Classical Studies Program


The following are frequently asked questions (FAQs) related to the Post-Baccalaureate Classical Studies Program.

Am I Post-Bacc material?

Post-Baccs, first and foremost, are self-starters, looking for an intensive and (relatively) affordable way to improve their languages to make themselves good candidates for professional training at the graduate level in the various fields that require facility with ancient Greek and Latin. They come to Penn to move their language to the advanced level, within a thriving, interdisciplinary environment encompassing all areas of classical studies. Entering students should have had two years (4 semesters) of college-level Greek and two years of college-level Latin, or have reached the equivalent level through intensive language programs. Four semesters of college-level language include a year of grammar and vocabulary and a year of translation classes, usually one semester of prose and one semester of poetry.

I have a year of Greek but I have five years of Latin. Is the Post-Bacc right for me?

The Post-Bacc year is an opportunity for students to increase their experience with Greek and Latin, whatever their background might be prior to arriving at Penn. The program is specifically targeted towards students with strong intermediate levels in both languages in that the Post-Bacc seminars (the courses that are open only to Post-Baccs) presuppose 2 years (that is, 4 semesters, or the equivalent level attained through intensive programs) of study. However, we have had students come to the program with less preparation in one or both languages; we consider all applications because no matter what the level, students can gain further training in their languages in our program. We have found that students generally get the most out of our program (and generally do better in graduate school admissions) if they can participate in our seminars rather than take the lower-level language courses.The best way for you to be a success in your application and in the program is to gain more formal training in intermediate-level Greek (or Latin, as the case may be) before you arrive. Penn offers intensive introductory and intermediate summer courses in Greek and Latin; please visit our Summer Course Guide online for course details.

If this is a program for improving languages, why do you recommend that applicants already be at intermediate levels?

Our program offers a very specialized curriculum. While we, on  occasion, have admitted students with less preparation in the past, our numbers of applications have grown in recent years to the point that we have now become a more competitive program, and so we are focusing more  tightly on our core mission. In addition, classical studies graduate programs have become increasingly selective with their admissions. Students whose formal training amounts to less than two years in either Greek or Latin are  not discouraged from applying to Penn, but are advised to consider additional language preparation prior to applying

I'd like to study Greek, but instead of Latin, I'd like to study biblical Hebrew (or Sanskrit, or Greek history). Can I do this?

The Post-Bacc program was designed specifically to help students attain higher levels of training in Greek and Latin; it is not meant to offer training in related fields. We expect that our students will concentrate on their Greek and Latin classical studies while here. That said, many Post-Bacc students do take advantage of being part of large university with a broad interdisciplinary approach to the fields of classical study, and in addition to their work in Greek and Latin enroll in additional courses in a wide range of topics - including ancient poetry, history, art, archaeology, philosophy, German, Coptic, Sanskrit, and linguistics. Students must receive permission from the Post-Bacc advisor to take a heavier course load, and they pay higher tuition, on a per-course basis, for the extra course(s).

I've done one year of Latin and learned some Greek on my own. Is the Post-Bacc program right for me?

Although you could increase your language experience with the Penn Post-Bacc program, you would not be able to fully participate in the program because the pre-requisites for the Post-Bacc seminars are 2 years (that is, 4 semesters, or the equivalent level attained through intensive programs) of study. Furthermore, if you are hoping to use the Penn Post-Bacc program as a springboard into a graduate program (as most of our Post-Baccs do), starting our program with less than intermediate levels will probably not be enough to succeed in graduate admissions; most graduate programs look for candidates with at least 3 years of study in each language. You'd be better served by the program if you took a year or so to get your languages up to speed before applying to our program. Other options include spending two years in the Penn Post-Bacc program, or else starting your language study before the fall semester begins; Penn offers intensive summer study options, as mentioned in #2 above. Please visit our Summer at Penn for course information and application details. In addition, many other colleges and universities offer courses in the ancient languages for which most people are eligible as "continuing education" students.

What can I expect from the Post-Bacc program?

You can expect to move forward, as quickly as possible, in your Greek and Latin through your hard work in your language courses (this means long hours and lots of self-motivation!); group and individual counseling on the ins and outs of graduate school in classical studies, including how the application process works and what qualities are needed for success in the profession; and exposure to all the components that make up a top flight graduate program, including a research library, outside lectures, and top researchers in their fields.

What does a Post-Bacc student’s schedule look like?

All Post-Bacc students are required to take one Latin and one Greek course per semester. Most students take the Post-Bacc seminars, which meet one, two, or three times per week for a total of 2-3 hours of class time. Some students, after consulting with the Post-Bacc director, instead register for elementary or intermediate Latin and/or Greek. In addition, Post-Bacc students are asked to keep Wednesday lunchtimes open for our noncredit proseminar series, in which faculty members and current graduate students meet with Post-Bacc students to talk about their research, their path towards their current position, and give advice about graduate school and careers. Students are encouraged to attend as many outside lectures as possible; the Classical Studies department holds a weekly series on Thursday afternoons, and the Center for Ancient Studies has a Friday lunchtime series. Finally, some students opt to take extra class(es); see above.

Is there financial aid available?

Very limited loans may be available to US citizens. Please visit the Student Financial Services website for information on paying for your LPS education.

Are there work-study positions for Post-Baccs?

While there are no work-study positions available, many students are able to find part-time employment (we recommend no more than 20 hours a week) through the university and in the surrounding community. Find offerings through the Student Employment Office.

Where do Post-Baccs live?

Full-time LPS students can apply to live on campus in Sansom Place, Harnwell, Harrison, Rodin, Gregory, and Du Bois College Houses. There are a variety of room types available. For more information visit the Residential Services website.

Do Post-Baccs have access to university facilities such as the libraries, fitness center, and computing labs?

All students are automatically assessed a general fee and a technology fee that cover the library system, museums and institutes, and special laboratories, as well as all the public computing labs, networking access and a host of other computing services and local support.  All registered students have access to the basketball and squash courts and pool in Hutchinson Gymnasium. Students who are enrolled in 4 or more CUs per semester are, in addition, automatically charged a clinical fee, which allows access to the Penn Student Health Service, and a recreation fee that gives them access to Pottruck Center, the University fitness center.  Students who enrolled for 2 or 3 CUs who wish to use Pottruck Center can pay the recreation fee to do so. For more information about LPS tuition and fee charges, visit the Classical Studies tuition page.

Is the application process competitive?

Unlike top graduate programs, where dozens apply for only a few slots, the Post-Bacc application process is not intended to "weed out" most of its applicants. Instead, the program is looking for a profile: a student who has studied through the intermediate level in Greek and Latin who, in our judgment, would benefit most from the opportunities we have to offer. That said, the application process has become more competitive in recent years as interest has grown.

When is the application deadline?
March 15, rolling admission thereafter until the program is full.
How long does it take to review an application?
You can expect to hear back from us within 2 to 4 weeks after the deadline.
Does the Post-Bacc program accept international students?

Yes. A student must have a TOEFL score of 600 paper-based, 250 computer-based, 100 internet-based, and must register for 4 CUs per semester.

Where do students wind up after the Post-Bacc program?

Of the students who come to us as Post-Baccs, about a third decide that graduate training in the field is not for them and go on to many different careers. About a third go into terminal master's degree programs, either in professions like teaching or curatorial work or alternatively in academic fields like classical studies or philosophy as a further step in preparation for applications to Ph.D. programs. About a third are admitted to Ph.D. programs in classical studies, ancient history, linguistics, religious studies, and other related fields. The placements of the 2011-2012 class are representative:

  • Boston University (2)
  • Columbia University
  • Indiana University
  • University College, London
  • University of Arizona (2)
  • University of California – Santa Barbara
  • University of Colorado
  • University of Michigan (2)
  • University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Washington
How many students are in your program?

We aim to have about 25 students in our program per year. You can expect to spend your whole year studying and interacting with the same group of students. We have found that this cohort structure encourages the development of collegial relationships and strong friendships amongst the students in the program.

Does a program of this size still have personalized advising?

Our advising takes two forms, group and individual. All students receive group advising in the form of biweekly (weekly at the start of the fall semester) brown bag lunchtime symposia, at which time the director, the faculty co-director, and members of the Classical Studies faculty discuss the particulars of applying to graduate programs. Current graduate students in Classical Studies and related fields are often guests at our symposia. Many are alumni of the Post-Bacc program, and all can offer advice from their own personal experiences. In addition, the director of the Post-Bacc program is very hands-on; she meets with students on an individual basis throughout the year, with open office hours as well as scheduled appointments.


Will I take all of my classes with the same students?

The majority of the post-bacc students take the dedicated post-bacc courses, the Post-Baccalaureate Seminar in Latin (CLST 403) and the Post-Baccalaureate Seminar in Greek (CLST 402). However, some students, after their placement exams and consultation with the director, register for lower-level language courses or graduate-level courses. Some students enroll in extra courses, most commonly German or courses in related fields such as Ancient History, Archaeology, Religious Studies, or Linguistics.

How old are your post-bacc students?

The majority of our students have received their BA within the last two years before they start our program. However, we welcome qualified returning students as long as they have the language background necessary to succeed.

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Fax: 215.573.2053
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