The Catholic University of America

Frequently-Asked Questions about the Certificate Programs


Curricula and scheduling

How long does it take to earn a language certificate in this department?

The answer is in many ways up to you. Even if you arrive at CUA with no prior language background, you can still complete the Certificate in Greek or the Certificate in Latin in one or two summers + two semesters, i.e. from mid-May of one year until mid-May or the end of June in the following year. If you have prior background in the language you are studying, you may be able to test out of the first summer's work entirely and start your certificate in the fall.

The bilingual Certificate in Greek and Latin can also be completed in one or two summers + two semesters if you arrive with intermediate-level work in one language already completed. Otherwise, the bilingual certificate may take a little longer.

You can, however, choose to spread certificate work out over a period of multiple academic years if this is preferable for your schedule, your finances, or your learning style. This longer timeline is likely to be the most feasible choice if you are simultaneously pursuing a graduate degree at CUA or at another institution.

Is it possible for me to pursue certificate study at CUA gradually? I only have time for one course per semester.

Absolutely. And you are also welcome to take summer coursework, if it fits into your schedule. The certificate adviser will help you select your courses and track your progress.

The department would recommend, however, that you try to keep your language work predictable and consistent, i.e. that you maintain continuous enrollment if at all possible, to ensure that your developing skills do not plateau during a semester off.

Finances and academic credit hours

How much does it cost to earn a language certificate in this department?

Your costs will depend upon your academic status at CUA.

If you are a current CUA graduate student, your certificate courses will be charged in the same way as your degree courses, i.e. by the credit hour for part-time study or by the semester for full-time study. If you are already pursuing your graduate degree full-time, therefore, you may be able to add certificate courses to your plans at no additional cost. Consult the comprehensive CUA tuition and fee schedule and see your academic adviser in your current department or program to learn more about the relationship of your certificate courses to your current degree curriculum.

If you are not a current CUA graduate student and enroll only in a certificate program, your certificate courses will be charged by the credit hour at a non-standard tuition rate (academic year 2017-2018: $1070/credit hour). This rate applies not only to the 511 and approved advanced language courses that count towards the certificates, but also to approved elementary- or intermediate-level Greek and/or Latin courses completed during the regular academic year in order to prepare for certificate requirements. Consult the certificate adviser for more information on this opportunity.

But remember, too, that courses in elementary- or intermediate-level Greek or Latin are available to all students (degree-seeking or not, CUA members or not) during the CUA summer sessions at an even more deeply discounted rate: for summer 2017, the cost for these courses is only $500/credit hour!

What kind of financial assistance is available to certificate students?

The financial assistance available to you will depend upon your academic status at CUA.

If you are a current CUA graduate student, your regular financial aid terms may apply to the work you do in pursuit of a certificate, provided that you complete the certificate at the same time as or before you complete your graduate degree. You should, however, both consult the Office of Financial Aid and see your academic adviser in your current department or program to learn more about the relationship of your certificate courses to your current aid package.

If you are not a current CUA graduate student, you are already eligible for a special non-standard tuition rate within your certificate program. There may also be several other ways for you to fund or partially fund the remainder of the costs for your pursuit of a certificate. Your home academic department or program, if you are pursuing a graduate degree at another institution, may have some summer support available for you to take language courses at CUA. If your own college or university is part of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area or of the Washington Theological Consortium, it may allow you to take some CUA courses as part of an exchange agreement.

What happens to the credit hours I accumulate when I earn a certificate? Can I transfer them to another school? Can I roll them over into a graduate degree program at CUA?

The credit hours you will earn in pursuit of a language certificate are fully accredited university hours, and can be transferred to any school or degree program that will accept all or some of them. The Department of Greek and Latin is happy to provide course descriptions and syllabi that will assist other institutions in evaluating your work for a certificate.

Courses numbered 511 and other "approved advanced courses" in the certificate programs carry graduate credit in the Department of Greek and Latin, and can be transferred directly into any CUA graduate program that will accept the coursework. (Courses numbered 501, 502, 509, 510, 516, 517, and 519 are elementary- and intermediate-level language courses, and do not confer graduate credit within the Department of Greek and Latin, though the regulations of other CUA departments or programs may differ.) If you are thinking about starting a certificate program and then entering a CUA graduate degree program later, you should consult the academic adviser of the department or program to which you plan to apply to learn more about which certificate courses may (or may not) count directly towards your prospective degree.

The most efficient "transfer" destination for certificate credit hours is, of course, the graduate programs in the Department of Greek and Latin! Our departmental MA and PhD programs will accept for transfer, program requirements permitting, the 511 or "approved advanced" graduate-level courses taken within this department in pursuit of a certificate, if you are subsequently admitted to pursue one of our graduate degrees. If you are considering applying to stay for a graduate degree in this department beyond your certificate, please make an appointment to meet with the graduate adviser, who would be happy to discuss your plans with you.


What can I do with a language certificate? What advantages will it provide me in academia?

The Certificate in Greek may complement studies in Semitics, ancient history, philosophy, patristics, or historical theology, to name just a few fields. The Certificate in Latin can provide an ideal addition to, for example, a degree in medieval studies, musicology, medieval history, canon law, or library science. The bilingual Certificate in Greek and Latin represents an opportunity for a student of any of these disciplines to demonstrate even broader competency, which is particularly desirable for those interested in comparative intellectual approaches, or even for those planning to enter the field of linguistics.

A special opportunity unique to CUA is the chance for interested certificate students to achieve competency in postclassical Greek and/or Latin, which may be especially desirable to those planning to enter fields outside of classics. The CUA Department of Greek and Latin has a long and distinguished history of training future scholars to read, translate, edit, interpret, and utilize late antique, patristic, and medieval texts in both languages.

What kind of academic and career advising is available to certificate students? I want to apply to graduate schools while I work on my certificate, and would really like some help through the process.

The Department of Greek and Latin is particularly invested in "launching" its students into graduate programs, summer opportunities, and the wider professional field. As a certificate student, you will have the opportunity to plan the next step in your academic journey with the advice and assistance of our faculty. Your academic work will be overseen by our certificate adviser, and you will have equal access to the other members of the faculty who supervise our degree-seeking students.

Certificate students who are also current graduate students at CUA receive their primary formal academic advising in their home departments, but the Department of Greek and Latin is glad to provide complementary support, particularly with regard to the development and professional use of language skills.

I am currently pursuing a graduate degree at CUA, and my dissertation/thesis will likely involve some work on authors who wrote in Greek and/or Latin. Can a certificate program help me prepare for this project?

Yes, it can. It can also provide concrete evidence of your language skills to both your dissertation committee and the academic search committees who will consider your applications for college or university employment. Depending upon the rotations of course offerings, you may even be able to select courses for your certificate work that have a direct bearing upon your dissertation topic.

I am interested in pursuing a second career as a Latin teacher. I had four years of high school Latin and a couple semesters of it in college, but have not done much Latin since then. Can the department help me reach my goals?

Yes, it can. The more time and energy you are able to commit to the study of Latin, the faster you can progress. For someone in your situation, the department would likely recommend the Certificate in Latin, ideally followed by the remainder of the formal MA program in Latin. You may be able to consider starting directly in the MA program if your Latin skills are fresh enough, but the certificate program can provide an ideal way to reacquaint yourself with the language while still earning some credit hours that can be counted towards the MA later, should you choose to apply to stay for it.

Certificates and classics "postbacs"

I have a BA in Classical Studies/Classical Civilization/Classical Archaeology (or similar), but I do not have enough experience in the ancient languages to apply for further study in the field. Can a certificate help prepare me for graduate school in classics?

Yes, it can. You are probably already aware that even if you plan to concentrate upon ancient history or archaeology, you will need to work towards professional competency in Greek and Latin in order to be able to use original texts and documents to study the ancient world. And if you plan to focus upon ancient literature, of course, your language skills will be your primary point of entry.

Many students, even future classicists, do not have the opportunity as undergraduates to acquire the language experience they will need for further study. Perhaps you discovered the field later on in your academic career, or changed majors, once or even several times. Perhaps you were attracted by mythology, art, archaeology, or history, and gradually acquired a desire to probe even deeper and learn even more. Whatever the reason, our certificate programs can provide you with an opportunity to "catch up" in an intensive environment where you will be both challenged and supported. Our faculty will help you polish your language skills and assist you in planning for your future.

If you intend to move from a CUA certificate program into graduate school in classics, whether in our own department or elsewhere, we recommend that you consider the Certificate in Greek and Latin as the closest equivalent to a classics "postbac" program.

What is the difference between a certificate program in this department and a traditional classics "postbac"?

The certificate programs at CUA are graduate-level programs. They serve not only post-BA students interested in starting graduate school in the future, but also students who are already pursuing graduate degrees. As such, they involve graduate-level coursework, and confer (for 511 or "approved advanced" language courses) graduate-level credit. Coursework completed as part of a CUA certificate program can therefore be easily transferred to a graduate program at CUA or elsewhere--depending, of course, upon the limitations, rules, and expectations of the destination department or school. Students using a language certificate program as a classics "postbac" will have graduate students as classmates in many of their courses.

The certificate programs in the Department of Greek and Latin also offer the opportunity for interested students to acquire competency in postclassical, as well as classical, Greek and Latin. If you are interested in the history, culture, or thought of the late antique or medieval periods, you can also study the transformations of the ancient languages into and through those time periods.

Logistics and language placement testing

I have just been accepted into a certificate program, but how do I know when I need to begin my studies? I think I might not need that first summer of elementary- and intermediate-level language work.

In order to answer this question, you will need to take your language placement test(s).

If you chose to take the Latin SAT II test this winter, your scores from that test will be used for your Latin placement. (Consult the Certificate Admissions page to learn more about using the Latin SAT II.) If you did not take the Latin SAT II, however, and/or if you need placement in Greek, you will need to take the department's own Latin Placement Exam and/or Greek Placement Exam.  These are both available online at no cost.  Please contact us to request access and evaluation.

Are placement tests really necessary?

Let us take Latin as an example. In any given semester, we as a department typically offer the study of Latin at about four or five (sometimes more) different levels, ranging from elementary through doctoral. Some courses even have different expectations for undergraduates than for students who have already completed BA degrees. For you to be placed in the level that is right for you, we need to assess your Latin against a measure that we can interpret fairly, consistently, and above all accurately, and the best instrument we have for this is our own placement test. Our past experience has shown that the Latin SAT II subject test may be an acceptable substitute, but only if it is taken very close to the time of entry into our courses. You can read more about the Latin SAT II option on the Certificate Admissions page.

For Greek, since there is no SAT II subject test, you will need to take the department's own Greek Placement Exam.

I am coming to CUA next year, but I am not from the Washington, DC area and do not know the city well yet. Where should I live?

On-campus housing is not available for certificate students, and so like nearly all CUA graduate students, you will make your home off-campus, either in DC or in the surrounding suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. The off-campus portion of the CUA Housing website includes information, links, and resources to assist you in finding a place to live.