BA in Classical Civilization

For more than 2,000 years, classical civilization has influenced the institutions, languages, literature, and arts of many nations. Indeed, the ancient Greeks and Romans created much of the political and intellectual questioning still with us today. To take only one example, the US Constitution rested in part on the founders’ deep respect for the literature and history of ancient Greece and Rome. The study of classics therefore provides access to the thoughts, achievements, and ways of life of the ancient Greeks and Romans, but also treats material relevant to the study of many cultures across the ages.

It is also true that some elements of the classical world are abhorrent, such as the institution of slavery, to take an obvious example. The study of classics, then, does not entail mindless admiration for the “greats” of the past; on the contrary, it fosters critical investigation of that past in all of its glory and all of its problems. We also seek to acknowledge and confront the abuse of the classical tradition by those who have enlisted it to promote racism and elitism. Through our courses, students will engage with some of the most profound thinkers and writers of human history, but they will also learn about the contributions of the “forgotten” voices from the past, of enslaved people, of women, of conquered foreigners, and of other marginalized peoples.

A major in Classical Civilization provides a superb foundation for students interested in comparative literature, archaeology, linguistics, philosophy, religion, and a wide range of other humanistic disciplines; it also provides a solid foundation for law school or medical school. Many of our majors use their classical studies degree as a foundation for careers in other fields, such as law, business, medicine, or communications. The classical studies major teaches students to read, write, and think clearly and enables them to deal from a critical perspective with the ethical and moral issues raised by a professional career.

Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in Classical Civilization should be able to:

  • Demonstrate broad understanding of the history and culture of ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Read with comprehension works of Ancient Greek and/or Latin poetry and prose, either in the original or in English translation, demonstrating understanding of genre, style, and cultural context.
  • Communicate clearly and persuasively, both orally and in writing, ideas about the ancient world and its products.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the influence of classical culture on other historical periods.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in any area of classical studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy most BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic & Historical Interpretation and the Intellectual Toolkit, as well as some requirements in Diversity, Civic Engagement & Global Citizenship and Communication. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Classical Civilization majors will also satisfy College of Arts & Sciences requirements, described here.

A major in Classical Civilization requires a minimum of ten 4-credit courses*. The requirements are as follows:

  • CAS CL 101 or CAS CL 321 or CAS CG 101
  • CAS CL 102 or CAS CL 322
  • Five courses in classical civilization, classical languages, and/or Modern Greek (CAS CG courses)
  • Two courses focusing on classical literature (either in translation or in the original language)
  • One additional classical studies course, at the 400 level or higher, in either a classical language or a topic in classical civilization or history

With permission of the faculty advisor, up to two related courses from other departments may be counted toward this major. Refer to the list of Related Courses recommended by the department.

Core Curriculum Courses

Students who complete both of the following courses may, with advisor approval, receive credit for one course at the 200 level toward a major in classical studies:

  • CAS CC 101
  • CAS CC 102


*Required courses are divided into four categories: classical civilization (words read in translation), Ancient Greek, Modern Greek, and Latin. Refer to the Classical Studies programs section of this Bulletin for the full list of courses and their categories that may be used to fulfill the requirements stated above and for information on the CAS foreign language requirement for classics majors and minors.

Honors in the Major

The department encourages work towards graduation with Honors in the Major. For students majoring in Classical Civilization, the primary requirement is successful completion of a two-semester program of directed research and writing in their senior year, culminating in an honors thesis and oral defense with a minimum of two examiners. The thesis should exhibit knowledge of primary and secondary sources, with bibliography (if a research paper), or the equivalent at the discretion of the readers, and ordinarily it should not exceed 10,000 words. For students completing a written honors project, the submission of a detailed outline by the end of the fall semester is also required.

In order to qualify for any of these honors tracks, students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 and a department GPA of no less than 3.4, must submit an application to their Faculty Project Advisor in the spring of their junior year, and must have approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies and Department Chair.