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."

Declaring the classical humanities major is as easy as meeting with the CANES advisor. Make an appointment today.

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 90th 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:


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 Latin16 credits
Elementary Latin
and Elementary Latin
and Intermediate Latin
and Introduction to Latin Literature
2 semesters of Greek, 2 semesters of Latin16 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 Latin16 credits
Elementary Biblical Hebrew, I
and Elementary Biblical Hebrew, II
and Elementary Latin
and Elementary Latin

Literature and Culture

15 credits, of which 9 credits must be numbered 300 and higher. A maximum 6 credits may come from courses outside of and that are not cross-listed in CLASSICS, GREEK and LATIN:15
Legacy of Greece and Rome in Modern Culture
The Ancient Mediterranean
Ancient Greek and Roman Monsters
Greek and Latin Origins of Medical Terms
Introduction to Biblical Literature (in English)
Biblical Poetry in Translation
Introduction to Biblical Archaeology
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece
The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Rome
The Greeks
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
Eureka! Technology and Practice in the Ancient World
Topics in Classical Archaeology
Biblical Archaeology
Biblical Archaeology
Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies in Medieval Civilization
Ancient Texts, Modern Contexts
The Literature of Ancient Rome
Greek and Roman Medicine and Pharmacy
Topics in Classical Literature
Undergraduate Seminar: Approaches to the Classical World
The Ancient Mediterranean City
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Reading
Greek Drama
Greek Drama and Lyric Poetry
Elementary Prose Composition
Greek Lyric Poets
Greek Comedy
Greek Tragedy
Attic Orators
Hellenistic Greek
Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
Latin Literature of the Roman Republic
Latin Literature of the Roman Empire
Elementary Prose Composition
Latin Poetry
Roman Drama
Roman Elegy
Roman Lyric Poetry
Roman Satire
Roman Novel
Latin Historical Writers
Latin Philosophical Writers
Latin Oratory
Mediaeval Latin
Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Thesis
Senior Thesis
Directed Study
History of Western Art I: From Pyramids to Cathedrals
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 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


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

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all CLASSICS, GREEK and LATIN courses and all other courses in the major

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 3

15 credits in CLASSICS, GREEK 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 overall iniversity GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA in all CLASSICS, LATIN, and GREEK courses, and all courses accepted in the major, at the intermediate or advanced level
  • Complete the following coursework:
    • At least 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 Senior Honors Thesis and CLASSICS 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits. 

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. Gain knowledge of the ancient Roman, Greek, and Near Eastern civilizations.

2. Gain competency with contemporary scholarly questions surrounding their historical significance and interpretation.

3. Develop critical methodologies, including the ability to engage in source criticism and to approach ancient civilizations on their own terms.


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 today


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).

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. 


For full faculty profiles, visit our website.

William Aylward: Greek and Roman archaelology
Jeffrey Beneker: Biography and historiography; Roman Republic
Jeffrey Blakely: Biblical and ancient Near Eastern archaeology
William Brockliss: Homer; Latin and Greek pedagogy
Alex Dressler: Ancient philosophy; gender and sexuality
Jeremy M. Hutton: Hebrew Bible; Northwest Semitics
Laura McClure: Greek literature; gender and reception studies
J C McKeown: Greek and Roman literature and culture
Grant Nelsestuen: Roman cultural history; Latin prose
Nandini Pandey: Latin poetry; Augustan culture
Vanessa Schmitz-Siebertz: Latin Instructor
Mike Vanden Heuvel: Theater and performance theory

Affiliate Faculty

Nicholas Cahill: Ancient Greek archaeology and art history
Emily Fletcher: Ancient Greek philosophy
Paula Gottlieb: Ancient Greek philosophy; ethics
Daniel Kapust: Roman political thought; rhetoric; political theory
Marc Kleijwegt: Roman and Greek history
Leonora Neville: Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) in the 9th-12th centuries
Jordan Rosenblum: Rabbinic Judaism; biblical interpretation; food and religion
Claire Taylor: Greek socio-economic history; Athenian democracy; epigraphic culture


Barry Powell
Ronald L. Troxel


Bill Bach, Department Administrator
Toni Landis, Advisor/Student Services Coordinator

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.