Classical Languages Major

See also: Classics for Pre-Law and Classics for Pre-Med

Graduates with a major in Classical Languages learn to read the ancient Greek and/or Latin languages, become acquainted with the major works of Greek and/or Roman literature, and acquire knowledge of the history of ancient Greece of the eighth through the fourth centuries B.C.E., where most of the modern Western notions of political, artistic, and social life are rooted, and an understanding of the Roman Republic and Empire when Rome established its hegemony over the Mediterranean basin, laid the foundation of law for the Western world, and transmitted the culture of Greece to the West.

For a B.A. with a major in Classical Languages, students must earn a minimum of 36 semester hours of credit in the major. Transfer credit is evaluated on an individual basis. The following courses and course distributions are required.

  • Intermediate or Advanced Greek and/or Latin courses (CLSG:2001-CLSG:4090, CLSL:2001-CLSL:4090) 18 s.h.
  • Greek or Latin prose composition (CLSG:4076 or CLSL:3176) 3 s.h.
  • Additional Classics courses (CLSA, CLSL, CLSG) at any level, of which no more than 9 s.h. may be courses in English (CLSA) 15 s.h.

Assuming that you begin your study of Classical Languages at The University of Iowa, you may fulfill these requirements by taking either:

  • Four years of Latin and the Latin composition course, plus at least 7 more s.h. You can get these additional hours by taking any other courses in the department: ancient Greek, courses in English about the ancient world, the reading courses for an honors thesis, etc. or
  • Four years of Greek and the Greek composition courses, plus at least 7 more s.h. Again, you can get these additional hours by taking any other courses in the department: Latin, courses in English about the ancient world, the reading courses for an honors thesis, etc. or
  • Three years of one Classical Language and two years of the other, plus one of the composition courses.

To comply with the Regents' Policy on Student Outcomes Assessment, the Department of Classics has established the following method of assessing the level of achievement of students completing our two departmental majors. In the semester that a student plans to graduate, they must enroll in CLSA:3982 Classics Portfolio. Every student will maintain a portfolio to account for progress in attaining the objectives of the major. The required portfolio is submitted to the undergraduate advisor two to three weeks before the end of the semester in which they intend to graduate. Formal approval of the portfolio is required for graduation. The portfolio for majors in Classical Languages will include the required coversheet, the completed exit survey, a short paper in English on some aspect of the ancient world, a translation into English of a passage of Greek or Latin prose or poetry (either a Lowden Prize passage or a passage from an exam in an advanced-language class), and a translation of a passage of English into either Latin or Greek. The collection of documents in the portfolio should demonstrate the student’s ability to analyze some aspect of the ancient world in English, produce an accurate and attractive translation of an ancient text, and recast a modern English text into the style and idiom of an ancient one. Download the coversheet here: MS Word or Adobe PDFSee the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the exit survey. The portfolios will be filed, so please simply clip all the documents together, rather than putting them into any sort of binder. Upon successful completion of these requirements, a grade of Satisfactory will be entered for the portfolio course.

Students have the opportunity to graduate with honors in the major. Departmental honors students must maintain a g.p.a. of at least 3.50 in their first three years of classics courses. They must complete two consecutive courses in honors reading, earning 3 s.h. of credit for each course. Honors work may be done in a student’s fourth year, or spring of the third year and fall of the fourth year. The readings and discussions must be on an ancient author or a field in ancient history or literature chosen by the student and the instructor. At the end of the second semester, the student presents a substantial research project, which is evaluated for honors by two members of the department.

PLEASE NOTE - Majors in Classical Languages: Currently only one advanced Latin course and one advanced Greek course are offered each semester. It will therefore normally take at least three full academic years to complete the Classical Languages major. Those studying only one language, Greek or Latin, will normally need four full academic years to complete the major. Student who wish to complete the major more quickly will need to take intensive Latin or Greek courses during the summer.  Intensive Latin is no longer offered in the summer at The University of Iowa. For Latin or Greek at other institutions, see the following link:

If you have questions about our undergraduate program or about the application procedure, please contact Debra Trusty, Director of Undergraduate Studies.