BA in Classical Civilization

The Classical Civilization major gives students a broad understanding of what was done, written, said, and thought in the ancient Mediterranean world. Through the study of the founding cultures of the Western world, students explore issues of enduring importance in ethics, politics, art, literature, and history; they consider how later ages interpreted and utilized the classical tradition; and they reflect on the continuing relevance of past to present. Introductory courses in ancient civilization and history provide a foundation for more advanced courses responding to students’ particular interests, such as in literature, religion, myth, history, gender, or language. This major provides an excellent foundation for students interested in archaeology, mythology and religion, philosophy, history, and a wide range of other humanistic disciplines, as well as providing a solid foundation for law school or medical school.

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 first-year, first-time students will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in any area of classical studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy many BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic & Historical Interpretation; Diversity, Civic Engagement & Global Citizenship; and most of the requirements in Communication and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

Classical Studies 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 The World of Greece or CL 321 Greek History (formerly CL 221)
  • CAS CL 102 The World of Rome or CL 322 Roman History (formerly CL 222)
  • Five courses in classical civilization and/or classical languages
  • 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.


*Required courses are divided into four categories: classical civilization, 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.