Latin Literature and Language

Learn what kinds of degree programs offer study of Latin language and classical literature. Explore career options for those with a background in this ancient language.

Is Latin Literature and Language for Me?


The study of Latin literature and language entails learning and analyzing the literary works and culture of the ancient Roman Empire, which established Latin as a widespread language throughout the Mediterranean. Latin is also a major influence in Western culture, since it not only is the origin of other languages such as French, Spanish and Italian, but it also remains an active component in the study of law, Christianity and art.

Career Options

An undergraduate degree in Latin literature and language could serve you well as you pursue advanced degrees in medicine, law, business and other fields. The majority of students who study Latin literature and language at the graduate level, earning a master's degree or Ph.D., become teachers at the secondary and postsecondary levels.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), college professors of foreign language and literature earned a median annual wage of $58,620 as of May 2013 ( Employment in this field of teaching was expected to grow 15% between 2012 and 2022, the BLS reported. Jobs for high school teachers are expected to increase 6% from 2012-2022; these jobs paid a median salary of $55,360 in 2013.

How Can I Work in Latin Literature and Language?

Undergraduate Degree Options

A major or minor in Latin literature and language is typically available as an undergraduate program and is sometimes coupled with the study of Greek culture to form a classics concentration. Students become fluent in the Latin language and study ancient literature and customs, history of civilizations, English word origins and mythology. Studying abroad in Rome is recommended. As an undergraduate, you can expect to participate in an interdisciplinary curriculum that involves the study of ancient Rome's culture, society, history, literature and the Latin language. Your courses might include Roman life and culture, epic themes in classical literature, sexuality in antiquity and classical mythology. You are also required to take numerous semesters of intensive Latin language courses.

Graduate Degree Options

If you wish to pursue your study of the Latin language and literature further with an advanced degree, you could earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Classics. While you may be able to focus on Latin and ancient Rome, these degree programs typically involve the culture, history, literature and languages of the entire Greco-Roman world in preparation for a doctorate degree. This study of late antiquity, philosophy, religion and linguistics in greater depth may require that you either pass comprehensive oral and written examinations or provide a thesis.

A doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in literature could allow you to focus on the Latin language and original literature. The advanced study of this language will focus on discourse features, dialect, grammar, meter and syntax, in addition to the textual traditions of the time period. While a M.A. program may be completed in two years, a Ph.D. in Classical Studies may require roughly four years to complete. You will need to defend a dissertation in order to earn your Ph.D.

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