The Department of Classics offers a rigorous yet flexible BA program, giving students strong grounding in the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome while also accommodating a variety of interests in and approaches to the ancient world. Classes are small and students work closely with their professors and instructors.
The department offers undergraduate courses in ancient Greek and Latin language and literature at all levels, as well as a variety of courses on the history, civilization, religion, art, archaeology, philosophy, law, and mythology of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.
Classics majors are also encouraged to spend a semester or summer overseas in Italy or Greece, and also have the option of working toward a five-year BA/MA co-terminal degree.
Learning Goals for Classics Majors
Upon graduating with a BA degree in classics at Johns Hopkins, students will:
- Read at least one of the two ancient languages (ancient Greek or Latin) at at least an intermediate level of competence: that is, to understand, and demonstrate that understanding by translating accurately, moderately difficult ancient texts in the relevant language(s); and to identify and effectively use appropriate lexical and grammatical tools as necessary
- Be able to analyze and interpret the products of cultural activity from the ancient Mediterranean world (principally written texts and visual or material objects) in their original contexts
- Express their analyses and interpretations in precise, organized, reasoned, persuasive language, in writing or orally as necessary
- Be able to locate, read, understand, and incorporate into their written or oral analyses modern scholarship, in at least two modern scholarly languages, on whatever question they are addressing. These two modern languages are normally English and either French, German, or Italian
- Have had the opportunity to pursue a substantial independent research project under faculty guidance. Normally this project takes the form of a BA honors thesis; for students enrolled in the concurrent BA/MA program, it takes the form of a master’s thesis.
The BA program in classics is flexible, accommodating a variety of interests in and approaches to the ancient world. Twelve courses (36 credits) are required for a major in classics. All majors take a minimum of four language courses (Greek and/or Latin), two of which must be at the 200 level or above. Majors are encouraged to take at least two history courses, such as the introductory Greek and Roman Civilization courses (040.111 and 040.112). The other six courses are chosen from among the department’s offerings, in consultation with the student’s adviser in the classics department, so as to build an intellectually substantial and coherent curriculum that fits the student’s interests. Certain courses taken outside the classics department may count toward the major, with the adviser’s approval. The major also requires a reading knowledge (i.e., second-year proficiency) in French, German, or Italian. Advanced undergraduates may be eligible to participate in graduate seminars, with the approval of the student’s adviser and the professor.
Students planning to pursue graduate study in classics will need to do substantially more work in Greek and Latin than the minimum requirements listed above; most PhD programs expect successful applicants to have studied one ancient language for at least three years and the other for at least two. Therefore, students interested in graduate work should be engaged in a language-intensive curriculum by the end of their sophomore year.
Honors ProgramSenior classics majors have the opportunity to write an honors thesis in close consultation with a faculty member. This work of guided research and writing counts for three credits and is outside the requirements of the major. This program awards a BA with honors.
Minor RequirementsTo minor in classics, the student must complete six courses (18 credits) from among the department’s offerings. These courses are selected, in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies in classics, to meet the needs and interests of the student. Minors may wish to pursue the study of one ancient language, or create a curriculum that meshes with their other academic pursuits. Interested students should consult the director of undergraduate studies in classics.
BA/MA Degree Requirements
Admission to the BA/MA program is based on outstanding performance in previous classics courses. Students considering a five-year program are expected to declare their interest during the spring semester of their junior year. Prior to application, students must consult with the director of undergraduate studies, their faculty adviser, and the department administrator. A formal graduate application must be submitted no later than November 15 of the fall semester of the senior year in order for admission to the program in the spring of the senior year, thus meeting the requirement for concurrent status. In the student’s senior (fourth) year, they are to devise a program that would best prepare them to do advanced work in their final (fifth) year, in particular addressing any weakness in one or the other classical language. The student is to complete the requirements for the BA in their fourth year. For the MA, the following additional work is required:
- Four semesters (12 credits) of Latin and/or Greek, six credits of which must be above the intermediate level (Latin 040.207, Greek 040.205)
- Two graduate seminars in the classics department
- Demonstrated reading knowledge of one of three modern languages: French, German, or Italian
- A thesis of 20,000–25,000 words representing original research. The thesis will be supervised by a member of the Department of Classics faculty and graded by the supervisor and a second reader from classics or an outside department.
With prior approval from the director of undergraduate studies and the department chair, exceptionally well-prepared students may apply for the BA/MA program in the spring of their junior year. In this case it is possible to complete the bachelor’s/master’s degree in four years. These students are expected to express their interest to the department by the fall term of their junior year; the application deadline is March 15 of the spring semester of the junior year.
The BA and MA degrees are conferred concurrently at the end of the MA year. Please note that the department does not award degrees during the summer; students are expected to complete the degree requirements in conformance with the university Graduate Board spring deadlines. Specific departmental and Graduate Board deadlines are communicated to the student in due course.