underGraduate Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Which level language course is right for me?

Students who score a 4 or 5 on the AP exam should enroll in a 400–level course. Students who have scored lower on the AP exam, or who have not taken the AP exam should consult the DUS about placement at the Academic Fair which is held the day before classes begin in the fall term. Please also see the information on placement.

What are bridge courses?

Bridge courses are advanced courses designed especially for students taking an advanced course for the first time. These courses offer more attention to grammar and translation than do other advanced courses. Each year the department tries to offer one bridge course in Latin and one in Greek.

What is the average size of Classics courses?

Enrollment in beginning and intermediate language courses is on average 13 and is limited to a maximum of 18. Advanced courses in ancient Greek typically have between 5 and 9 students, and advanced courses in Latin have between 8 and 15. The size of Classical Civilization courses varies greatly. Specialized courses like ancient medicine enroll around 10 students. Courses like Greek and Roman history and Greek tragedy often enroll more than 50 students and sometimes as many as 150. Students in these larger courses also meet in smaller discussion sections, consisting of about 15 students.

How many students major in Classics and Classical Civilization?

Each year approximately 9 seniors graduate with a degree in Classics (Greek and/or Latin) and 5 graduate with a degree in Classical Civilization.

What is the size of the faculty of the Classics Department?

The Department has about 14 full-time faculty instructors. This includes faculty who hold joint appointments in related departments like History and the History of Art. In addition there are a number of part-time appointments, including distinguished senior scholars.

Do graduate students teach Classics courses?

Under the supervision of the faculty, Graduate students often serve as instructors for beginning and intermediate language courses and as section leaders for large Classical Civilization courses. This is a general practice in American universities with graduate programs, and teaching is regarded as part of the essential duties of graduate students. They do not teach advanced courses in Greek and Latin or direct Classical Civilization courses except in extraordinary cases. Graduate student instructors are extremely knowledgeable and energetic, and they share the faculty’s goal of excellence in teaching.

Are there opportunities for undergraduates to work on research projects with faculty?

Students are encouraged to pursue their own research projects under the supervision of individual faculty members. Classical Civilization majors are required to complete a senior project, usually a substantial research thesis, by working closely with a faculty member of their choosing. Classics majors have the option of writing a senior thesis.

Can I combine a major in Classics with another major at Yale?

Yes. Some students choose to complete the requirements of two closely related majors, like Classical Civilization and Archaeological Studies. Others choose widely divergent fields, like Classics and Biology. Students who have completed the prerequisites of both programs and begin completing program requirements by the end of the freshman year will find it easier to complete two majors than those who begin later. Students completing two majors may have relatively few opportunities to take elective courses in other fields.

Can I study abroad as part of my Classics program?

Most students complete all of their required coursework at Yale, but students majoring in Classics occasionally spend a term of their junior year studying abroad and may receive Yale credit for a limited number of courses completed at a foreign university. The department does not officially sponsor any established study-abroad programs. Instead, arrangements for study abroad are made on an individual basis.

Does the department provide funding for summer study?

The department is able to provide some funding for undergraduates to visit Classical archaeological sites and museums in Europe. Priority is given to Classics majors currently engaged in Classics research projects. Consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the department office early in the spring term for details and applications.

What other resources and features of the Classics Department should I know about?

Each year the Department offers prizes for translation exams in Latin and Greek and for essays in Classical civilization and ancient philosophy. Look for announcements posted in the department in the middle of the spring term. The Classics Library on the 5th floor of Phelps Hall, housing over 25,000 volumes, is an outstanding research facility, supplementing the expansive holdings of the Sterling Memorial Library. Be sure to explore also the vase paintings and other Classical antiquities in the Yale Art Gallery, the extensive collection of medieval manuscripts and ancient papyri in the Beinecke Library, and the growing collection of Greek and Roman coins at the Sterling Memorial Library.

What do Yale Classics majors do after graduating from college?

Our Classics majors enter a variety of professions. Recent graduates with degrees in Classics have enrolled in graduate programs in Classics and related fields, have taught in high schools, have gone to law school and medical school, have worked in banking and investment, have taught English in Japan, and have worked in the office of a Major League Baseball team. Another recent graduate is the only summer intern to be on the trial record of the United States Department of Justice, for her presentation of an opinion of the Roman jurist Ulpian.

What Should Prospective Students Know?

The study of Classics includes every aspect of the ancient world of Greece and Rome, ranging from the Aegean Bronze Age to Medieval Europe. The Department of Classics at Yale is one of the leading Departments in the country, with access to unparalleled resources in papyri, ancient coins and manuscripts, as well as outstanding library facilities and the holdings of the Yale Art Gallery.Each year we offer a wide range of courses in Greek and Latin language and literature. We currently have specialists in the following areas: art history and archaeology; military, cultural and economic history; religion and mythology; Greek and Roman law; diet and social history; and ancient manuscripts, coins, and papyri. Although the Department takes no part in the admissions process, we welcome visits from prospective applicants, who should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies for more information or to arrange a meeting.For all admissions questions, see Undergraduate Admissions.

Phelps Hall photo