Classical Studies B.A.

In pursuing a major in Classical Studies (Latin or ancient Greek), you explore the world of the ancient Greeks and Romans through the interdisciplinary study of language, literature, art, and history. Coming into direct contact with these civilizations is enjoyable and rewarding in itself.

Because these languages and cultures continue to be influential, studying them also deepens your understanding of contemporary social, political, and aesthetic issues.  When pursuing a major in Classical Studies, you work with faculty who are experts in their fields, thus giving you access to some of the latest research and discoveries.

A Classical Studies degree serves as a strong foundation for a professional career, preparing you to work in a variety of fields, such as law, medicine, journalism, business, and education. Many graduates earn fellowships to support graduate study in law, medicine, and the arts.

The Department of Classical Studies offers two majors leading to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree:

  • Classical Studies - Latin or Ancient Greek
  • Classical Civilization - Culture & Literature or Art & Archaeology

The Classical Studies major involves language study in either Latin or ancient Greek, as well as additional coursework exploring the origins and impact of classical civilization.

In contrast, the Classical Civilization major offers students with little or no knowledge of the Latin or ancient Greek languages the opportunity to study Roman and Greek cultures and learn more about the origins of Western traditions in literature, art, law, medicine, and intellectual life.

The department also offers minors in Ancient Greek, Classical Civilization, and Latin. Check your bulletin for more information about these minors.

Coursework

Getting started

Students should begin with CLAS-L 100: Elementary Latin I (if focusing on Latin), or CLAS-G 100: Elementary Greek I (if focusing on ancient Greek). If a student has previous Latin or ancient Greek language experience, then their language placement will depend on one of three factors: their online ALEKS placement test score, AP credit for Latin, or successful completion of an in-person placement test for ancient Greek.

Students might also consider an introductory civilization class on Latin or Greek Culture, classical mythology, or classical art and archaeology.

Tracks and concentrations

Classical Studies majors must choose to focus on either Latin or ancient Greek. However, students focusing on Latin may count some ancient Greek courses toward their required language hours and students focusing on ancient Greek may count some Latin courses toward their required hours. As a result, students often study both languages.

Classical Studies students may choose different paths as they study the ancient world and its languages. This allows a student to personalize their undergraduate major to emphasize topics that resonate with their unique interests while gaining a well-rounded understanding of the ancient Greeks and Romans through the study of language, literature, history, and art.

Upper level coursework

The B.A. major in Classical Studies allows you to choose from a variety of upper level courses. In addition to gaining in-depth knowledge of the language, students studying Latin may read the poetry of Catullus or learn about Caesar's influence as a cultural figure. Those who choose to study Greek may gain a better understanding of Greek tragedy in light of the social and cultural context of the time or may reflect on Homer's place in Greek culture through readings from the Iliad or Odyssey.

Another highlight of the Classical Studies program is the Senior Capstone course for majors (CLAS-C 494), which focuses on a different topic each fall semester. Examples include: Early Rome, Ancient Sexualities, Roman Family, the Trojan War, and the Athenian Aristocracy. Capstone courses give students the opportunity to deepen and expand their research interests.

Some students continue their research by completing an Honors thesis to earn departmental honors in Classical Studies. After graduation, many career paths are open to Classical Studies majors both in the field of Classical Studies and beyond.

An academic advisor will help you select courses and capstone experiences that best suit your interests.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

You might wish to complement your Latin or Greek coursework with a double major, second degree, minor, or certificate in a different subject area. Talk with an academic advisor to consider your options.

Some language students pursue double majors in Anthropology, Art History, Classical Civilization, English, History, Political Science, or Religious Studies. Classics majors can also pursue a dual degree in a science-related discipline. For example, some students choose to pursue a B.S. degree in Biology or Chemistry along with their Classics coursework.

Commonly pursued minors include those from the departments listed above, as well as ItalianEuropean Studies, and Philosophy. The department also actively supports pursuing a minor or certificate in Medieval Studies, which helps students to expand their knowledge of the Middle Ages.  Check your bulletin for more information about these minors.

While it is possible to teach in some private schools without formal certification, many majors go on to teach Latin in a public school setting where state certification will be required. You can complete the courses required for public school certification at the IU School of Education while you work on your Latin major. Another option is to earn certification after you finish your B.A. through the Transition to Teaching program, also offered through the IU School of Education.

Some Classics students also complete pre-law, pre-medical, or other pre-health professions requirements. Please consider visiting the Health Professions and Prelaw Center for more information.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a Classical Studies major, you have the opportunity to work with faculty members who have expertise and experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Students have a wide range of topics to consider once the required courses are completed. The department offers a number of interdisciplinary undergraduate courses, as well as opportunities to work one-on-one with faculty mentors.

You'll benefit from a personal mentoring relationship with a faculty member and interaction with other highly motivated undergraduate and graduate students. The Department of Classical Studies has a diverse faculty, offering a wide range of courses in ancient Greek and Latin languages, literature, art, archaeology, and civilization.

As your interests develop, you might want to take an individual readings course under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Talk with an academic advisor or your instructors about signing up for an independent study course.

Honors

Outstanding students may apply to the departmental honors program during their junior year and write their thesis during their senior year. Students may be nominated by a faculty member or may nominate themselves.

Acceptance into the Honors program is made by the Honors Advisor and the Undergraduate Committee. Once accepted, students identify an area of interest and then work with a faculty advisor to define an appropriate topic and to develop a plan for research and writing.

High-achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Every year, the Department of Classical Studies awards scholarships to majors in support of their studies here on the Bloomington campus or while travelling or studying abroad in Rome or Greece.

You may be eligible to apply for more than one of these awards, so please refer to the scholarship descriptions for eligibility requirements. For details and application deadlines, contact the department or the academic advisor.

In addition to departmental scholarships, there are a number of local and national grant competitions open to majors in Classical Studies:

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

An internship can be a good way to develop your knowledge of the ancient world through practical experience in teaching or museum work.

If your work meets the department's requirements, you could earn academic credit by registering for CLAS-X 473 Internship in Classical Studies (1-3 cr.) in the semester when you do your internship. Some internships can also be counted towards your major in Classical Studies.

Previous students have found internship and archaeological fieldwork opportunities with organizations such as these:

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

Classical Studies majors must choose to focus on the study of either Latin or Ancient Greek, but many classics students elect to study both languages.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages.

Here is a partial list of foreign language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Have you seen pictures of Greek and Roman temples in your classes or read about gladiators fighting in the Colosseum? Ever wondered how those Mediterranean breezes felt to Odysseus as he sailed from Troy, or whether you could see the snow on Soracte from Rome?  Experience Athens and Rome for yourself!

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in our increasingly interconnected world. Classical Studies students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following exchange programs:

College Year in Athens - Greece

ICCS - Rome

American School of Classical Studies in Athens - Greece (summer)

Whether in the summer or during the semester, the Department of Classical Studies offers scholarships that support study and travel abroad.

Classical Studies majors have visited museums in Crete and mainland Greece to examine representations of humans in a variety of artistic forms. They have excavated some of the planet's oldest hominid remains at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, walked through the ancient forum in Rome with the prestigious ICCS program, and participated in the College Year in Athens program, among other experiences.

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty that might be right for you.  Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Classical Studies faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Here are some groups of interest to Classical Studies majors:

Explore beINvolved to get connected to any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Students and alumni who wish to get involved with a professional organization may be interested in the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, the Archaeological Institute of America, or the Society for Classical Studies.

Many of our majors (maybe even you!) participate in Junior Classical League, and as members of the Senior Classical League, there is a robust network of alumni who can help you run a Certamen or judge performances while building up your own resume.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The major in Classical Studies provides students with a set of skills that are relevant and transferable to many areas of work and study. These include:

  • Analytical problem solving and critical thinking skills through the study of ancient language and culture
  • Approaches for organizing information and making sense of the historical contexts that continue to inform our daily lives
  • Communication skills that enable you to write and speak effectively
  • Ability to conduct and present independent research
  • An enhanced vocabulary and understanding of English words with Latin and Greek roots
  • Reading and writing competency in Latin and/or Ancient Greek

Should you wish to apply to graduate school, law school, or medical school, a set of courses can be chosen that provide a solid foundation for the GRE, LSAT, or MCAT.

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career coaches about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your time at IU. Classical Studies students should consider taking ASCS-Q296 College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience. This course provides the opportunity for students to explore the relationship between their chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success.

The job market

A B.A. major in Classical Studies can set you apart from other candidates. After college, Classics majors go on to professional careers in a variety of fields such as law, medicine, journalism, business, or education.

Those who choose to enter the work force right after graduation often seek employment in business, publishing and journalism, museum and arts administration, or education. Many leading firms and employers recruit liberal arts majors, including classicists, because these fields develop the analytical and communication skills that are vital for success. Beyond the B.A., there are several options for post-graduate opportunities, including the Master of Arts in Teaching, a Ph.D. in Classics or a related field, law school, or a professional health program.

Initial and long-term destinations for graduates include positions in many job sectors:  federal and state government, military or civil service, non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, the cooperative job sector, education, research and policy think tanks, banking, and business.

Talk with Classical Studies faculty, the academic advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Classical Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center’s First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Teaching positions give you a chance to hone language and communication skills. Find international English teaching jobs through organizations such as Center for International Education ExchangeInstitute of International Education, and LanguageCorps.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Good resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Classical Studies major will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as education, foreign languages and literatures, journalism, arts administration, non-profit management, arts management, and business.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other professional programs.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Classical Studies have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, legal firms, medical disciplines, corporations, and publishing companies.

Here are examples of graduate programs offered at IU:

Alumni connections

Talk with Classical Studies faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.  Stay connected with IU Classical Studies alumni by visiting the website, or reading the alumni newsletter.

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni.  Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts +Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The major in Classical Studies attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. Students who choose to study Latin or ancient Greek Languages and Cultures typically possess some of the following qualities:

  • A strong interest in exploring the languages and cultures of the ancient world
  • A desire to study many different facets of the cultures of ancient Rome and Greece, including their literature, mythology, history, art, and architecture
  • An aspiration to pursue a career in medicinelaw, business, education, journalism, or the arts
  • A desire to study abroad, travel, or participate in archaeological work around the Mediterranean
  • An interest in the Indiana University Bloomington campus, which offers a rich array of cultural opportunities, from an Art Museum with a fine collection of Roman and Greek art to performances at the IU Opera and Ballet Theater, which often draw on classical works

Learn more

Contact the Classical Studies academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
clasadv@iu.edu