The Major in Letters

Open Book

"The Open Book" by Juan Gris

In 1937 the School of Letters was organized in the College of Arts and Sciences to “provide guidance and systematic programs of instruction for students whose chief interest lies in the fields of ancient and modern language and literature, and closely allied subjects.”

Today the Letters program offers students a carefully supervised and coordinated curriculum in the humanities leading to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Letters.

The program’s original purpose was to instill a deeper appreciation of the major movements of Western civilization. By studying the important and characteristic achievements of the human mind from Greco-Roman antiquity to the modern era, students come to understand and appreciate the ideas and principles that form the basis of their own culture. This purpose has been expanded to include the study of other, non-western civilizations and cultures. 

The Letters degree is interdisciplinary, and the curriculum is flexible enough to accommodate most students' interests. Majors take courses in the areas of

In addition, the major requires students to take supporting courses in an ancient language, a modern language, and the appreciation of the fine arts. The program is based upon the assumption that cultivated intelligence, good judgment, and artistic expression in speech and writing are desirable in and for themselves. 

The Letters major provides an excellent preparation for advanced study in a variety of academic disciplines (e.g., history, literature, philosophy), as well as law, medicine, and religious ministry. It also prepares graduates for a staggering variety of careers.

Degree Requirements


The Thinker

A candidate for graduation with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Letters [degree checksheet] must achieve a combined retention grade point average of 3.00 or better, computed on the basis of the last 90 hours. Students who meet all requirements of this program with the exception of the minimum grade average requirement may be graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. 

In addition to fulfilling the general requirements of the University and the College of Arts and Sciences, students must complete 36 semester hours of major credit courses in each of three areas: history (which may include History of Science), literature (which includes work in Classics, English, and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics) , and philosophy (which may also include work in specified courses in Political Science and Religious Studies, and Native American Studies). Letters courses (i.e., those designated LTRS), depending on their content, may count in any of the areas. Students must earn a minimum of nine hours credit in each area, and 27 of their 36 total hours must be earned in upper-division courses. Students must also complete supporting courses in one ancient and one modern language either at the secondary or collegiate level. They must complete at least two intermediate-level courses in one of the languages and at least one intermediate-level course in the other. A supporting course in the history or appreciation of one of the fine arts is also required. 

Letters majors may fulfill the capstone requirement in the Letters capstone courses or they may take the capstone in one of the participating departments including Classics, History, English or Philosophy. 

Beginning in the fall of 2010, Letters students may pursue a concentration in Constitutional Studies [degree checksheet], under the supervision of the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage. The requirements for this concentration are the same of the traditional Letters degree, but 15 of the required 36 hours must be in courses approved by the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage.

If you are interested in pursuing a degree in Letters, please contact one of our academic advisors to set up an appointment.

Peggy Chambers

Angie Gauthier

John Hansen

Samuel J. Huskey
Cheryl Walker-Esbaugh