Critical Discussions


Degrees Offered:

  • BA
  • MA
  • PhD
  • Minor*

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Degree Requirements 

Sample Four Year Plan

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* = Minors are not technically a degree, but can be pursued to supplement a bachelor's degree

The Department of Classics is home to the University’s first multicultural, interdisciplinary program. They are multicultural because they study the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, but also the many peoples with whom the Greeks and Romans interacted in central and eastern Europe, north Africa, Egypt, and the Middle East. They are interdisciplinary because faculty and students in the department cross the boundaries of literature, philosophy, material culture, history, and religion to study the world of antiquity. Because of this, classics ranks among the most vibrant programs in humanistic studies at the University of Colorado, a department in which students at every level are challenged to integrate the world of scholarship into their daily lives.

The department is also one of the most successful undergraduate programs in the nation, with undergraduates claiming degrees with marketable skills that enable them to read critically, think analytically and communicate articulately.

I use what (Classics) classes taught me—how to conceptualize, empathize and recognize bias—daily when working and talking and reading the news. Part of a BA is the otherwise rare opportunity to learn about a field directly from world experts in that field, and the people in the Classics department are I think some of the best at teaching from their expertise. Even working well outside Classics, what I’ve learned from it stays with me."

Jeff Jennings (BA '11)

The writing, art, and practices that emerged in the ancient Mediterranean all continue to be influential on the modern world. Its rich literature continues to be read, performed, and adapted today, from the epics of Homer and Virgil to the tragedies of Euripides and Seneca, from the histories of Thucydides and Livy to the philosophical discourses of Plato and Cicero. Ancient art remains a significant force on the development of the visual arts, in media as diverse as music videos, movies, and modern art, from Pablo Picasso to Cy Twombly. And the ancient Mediterranean witnessed dramatic historical developments that remain relevant today: the emergence of multicultural empires, democracy and the republic, citizenship and slavery, Christianity and Islam.

The Department of Classics offers an array of fascinating courses as well as rigorous training in the discipline, and offers courses in the history, art, archaeology, and philosophy of the classical world. Undergraduates can choose among three major tracks: Greek and/or Latin Language and Literature, Literature, Culture, and Thought or History, Art, and Archaeology.

Why else? In the Classics department you will find a small academic home in a large university, where you will get to know your fellow students and your professors. The faculty and staff of the department will take an interest in your academic career at CU and will help you to pursue your goals before and after you graduate. 

“Who designed the water faucet? How did a Caesarean section get its name? Was Homer really blind? Why should you beware of Greeks bearing gifts? The answers to these and many other questions are yours for the knowing if you major in Classics - the study of the languages, literatures, and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. A Classics major offers the opportunity to explore the beliefs and achievements of antiquity, and to learn just how profoundly they still affect contemporary life. If you major in Classics, you’ll learn Greek or Latin (or both).... You’ll also read the great literary and philosophical works composed in these languages. You’ll study ancient art, architecture, and technology, too, and you’ll learn about Greek and Roman legal systems, social institutions, religious practices, and class distinctions.” - The Princeton Review

The Classics Department also enjoys a reputation for outstanding teaching and scholarship. Among the faculty are a Professor of Distinction, a MacArthur ‘genius grant’ winner, fellows for the American Council of Learned Societies, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and many book and teaching awards from both CU Boulder and beyond. 

The classics department also encourages interdisciplinary research and education for all students and faculty, and is home to faculty with affiliations across the college, such as History, Germanic and Slavic Language and Literature, Art and Art History, Philosophy, Humanities and Linguistics.

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in classics, there are a number of opportunities beyond just class work:

  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data and present the results. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-2596 or visit the UROP website.
  • Classics majors can apply to write a creative or critical honors thesis, the successful defense of which results in the designation of cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude at graduation. The Honors thesis is an independent project that the student designs by working one-on-one with a faculty director. Information on honors is available on the Classics department website, the Honors website.
  • The Classics Department maintains an active archeological field school in the Mediterranean, providing opportunities for archeological experiences in countries like Greece, Italy and Croatia, all while getting course credit. Excavation, survey, artifact analysis, drafting, registration, photography and electronic recording possibilities all form part of the field school’s offerings.
  • The Classics Department works with archaeological artifact collections owned by the University of Colorado in classes and to create on-line exhibits that make these artifacts available to the public at large. Faculty and students work together to conduct research on the artifacts and their broader implications.
  • Classics strongly encourages students to study abroad at any of CU’s approved programs that offer Classics (many of them do). With particular emphasis on the study of Classics, the University of Colorado is a member of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (ICCS) and the College Year in Athens program (CYA). ICCS offers courses in Greek, Latin, ancient history, archaeology, art, Renaissance and Baroque art history, and Italian. CYA offers courses in ancient and modern Greek, Latin, ancient history, archaeology, modern Greek culture, and eastern Mediterranean studies. Both programs offer semester-long and year-long study. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.
  • They have an active and thriving undergraduate Classics Club that fosters community, offers special events such as trips to museums, plays or movies, provides tutoring in case of need, and hosts special meetings with such groups as Study Abroad or Career Services. In addition, Classics is fortunate to have professional support through Academic Advising for both first-year students and upper-level students, and also to have a specific faculty advisor within the department who is there to help you with your individual needs and plans.

"We can’t overestimate the value of a Classics major. Check this out: according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, students who major or double-major in Classics have a better success rate getting into medical school than do students who concentrate solely in biology, microbiology, and other branches of science. Crazy, huh? Furthermore, according to Harvard Magazine, Classics majors (and math majors) have the highest success rates of any majors in law school. Believe it or not: political science, economics, and pre-law majors lag fairly far behind. Even furthermore, Classics majors consistently have some of the highest scores on GREs of all undergraduates." - The Princeton Review

Graduates from the Department of Classics graduate with terrific job skills because they have learned not only to pay attention to detail but also to analyze and interpret; because, through their study of Greek and Latin, their knowledge of language and its use will be vastly improved; and because they have pondered the irrational, noble, corrupt, idealistic, mundane and creative qualities that characterize the contributions of ancient Greece and Rome to world culture.

Many of their majors at CU go on to graduate school in Classics, Archaeology, English, History, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, Information Science or Museum Studies. Alumni who began their careers as Classics majors have also gone on to become doctors, lawyers, teachers and administrators, members of the diplomatic service, engineers, businesswomen and men, and entrepreneurs of all types. Undergraduates interested in law or medicine will be especially pleased to discover that law schools and medical schools have a long history of accepting Classics students.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

According to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Classics and 0-5 years of experience is $42,000;
  • median salary for 10-plus years of experience, $83,700.

Estimated Classics Salary Info

At CU Boulder, Classics graduates earn slightly less than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $81,362, based on a pool of 96 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018. This amount is also lower than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during the same stretch.

The classics department has an extensive list of alumni that are either working or have worked in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include:

  • Sarah Abelson (BA '08) is vice president of legal and business affairs for StyleHaul, Inc., a global marketing services and media company based in Los Angeles.
  • Leif Berg (BA '08) is vice president of internet marketing for California-based Scorpion Internet Marketing.
  • Kate Hickey (BA '09; MA '13) is an instructor of Latin and Humane Letters at Addenbrooke Classical Academy in Lakewood, Colorado.
  • William White (BA '10) is a partner in the investment-banking firm Goldblum Lentz & Co. in Broomfield, Colorado. Prior to coming to CU, he served in the U.S. Army in South Korea and is currently a member of the U.S. Army Reserve.
  • Olga Levaniouk (MA '94) earned a PhD in Classics from Harvard University in 2000 and is now associate professor of Classics at the University of Washington.