The Department of Classics at St. Olaf College offers a full range of courses in the languages, literature, and culture Some students take Greek or Latin 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. Students who plan to attend seminary or do graduate work in theology are encouraged to take Greek for at least four semesters.
Classics courses such as Greek and Roman Myth appeal to students who desire a broad background in the humanities. During January the department offers both an on-campus Classics course and a Classics interim abroad, either Classical Studies in Greece or Classical Studies in Italy. Up to thirty students spend the month traveling with a faculty member, visiting museums and archaeological sites while studying ancient history and art. 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 Department of Classical Languages at Carleton College.
St. Olaf College has an active chapter (Delta Chi) of Eta Sigma Phi, the national Classics honor society. Students enrolled in the fourth semester of Greek or Latin are eligible to be elected. Delta Chi has twice hosted the the Eta Sigma Phi national convention (1985 and 2005) and will do so again on March 22-24, 2019.
Every two years St. Olaf students stage an ancient Latin or Greek play in a musical mixture of Latin/Greek and English, taking the show on the road to other schools and colleges in the area. Guest lectures, films, athletic contests, caroling, a lamb roast, 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, Archaeology, Near Eastern Studies, or Medieval Studies at Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Arizona, the University of British Columbia, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Chicago, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Georgia, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the University of Glasgow, the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, the University of Limerick, the University of Minnesota, the University of Southampton, the University of Texas, and the University of Virginia.