Graduation with Distinction
The key component to Graduation with Distinction in Classical Studies is a year-long research project culminating in a Senior Thesis. Writing a thesis in Classics is a good way:
- to develop a deep intellectual relationship with a faculty mentor,
- to engage with the wonderfully alien world of Greek and Roman antiquity in greater depth and breadth than you might have done in a traditional class,
- to learn firsthand the methods of humanistic and scientific enquiry that propel the field, and
- to challenge yourself to think and write about an aspect of antiquity so as to advance an idea that you can claim as your own!
Students who have written senior theses in Classical Studies have gone on to careers in diplomacy, finance, law, medicine, secondary teaching, as well as graduate programs in archaeology, classical studies, history, or medieval Latin. You do not need to be headed to grad school to write a thesis. Recent topics have included credit crises in ancient Rome, Greek and Roman religious tolerance, rhetorical strategies in the Greek medical author Soranus, Roman military training, tourism in the Roman Empire, vengeance in the Athenian legal system, Vergilian allusion in the fourth-century Christian poet Juvencus, and a wide range of other topics.
Every year, the David Taggart Clark Prize in Classical Studies is awarded to the senior major in classical civilization or classical languages who is judged to have written the best honors thesis of the year. The prize consists of an important book or books in the field of classics. Support for this award derives from income earned on the generous bequest (1956) of Professor David Taggart Clark, classicist and economist.
Majors interested in applying for Graduation with Distinction should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies Mary T. Boatwright by the spring of their junior year.
To be eligible for departmental distinction, the student must have at the time of application a 3.5 departmental GPA, 3.3 overall, and must maintain those GPAs to the project’s completion.
The honors project is expected to involve original research of high quality, resulting in a paper 40-50 pages in length. Papers have dealt with historical, philological, literary, and archaeological subjects. Recent topics have included credit crises in ancient Rome, Greek and Roman religious tolerance, rhetorical strategies in the Greek medical author Soranus, how ancient philosophy wrestled with the concept of slavery, tourism in the Roman Empire, vengeance in the Athenian legal system, Vergilian allusion in the fourth-century Christian poet Juvencus.
All theses will be read by a committee of three: the particular ST Advisor, the DUS of Classical Studies, and a third faculty member to be determined by the DUS. Where a thesis is directed by the DUS, the DUS will appoint two other readers.
Levels of distinction
Three levels: Distinction, High Distinction, and Highest Distinction.
Independent Study Coursework & Application Form
To ensure sufficient time for the completion of the project, students enroll in special independent study courses, CLST 491 Independent Study in the student’s senior fall semester and CLST 493 Research Independent Study in the senior spring semester. Interested majors are encouraged to consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies as early as possible for further information.
Download: Independent Study Request Form
Timeline for Graduation with Distinction in Classical Studies
Junior Year: Planning Ahead
- Early February: identify a willing Senior-Thesis Advisor and, in consultation, decide on a rough area of inquiry (e.g. Roman military, Athenian topography) .
- By first day of Registration (for following Fall) you should have chosen a general topic, and submitted a one-page proposal/application to your ST Advisor (with a copy of your academic record, showing GPA). The proposal should demonstrate basic understanding of the subject’s importance and expand on your particular interest in it (this first foray does not bind you to any particular path). If the Advisor approves, then enroll, with approval of DUS, in CLST (or Lat/Grk)491 Independent Study (see application form under “Special courses, other activities required, comments” on the CLST website GwD page, or contact the CLST office for a copy)
- At time of application you must have a 3.5 departmental GPA, and 3.3 overall.
Jr-Sr Summer: Get Started
- During the summer between junior and senior years, you will begin reading on the topic. It is, therefore, important for you to work with your ST Advisor in the Spring of your Junior year to compile an initial reading list.
Senior Year: Dive In
- Fall semester: Read (to hone your topic and thought) .
- Meet regularly with your ST Advisor, via CLST 491 Independent Study or (in extraordinary circumstances) informally. Letter grade to be assigned as with any ordinary independent study.
For more details, including due dates for submitting stages of the thesis and the final product, and your participation in the Classical Studies Senior Thesis Symposium, download this document.