The University of Florida has awarded the nation’s first doctor of philosophy degree in classical studies pursued online. David McClister of Tampa successfully defended his dissertation on Feb. 11 and is set to graduate during UF’s next commencement ceremony in May.
The classical studies distance learning graduate program was established at the University of Florida in 2001 to address the needs of Latin teachers nationwide. It is the only program of its kind in the nation and is the only online doctor of philosophy offered at the university. The College of Pharmacy has awarded 1,245 doctor of pharmacy degrees online since 1994, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Public Health and Health Professions have awarded 1,164 doctor of audiology degrees online since 1998.
McClister enrolled in the program in 2003. As a father of four children and a full-time professor of biblical studies at Florida College, McClister said the program allowed him to pursue the highest degree attainable in his field without putting his life on hold.
“I was already in a tenure-track position at Florida College and knew that progress toward a doctoral degree would be an important part of my tenure application,” McClister said. “However, taking a leave of absence for a couple of years and moving away was simply not going to be feasible either for the department or for my family. I needed an arrangement where I could work toward an advanced degree and at the same time continue teaching and not disrupt our family life too much.”
For his doctoral research, McClister studied the Greek works of Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote during Rome’s first century.
“David has produced an excellent and truly original dissertation exploring primarily how and why Josephus constructs Jewish identity, and also the way this construction of ethnicity interacts with other dominant Mediterranean cultures such as the Greeks and the Romans,” said associate professor of classics Konstantinos Kapparis, who served as McClister’s faculty adviser. “I was impressed by the high standard of his work.”
McClister plans to continue teaching at Florida College and hopes to publish his dissertation, as well as future research. He has a bachelor’s degree in classical civilization and a master’s degree in biblical studies from Loyola University, Chicago.
For more information on the program, visit http://www.classics.ufl.edu/distance/intro.html.