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Increasing the diversity of graduate students in Classics: The University of Michigan’s Bridge M.A. and Bridge to the Ph.D Programs

Sara Ahbel-Rappe and Sierra P. Jones

University of Michigan

The Bridge to the Ph.D., a two year-old program at the University of Michigan, is designed to increase the diversity of graduate students in Classics and related disciplines. In 2017, 35% of the incoming First Year class at the University of Michigan identified as something other than “white, Caucasian.” Students and faculty in the Classical Studies program are even less diverse, a fact which can discourage students of color from enrolling since it sends the message that the study Greece, Rome, and the Greco-Roman cultural legacy is not for them.

When a student encounters ancient history, archaeology, or classical receptions as a Sophomore or Junior in college, there is little time to achieve proficiency in the Ancient languages that would enable graduate study. For many of these students, post-baccalaureate programs are a necessary prerequisite to graduate, but prohibitively expensive since they must be financed from private funds. The Bridge M.A. provides an affordable way for underrepresented students to strengthen their language skills and prepare for doctoral-level work in Classical Studies.

This presentation will outline the way the Bridge program opens doors to doctoral programs in Classics for students who would otherwise be excluded because of financial hardship and other barriers. A Bridge student will participate in this presentation to discuss her experience as a person of color who studied Classics through Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars Program (MICHHERS) in 2018. We will discuss how to support students’ academic growth and personal wellness through access, equity, and inclusion, the core values of the Bridge Program. While these strategies are geared towards graduate students preparing for PhDs, they are applicable to any educator or institution committed to expanding inclusivity in Classical Studies.


Session/Panel Title

If Classics is for Everybody Why Isn't Everybody in My Class?

Session/Paper Number


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