Some of our most lasting modern ideas, institutions, and technologies have their points of origin in medieval culture(s): the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, Islam, Korean and Japanese Buddhism, religious war, religious orders, extended fictional narrative, gunpowder, printing, eyeglasses, the chromatic keyboard, craft gilds, long-distance credit, paper money, double-entry bookkeeping, natural law, common law, autonomous universities, waqfs, parliaments, vernaculars as literary languages, linguistic theory, literary romantic love, and Gothic architecture. Such figures as Mohammed, Murasaki Shikibu ,Al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Averroes, Aquinas, Dante, Ibn Battuta, Giotto, and Joan of Arc all have made their mark on modern thought and cultural practice. The program encourages the study of medieval culture(s) across disciplinary boundaries.

Requirements for the Major

Students in the College may choose either of two tracks.

I. Medieval Studies

Majors are required to take one foundation course: The Age of Dante (MVST-201), Medieval Manuscript Cultures (MVST-203), HIST 230 (Middle Ages to the Millennium), HIST 231 (Middle Ages, Millennium to the Black Death), MVST 232/HIST 232 (History and Legend in Medieval Britain), THEO 240 (Judaism under Crescent and Cross), or any other such course designated as “foundation” (note the asterisk) by the end of their junior year. In their senior year, they will take a two-semester Senior Seminar that will introduce more advanced methodologies of doing research in Medieval Studies and result in a required Senior Thesis (MVST-348 and 349). In addition, each student must complete seven other electives drawn from disciplines related to the program for a total of ten courses. These courses should be planned in consultation with the director of Medieval Studies.

II. Honors in Medieval Studies

For the Honors track, students must complete the requirements for the major (see above). In addition, they must also achieve competence in Medieval Latin, normally demonstrated by completing or testing out of Classics (CLSL) 001 and 101, and by taking a one-semester course in Medieval Latin texts (Classics 109), or the equivalent in another appropriate language for medieval research (Greek, classical Arabic, biblical Hebrew, classical Chinese, classical Japanese, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic, Middle Persian, Sanskrit, etc.). Finally, their Senior Thesis Project must earn an A- or better.

Writing in the Medieval Studies Program

The Medieval Studies Program at Georgetown University has always put a special emphasis on writing as an integral part of the critical exploration of society and culture, present as well as past. All of our courses are offered by participating regular university departments and, except for some advanced language study, include writing assignments in accord with the standards of the fields and across the geographic spectrum:  art history, cultural studies, history, literature, philosophy, theology. Further, the program’s commitment to developing our students’ writing skills is most evident in the two-semester senior seminar/thesis seminar, out of which all of our majors are required to produce a senior thesis utilizing primary sources according to the standards of the field involved. 

Requirements for the Minor

For a minor in Medieval Studies, students in the College are required to take one foundation course (see above, Requirements for the Major) and five additional electives approved by the director for a total of six courses. A medieval or classical language is not a requirement for the minor.

Certificate in the School of Foreign Service or McDonough School of Business

For the Certificate, School of Foreign Service or Business School students are required to take one foundation course (see above, Requirements for the Major) and four additional electives approved by the director. They must also write a thesis, in conjunction with MVST-349 Thesis Seminar, under the direction of faculty approved by the director, for a total of six courses. For more details, consult the Director of Undergraduate Programs, Mitch Kaneda in the Walsh School of Foreign Service or the student’s academic counselor in the McDonough School of Business.