The Designated Emphasis (DE) in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies offers students comprehensive training in a wide range of disciplines, fosters cutting-edge research, and provides opportunities for close collaboration with faculty across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.


Only students currently enrolled in doctoral programs at UC Berkeley who have not yet taken their qualifying examinations are eligible to apply for the DE in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.


Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. The application consists of the following:

  • The completed application form;
  • A short statement (500-1000 words) that explains the student’s rationale for applying to the DE and describes relevant coursework or other preparation;
  • A current CV;
  • A writing sample (no longer than 20 pages);
  • The name and email address of a UC Berkeley faculty member who knows the student’s work well and will support their application to the DE.

Applications and supporting materials should be sent via email to the Head Graduate Advisor, Prof. Kristin Primus (



REMS students entering the program after 2023 will be required to take three courses: two core courses and one elective course. Courses not on the list of pre-approved REMS courses must be approved by the Head Graduate Advisor.

  • Critical Approaches and Methodology Core Course: this course must engage with diverse disciplines, interpretive traditions, bibliographical resources, and scholarly practices (e.g., paleography, iconology, history of the book, philology).
  • Intellectual History Core Course: this course must focus on major texts, artists, authors, and themes (e.g., humanism, the Reformation, the Baroque, Machiavellianism, courtliness, colonialism).
  • The elective course must be a graduate-level course outside the student’s home department.

Language requirement

REMS students must demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English (typically Latin, but can be another language, depending on the student’s dissertation project). The language requirement may be satisfied by taking an upper-division language course, by previous coursework, or by a translation exam. Courses taken to satisfy the language requirement will not count as an elective course.

Qualifying Exam

To qualify for the DE, students must have at least one faculty member affiliated with REMS on their Qualifying Exam committee and must be examined in a field within Renaissance and Early Modern Studies. Students must receive written approval of the field from the Head Graduate Advisor before taking the QE.


The dissertation must include research in an interdisciplinary field of knowledge within the DE. This research may take several forms, which will vary from student to student: for instance, students might analyze texts that are outside the normal purview of their home departments, or they might apply interdisciplinary knowledge that has been obtained through study within the DE. The dissertation committee must include at least one faculty member affiliated with the DE, and the committee should be formed in consultation with the Head Graduate Advisor.


Upon successful completion of the dissertation, the student’s transcript and diploma will include the designation, “Ph.D. in ––­–––––––––– with a Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.”

For more information on DE policies and procedures, please click here.

Contact information

Director of the Designated Emphasis in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies:
Diego Pirillo, Italian (

Head Graduate Advisor:
Kristin Primus, Philosophy (

Graduate Student Services Advisor:
April Sanders, English (gradadvisor­