Learning Abroad for Classics Majors

"It's a transformative experience for classics and ancient studies majors to spend a semester in Rome or Athens, where everywhere you turn there is a reminder of the ancient past that helps bring it back to life." —Paula Debnar

The Department of Classics encourages study abroad, usually during a student's junior year. Majors who study in Rome or Athens return to Mount Holyoke with new—or renewed—vigor and enthusiasm for ancient studies.

  • There are three programs of study that we frequently recommend to majors (detailed below): the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (ICCS), the College Year in Athens (CYA), and Mount Holyoke's January Term in Rome (usually offered every other January). 
  • In addition, the Classics Advanced Semester Program (CASP) in Athens, as its name implies, is available for advanced students of Greek. For Summer Programs, see below.

Some majors have chosen to combine a semester in Rome or Athens with a semester in Oxford, St. Andrews, Royal Holloway or University College London.

Study Abroad

Where to Study
The Department of Classics and Italian recommends the following programs to students who wish to study for a full academic year, a semester, or a summer abroad.

Semester Programs

  • Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome (ICCS or “The Centro”): The ICCS was established in 1965 by representatives of ten American colleges and universities; the number of member institutions has now grown to 90. It provides undergraduate students with an opportunity in Rome to study ancient history and archaeology, Greek and Latin literature and ancient art. Students are expected to take four courses, which is a minimum and normal load; a few students take five courses. A major part of the academic work is a required comprehensive and integrated course called The Ancient City, which is commensurate with and requires as much class and study time as two-semester courses. It covers Roman archaeology and topography, aspects of social and urban history of Rome, and Roman civilization. Frequent site visits, intensive museum tours and lectures, and wider-ranging trips outside Rome (based on the Professor-in-Charge’s areas of expertise) are included in the course. In the recent past, Campania and Sicily have been the focus of extended study. Because The Ancient City course depends on prior knowledge of Roman history, students are expected to prepare themselves by taking a Roman history course or by careful reading on the subject.
  • College Year in Athens (CYA): Despite its name, CYA welcomes students who want to spend one semester in Greece. Established in 1962, CYA, in association with the International Center for Hellenic and Mediterranean Studies, offers unparalleled opportunities to experience the unique historical and cultural contributions of Greece and the surrounding region. The curriculum is organized in two tracks: Ancient Greek Civilization and East Mediterranean Area Studies. This division cuts across the disciplines but students can, and often do, take courses from both tracks. Field trips are an integral part of the curriculum and a principal means by which CYA brings students into direct contact with the people, geography, landscape, natural beauties, history, civilization, sites and monuments of Greece. Although itineraries may vary, field trips to major sites in Crete, the Peloponnese, and Central and Northern Greece engage students in what Philip Sherrard called “the pursuit of Greece,” inspiring a process of discovery that can spark a life-long interest.
  • Classics Advanced Semester Program (CASP) in Athens: This program is design to provide a comprehensive curriculum for advanced undergraduate and graduate students who have a background and strong interest in the Classics, familiarize students with academic on-site teaching and participation in field trips to archeological sites and museums, and to help students develop research oriented work through formal courses on Greek literature (in Greek), epigraphy, history, and topography.
  • University of Arizona's Orvieto Institute: Located in scenic Umbria, Italy, the Orvieto Institute offers a full range of classes in the classical languages (as well as Italian), art history, archaeology, anthropology, and architecture. The program also includes site visits to Rome, Pompeii, Assisi, Cerveteri, Tarquinia, and Paestum

For a list of where past and present Classics and Ancient Studies majors have studied and a summary of the courses that they took abroad, check this searchable database. Note that this is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource.

When to Study
Most Classics and Ancient Studies students elect to study abroad in their junior year. The department strongly encourages all majors or potential majors to spend some time abroad.

Credit Transfer
Students who want to apply credits earned from courses taken while studying abroad to satisfy a requirement (major, minor, language, or distribution) should contact the chair of the department before applying for the program. In some cases, the chair may require additional information, including a syllabus, before providing written approval for a course.

Summer Internships and Research Abroad

  • Funding is available through the Lynk Universal Application Form(UAF). For more details about internship opportunities and funding, please contact Kirk Lange, Director of International Experiential learning at the McCulloch Center.

A summer internship or research project in Italy or Greece allows students to apply what they have learned to explore possible career paths. It is also a wonderful opportunity to engage with others who are studying classics in a different cultural context.

  • Poggio Civitate in Tuscany, Italy: During the summer, UMass (Amherst) conducts an archaeological field school at Poggio Civitate in Tuscany, Italy. This program runs for approximately six weeks and instructs students on all aspects of archaeological fieldwork, including field survey, stratigraphy, excavation, cataloging and preservation. Five College students may apply and receive academic credit for their work.
  • American School of Classical Studies in AthensStudents who anticipate taking an advanced degree in archaeology, ancient art history, ancient history, or classics can also apply to summer sessions of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.
  • Orvieto Institute in Arizona: The University of Arizona's Orvieto Institute offers undergraduate and graduate (MA level) courses in Vergil and Livy. These courses are designed especially for students interested in teaching Latin at the secondary level. Contact Cynthia White (University of Arizona) for more information.


  • Archaeological Institute of America (AIA)On its Web site the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) provides a list of archaeological digs looking for volunteers for the summer. Often the sponsoring institution provides room and board, while volunteers pay for their own transportation.
Next Steps

Students interested in exploring possibilities for learning abroad are encouraged to contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. April Stroud is the primary advisor for study abroad, and Kirk Lange can offer guidance on internships or research abroad. Students should also consult with their advisor about how they can best connect and integrate learning abroad with their work in the major.