Majors in Classics or Classic Civilization

The Major in Classics or Classical Civilization

The Temple at DelphiThe Department of Classical Studies offers two major programs: Classics and Classical Civilization. The Classics major combines work in both Greek and Latin with coursework in English on the history, literature, society, and material culture of the ancient world. The Classical Civilization major requires the study of either Greek or Latin, together with coursework in English on different aspects of the ancient world. Classes in Greek and Latin are conducted in English and encourage close analysis of the ancient texts, with emphasis on their literary and historical values.

Students interested in studying classical archaeology can do so within either the Classics or Classical Civilization majors. Students wishing to pursue graduate work in Classics should plan to take coursework in both Greek and Latin at the 300 level and to begin the study of German, French, or Italian.

The Classical Studies Department offers students the opportunity to explore the ancient world through an integrated, cohesive program of courses worked out by the student and her advisor (a faculty member of her choice or the department chair). Individual programs are tailored to meet students’ specific interests, such as classical literature, archaeology, ancient theater, ancient philosophy, law, political theory, ancient religion, material culture, and the classical tradition.

The goals of both the Classics and Classical Civilization Major are:

  • To develop the ability to read and interpret texts in Greek and/or Latin.
  • To work with primary texts and/or artifacts to develop an understanding of the historical, political, and cultural worlds of ancient Greece and Rome on their own terms.
  • To develop and use appropriate critical reasoning skills in the analysis and interpretation of classical antiquity.

The department reserves the right to place a new student in the course for which she seems best prepared regardless of the number of units she has offered for admission. The department requires its own placement test for students interested in enrolling in Latin courses other than LAT 101/102.

Requirements for the Majors in Classics and Classical Civilization

Classics: Ten units are required for the major in Classics, in two groups. Group 1: Language: Students majoring in Classics must do work in both Greek and Latin, totaling six units. At least two of these units must be at the 300 level, and no more than two 100 level courses will count toward the language requirement of the major. Group 2: Courses in Classical Civilization: In addition, Classics majors must complete four Classical Civilization courses (or approved courses from related departments), chosen in consultation with and with the approval of their faculty Major Advisor to create a coherent but broad program of study. At least two of those four courses must be in Classical Civilization and no more than one can be at the 100-level.

Classical Civilization: Ten units are required for the major in Classical Civilization, in two groups. Group 1: Language: Students majoring in Classical Civilization must complete four units in either Greek or Latin (or two 300-level units). Group 2: Courses in Classical Civilization or further courses in Greek or Latin (or approved courses from related departments): Classical Civilization majors must take courses including one unit each in at least two of the following three areas: literature; material culture; history and society. At least two of the units must be at the 300 level, one of which must be in CLCV or Greek or Latin. Courses in ancient history, ancient art, ancient philosophy, and classical civilization are recommended as valuable related work.


The Department of Classical Studies offers honors programs in both Classics and Classical Civilization (and in Greek or Latin for students entering before 2010). The only route to honors in either major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100-level; the department may petition on her behalf if her GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.

Teacher Certification

Students interested in obtaining certification to teach Latin and classical humanities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts should consult the department chair and the chair of the Department of Education.

Advanced Placement Policies and Language Requirement

A student entering Wellesley must have an Advanced Placement score of 5 or an SATII score of 690 to satisfy the foreign language requirement. AP courses will not be counted toward either major offered by the Classical Studies department. All students who wish to elect a 200-level or higher Latin course must take Wellesley’s Latin placement examination. The department reserves the right to place a new student in the language course for which she seems best prepared regardless of her AP score or the number of units she has offered for admission.

Study Abroad

Qualified students are encouraged to spend a semester, usually in the junior year, on study abroad. Excellent programs are available in Rome and Athens.

Special Opportunities

Limited departmental funds are available to support special opportunities for Classics-related research and travel.

Related Courses

Attention Called:
ARTS 107 Book Arts Studio

For Credit Toward the Classics Major and the Classical Civilization Major:

ANTH 206 Archaeology
ANTH 242 Civilization and Barbarism during the Bronze Age, 3500–2000 B.C.E.

ARTH 100 Introduction to the History of Art Part I: Ancient and Medieval Art
ARTH 100/WRIT 125 Introduction to the History of Art Part I: Ancient and Medieval Art
ARTH 241 Egyptian Art and Archaeology
ARTH 242 Life, Love, and Art in Ancient Greece
ARTH 243 Roman Art and the Roman Empire

HEBR 201-202 Intermediate Hebrew

HIST 200 Roots of the Western Tradition
HIST 228 Swords and Sandals
HIST 229/329 Alexander the Great: Psychopath or Philosopher King
HIST 230 Greek History from the Bronze Age to the Death of Philip II of Macedon
HIST 231 History of Rome

ITAL 263 Dante (in English)

PHIL 201 Ancient Greek Philosophy
PHIL 310 Seminar: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (if on ancient topic)

POL4 240 Classical and Medieval Political Theory

REL 104 Study of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament
REL 105 Study of the New Testament
REL 211 Jesus of Nazareth
REL 243 Women in the Biblical World
REL 244 Jerusalem: The Holy City
REL 298 New Testament Greek (also for the Greek Major)
REL 308 Seminar. Paul's Letter to the Romans
REL 310 Seminar. Mark, the Earliest Gospel
REL 342 Seminar. Archaeology of the Biblical World

WRIT 125/ARTH 100 Introduction to the History of Art Part I: Ancient and Medieval Art

Contact Us

Contact Us


Classical Studies


Wellesley College
Wellesley, MA 02481
Tel: 781.283.2630


For administrative questions:
Nancy Giusti

For academic questions:
Ray Starr
Department Chair

You can always stop by the department in Founders 302 with or without an appointment.

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