Classical Civilization

Panoramic view of the Odeon of Herodes Atticus at Acropolis of Athens from above, Greece

The BGSU classical civilization degree is an interdisciplinary major designed to acquaint you with the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. 

Modern ideas about many things—from politics to athletics, art, history, law, literature, philosophy, rhetoric, society—come from the ancient Greeks and Romans.

In addition, studying Classical Civilization improves your reading and writing skills and makes you a more effective communicator.

The ancient Greeks and Romans were as concerned about the fundamental issues of life, love and death as we are today. The program introduces you to the most important areas of ancient Greece and Rome including archaeology, art, biography, history, language, literature, and philosophy. The classical civilization degree recommends, but does not require, intensive language training in ancient Latin or Greek.

Awareness through Understanding

Learning about another culture makes you a more agile, flexible, and powerful thinker. Learning about the many ways people from other cultures live, love, fight, and die encourages you to think differently and more deeply.  

Also, learning about the past offers you perspective. Greek and Roman thought, expressed in ancient Greek and Latin and then translated into English, permeates the modern conception of life and what it means to be human AND many of the most influential works of literature were written in Greek and Latin. The increased awareness you gain through your study of the Classics enables you to gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others so that you can build your future more wisely.

Word Power

A crude estimate suggests that of the 20,000 most common words in English, approximately half are derived from Latin, either directly or through French. And at least 2,000 words can be traced back to Greek, putting the total of English vocabulary derived from Latin and Greek at about 60 percent.

Moreover, at least 90 percent of the specialized vocabulary of the sciences derives from Greek and Latin.

Reading the Classics increases your vocabulary and gives you control of words, the basic elements of all discourse, enabling you to speak well, read well, and write well.

Classics and Life

BGSU offers classical civilization as a major or minor and is the perfect preparation for the vast majority of jobs that require you to be an effective collaborator, communicator, problem-solver, and thinker. It also prepares you for graduate study in ancient art and archaeology, the Classics, dentistry, history, law, medicine, or philosophy.

The BGSU classical civilization major emphasizes the study of culture. A separate major in Latin is available for learning about culture through language.

Stand Out in courses like

Ancient Greek                                                           Ancient Historians

Apprentice Teaching                                                  Classical Mythology

Great Greek Minds                                                     Great Roman Minds

Latin                                                                           Medieval Legends

Norse Mythology                                                        Roman Life

Women in Ancient Greece and Rome                          Word Power from Greek and Latin Roots

Study some of the essential areas of classical civilization, including art, history, philosphy, language, and literature.


The classical civilization major requires ten thoughtfully designed courses, consisting of a six-course core and four additional courses chosen from one of three tracks—Stories and Histories, Cultures and Ideas, or Ancient Languages. The course of study culminates in a capstone seminar that asks you to apply what you have learned to solving real world problems.

Study with our award-winning faculty, pioneering effective new techniques and innovative active learning strategies designed to help you reach a deeper level of learning.  

A major or minor in classical civilization offers you the opportunity to develop transferable skills in a range of areas. You will be a problem-solver and critical thinker who can analyze information, draw conclusions, see different sides of an argument and persuasively communicate. You will collaborate, debate, and discuss, developing a greater awareness of yourself and the world, while learning to accept ambiguity, difference and diversity. You’ll be able to build sound arguments and conduct independent research.

Classes in the Classics take an applied and experiential approach to learning. If you are unsure of your career path and wish to find your way, a classical civilization major can help you come to understand yourself in a way that is fundamentally different from what it was before. You, your knowledge, your understanding, your values, your creativity change and grow, offering you a richer life filled with choice, intention, and possibility. This richness enables you to imagine a new life and many possible worlds, that you can then live into existence.

Study the Greek and Latin roots of words in the Word Power course, designed for improving your communication skills and vocabulary. More than that, studying classical civilization will bring a breadth of perspective that few other disciplines can provide.

The civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome also passed down many of the stories we know and love today. You will learn how to parse the structures underlying biography, history, mythology, and poetry.  

In our advanced readings you will delve into particular writers— biographers, historians, novelists, philosophers, poets. Read about Aeneas, Achilles, the sack of Troy, Heracles’ labors, the flight of Icarus, Pygmalion and Galatea, the doomed love of Queen Dido, and Odysseus’ struggles to return home to Ithaka. Study the cultures of Egypt, Greece, and Persia with Herodotus, the Peloponnesian War with Thucydides, and the scandalous careers of the early Roman emperors with Tacitus and Suetonius. Peer through the theatrical masks of comedy and tragedy as you read the dramatic poetry of Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides, Sophocles, Plautus, and Seneca.

For initiation into the mysteries behind teaching the Classics, take our Apprentice Teaching course.

Study Abroad  

Observing the preserved ruins of classical Greek or Roman civilization during a study abroad experience brings classical civilizations to life in a way that is hard to explain.

BGSU offers classic civilization students an opportunity to study in Greece and Italy. Classes in Italy are conducted at the Centro Linguistico Italiano Dante Alighieri (CLIDA) in Italy’s capital city of Rome.

CLI Dante Alighieri is located on the Piazza Bologna. The location is convenient to the historical center of Rome, a lively and cosmopolitan metropolis of 3.8 million people and a center of culture famous throughout the world for the beauty of its art and monuments.


Over the course of your working career, you are expected to hold eight to ten different jobs. Today's employers seek to hire those who have learned transferrable skills that are fundamental to your study of Classics — collaboration, communication, problem-finding, and problem-solving.  

Our course of study in classical civilization is excellent preparation for students interested in pre-law, pre-dental and pre-medical programs. It also provides the foundation for graduate work in ancient art and archaeology, ancient history, Classics, or philosophy.

With a classical civilization degree, you can work in fields as diverse as the arts, business, education, environmental advocacy, government, health and social services, international relations, journalism, politics, theology, and translation services.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that in 2020 the median salary for graduates of a foreign language degree, including Classics, was $54,000.

Go Far in your career

  • Art Historian
  • Author
  • Dentist
  • Educator
  • Journalist
  • Lawyer
  • Museum Curator
  • Physician
  • Publisher

Philip S. Peek, Chair

Classical Studies Program
World Languages and Cultures
College of Arts and Sciences
Bowling Green State University

Updated: 11/15/2022 09:58AM