The Department of Classics at St. Olaf College offers a full range of courses in the languages, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Five majors are available: Greek, Latin, Classics (Greek and Latin combined), Ancient Studies, and Medieval Studies. The last two are interdisciplinary majors, each with a core of required courses; students design the rest of the major themselves by selecting courses from different departments. Classics students often complete a second major in a field such as art history, English, history, mathematics, music, religion, or one of the sciences.
Students interested in teaching Latin in secondary school may complete a Latin major with K-12 teaching license.
St. Olaf students take Greek courses and Latin courses for a variety of reasons: some to satisfy the college’s foreign language requirement, some to improve their verbal and analytical skills, some to prepare for careers in education, journalism, law, medicine, government service, or museum and library studies, some from a desire to learn how to read Homer, Plato, Cicero, Vergil, and other classical authors in the original Greek or Latin, some just for the challenge and the fun of it.
The Greek taught at St. Olaf College is ancient Greek, not the modern language spoken in Greece today. Students who plan to attend seminary or do graduate work in theology are encouraged to take Greek for at least four semesters.
Greek 111 and Latin 111 are introductory courses. If students have studied Greek or Latin before, they should consult one of the St. Olaf Classics professors about placement in an intermediate or advanced course. For the department’s policy on Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams, click here.
Classics courses such as Greek and Roman Myth appeal to students who desire a broad background in the humanities. Classical Studies in Greece is one of St. Olaf’s most popular off-campus interim courses. Each January, up to thirty students travel with a Classics faculty member, visiting museums and archaeological sites all over Greece.
Courses in Greek and Roman history are taught each year by members of the St. Olaf History Department. In addition St. Olaf students have permission to take many of the courses offered by the Carleton Classics Department at Carleton College.
St. Olaf College has an active chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national Classics honor society. Students enrolled in the fourth semester of Greek or Latin are eligible to be elected. Eta Sigma Phi sponsors Greek and Latin translation contests in which St. Olaf students have won prizes annually since 1980.
Every two years St. Olaf students stage a Latin play in a musical mixture of Latin and English, taking the show on the road to other schools and colleges in the area. Guest lectures, films, athletic contests, and a weekly “Classics Conversation Table” are among the many co-curricular events that Classics students at St. Olaf enjoy.
St. Olaf graduates have recently completed or are currently enrolled in M.A., M.A.T., or Ph.D. programs in Classics or Classical Archaeology at Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of British Columbia, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Colorado, the University of Georgia, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of Texas, and the University of Virginia. Three are pursuing graduate degrees in Medieval Studies at the University of Glasgow, the University of Limerick, and the University of Southampton.