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Which Colleges Have Best Classics And Hebrew Programs That Make You Fluent?

CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 80 replies42 threads Junior Member
Title says it all. I wanted to see which schools can make me fluent in modern and ancient languages such as Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. (This is what I want to major in and eventually get a job in BTW). I was also told that British schools do a better job at helping students get fluent in these languages than American schools according to this CC thread, but I wanted to make sure this was true: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/1810444-top-schools-for-classics-degrees.html.

Also, how good is the University of Toronto when it comes to this field? Besides these types of schools, can state schools like Ohio State, Purdue, or even private schools like Baylor that can do a good job helping students get fluent in these languages if they study hard. Or are American schools just simply not as good as British schools or Canadian schools. I just want to make sure I have the right schools in mind. Any help is DEEPLY appreciated.
edited August 12
19 replies
Post edited by skieurope on
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Replies to: Which Colleges Have Best Classics And Hebrew Programs That Make You Fluent?

  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10254 replies176 threads Super Moderator
    edited August 12
    I am quite likely more familar with ancient language offerings in the US than anyone else on these forums, so I’ll weigh in with my $0.02. I’ll preface my remarks by noting that there are MANY colleges that offer adequate training in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, ranging from
    small liberal arts colleges like Wheaton (IL) to large public universities like U Wisconsin-Madison. It is impossible to provide a full list, and my suggestions below only scratch the surface.
    I was also told that British schools do a better job at helping students get fluent in these languages
    I would choose Oxford over any American school for those interests. Possibly Cambridge and UCL as well. There are other universities in the UK with very strong Classics programs, but those are the best of the lot.
    how good is the University of Toronto when it comes to this field?
    Excellent, far and away the best in Canada. It’s on par with the best American universities.

    UBC is excellent as well.
    Besides these types of schools, can state schools like Ohio State, Purdue, or even private schools like Baylor that can do a good job helping students get fluent in these languages if they study hard.
    Yes. Many state schools are tops for both Classics and Hebrew and religious studies, such as Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, UVA, UT Austin, and Ohio State.

    Virtually all of the Ivies as well as many other schools (Johns Hopkins, Duke, NYU, Brandeis, Boston College, Notre Dame, and so on) are also excellent choices for Greek, Latin, and Hebrew.

    That said, the University of Chicago stands alone in the US when it comes to ancient languages — it has no real competition except for a few schools in Europe like Leiden.

    I recommend starting with some basic criteria:

    (1) What are your stats? (GPA, test scores, class rank, etc.)

    (2) How big of a college are you looking for?

    (3) Are you looking for colleges in a particular setting (city? college town? rural?) or region of the US?

    (4) Will you need merit and/or financial aid? What can you afford?
    edited August 12
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  • merc81merc81 12071 replies205 threads Senior Member
    edited August 13
    College Transitions offers a "Best Colleges for Classics" list that includes 27 U.S. schools:

    Amherst College
    Barnard College
    Brandeis University
    Brown University
    Bryn Mawr College
    Carleton College
    College of the Holy Cross
    College of William and Mary
    Cornell University
    Columbia University
    Davidson College
    Georgetown University
    Hamilton College
    Harvard University
    Johns Hopkins University
    Kenyon College
    Macalester College
    Oberlin College
    Ohio State University
    Princeton University
    Stanford University
    Tufts University
    University of Chicago
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    University of Pennsylvania
    University of Wisconsin – Madison
    Yale University

    All of these recommendations ought to be sufficiently strong in Greek and Latin for your interests. Their Hebrew offerings should be researched particularly carefully, however. Note as well that Ohio State, mentioned in your original post, appears.
    edited August 13
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  • blossomblossom 10563 replies9 threads Senior Member
    stats? These are all great recommendations- but Princeton and Chicago won't be comparing you to the other "I want to study ancient languages" applications if you don't meet the academic cut....

    And please clarify- fluency in Biblical Hebrew or Modern Hebrew? There is overlap of course- especially if you will enter college with basic knowledge of the alphabet and grammatical rules- but it's like reading Chaucer and then trying to order a cup of coffee at a diner in Liverpool.....

    And ultimate career goal? If you think it will require a doctorate- be aware that many programs "strongly suggest" fluency in German or French in addition to the ancient languages since so many of the keystone works/analyses are written in those languages.
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10254 replies176 threads Super Moderator
    edited August 13
    College Transitions offers a "Best Colleges for Classics" list that includes 27 U.S. schools
    Interesting list. It includes several relatively undistinguished programs (e.g. Davidson and Georgetown) and overlooks quite a few Classics powerhouses (UT Austin, Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan, Duke, Cincinnati, etc.), but overall it seems to be a decent list of schools with adequate to excellent departments.

    I agree with @blossom that German and French are essential. You only need a reading knowledge of those languages, however, and many universities offer one semester “French for Reading” and “German for Reading” courses that save humanities students a lot of time. Such courses are rarer at liberal arts colleges, so summer intensive programs are popular with LAC students.
    edited August 13
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  • melvin123melvin123 1927 replies34 threads Senior Member
    @warblersrule , all I can say is ba ha ha re a 1 semester German for reading course. Its taken me 5 years to get to a low C1 proficiency and reading can still be slow going. Good luck to anyone who expects to read German in 1 semester.
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10254 replies176 threads Super Moderator
    edited August 13
    melvin123 wrote: »
    @warblersrule , all I can say is ba ha ha re a 1 semester German for reading course. Its taken me 5 years to get to a low C1 proficiency and reading can still be slow going. Good luck to anyone who expects to read German in 1 semester.
    Eh, it’s doable, especially for anyone who’s already learned other Indo-European languages, though it’s not easy and requires a lot of work and daily practice. I taught myself enough French over about a month with Sandberg’s French for Reading to pass my department’s translation exam, so a semester isn’t too bad. The goal isn’t complete fluency; it’s to know enough to get the gist of an article with the aid of a dictionary.
    edited August 13
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 8205 replies87 threads Senior Member
    From other posts, OP has 3.3W GPA and is hoping for a 29 ACT.

    @warblersrule has given great info- but remember that *no* school can 'make' you fluent in any language: they can give you the opportunity, but you make yourself fluent.

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  • blossomblossom 10563 replies9 threads Senior Member
    OP- if in fact you have a 3.3 and a 29 ACT then you need to state that- otherwise, we are all wasting your time discussing Oxford and U Chicago and trying to parse the nuances of Harvard vs. Princeton.

    Help us understand your ultimate career goal, confirm your stats, state your budget and where you live, and we can help you in a meaningful way. And what type of language competency will you have when you get to college-- both ancient and modern?
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  • CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 80 replies42 threads Junior Member
    But which schools can best give me the resources to help me get fluent if not all schools have the best programs?
    From other posts, OP has 3.3W GPA and is hoping for a 29 ACT.

    @warblersrule has given great info- but remember that *no* school can 'make' you fluent in any language: they can give you the opportunity, but you make yourself fluent.

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  • CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 80 replies42 threads Junior Member
    My ultimate career goal is to become an archivist fluent in Greek Latin and Hebrew. I would love to also go to a school with great modern language programs like modern Greek, modern Hebrew, French, and Italian. Money is not an issue. As for the stats, I have a 3.3. However, I will try to raise my ACT to at least a 31.
    blossom wrote: »
    OP- if in fact you have a 3.3 and a 29 ACT then you need to state that- otherwise, we are all wasting your time discussing Oxford and U Chicago and trying to parse the nuances of Harvard vs. Princeton.

    Help us understand your ultimate career goal, confirm your stats, state your budget and where you live, and we can help you in a meaningful way. And what type of language competency will you have when you get to college-- both ancient and modern?

    · Reply · Share
  • MWolfMWolf 3007 replies14 threads Senior Member
    Based on you stats and your career goals, I would recommend looking at a large public university. University of Kansas has a good language program, and I think that you would be accepted automatically based on your GPA and ACT scores. U Arizona would also be a good place, and so would Indiana University, Bloomington, and Michigan State.
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  • CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 80 replies42 threads Junior Member
    Would it be possible to get into stronger schools with a higher ACT?
    MWolf wrote: »
    Based on you stats and your career goals, I would recommend looking at a large public university. University of Kansas has a good language program, and I think that you would be accepted automatically based on your GPA and ACT scores. U Arizona would also be a good place, and so would Indiana University, Bloomington, and Michigan State.

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  • blossomblossom 10563 replies9 threads Senior Member
    The differences between the top rated programs (let's call it Oxford for simplicity) and the lower rated programs has nothing to do with "making you fluent". If you work hard and take advantage of the opportunities you can "make yourself fluent" at any college with a decent Classics program and a course sequence in your desired languages.

    At the top programs, you'll see a lot of inter-disciplinary studies with art, architecture, history, literature of the region- if there's a focus on archaeology for example, there will be field work alongside chemists and agronomists and soil scientists. If the focus is literary, there will be opportunities to work at museums and sites around the world, and there will be visiting professors there for a year to get access to the library and work with colleagues.

    Much of this won't matter for you- it WOULD matter if you were looking at PhD programs but that's putting the cart before the horse, because if you were a credible PhD candidate in Classics (for example) you'd have fluency in Greek, Latin or both, PLUS the reading fluency in one of the relevant modern languages.

    So start at the beginning.

    And yes- higher scores usually correlate with more opportunities, but you can achieve your goals based on exactly where you are right now if you choose wisely.
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  • CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 80 replies42 threads Junior Member
    Which top programs can allow me to work in both archeology and languages at the same time? Is it even possible to do this at some schools?
    blossom wrote: »
    The differences between the top rated programs (let's call it Oxford for simplicity) and the lower rated programs has nothing to do with "making you fluent". If you work hard and take advantage of the opportunities you can "make yourself fluent" at any college with a decent Classics program and a course sequence in your desired languages.

    At the top programs, you'll see a lot of inter-disciplinary studies with art, architecture, history, literature of the region- if there's a focus on archaeology for example, there will be field work alongside chemists and agronomists and soil scientists. If the focus is literary, there will be opportunities to work at museums and sites around the world, and there will be visiting professors there for a year to get access to the library and work with colleagues.

    Much of this won't matter for you- it WOULD matter if you were looking at PhD programs but that's putting the cart before the horse, because if you were a credible PhD candidate in Classics (for example) you'd have fluency in Greek, Latin or both, PLUS the reading fluency in one of the relevant modern languages.

    So start at the beginning.

    And yes- higher scores usually correlate with more opportunities, but you can achieve your goals based on exactly where you are right now if you choose wisely.

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  • merc81merc81 12071 replies205 threads Senior Member
    edited August 15
    Which top programs can allow me to work in both archeology and languages at the same time? Is it even possible to do this at some schools?

    Yes. Simply seek colleges with anthropology departments with an available archaeology concentration. For even more extensive opportunities for field research, look into colleges that offer geoarchaeology as a choice of major.
    edited August 15
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  • Eeyore123Eeyore123 2193 replies25 threads Senior Member
    I would suggest looking at Beloit College. I think they have what you are looking for and it would be a reasonable institution for admission.
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  • warblersrulewarblersrule 10254 replies176 threads Super Moderator
    edited August 15
    Which top programs can allow me to work in both archeology and languages at the same time? Is it even possible to do this at some schools?
    In theory, yes. In practice, it is somewhat rare since both disciplines are very demanding at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Most archaeologists are mediocre philologists, and most philologists know little if anything about archaeology. It’s a bit unfortunate, but c'est la vie.

    2 of your 4-5 courses each semester would already be taken up by Greek and Latin, and you have to leave room for courses that fulfill graduation requirements (assuming you’re not at one of the relatively few schools with no curriculum requirements). Making room for archaeology courses is doable, but it leaves you with little room for electives without summer school or an extra semester or two.

    I agree with @MWolf’s suggestions, and large universities like those are likely your best bet for some of your languages of interest (e.g. modern Greek, which is far rarer than ancient Greek). Arizona in particular has a very solid Classics program, and it’s second to none for archaeology. Indiana U, which is a powerhouse for languages in general, is an excellent suggestion as well.

    U Minnesota, Florida State, Ohio State, and U Wisconsin would be worth a look if you could raise your test scores a bit.

    Consider checking out some colleges in Canada as well if money is no object. There are some lesser known but extremely solid Classics departments at places like U Victoria.
    edited August 15
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  • SJ2727SJ2727 2839 replies15 threads Senior Member
    Would it be possible to get into stronger schools with a higher ACT?

    Is it correct (post 7) that your WGPA is 3.3? What is your unweighted GPA?
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  • CollegeFreak9488CollegeFreak9488 80 replies42 threads Junior Member
    I am unaware of my unweighed GPA. Currently, I have around a 3.3. However, I am positive I will raise my weighted GPA to about a 3.5 by the end of my junior year.
    SJ2727 wrote: »
    Would it be possible to get into stronger schools with a higher ACT?

    Is it correct (post 7) that your WGPA is 3.3? What is your unweighted GPA?

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