Academic Programs

Like many disciplines in the liberal arts, Classics provides a rigorous environment to improve critical thinking and communication. Studying Latin and Greek in particular equips students with a greater facility in understanding the potential and limitations of language.

Studying Classics has helped prepare our graduates for a number of different careers after graduation. Some have pursued advanced degrees in Classics or related fields (e.g. Archaeology and Religion); others have studied medicine, public policy, dentistry, or law; still others have chosen careers in journalism, in business, in publishing, in social work, in museum curatorship, and in secondary education.


All Majors join the other departmental majors in the Senior Seminar, in which they gain an acquaintance with several current issues and approaches in the field, learn about research techniques and resources, and have an opportunity to carry out original research on a topic of their choice under the supervision of the appropriate member of the Haverford or Bryn Mawr department.

Classical Culture & Society Major

This major is intended for students with a broad interest in the ancient Greco-Roman world. It is designed to allow the student to use a strong foundation in Greek or Latin as the springboard for a focused study of the culture and society of classical antiquity, concentrating in one of the following areas: archaeology and art history, philosophy and religion, literature and the classical tradition, history and society.

Classical Culture & Society Major Requirements

  • Two semesters of either Latin or Greek beyond the introductory level.
  • One course in Greek or Roman history.
  • Three courses, at least two of which must be at the 200 level or above, in an area of concentration (archaeology and art history, history and society, literature and the classical tradition, philosophy and religion).
  • Three electives in classical studies, at least one of them (except in the case of History and Society concentrators) drawn from courses in History and Society.
  • Completion of the Major's Reading List
  • Senior Experience (398a/399b).

Classical Languages Major

The major in Classical Languages is designed to give students a solid grounding in both Greek and Latin and to introduce them to a variety of texts and genres studied in relation to their literary, historical, and philosophical contexts.

Classical Languages Major Requirements

Greek or Latin Major

Students who major in Greek or Latin pursue an intensive curriculum in one of the two languages, and in addition do work at the advanced level in an allied field which might itself be Classical Studies, but might also be English or another language, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Religion, History, Art History, Archaeology, or Music—indeed, almost any discipline that the student can connect to his or her intellectual interests as complementary of his or her language studies.

Greek or Latin Major Requirements

  • Six semester courses beyond the elementary level in one ancient language, of which at least four must be at the 200 level or above.
  • A minimum of three semester courses beyond the introductory level in a related field (e.g. another language, Archaeology, Comparative Literature, English, History, Religion, Philosophy). Equivalent courses may be taken at Bryn Mawr College.
  • Completion of the Major's Reading List
  • Senior Experience (398a/399b).


Haverford students often pursue coursework and research on the material culture of the ancient world within one of our major programs. Our students may also complete a major or minor in Archaeology or a component of a concentration in geoarchaeology through the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology at Bryn Mawr.

The Archaeology program is interdisciplinary and encourages students to take advantage of related offerings in Departments of Anthropology, Classics, Geology, History, History of Art, and the Program in the Growth and Structure of Cities. The Ella Riegel Memorial Collection of over 6,000 artifacts is used in instruction. In collaboration with the Departments of Geology, Biology and Anthropology, a concentration in Geoarchaeology is offered together with coursework and laboratory training in Geographic Information Systems.


Minoring in Classical Culture & Society

Six courses drawn from the range of courses counted towards the Classical Culture and Society major are required. Of these, two must be in Greek or Latin at the 100 level or above and at least one must be in Classical Culture and Society at the 200 level or above.


Six semester courses in the language, of which at least two must be at the 200 level or above; the number of required courses may be reduced for those who are already beyond the elementary level when they begin the minor.


Six semester courses in the language, of which at least two must be at the 200 level or above; the number of required courses may be reduced for those who are already beyond the elementary level when they begin the minor.

Learning Goals

  • Students will learn ancient Greek or Latin (or both), cultivating an urgent connoisseurship of the word while acquiring the power to analyze and interpret the foundational texts of western philosophy, history, oratory, fiction, and poetry in their original forms.
  • Students will master thought-provoking and influential texts from antiquity, connecting with “this rich source of delight” (Thomas Jefferson) and considering the benefits of the canon — and its dangers.
  • Students will learn to read carefully, deeply, looking cautiously to vital context, with reservations and appreciation of crucial detail, in dialogue with others and with confidence in their own insights, with doors left open, with delicate fingers and eyes (see Nietzsche, Daybreak 1881).
  • Students will confront the most persistent questions about the nature of the human condition, heeding the Socratic warning that “the unexamined life is not worth living” (ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ, Plato, Apology 38a).
  • Students will carry their education with them, becoming speakers of words and doers of deeds (μύθων τε ῥητῆρ’ ἔμεναι πρηκτῆρά τε ἔργων, Homer, Iliad 9.443), striving to become human beings to whom nothing human is foreign (homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto, Terence, HT 77).
  • Students will not strive to amass a cache of the trivial or ephemeral but will forge a community of learning in partnership with faculty and students in the full spirit of Haverford’s motto (non doctior sed meliore doctrina imbutus).
  • Students will, at the culmination of their studies, answer an important question about classical culture or its reception with theoretical rigor, in dialogue with the work of other scholars, and under the auspices of a faculty Mentor.

Senior Experience & Thesis

The senior experience in the Department of Classics builds towards the writing of a senior thesis (typically 35 to 45 pages) on a topic of the student's choice, under the guidance of two faculty members.

Senior Seminar, a collaboratively taught, weekly course conducted during the fall semester, provides a forum in which students are introduced to a variety of theoretical approaches, further develop the ability to read and critique scholarship, and learn about resources for research in the field; it also gives them an opportunity to craft an interesting and appropriate question that they will explore in the thesis they write during the spring semester.

Goals for the senior thesis

In the process of writing the senior thesis, students should acquire and demonstrate:

  • The ability to craft an interesting and appropriate question in order to make a new contribution to the field of Classics.
  • The ability to read relevant ancient texts, in the original languages as appropriate, and to discuss and analyze classical culture.
  • A familiarity with relevant modern scholarship and engagement with the methods and standards of the discipline of Classics
  • The ability to develop an article-length paper, consisting of original work, under the mentorship of two faculty

Thesis assessment

The thesis is evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Formulation of the question and of the thesis that emerges.
  • Familiarity with and understanding of primary texts
  • Originality of approach and/or conclusions
  • Use of evidence
  • Logical development of argument
  • Clarity of writing
  • Degree to which the thesis is grounded in current knowledge about antiquity, demonstrates understanding of relevant methodological and theoretical issues, and meets the standards of the discipline of Classics.


Students demonstrating superior performance in course work in the major and on the senior thesis will be eligible for Departmental Honors. To qualify for Honors, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.7 in their major courses (3.85 for High Honors) and earn a grade of at least 3.7 on the senior thesis (3.85 for High Honors).

Study Abroad

The Classics Department encourages its students to study abroad in Greece or Italy, usually for a semester in their junior year. Students interested in studying abroad should talk to a member of the Classics faculty. For further information about studying abroad at Haverford, visit the Study Abroad website.

Summaries of the most popular programs in Greece and Italy include:

College Year in Athens

College Year in Athens, or CYA, is a study abroad program focused upon the history and civilization of Greece and the East Mediterranean region. Its mission is to offer each student an academically rigorous program of studies combined with the vibrant experience of day-to-day contact with people, monuments, and landscape of Greece.

Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome

At the "Centro" students can study Latin, Greek, Italian, art history, and the ancient city in Rome; they also take field trips in Rome, Pompeii, and Sicily.

Students planning on studying abroad at the Centro are strongly encouraged to take Roman History (or equivalent) before applying.