Ancient Studies

Laurel Brook, Tomson 368

Founded by the Department of Classics in 1971, ancient studies is one of St. Olaf’s oldest interdisciplinary programs. In scope it spans the more than two millennia between Greece’s Bronze Age and the fall of the Roman Empire. Combining art, history, language, literature, philosophy, religion, and theater, it encourages students to take a broad look at ancient Western culture, examining it from multiple perspectives.

The ancient studies program has no courses of its own; instead, it relies on courses offered by individual departments. Students who major in ancient studies choose electives from the various departmental courses that deal primarily or entirely with the world of ancient Greece and Rome. Many of these courses also satisfy OLE Core curriculum requirements. The required courses in Greek or Latin can simultaneously fulfill the OLE Core curriculum’s World Languages and Cultures requirement.

It is common for St. Olaf students to combine an ancient studies major with a B.A. major like art history, English, history, philosophy, political science, or religion. Even mathematics or natural science majors often complete a second major in ancient studies. The major provides a useful background in the humanities for students interested in virtually any career.

Overview of the Major

The objectives of the major are competence in ancient Greek or Latin at the intermediate level, familiarity with ancient Greek and Roman civilization, and in-depth knowledge of one subject area within the major.

Any student interested in an ancient studies major should draw up a contract with the program’s director. The contract may be changed at any time up to second semester of the senior year.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Major


To attain distinction in ancient studies, a student must demonstrate talent with ancient Greek or Latin, skill in conducting research on an ancient topic, and broad knowledge of ancient Western civilization. Specific guidelines are available from the director of ancient studies. Ancient studies majors who wish to pursue distinction should notify the director of the program no later than January 1 of their senior year.