University of Pittsburgh

Major in Classics: Classical Civilization

Undergraduate Advisor: Dr. Nicholas F. Jones (

Classics is an interdisciplinary program devoted to the study of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. Students may focus on the classics language track or the classical civilization track. Besides the sequences in the Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit languages, the department offers courses in Greek and Roman history, linguistics, literature (including comparative literature), mythology, philosophy, and social history.

The classics language track requires study of texts in the original languages while the classical civilization track makes use of these same texts in English translations. Both classics tracks qualify graduates for appropriate careers in teaching and library work but can also be used as preparation for non-classical academic and professional disciplines such as business, law, and medicine. The study of classics underlies any understanding of Western civilization. The field includes important literary and philosophical figures such as Homer, Plato, and Vergil; also, it provides a background for the study of Romance and other languages and assists in the proper use of English.

Major Requirements

The Classical Civilization Track

Required courses for this track are offered by, or cross-listed with, the classics department. The courses for the major will be distributed as follows:

  • Two courses in Greek, Latin, or both.
  • Two survey courses in Greek and Roman civilizations.
  • One course from each of three different areas, chosen from archaeology and art, culture, history, language, literature, philosophy, religion, and science.
  • Three courses in an approved area of concentration.

The general rules and requirements for the classics major, regardless of the track chosen, are as follows:

  • The classics major requires a minimum of 30 credits with an overall 2.00 QPA in courses counting toward the major. A maximum of two courses may be taken towards the language track major under the S/N option. Students in the civilization track major may take a maximum of four courses under the S/N option.
  • Except for placement by examination in the language sequences, credit by examination is generally not granted, but the department will consider students with special circumstances.
  • Students may either enroll in one of the W-courses offered by the department or arrange with the instructor of an upper-level course for the addition of one credit of writing practicum.
  • For the CAS-required related area, the classics department recommends other departments' courses in ancient Greek and Roman archaeology and art, history, linguistics, literature, philosophy, religion, and science.

Students have combined a major in classics with a second major or certificate such as anthropology, biology, communication, computer science, history, history of art and architecture, history and philosophy of science, nonclassical languages and literatures, psychology, and women's studies. Students planning graduate study in classics may be required to obtain reading competency in German, French, or Italian. Such study might begin during the course of completing the undergraduate major or may be undertaken in graduate school.

Majors who have reached the end of the junior year with a QPA in departmental courses of 3.50 or higher may, in conjunction with a senior-level course, write an honors essay. Acceptance of the essay by the department will qualify the student for graduating with departmental honors in classics or classical civilization.