Medieval Studies Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

Medieval Studies

Program Description

The Graduate Field of Medieval Studies provides students with interdisciplinary training in the broad geographical, chronological, and disciplinary expanse of medieval cultures, languages, and literatures, while providing discipline-specific training characteristic of more traditional departments. The Program features a flexible curriculum tailored to the needs of individual students; minimal shared degree requirements include a seminar on research methods, reading knowledge of a medieval language (generally Latin but Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, or other non-European are included) and two modern research languages (other than English), and paleographical training in the requisite medieval language. See our Procedural Guide for more detailed information.

Our diversity of faculty attracts exceptional graduate students from all areas of Medieval Studies and guides them to dissertations on a broad range of literatures, disciplines, contexts, and approaches. Work in primary archival materials—and the related fields of paleography, codicology, and textual criticism—is well supported by abundant library resources, as well as by faculty dedicated to these fields. Work in gender and sexuality studies, issues of race, ethnicity, and class, medieval and modern literary theory, archaeology and material culture, and the post-medieval reception, use, and abuse of the “Middle Ages” is also well supported by Program faculty and supplemented by the full array of other Departments and Programs at Cornell.  Resources for studying Latin and most medieval vernacular languages (including Celtic, East Asian, Germanic, Romance, Semitic, and Slavonic languages) are a mainstay of the Program.

Students from many other doctoral programs at Cornell are closely involved in the Medieval Studies Program, which cultivates a lively and varied community of medievalists that spans Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences. In turn, students in Medieval Studies may work with any faculty members in Cornell’s Graduate Field and pursue any courses pertinent to their training and research. Traditional coursework and seminars are supplemented by formal and informal reading groups, independent studies, regular lectures and workshops from visiting scholars, and the annual Medieval Studies Student Colloquium.

The program does not ordinarily admit students seeking a terminal M.A. degree. Ph.D. degree candidates are granted the M.A. degree after successful completion of course work and the general field exams.

Contact Information

Phone: 607 255-8545

259 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • medieval archaeology
  • medieval art
  • medieval history
  • medieval literature
  • medieval music
  • medieval philology and linguistics
  • medieval philosophy


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Jan. 15; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

Ideally, an undergraduate major in one of the participating disciplines, including college-level Latin (or another medieval language, as appropriate) and modern research languages, should precede graduate concentration in this field. All applicants are required to submit a 20-page writing sample on a medieval topic and three letters of recommendation. For additional information, visit our website.

Learning Outcomes

The Graduate Field of Medieval Studies trains Ph.D. students to conduct interdisciplinary research with a focus on an area of specialization. The Field fosters students’ wholehearted engagement with integrating relevant materials and approaches from across the disciplinary spectrum into a personal research vision.

When students complete the Ph.D., they should be able to:

  1. make an original and substantial contribution to the field.
  2. demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of one major concentration within the field.
  3. have a broad knowledge of research and theory across three or more concentrations, comprising a major concentration and two or more minor ones (which may include one minor concentration from another Graduate Field outside Medieval Studies). At least one minor concentration should be in a discipline different from that of the student’s major concentration.
  4. demonstrate working proficiency in at least one major medieval language (typically Latin) and two major modern research languages.
  5. communicate research findings effectively in written and in spoken presentations.
  6. demonstrate effective skills in undergraduate teaching and potential for graduate teaching.