Classical Studies Track

This track offers the opportunity for sustained and focused inquiry into the history, literature, and culture of the ancient Mediterranean, as well as the impact of classical antiquity on later periods by using a variety of interpretative methods. The particular program for each student is determined in collaboration with the departmental representative and/or a faculty adviser. The focus can be on a specific disciplinary subfield (e.g., ancient politics) or on a particular period to be explored from a number of perspectives (e.g., the history, literature, and art of Imperial Rome). Each track must have a methodological component designed to introduce the student to techniques of analysis appropriate to the student’s particular interests. This component of the track is satisfied by two comparative or methodological courses, the subject matter of which is concerned primarily with the classical world. These courses are chosen by each student in consultation with a faculty adviser and/or the departmental representative and must be preapproved by the departmental representative.


One course from the list below (which may be taken during the spring semester of the sophomore year) or a comparable one-time-only course. A second course in addition to the prerequisite is strongly recommended as well, but this course can count as one of the six departmentals focusing on classical civilization. A freshman seminar on a classical subject may count as a prerequisite, but may not be used as a departmental.

Applicants to this track of study must submit to the departmental representative by April 15 a statement defining a field of concentration (e.g., Latin Epic, Greek History, Late Antique Culture) and a list of prospective courses. Given the range of possible interests each applicant may bring to the study of the ancient world, there is no set list of fields of concentration, and faculty members can give additional guidance in preparing a track of study.


The specific courses to be taken by each student must form a coherent program of study. Whatever the individual concentration, each student’s program must contain eight departmentals and the Junior Seminar.

Six of these courses must focus in whole or in part on classical civilization or its influence (list of accepted courses). At least three of these courses must be taught in the Department of Classics (CLA, CLG, or LAT). Courses taken during the freshman and sophomore years beyond the prerequisite may count toward this requirement if they are appropriate to the student’s overall program. Students must also take the Junior Seminar in the fall of their junior year.

Two courses must fulfill the comparative/methodological component of the track of study. The aim of this requirement is to introduce students to new perspectives and new tools of inquiry for exploring their chosen subject. There is no set list, since different courses will be appropriate to different interests. These courses must be preapproved by the departmental representative to count as part of the student’s track.

Each student must successfully complete either Ancient Greek or Latin to the level of 108 or achieve an equivalent level of knowledge, as demonstrated through test scores (SAT, AP), a placement exam, or coursework (including through a summer language program). However, at least one language course must be taken at Princeton.

Students should be aware that most graduate programs in Classics will demand a more extensive training in the ancient languages than these minimum requirements. Those considering going on to graduate school should plan to do additional work in Greek and Latin either during their time at Princeton or through a postbaccalaureate program.

Junior Seminar

During the fall of the junior year, all majors must take the Junior Seminar (CLA 340). The course introduces students to different fields of study within the department, including literature, ancient history, ancient culture, linguistics, and reception studies. Students will gain experience in the methods of their chosen of area(s) of study while acquiring an understanding of the history of the discipline and its place in the 21st century. Students will also acquire the skills necessary to pursue junior and senior independent work. Students who are abroad during the fall of their junior year can complete the Junior Seminar during the fall semester of their senior year.

Junior Independent Work

In the fall term, each student researches and writes a paper of 15 to 20 pages on a topic of their choosing under the direction of a faculty adviser. The Junior Seminar will provide guidance in choosing a topic, structuring an outline, writing, and revising.  In the spring term, students undertake a more ambitious research paper of 20 to 25 pages.  Each student again works closely with a member of the faculty on the project, meeting regularly over the course of the spring term for discussion and analysis.

Senior Independent Work

At the end of the second term of the junior year, a departmental student is advised to select the subject of the senior thesis after consultation with a departmental faculty committee. The thesis in its final form shall be submitted to the departmental representative by April 15 of the senior year.

Senior Departmental Examination

An examination designed by the thesis adviser, and intended to cover the entirety of the student’s program of study, is taken at the end of the spring semester of the senior year.

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