classics

The classics major allows students to achieve proficiency in both Greek and Latin. Majors who choose an emphasis in Greek, also complete four semesters of Latin, and likewise, those who choose an emphasis in Latin, complete four semesters of Greek as well.  

Such comprehensive training enables classics majors to explore Greek and Roman literature in the original languages. From a practical standpoint, students develop analytical and critical thinking skills, and they may also become  thoughtful and gifted writers in their native languages thanks to the intensive grammatical training required by the study of ancient languages.

To support our classics 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."

To declare the Classics major, meet with the CANES advisor.

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

A major in Classics allows students to place primary emphasis on learning Greek or Latin, yet gain some language training in both. Whether the primary language of study is Greek or Latin, the major requires 23 credits and assumes students have taken the first two semesters of both languages prior to entering the major.  

Classics–Latin Emphasis

Greek courses:
GREEK 305 Intermediate Greek3
GREEK 306 Intermediate Greek3
LATIN courses:17
Intermediate Latin
Introduction to Latin Literature
Latin Literature of the Roman Republic
Latin Literature of the Roman Empire
Elementary Prose Composition
Vergil
Latin Poetry
Roman Drama
Roman Elegy
Roman Lyric Poetry
Roman Satire
Roman Novel
Latin Historical Writers
Latin Philosophical Writers
Latin Oratory
Mediaeval Latin
Total Credits23

Classics–Greek Emphasis

Latin courses:
LATIN 203 Intermediate Latin4
LATIN 204 Introduction to Latin Literature4
Greek courses:15
Intermediate Greek
Intermediate Greek
Greek Drama
Greek Drama and Lyric Poetry
Elementary Prose Composition
Homer
Hesiod
Greek Lyric Poets
Greek Comedy
Greek Tragedy
Herodotus
Thucydides
Attic Orators
Hellenistic Greek
Total Credits23

RESIDENCE and QUALITY OF WORK IN THE MAJOR

  • 2.000 GPA in all CLASSICS and major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major1 
  • 15 credits in CLASSICS, taken at UW–Madison

Honors in the Major

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

Honors in the Major Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major in Classics, 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 Upper-Level work in the major
  • Complete the following coursework, with a grade of B or better:

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 languages.
  2. Develop close reading skills that emphasize accuracy and precision in translation.
  3. Develop critical reading skills, especially the ability to engage in source criticism.
  4. Gain competency with core texts of the ancient western and near eastern literary canon.
First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
LATIN 103 or GREEK 1034LATIN 104 or GREEK 1044
Communication Part A3Quantitative Reasoning A3
Physical Science Breadth3Ethnic Studies3
Social Science Breadth4Biological Science Breadth3
 Social Science Breadth3
 14 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
LATIN 203 or GREEK 30513-4LATIN 204 or GREEK 30623-4
GREEK 103 or LATIN 10314GREEK 104 or LATIN 10424
Communication Part B 3Quantitative Reasoning Part B3
Natural Science Breadth3Social Science Breadth3
INTER-LS 2101Natural Science Breadth3
 14 16
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
Declare the MajorLATIN 302 or GREEK 40243
LATIN 301 or GREEK 40133GREEK 306 or LATIN 20443-4
GREEK 305 or LATIN 20333-4Elective3
L&S Breadth3Elective3
L&S Breadth3Elective3
L&S Breadth3 
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
500-level Latin or Greek course3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
Elective3Elective3
Elective3Elective 3
 15 15
Total Credits 120

How does the classics 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 Vergil or Homer before you graduateMany 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

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.

Faculty

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
Hanna Golab: Hellenistic and Roman Imperial literature and cultural exchanges
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

EMERITUS FACULTY

Barry Powell
Patricia Rosenmeyer
Ronald L. Troxel

ACADEMIC STAFF

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.