second culture (which could include Hittite and/or Ugaritic, among others), one research seminar (Archaeologies of Text), and one Reading and Research course.

            (2) Egyptology: Middle Egyptian I–II*, Middle Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Late Egyptian*, Ancient Egyptian Religion, Ancient Egyptian Literature, History of Ancient Egypt I–II*, at least one course in the basic material culture of ancient Egypt (or, with the approval of the student’s advisor, an advanced course in Egyptian archaeology), two courses in the history, culture, language, or archaeology of the ancient Near East or Mediterranean outside of Egypt, and one Reading and Research course.

            (3) History of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity: Historiography of the Exact Sciences, four courses in the student’s primary ancient language*, two courses in a secondary ancient language*, three courses in the history/archaeology/culture of the primary culture, one course in the history/archaeology/culture of a secondary culture, two courses on ancient science/scholarship offered within the Department, two courses in the history of science offered by another department (e.g., History), and one Reading and Research course. At least two of the language courses should involve the reading of scientific texts.

            As indicated above, beyond the minimum course requirements students in all three tracks are required to take at least one Reading and Research course. Typically taken in the final semester of coursework (i.e, spring semester of the third year), this course provides an opportunity for advanced students to engage with faculty in a focused way on a topic and/or theme that will contribute directly to the student’s research agenda. For example, students may use the Reading and Research requirement to undertake preliminary research around a possible dissertation topic, to prepare a journal article for submission, or to read broadly and/or deeply in a particular area or areas in preparation for the PhD Qualifying Projects.


There are three sets of examinations required of all PhD students in the Department:

            1. French and German Reading Exams. These reading exams must be passed no later than 31 July prior to the third year of coursework. They will normally consist of a journal article or selection from a book to be studied overnight, followed by an oral examination by the faculty member who acts as the examiner; it is customary for students to provide the examiner with an outline of the reading (in English) in advance of the oral examination. The exam itself will consist of questions about and discussion of the assigned reading in order to demonstrate the student’s ability to comprehend and critically engage with important scholarship in the field. With the approval of the student’s primary advisor and the DGS, a student may replace one of the French or German reading requirements with another appropriate modern foreign language. A language exam will be waived in the case where the language is the student’s native tongue.

            2. Comprehensive Exams. The Comprehensive Exams are normally administered toward the end of the second year of coursework (hence their other common designation “second year exams”) and are intended to demonstrate the student’s knowledge in all aspects of her or his chosen field. In the Fall semester of their second year students will meet with the relevant faculty and the DGS to discuss the timing, subjects, scope, and composition of these exams, which must be agreed upon and confirmed in writing prior to the Reading Period of the same semester. The Comprehensive Exams will be both completed by the student and assessed by the faculty no later than 31 May following the student’s second academic year. Some exams may be take-home essays, others timed written and/or oral exams. All of the Comprehensive Exams must be passed satisfactorily before the student can take the PhD Qualifying Projects. In the case of an unsatisfactory performance, a second examination may be scheduled at the discretion of the faculty. The second examination must be both completed by the student and assessed by the faculty no later than 15 August of the same year. No Comprehensive Exam may be taken more than twice. In the event of a first or second unsatisfactory performance, the student may petition the Department to receive a terminal master’s degree (AM), again at the faculty’s discretion.

            3. PhD Qualifying Projects. The PhD Qualifying Projects are normally initiated during the final year of coursework and are intended to demonstrate professional competency. These projects will usually focus on different topics that are all related directly or indirectly to the student’s primary research interests and intended dissertation area. The projects take the following form:

  1. an original scholarly contribution in the form of a journal article
  2. a substantial review of a book in the student’s primary area of interest
  3. the preparation of a course outline and syllabus.

The specific topics, including the book for review and the title and topic of the course for the syllabus, will be decided in conjunction with a committee of at least two and normally three faculty, at least one of whom must be from the Department. The student, prospective readers, and DGS must agree in writing on the precise composition of the projects prior to Reading Period of the Fall semester of the student’s third year. It is not expected that the projects will be completed at the same time, but all three projects must be submitted no later than 31 July after the student’s third academic year. Following the submission of the projects, the committee will confer to make their assessment and communicate whether or not the projects have been judged acceptable.  If the readers find any project unacceptable, the student will have until 15 December to resubmit the revised unaccepted project(s). A student may not formally submit a dissertation proposal for approval until the committee has deemed the Qualifying Projects acceptable. In the event of a first or second unsatisfactory performance on the Qualifying Projects, the student may petition the Department to receive a terminal master’s degree (AM) at the faculty’s discretion.

Research Requirement

In addition to the doctoral dissertation, which is the program’s culminating research requirement, the Department has two research requirements for all PhD students: an academic conference paper and a peer-reviewed journal article. Both requirements are important milestones in a junior scholar’s academic career.

            All students are required to present at least one formal conference paper during their time in the program. Possible venues include the annual meetings of the American Oriental Society (AOS), the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), an international conference in the student’s field, or a more focused academic conference in the student’s area of research. Be advised that the calls for papers for all conferences circulate quite early and that abstracts are typically due well ahead of the conference itself. Students should consult with their advisors about the best topic and venue for the conference paper.

            All students are required to publish at least one peer-reviewed journal article during their time in the program. Students should consult early on with their advisors to determine their best work and most suitable possible venue for publication. Possible scenarios include: publishing a written version of the student’s conference paper; publishing the student’s PhD Qualifying Project (journal article); publishing part of the student’s doctoral dissertation results; publishing a significantly revised version of a research paper from a seminar or Reading and Research course; publishing the results of other independent research that was conducted in a museum, during archaeological fieldwork, or over the summer.

Teaching Requirement

Because Brown’s doctoral programs train graduate students to become educators as well as researchers, teaching is an integral part of graduate education. All doctoral students in the program are required to train as teaching assistants for a minimum of 3 semesters. In consultation with the DGS, this requirement may be fulfilled during any of the years in the program, but it is typically done in years two, three, and four. Although not strictly required, interested students may have the opportunity to serve as teaching fellows who teach either a new course of the student’s design (with significant guidance and input from the faculty) or a course that is already established in the curriculum. Students should be aware of the resources and opportunities at the University to develop teaching skills, in particular the offerings of the Harriet W. Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning and its certificate programs:

Dissertation Proposal

No more than six weeks following the successful completion of PhD Qualifying Projects, the student will submit a doctoral dissertation proposal prepared in consultation with the dissertation advisor and proposal readers. Ordinarily there will be significant overlap between the readers of the proposal and the qualifying projects, though changes or additions may be made in consultation with the DGS. The readers of the proposal must include a primary dissertation advisor and at least two additional readers from within the Department; note that these additional readers of the proposal may or may not be a part of the formal dissertation committee that takes shape once the proposal has been approved. The student’s proposal should be about 3,000–4,000 words in length (excluding the bibliography and any catalogues or tables) and will include the following elements: a working title; the research question and a concise summary of previous research on the intended topic; a statement of the purpose, goals, significance, and originality of the project, with a clear justification of the necessity for the proposed study; a clear presentation of the evidence, methods, and procedure for carrying out the research; a detailed outline of the proposed dissertation with chapter summaries; a detailed project timeline and work plan for research and writing; a catalogue of sources; and a comprehensive, properly formatted bibliography.

            No more than two weeks after the student has submitted the proposal the dissertation advisor will give a substantive written assessment of the proposal, likely requiring revisions. The student will have one week to revise the proposal, and the advisor will have one week to assess the revised version. Once the advisor has approved the revised proposal, at least two additional readers within the Department will then have two weeks to evaluate the revised proposal, offer written comments and suggestions (possibly requiring further revisions), and vote on its acceptability. Following a favorable vote, the DGS will communicate that the student is formally admitted to candidacy for the PhD, a status commonly known as ABD (“all but dissertation”). Shortly after the proposal has been accepted, the student will present the proposed project in the Department’s research colloquium series.

            The formal dissertation committee will consist of a dissertation advisor from within the Department and at least two additional readers, one of whom must come from outside of the Department, preferably from outside the University. Normally external readers from outside the University are formally added to the dissertation committee after the proposal has already been approved by the program, though in some cases it may be appropriate to involve the external reader earlier in the process. Ordinarily the dissertation advisor will also take on the administrative role of being chair of the dissertation committee.

            While researching and writing the dissertation the student should expect to meet with the advisor on a fortnightly basis (or as scheduled at the start of each semester) and keep the readers apprised of progress on the dissertation with occasional updates. In most cases it is appropriate for the advisor to approve each chapter before it is sent to the other readers for comment. Ordinarily all readers on the dissertation committee will have no more than one month to provide the student with substantive written feedback on each chapter submitted. It is up to the student, the advisor/chair of the dissertation committee, and the external reader to decide on the timing of the external reader’s involvement in the project. In most cases the external reader's involvement will come late in the process, around the time the student is ready to circulate the penultimate (defense) draft of the entire dissertation. However, in some cases the external reader will read and respond to individual chapters along with the rest of the committee.

Receiving the PhD Degree

When the dissertation committee has approved the completed dissertation, ideally midway through the fifth year, the dissertation defense will be scheduled. The penultimate version of the dissertation must be circulated among the readers at least two weeks prior to the defense. The defense will consist of two parts: a formal public lecture and a closed defense.

            The lecture is an opportunity for faculty and students in the Department, members of the University community, and wider public to learn about the doctoral candidate’s work on the dissertation. The talk should last approximately 50 minutes plus 10–20 minutes for questions. The presentation should cover the background to the project, an overview of the research itself, and a discussion of the most significant results found in the dissertation. Please note that this talk is not meant to be a celebration of the end of the PhD, an opportunity to express thanks, and the like, all of which has its proper place at Commencement at the end of May. Rather, the lecture should be a serious presentation of the dissertation to an interested audience.

            The formal defense will be a private meeting between the doctoral candidate and the dissertation committee, which will normally include the external reader as examiner. In most cases the defense will last about 1.5-2 hours, but there is no fixed duration for the meeting. The main topic of discussion during the defense will be the dissertation itself, but it is normal for there also to be some discussion of the context of the research (e.g., other scholarship on the topic, the relevance of the dissertation to related areas of research, etc.) as well as discussion of the prospects for publishing the student’s research after completing the PhD.  At the conclusion of the defense, the dissertation committee will confer and vote in private on whether to recommend that the Graduate School award the student the PhD on the basis of the dissertation, potentially pending revisions. Upon reaching a consensus, the committee will communicate the results ofd he vote to the student.  Following a favorable vote, the student is considered to have achieved the PhD, even though the degree itself may not be awarded for several weeks or even months after the defense. The Department has no requirements for the format of the dissertation beyond those set by the Graduate School. Filing of the final dissertation is subject to University guidelines; however, a hard copy of the final dissertation must be deposited in the Department as well. The student must also submit a final electronic copy to the DGS and the Department Manager.

            Students writing dissertations should be aware that the procedures surrounding the defense and filing of the final dissertation always take substantial planning and time to execute. See the Graduate School site:

As stated above, a favorable vote by the dissertation committee determines the PhD status, although the diploma many not be finalized for many weeks/months.  The University has only one PhD graduation ceremony per year, at the end of May (the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend),  but diplomas will be approved and conferred by the University Corporation members' votes in October and in February as well as in May.  October or February degree recipients are included in the May Commencement ceremonies. Final dissertations and all associated paperwork must be filed with the University several weeks prior to the Corporation vote to confer degrees: mid-September for an October degree, mid-January for a February degree, and 1 May degree at the official Commencement ceremony. In order to realistically meet this goal and to give dissertation readers sufficient time to read and comment on the thesis, a complete and mature draft of the dissertation should be given to all members of the dissertation committee at the beginning of the student’s final semester, typically in February for the traditional May completion.

Student Progress

Student progress will be evaluated each semester, and the DGS will update each student's standing in BANNER and through individual communications. BANNER allows three evaluations: “Good,” “Satisfactory,” and “Warning”. These terms are set by the University and thus require some clarification from the program. Students who perform well in coursework and service (i.e., as teaching assistants, teaching fellows, or proctors) and meet all requirements on time will maintain “Good” status in the program. In fact “Good” status is the program’s expectation for all students, which is to say that the Department regards a “Satisfactory” evaluation as an indicator of unsatisfactory progress and a sign that the student's performance needs to improve significantly. “Warning” status indicates that the faculty have very serious concerns about a student’s progress, which, unless addressed, could lead to the Graduate School withdrawing the student from the program.

            Students may be given a "Satisfactory" evaluation for inconsistent performance as a TA, teaching fellow or proctor, for marginal but still passable performance on the Comprehensive Exams or PhD Qualifying Projects, or for unduly slow progress on the dissertation.  Students who take one incomplete in a course at the end of a semester will automatically be given a "Satisfactory" evaluation. In order to return to "Good" status, the incomplete will must be rectified within the  normal timeframe established by the University (see Courses and Service above). Students with a "Satisfactory" status may not be eligible for various programs or research funds available through the Departmnt or University. 

             Reasons for a student being placed on “Warning” include but are not limited to unacceptable performance as a teaching assistant/teaching fellow/proctor, failing the Comprehensive Exams, producing unsatisfactory PhD Qualifying Projects, or making insufficient progress on the doctoral dissertation (proposal, research, writing). Students who have more than one incomplete or who fail to rectify an incomplete on time will be placed on “Warning”.  Students on "Warning" will be informed in writing of the reasons and given the specific milestones they must achieve within a specified period of time in order to come off “Warning” status. Students who do not achieve those milestones may be withdrawn from the program. While a progression from “Satisfactory” to “Warning” may occur, be aware that a student can move directly from “Good” to “Warning” status for any valid reason. For further details on the timing, procedure, and consequences of “Warning” status, students must consult the Graduate School Handbook:

            Third Semester Evaluation (Year 2). Students entering their second year in the program will write a short self-evaluation (500–1000 words) that should be submitted via email to the DGS and the student's advisor no later than the start of Reading Period of the Fall semester (i.e., the end of the student's third full semester in the program).  The self-evaluation should be an honest assessment of the student’s accomplishments, challenges, expectations and goals one and one-half years into the program.  Prior to the end of the semester, the student will meet jointly with the DGS, the student's advisor and other relevant Department faculty for a group discussion of the student's self-evaluation and progress in the program. 

specific goals for the coming academic year. Reports should be sent to the DGS and the student’s advisor via email on or before 1 September. This report should serve as a tool to catalyze a conversation between the student and her/his primary advisor about the student’s plans for the coming academic year and beyond.

            Annual Progress Reports (Years 3-5/6).  Students entering their third year and beyond will submit a short annual progress report (300-500 words) that summarizes the student's accomplishments in the areas of research, teaching, and service for the previous academic year and the following summer.  This short document should include, for example, a description of summer research activities, reflections on the accomplishments of the previous academic year, and an articulation of specific goals for the coming academic year.  Reports should be sent via email to the DGS and the student's advisor on or before 1 September. This report should serve as a tool to catalyze a conversation between the student and the primary advisor about the student's plans for the coming academic year and beyond. 

All students should maintain a current CV on the Graduate School Digital CV site.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Annual Meeting                                                                                                                                                                           

At least once each year, usually in the early spring (Semester II), there will be a pair of meetings with students to discuss issues affecting the graduate program. The first will be a students-only meeting, and the second will be a meeting between the DGS and/or Chair and the current graduate cohort. The latter meeting is meant to provide a face-to-face forum for the DGS and/or Chair to communicate and discuss information relevant to all students and for students to ask questions and voice any concerns.

PhD Program Timeline

Year 1  (Funding: Fellowship)


  • 4 courses


  • 4 courses


  • museum/library research
  • modern language study
  • archaeological fieldwork
  • internship

Year 2  (Funding: Service Obligations)


  • 4 courses or 3 courses
  • service obligation
  • submit self-evaluation for Third Year Evaluation, deadline: end of Reading Period
  • set Comprehensive Exams, deadline: end of Reading Period
  • Third Year Evaluation meeting, deadline: end of Reading Period


  • 4 courses or 3 courses
  • service obligation
  • complete Comprehensive Exams, deadline: 31 May


  • museum/library research
  • modern language study
  • archaeological fieldwork
  • internship
  • travel for research or conferences
  • complete French and German Reading Exams, deadline: 31 July
  • (complete retake of Comprehensive Exams, if needed, deadline: 15 August)

Year 3 (Funding: Service Obligations)


  • Annual Progress Report, due: 1 September
  • 4 courses or 3 courses
  • service obligation
  • set PhD Qualifying Projects, deadline: end of Reading Period


  • 4 courses or 3 courses
  • service obligation
  • work on PhD Qualifying Projects


  • submit PhD Qualifying Projects, deadline: 31 July
  • work on dissertation proposal and preliminary dissertation research

Year 4 (Funding: Service Obligations)


  • Annual Progress Report, due, 1 September 
  • approval of dissertation proposal, deadline: 15 September
  • dissertation proposal presentation in Department’s colloquium series
  • service obligation
  • research dissertation
  • begin writing dissertation
  • (resubmit PhD Qualifying Projects, if needed, deadline: 15 December)


  • research/writing dissertation
  • service obligation
  • (submit dissertation proposal following resubmission of PhD Qualifying Projects, if needed, deadline: 31 January)


  • research/writing dissertation
  • submit one dissertation chapter in order to be considered for 6th year funding, deadline: 31 August

Year 5 (Funding: Fellowship)


  • Annual Progress Report, due: 1 September
  • writing/revising dissertation
  • to be considered for 6th year funding one third of the dissertation submitted and approved, deadline: 31 December


  • writing/revising dissertation
  • apply for 6th year funding opportunities, if needed, deadline: 31 January
  • submit a completed draft of the dissertation (for May graduation), deadline: February
  • public presentation of dissertation results (for May graduation), deadline: March
  • dissertation defense (for May graduation), deadline: March
  • file dissertation according to Graduate School guidelines, deadline: 1 May (for typical May completion)
  • deposit hard/digital copies of the dissertation in the Department
  • degree conferred at Commencement, end of May (Sunday of Memorial Day weekend)

Summer (if Year 6 is needed) 

  • writing/revising dissertation

Year 6 (if needed) (Funding: Service Obligations)


  • Annual Progress Report, due: 1 September 
  • writing/revising dissertation
  • service obligation
  • For October graduation: file dissertation according to Graduate School guidelines, deadline: mid-September (Note: deadlines for submitting the completed draft, presenting results, and dissertation defense must be adjusted accordingly)


  • writing/revising dissertation
  • service obligation
  • For February graduation: file dissertation according to Graduate School guidelines, deadline: mid-January (Note: deadlines for submitting the completed draft, presenting results, and dissertation defense must be adjusted accordingly)
  • submit a completed draft of the dissertation (for May graduation), deadline: February
  • public presentation of dissertation results (for May graduation), deadline: March
  • dissertation defense (for May graduation), deadline: March
  • file dissertation according to Graduate School guidelines, deadline: 1 May (for typical May completion)
  • deposit hard/digital copies of the dissertation in the Department
  • degree conferred at Commencement, end of May (Sunday before Memorial Day)

Open Graduate Education Master’s program

Doctoral students at Brown University who are enrolled in another PhD program may obtain a master’s degree (AM) in Egyptology and Assyriology. This is generally undertaken through the Graduate School’s Open Graduate Education program.

            Course requirements: 8 courses, of which at least 3 must be 2000-level graduate seminars taught either in the Department (ASYR, EGYT) or by jointly appointed faculty in archaeology (ARCH). Of the 8 courses, at least 2 must be in either Egyptian or Akkadian language, and at least two must be on the history or archaeology of either Egypt or the ancient Near East. The remaining courses are to be chosen by the student in consultation with the DGS, who must approve all course selections used to fulfill the requirements of the master’s degree.

            Master’s project: Students must research and write a 5000-word paper on a topic of their choosing within the area of Egyptology and Assyriology. The aim of the paper is not necessarily to undertake original research, but rather for the student to demonstrate a sufficiently broad knowledge of the field, the ability to identify an appropriate research question, and the ability to find appropriate primary and secondary source material relevant to the topic. The project will be assessed by two faculty members in the Department.

            In all matters relating to double counting of courses between AM and PhD programs and related matters, the Department defers to University-wide policies and/or the policies of the student’s PhD department.

Space in the Department

The Department has a limited number of desks in offices that, conditions permitting, can be temporarily assigned for PhD students to share. Desk assignments for the coming academic year will be made during the summer months and will depend upon the availability of space in the Department. Priority will be given to students writing dissertations and to those students serving as teaching assistants or teaching fellows, but this policy should not be taken to mean that any students are guaranteed dedicated work space in the Department. Students should be aware that the assignment of a desk is a privilege, not a right, and that desk space can be revoked or reallocated as needed at any time. 

Additional Expectations

Graduate Students are expected to attend and participate in Department seminars and official events, and to assist in limited ways such as set up for weekly talks or conferences, or occasionally attending special events to represent the department.

Money Matters

Stipends are paid on the last business day of the month.  Newly accepted PhD students will receive transitional funding in mid-September.

Authorized Expense Reimbursements:

Expenses incurred by department graduate students which have been pre-approved by the department DGS, Chair and/or Manager must be presented for reimbursement within one month of the incurring of the expense or the end of travel. Submission must include purpose and, if international, Oanda currency conversion to US$. For multiple expenses the following are required:

  • A cover sheet listing name, date(s) and reason for expenditures, and location of event if applicable, as well as a listing of all expenses and the total requested as reimbursement.
  • The written prior authorization from each source of funding (or the denial of funding from an application for additional funding outside the department). Note the application for outside funding is required.
  • When applicable, an Oanda currency conversion of expenses to US Dollars (one per trip/currency is acceptable)
  • All detailed (not just summary) charge slips.  No alcohol or personal items will be reimbursed.
  • Flight information must include the full detailed itinerary (to show travel class designation) and must show the payment (or submit a copy of the credit card statement with the correlating charge).

Overseas Travel

Graduate students travelling overseas on Brown University business (e.g., for conferences, museum research, or fieldwork) are expected to register with the Brown University Global Assistance Program through International SOS. Instructions on how to do this may be found at:

Students should use TravelSafe:

Brown’s international travel registry TravelSafe is for Brown’s travelers to register their trips overseas. Information travelers provide regarding itinerary and emergency contacts will help the University account for their well-being and provide assistance in the event of an emergency.

Further information is given in the Graduate School Handbook: