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The classical humanities major allows students to combine their love of ancient language with the exploration of the literature, civilization, and culture of Greece, Rome, and the Ancient Near East.  

Students study Greek, Latin, or Biblical Hebrew in two- or four-semester combinations, and they choose from a wide selection of complementary courses, including topics in art, architecture, archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, and politics. In addition to supporting their language study, these subjects enable our majors to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the ancient world.

To support classical humanities majors as they pursue their educational goals, CANES provides annual scholarship opportunities. We also offer a summer study abroad program led by members of our faculty. Learn more under "Resources and Scholarships."

Declare the Classical Humanities major by making an appointment to meet with the CANES advisor using Starfish.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 86th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

The Classical Humanities major consists of a combination of courses in ancient culture and classical languages. The major requirements are divided into three areas: Language, Literature and Culture, and Seminar. 

Students typically earn 32–34 credits from these three areas to complete the major requirements; 18 credits are required in the Literature and Culture, and Seminar categories. The requirements for the major are:

Language

Complete one of the following language tracks: 1 
4 semesters of Greek14 credits
Elementary Ancient Greek
and Second Semester Greek
and Intermediate Greek
and Intermediate Greek
4 semesters of Latin (LATIN 391 may be substituted for LATIN 103 & LATIN 104)16 credits
Elementary Latin
and Elementary Latin
and Intermediate Latin
and Introduction to Latin Literature
4 semesters of Hebrew-Bible
HEBR-BIB 103
HEBR-BIB 104
HEBR-BIB 323
HEBR-BIB 324
Elementary Biblical Hebrew, I
and Elementary Biblical Hebrew, II
and Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, I
and Intermediate Biblical Hebrew, II
16
2 semesters of Greek, 2 semesters of Latin (LATIN 391 may be substituted for LATIN 103 & LATIN 104)16 credits
Elementary Ancient Greek
and Second Semester Greek
and Elementary Latin
and Elementary Latin
2 semesters of Hebrew–Bible, 2 semesters of Greek16 credits
Elementary Biblical Hebrew, I
and Elementary Biblical Hebrew, II
and Elementary Ancient Greek
and Second Semester Greek
2 semesters of Hebrew–Bible, 2 semesters of Latin (LATIN 391 may be substituted for LATIN 103 & LATIN 104)16 credits
Elementary Biblical Hebrew, I
and Elementary Biblical Hebrew, II
and Elementary Latin
and Elementary Latin

Literature and Culture

15 credits as follows:

CLASSICS courses numbered 300 and above, select from:9
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome
The Greeks
The Egyptians: History, Society, and Literature
The Romans
Ancient Epic
Prophets of the Bible
King David in History and Tradition
Conspiracy in the Ancient and Modern Worlds
Jewish Literature of the Greco-Roman Period
Rome: The Changing Shape of the Eternal City
Women and Gender in the Classical World
Sex and Power in Greece and Rome
Classical Mythology
Topics in Greek Culture
Topics in Roman Culture
Topics in Classical Culture
Love Poetry of the Ancient Mediterranean
Ancient Texts, Modern Contexts
Topics in Classical Archaeology
Biblical Archaeology
Biblical Archaeology
Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
Greek and Roman Medicine and Pharmacy
Topics in Classical Literature
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Reading
Electives, select from those listed above or from the following:6
Legacy of Greece and Rome in Modern Culture
The Ancient Mediterranean
Ancient Greek and Roman Monsters
Greek and Latin Origins of Medical Terms
Classical Influences on Western Art and Science
Introduction to Biblical Literature (in English)
Introduction to Biblical Archaeology
Elementary Prose Composition
Homer
Hesiod
Greek Lyric Poets
Greek Comedy
Greek Tragedy
Herodotus
Thucydides
Attic Orators
Hellenistic Greek
Latin Literature of the Roman Republic
Latin Literature of the Roman Empire
History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals
Myths, Loves, and Lives in Greek Vases
Greek Sculpture
Icons, Religion, and Empire: Early Christian and Byzantine Art, ca. 200-1453
Cities and Sanctuaries of Ancient Greece
Proseminar in Ancient Art
The Ancient Mediterranean
The World of Late Antiquity (200-900 C.E.)
Western Intellectual and Religious History to 1500
A History of Greek Civilization
A History of Rome
Ancient and Medieval Science
Western Culture: Literature and the Arts I
Western Culture: Political, Economic, and Social Thought I
History of Ancient Philosophy
Classical Philosophers
Development of Ancient and Medieval Western Political Thought
Total Credits15

Seminar 

CLASSICS 591 Undergraduate Seminar: Approaches to the Classical World 23
Total Credits3

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all CLASSICS, GREEK, HEBR-BIB and LATIN courses and all other courses in the major
  • 2.000 GPA in 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 3
  • 15 credits in CLASSICS, GREEK, HEBR-BIB and LATIN, taken on the UW–Madison campus

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Classical Humanities Major in consultation with the Classical Humanities undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Major in Classical Humanities: Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Classical Humanities, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA in all CLASSICS, GREEK, HEBR-BIB, and LATIN courses, and all courses accepted in the major, at the upper-level
  • Complete the following coursework:
    • 9 credits, taken for Honors, with a grade of B or better, from the list of Literature and Culture requirements above
    • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in CLASSICS 681 and CLASSICS 682, for a total of 6 credits

Footnotes

Students who place into second through fifth semester language courses may be eligible to earn retroactive language credits.

The Undergraduate Seminar course is typically offered every spring semester; it is normally taken senior year.

3 Courses at the Intermediate and Advanced levels are considered upper-level in this major.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Demonstrate knowledge of ancient Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern societies and cultures.
  2. Demonstrate competence in the critical methodologies of textual and material analysis with a view to social and cultural interpretation.
  3. Compare and critique ancient Greek, Roman, and Near Eastern societies and cultures to demonstrate intercultural competence and ethical reasoning.
  4. Create new knowledge in ancient Greek, Roman, or Near Eastern studies.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
LATIN 103, GREEK 103, or HEBR-BIB 1034LATIN 104, GREEK 104, or HEBR-BIB 1044
100-200 level CLASSICS course3100-200 level CLASSICS course3
Communication Part A (complete during first year)3Quantitative Reasoning Part A (complete during first year)4
Biological Science Breadth4Ethnic Studies 3
 14 14
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
LATIN 203, GREEK 305, or HEBR-BIB 3233-4LATIN 204, GREEK 306, or HEBR-BIB 3243-4
CLASSICS 320 or 32213CLASSICS/​JEWISH/​LITTRANS/​RELIG ST  227, 320, 322, 332, 335, 340, 346, 350, 351, or 37023-4
Physical Science Breadth3Quantitative Reasoning B3
Social Science Breadth3Social Science Breadth3
Elective 3Elective3
 15 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
300-500 level CLASSICS course 33300-500 level CLASSICS course 33
Social Science Breadth3Social Science Breadth3
Science Breadth3Science Breadth3
Elective3Elective 3
Elective3Elective3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
300-500 level CLASSICS course 33CLASSICS 5913
Electives13Electives13
 16 16
Total Credits 120

Advising 

How does the classical humanities major fit into my educational goals?

While there are a wide variety of reasons to visit your major advisor, there seem to be two recurring questions:

1. Can I complete the major during the time I have left at UW?

2. Which classes will be offered in the future?

If you like to plan, seeing your major advisor is very important; it can make the difference between fitting in Ancient Greek and Roman Monsters and Introduction to Biblical Literature before you graduate. Many students also try to complete more than one major or certificate, and discussing how you might be able to reach this goal is another primary role of your major advisor. Advisors can speak to you about course content, which courses fit best with your interest areas, and what kinds of courses might work best with your learning style—e.g., do you prefer multiple choice or essays? Any and all of these discussions can occur during your advising appointment.

In addition to discussing the major, advisors know a lot about:

  • General Education requirements
  • Breadth requirements
  • Interpreting university policies and deadlines
  • Connecting majors to careers
  • Getting involved with campus organizations
  • Finding volunteer and/or internship opportunities
  • Talking about your challenges and difficulties
  • Connecting with tutors
  • Choosing a study abroad program
  • Practicing for interviews
  • Talking about graduate school
  • Proofreading resumes and cover letters

Ready to meet with the CANES advisor?  Make an appointment using Starfish

Careers

While many students have a difficult time believing it, a humanities major such as ours enables students who complete it to consider just about any type of career or educational pursuit. Our coursework builds the critical thinking and communication skills needed to succeed in careers ranging from politics and education to business and law.   

Think about what you learn in a classroom setting as well as what you do each day to be a successful student; the skills you develop are equally important in the workplace:

  • critical reading, reflection, and analysis
  • proper research design and methodology 
  • expanded world view and exposure to new ideas/ways of thinking 
  • effective teamwork to advance a common project/purpose
  • effective time-management and self-motivation to complete projects independently
  • demonstrated writing proficiency in short and long essay format
  • discussion and debate strategies 
  • broader knowledge of career and graduate-study options

One of the more significant skills CANES majors develop is language acquisition. Study of Greek, Latin, or Biblical Hebrew sets you apart and demonstrates your willingness to explore and expand your understanding of history and culture. In addition, the study of ancient languages shows discipline and perseverance, since they are such difficult languages to learn.  Overall, you will have a wide variety of skills and talents to start you on the path to a rewarding career. Visit our website for more information.

L&S career resources

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers). In short, SuccessWorks helps students in the College of Letters & Science discover themselves, find opportunities, and develop the skills they need for success after graduation.

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

Students should set up their profiles in Handshake to take care of everything they need to explore career events, manage their campus interviews, and apply to jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers around the country.

Please visit the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies website for a complete list of faculty, instructional, and academic staff.

Scholarships and Prizes

In addition to routinely nominating or recommending exemplary undergraduate majors for national, regional, local and university awards, CANES offers the following competitions to classical humanities, classics, and Latin majors annually:

Ruth M. Kuhlman Undergraduate Scholarship

Established in 1998 with a bequest from Myron George Kuhlman in memory of his wife, Ruth Miller Kuhlman (BS in Education '32), this is a monetary award for undergraduates to benefit and advance their studies within the field of classics. Total amount of award may be up to $2500 and the award may not be granted every academic year depending on quality of entries and availability of funds. This competition is only open to classics, classical humanities, and Latin majors. Students should apply via Scholarships@UW (which can be accessed through their MyUW page). Generally, the online application is open in early November with a deadline for submission in early February.

Gertrude E. Slaughter Summer Study Scholarship

A monetary award in memory of Gertrude E. Slaughter, author and widow of Professor Moses S. Slaughter 1896–1923, for undergraduate students to advance their studies at an accredited center such as the American School in Athens or the American Academy in Rome, or to participate in an active archaeological field project. Awards will be in the amount of up to $800. This competition is open only to classics, classical humanities, and Latin majors. Students should apply via Scholarships@UW (which can be accessed through their MyUW page). Generally, the online application is open in early November with a deadline for submission in early February.

Logan Prize for Greek Translation

A monetary award in memory of Fellow of Classics, John Watson Logan (Ph.D. '23), for the translation of a passage of ancient Greek. The passage will be selected each year by the chair of the Prize Committee and awards may not be granted every academic year depending on quality of entries. This competition is open to all undergraduate students who have completed at least one semester of ancient Greek and is normally publicized in classes and to department majors in early April.

Pillinger Prize for Latin Translation

A monetary award in memory of Assistant Professor Hugh Edward Pillinger (1965-1970) for the translation of a passage in Latin. The passage will be selected each year by the chair of the Prize Committee and awards may not be granted every academic year depending on quality of entries. This competition is open to all undergraduate students who have completed at least one semester of Latin and is normally publicized in classes and to department majors in early April.

Study abroad

CANES offers two options for summer study:  UW–Classics in Greece and UW–Classics in Italy.

Each three-week program is offered alternating summers and guided by a department faculty member.

To learn more, visit our website.