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How Alumni Have Used the Classical Languages

Whether students majoring in classical languages go on to graduate school, missionary work, or various other careers, their studies have provided them a strong framework with which they can build on for future endeavors.

Graduate School

In the process of applying for M.A. and Ph.D. programs in Classical Languages, Wheaton College students have found the following qualifications are what schools value most in applicants:

  • Three-years of college-level Greek or Latin
  • Outstanding language skills
  • Research experience
  • Evidence of an aptitude for independent research and thought
  • Non-language coursework in the ancient world

“Being able to read Greek, Hebrew, and Latin with ease gave me a real leg up in my doctoral and post-doctoral work and expedited my studies in a variety of other modern languages.” - Christopher Hays '02

"The strong foundation in the Greek and Hebrew languages not only let me enter a seminary program without deficiencies in the area of languages, but actually put me ahead of many of my classmates in the area of biblical exegesis. I always recommend the study of Greek and Hebrew as a pre-seminary course of study." - Agata O. Gazal '03


Brynna Jones '08 
"By far, the greatest gift an ancient languages degree has is that it puts flesh and blood onto the past. In an age where information is constantly being created and dispersed at an astonishing rate, the study of not merely the events of the past but the minds and words of those who lived in it is a beautiful and vital way for us to understand what makes us human, what connects us across time and space. What we hear when the voices of the ancients sing is a distillation of all that divides and unites us. The people of ancient Greece and Rome lived very different lives, had very different values than we, yet we still tell their stories as our own. And there's nothing, absolutely nothing, like hearing the story from the mouth of the teller." 

Translation and Language Consultant

Elmer Wolfenden '52 
"For over 40 years I was able to work in unwritten languages and Bible translation in the Philippines. That work included designing an alphabet for the Masbatenyo language, translation of the New Testament into that language as well as being able to compile a dictionary of the language and write a description of the grammar. In addition I was able to function as a language consultant to assist other translators to untangle problems encountered in their translation work."

Jacob Rodriguez '09 BA Ancient Languages, '11 MA Biblical ExegesisBiblical Interpretation

Jacob Rodriguez, Ancient Languages '09
M.A. Biblical Exegesis '11

"Learning the biblical languages at Wheaton gave me tools for studying and teaching God's Word that will last a lifetime. As I now train Ethiopian pastors and church leaders in biblical interpretation, I frequently go back to Greek and Hebrew texts I learned to read at Wheaton."

Editorial Work

Agata O. Gazal '03
"[A way an Ancient Languages major] has proved helpful is in translation and editorial work. A number of years ago, I translated a 16th century Polish document into English; I do not believe I would have been able to understand or even know how to try to figure out the grammatical constructions employed by the authors without knowing the grammar of classical languages."

Esther Stiff Porwoll '04Publishing

Esther (Stiff) Porwoll '04
"My major in Ancient Languages allowed me to take a job working on a homiletics journal at a Christian publishing house. But more than that, it shaped my understanding and appreciation for classical history and literature--the foundation of Western civilization. Nothing compares to reading Plato, Homer, and Virgil in their original languages!"