Undergraduate Programs

Welcome!

Penn offers a variety of undergraduate courses and degree options in all aspects of Classical Studies, which you can explore below.

For help with selecting courses, or to discuss declaring a major or minor, please email the undergraduate chair, Ralph Rosen.

Plan your classical studies

Classical studies is the set of practices through which the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome are studied, interpreted, and interrogated in a living dialogue—sometimes by reading, discussion, and writing, sometimes by digging in the ground.

Our courses have several different course codes, for Ancient History (ANCH), Classical Studies (CLST), Greek (GREK), and Latin (LATN).

A number of these courses are cross-listed with other departments such as Art History, English, and Philosophy, and several can be used to fulfill General Education requirements such as Foreign Language, Cross-Cultural Analysis, Arts and Letters, History and Tradition, or Humanities and Social Sciences.

These courses can also be combined to make up a minor or major.

  • Courses at the 000-level offer basic introductions to the history and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome:
    • ANCH 026 Ancient Greece (every fall; summer) [Hist&Trad + Cross-Cultural Analysis]
    • ANCH 027 Ancient Rome (every spring; summer) [Hist&Trad + Cross-Cultural Analysis]
    • Occasional freshman seminars (e.g., CLST 030 The Poetry of Vergil)
    • Occasional critical writing seminars (e.g., WRIT 026 Tragedy's Monstrous Mothers) [Writing]
    • Various cross-credited courses (e.g., NELC 101 Ancient Near East = ANCH 025)
  • Individual courses at the 100-level introduce some of the main fields of classical studies: archaeology, history, intellectual culture, language, literature, reception. These are mostly taught every year, and include:
    • CLST 100 Greek and Roman Myth (spring and online in summer) [Arts&Letters + Cross-Cultural Analysis]
    • CLST 102 Classical Traditions (fall) [Arts&Letters]
    • CLST 107 Ancient Drama [Arts&Letters]
    • CLST 111 Introduction to Mediterranean Archaeology (fall) [Hist&Trad + Cross-Cultural Analysis]
    • CLST 117 Periclean Athens
    • CLST 118 The Augustan Cultural Revolution
    • CLST/ANCH 146 Ancient Mediterranean Empires (fall)
    • CLST 123 Great Discoveries in Archaeology (spring) [Cross-Cultural Analysis]
    • CLST 140 Scandalous Arts in Ancient and Modern Societies [Hum&SocSci]
    • CLST 143 Authors and Audiences in the Greek and Roman World [Arts&Letters + Cross-Cultural Analysis]
    • Elementary Ancient Greek, Latin, and Modern Greek (See Languages)
    • Various cross-credited courses (e.g., PHIL 003 History of Ancient Philosophy = CLST 103)
  • Courses at the 200-level offer intermediate level study of a specific topic. These courses are taught every 2-3 years:
    • CLST202 Mycenae, Pylos, Troy
    • ANCH/CLST 209 Structures of the Roman Empire
    • ANCH 220 The Near East in Hellenistic and Roman Times
    • CLST 223 Ages of Homer: An Archaeological Introduction to the Greek and Bronze Iron Ages
    • CLST 252 The Archaeology of Private Life
    • CLST 274 Introduction to Roman Archaeology
    • CLST 275 Introduction to Greek Archaeology
    • Intermediate Ancient Greek, Latin, and Modern Greek at the 200-level (See Languages)
    • Various cross-credited courses (e.g., ARTH 220 Greek Art & Architecture = CLST 220)
  • Courses at the 300-level offer advanced level study of a specific topic. These courses are taught every 2-3 years: 
    • CLST 302 The Odyssey and its Afterlife
    • CLST 303 Introduction to Museums
    • CLST 307 Visions of Rome in Art, Literature, and Cinema
    • CLST 310 Ancient and Modern Constitution-Making
    • ANCH/CLST 311 Disasters in the Ancient World
    • CLST 312 Writing History in Greece and Rome
    • CLST 318 The Augustan Cultural Revolution
    • CLST 320 Greek and Roman Magic
    • CLST 323 The Greek World after Alexander the Great
    • CLST 324 The Age of Caesar
    • CLST 331 Reading the Iliad in a Time of War
    • ANCH330/CLST332 The Rise and Decline of Macedonia
    • CLST340 Seafaring in the Ancient Greek World 
    • CLST 350 The Greek and Roman Universe
    • ANCH/CLST 353 Rhetoric and Community
    • CLST 355 Archaeology of Greek and Roman Religion
    • CLST 357 Religion and the Polis
    • CLST 360 The Epic Tradition
    • CLST 361 Romance in Pagan Antiquity
    • CLST 366 Archaeology and Science
    • CLST 370 Classics and American Government
    • CLST 371 Greek and Roman Medicine
    • CLST 396 History of Literary Criticism
    • Advanced Ancient Greek, Latin, and Modern Greek at the 300-level (See Languages)
    • Various cross-credited courses (e.g., ENGL 329 Topics in Classicism and Literature = CLST 329)
  • The outline of regular courses above is for general planning purposes, and may sometimes vary. For more specific information about individual courses, see the Course Register and the listing of courses for individual semesters.
  • Courses taken on study abroad programs in Rome or Athens can also be used toward the minor or major. For information on transfer of credit, please contact the undergraduate chair.
  • Seniors have the option of proposing an independent study with a faculty member in conjunction with writing a Senior Research Paper, which may make them eligible for honors in the major.
  • Undergraduates may sometimes be admitted to graduate courses taught at the 400-, 500-, and 600-levels. For further information contact the undergraduate chair and/or the course instructor.

Students who minor or major are challenged to become familiar with several areas of study and, even when focusing on a single area at the more advanced level, to push at the boundaries between them.

There are also opportunities to spend a semester abroad studying in Greece or Rome, or to participate in an excavation over the summer.

Our goal is for you to become a versatile and constructive thinker, and writer, about how the deep past of ancient Greece and Rome has shaped—and itself has been reshaped by—the vital concerns of the present, often in controversial ways.

Our students go forward from Penn ready to perceive, interpret, and respond to the present world as they find it while drawing on the significant knowledge and skills they have acquired through their critical engagement with the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome.

The Minors (six courses)

There are two choices of minor in the Classical Studies department:

  • The Minor in Ancient History is more specific to the content and methods of historical study, and may include a focus on other ancient mediterranean and global cultures, not just Greece and Rome.

The Majors (twelve courses)

The department offers essentially four choices of major:

Track 1: Classical Languages and Literature caters to students for whom Latin and/or Greek are central to their coursework.

Track 2: Classical Civilizations is the most flexible track: it can accommodate many different combinations of courses, with no language requirement. At the same time, however, students are encouraged to pursue a concentration in one (or a combination) of the following specific areas: archaeology, history, intellectual culture, language, literature, reception.

Track 3: Mediterranean Archaeology centers on the content and methods of archaeology and material culture.

  • The Major in Ancient History is more specific to the content and methods of historical study, and may include a focus on other ancient mediterranean and global cultures, not just Greece and Rome.
  • Students majoring in Classical Studies or Ancient History may consider pursuing honors in the major by proposing, researching, and writing a Senior Research Paper.

Senior Colloquium (required of all seniors)

Each year, on the second Thursday after Spring Break, we stage our Senior Colloquium, a roundtable discussion with students and faculty focusing on samples of student coursework and addressing the question: "What does it mean to study Classical Studies and Ancient History?". Participation is required of all seniors.

No grades are assigned. Faculty are not evaluating the work of individual students. Rather, we use this occasion to learn from you how well we as a department are meeting our overall curricular goals (see below), as well as how the curriculum and goals might be improved in the future. Overall, the occasion will be a chance for you to show, see, and celebrate the best work being done in Classical Studies!

Statement on Learning Goals

Below we identify six general goals corresponding to six distinct content/skill areas. Our curriculum is intended to enable every student to meet these goals regardless of major-option and course-plan:

1. Systematic knowledge of the Greek and Roman worlds

Students will have a thorough familiarity with the historical periods, topography, cultures, and contributions of ancient Greece and Rome, including specialized knowledge in certain areas.

2. Interpretation of texts, objects, and other data

Students will be able to explicate and/or argue for the meanings and significance of cultural products deriving from, or associated with, ancient Greece and Rome, taking account of all relevant factors of language, medium, and context.

3. Disciplinary approaches

Students will understand the disciplines corresponding to the different subject-areas of Classical Studies, and they will be cognizant of and competent in the methods specific to each.

 4. Modes of discussion and argument

Students will be competent in the oral and written conventions (such as giving a presentation or writing a paper) by which academic studies of ancient Greece and Rome can most effectively be conducted and communicated.

 5. Research practices

Students will be proficient in designing a research inquiry and carrying it to fruition, employing standard procedures for scholarly investigation, argumentation, and the citation of evidence.

 6. Diversity

Students will be conscious of, and responsive to, structures of social inequality in the ancient world as a consideration of special importance for Classical Studies.

Getting involved

Beyond coursework, Penn has a lively culture of discussion and exploration in which you can get involved:

  • The Classical Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board organizes movie nights, faculty teas, "favorite pages", the College Palooza table, and other events—volunteer and introduce something new, or get involved (or published) in the department's undergraduate magazine, Discentes! See the department's Symposium for Undergrads, which meets most Mondays at 5pm in the Classical Studies Lounge. For contact information email James Ker.
  • The Penn Museum offers internships, summer excavations, and volunteer work for museum-guides (through the Clio Society). See this recent write-up on Clio, and let us know if you're interested in being involved.
  • The Classical Studies weekly colloquium on Thursdays at 4:30 (preceded by espresso and cookies at 4:00) features visting speakers as well as Penn Ph.D. students and faculty presenting their research. See also the Friday AAMW archaeology talks (free lunch at noon) and other weekly events listed by the Center for Ancient Studies.

Study abroad

The department is a sponsor of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, where students can apply to do a semester of study abroad, and students also regularly spend a semester of summer at the College Year in Athens program, as well as various summer programs offered in Greece and Italy.

Other programs that can sometimes be petitioned for in fall/spring or in summer include: Trinity College Rome, Temple University Rome, and the Hellenic Education and Research Center.

The renowned summer programs in Classical Studies and Archaeology at the American School in Athens and the American Academy in Rome are open to excellent undergraduates.

Classical studies students often also take courses as part of other regular semester abroad programs such as Kings College London and St Andrews.

Application deadlines are typically at the beginning of the preceding semester. For further information see Penn Abroad.

The American Philological Association also has a Minority Student Scholarship that can support tuition for a variety of programs typically over the summer.

Excavation opportunities

Penn's faculty presently direct a range of field projects that regularly have student volunteers and interns, both during the regular semester and during the summer excavation season. These include: the Roman Peasant Project (Profs. Bowes and Grey), the Mt Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project (Prof. Romano), the Saronic Harbors Archaeological Research Project (SHARP) (Prof. Tartaron), and the Gordion Archaeolgoical Project and Project Troia (Prof. Rose).

Other field-school and excavation opportunities include: the Ancient Thouria Excavation; and others listed by the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).

In addition to exploring the individual websites for these excavations, see the Penn Museum site for information about the Penn Museum Summer Field Research Grants. 

Prizes

Each year the Classical Studies Department offers several prizes. The George Allen Memorial Prize is awarded to juniors who complete the best written examinations in either Greek or Latin (for information contact James Ker early in the spring semester). In addition, the College Alumni Society Prize in Classical Studies is awarded annually to a graduating student for outstanding academic performance.

Graduate studies

Some Classical Studies or Ancient History graduates choose to pursue graduate study in an M.A. or Ph.D. program, or by beginning in a program such as Penn's own Postbaccalaureate Program in Classical Studies. Penn graduates have gone on to a variety of programs in different universities. Any student planning to take this path should discuss it with the undergraduate chair.

Students considering this path should also be aware of specific grants available for supporting graduate studies, such as the Beinecke and Thouron scholarships accessible through CURF. The American Philological Association also offers the Pearson Fellowship for graduate study in Classics in the UK.

Careers

In our experience, a graduate in Classical Studies will depart from Penn prepared to adapt capably to the challenges of the wider world, and of whatever vocational or educational path he or she next pursues.

What Are You Going To Do With That? — Here's What...!

Most of our graduates go on to careers in education, law, medicine, and business. Increasingly employers and professional schools appreciate the value of such an education that included courses from diverse disciplines and that develops problem-solving abilities and excellent verbal and writing skills.

Penn's Career Services offers useful information on career exploration specific to majors, including on the career paths and graduate schools attended by Penn Classical Studies majors.

Outcomes from a sampling of CLST majors from the past half decade. This sample represents a self-reporting group and so can be relied on to give a thumbnail sketch, but not a complete picture. We're working to make the picture more complete wherever we can!

2% — 3 in ARTS / ENTERTAINMENT
1 executive assistant at a Hollywood studio
1 professional photographer of classical artwork
1 writer - TV comedy network

4% — 5 in BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
4 administrative assistant
1 administrative manager

33% — 43 in EDUCATION
1 university administrator
21 college faculty
16 teacher
3 education administrator
2 graduate school in humanities / social sciences

7% — 9 in FINANCE 

3 investment bank president / chairman of the board
1 bank assistant vice president
1 assistant comptroller - real estate investment firm
1 investment fund partner
1 investment manager
1 financial analyst
1 equity salesman

2% — 2 in GOVERNMENT (see also LAW)
1 systems administrator for US Senator
1 naval aviator

11% — 14 in HEALTH 
1 hospital director
1 head of veterinary medicine at a university
8 physician
1 medical research coordinator
1 marketing manager for physicians
2 in medical school

26% — 34 in LAW
1 assistant attorney general
1 assistant district attorney
26 attorney
1 corporate counsel
5 in law school

7% — 9 in NON-PROFIT
1 library director
1 librarian
1 manager of social services non-profit
5 clergy
1 museum researcher

5% — 6 in PUBLISHING
1 antiquarian bookseller and Appraiser
1 associate product manager
1 author
1 marketing manager for large media company
1 marketing for textbook publishing
1 proofreader

5% — 7 in TECH 
1 executive director of tech training firm
1 video game designer
2 information security specialists
1 president, communications firm
1 engineer
1 web developer

100% — 132 TOTAL