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College of Letters, Bachelor

  • Application Deadline
  • 48 months
Middletown, CT, United States
The College of Letters is a three-year interdisciplinary major from Wesleyan University for the study of European literature, history, and philosophy, from antiquity to the present. 
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Majors are invited to think critically about texts in relation to their contexts and influences—both European and non-European—and in relation to the disciplines that shape and are shaped by those texts. Majors also become proficient in a foreign language and study abroad to deepen their knowledge of another culture. As a unique college within the University, the College of Letters major from Wesleyan University has its own library and workspace where students can study together, attend talks, and meet informally with their professors, whose offices surround the library.

Student Learning Goals

During these three years, students learn how to think and write critically about texts in relation to their contexts and influences—both European and non-European—and in relation to the disciplines that shape and are shaped by them.

Through a required sequence of five colloquia in antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Early Modern period, the 19th and then the 20th and 21st centuries, students learn about the emergence of the constitutive idea of Europe out of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome, and Europe’s changing identity and cultures over the ages. Over these three years, students also learn about the emergence and change of the disciplines as well as the forms of argumentation associated with each. Collaborative team-teaching in the first three colloquia fosters this pedagogical goal, ensuring that distinct disciplinary perspectives are both represented in conversation and in the classroom. Finally, majors become proficient in a foreign language through study abroad, where they also deepen their knowledge of another culture.

Assessment of these goals takes place continuously over the three years of the major. In lieu of grades, students receive lengthy written evaluations for each of their COL courses, which address both written work and class participation. Study abroad is required in the second semester of the sophomore year, and in order to be accepted for the program of their choosing, students must prove that they have acquired the necessary level of language proficiency. When abroad they take courses taught in the foreign language and when they return they must continue to maintain proficiency by taking at least one upper-level seminar in that language. Toward the end of their junior year, majors take comprehensive examinations that are planned, administered, and graded by two external examiners, representing different disciplines and with specializations in different time periods. The written portion of the comprehensive exam tests knowledge of the material covered in the first three colloquia and evaluates the students’ ability to analyze and draw from a variety of sources in order to develop and support coherent, integrative, and interdisciplinary arguments about them. The oral portion of the exam tests the students’ ability to orally defend and/or expand their arguments in a face-to-face conversation. In keeping with the COL’s preference for evaluations over grades, the examiners’ grading scale of Credit, Honors, and High Honors accompanies a detailed written evaluation of the student’s work on both parts of the exam. During the senior year, students must complete an honors project in their choice of disciplines and media. Senior theses (taking place over two semesters) are evaluated by two professors who are not the student’s advisor, in order to assure an objective assessment. One of the two evaluators is always a non-COL professor. Honors essays (over one semester) require one evaluating professor who is not the advisor.

By virtue of the Junior Comprehensive Examinations, the COL also undergoes its own yearly self evaluation. The evaluations written for each student by the external examiners are also made available to the COL director, who looks to see if there is a trend in the overall strengths and weaknesses among the students. In addition, the examiners are asked to give their assessment of the entire COL program, first in a meeting with us and then in a letter that they may write together or individually. These assessments are shared with the department as a whole and any suggestions for changes to the program or the teaching are taken seriously. Indeed, it is because of these yearly assessments that we have made significant changes in our curriculum and, most notably, in the sequence of the colloquia.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 48 months
  • Credits
    120 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • The ancient world
  • The Middle Ages and Renaissance
  • The early modern period (16th–18th centuries)
  • The 19th century
  • The 20th–21st century

English Language Requirements

You need the following IELTS score:

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test

General Requirements

  • Expenses and Financial Aid
  • Credits/Advanced Standing
  • Visa Information
  • Interviews
  • Special Statement About the Use of Agents
  • International Application Statistics

Tuition Fee

  • International

    56704 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 56704 USD per year and a duration of 48 months.
  • National

    56704 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 56704 USD per year and a duration of 48 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

Living costs for Middletown

  • 1100 - 1600 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


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