This interdisciplinary major introduces students to the various fields of Medieval Studies and their methodologies, while also providing advanced training in a chosen area of specialization (History and Social Structures; Thought and Worship; or Cultural and Artistic Expressions). In addition to exploring the historical and cultural developments within the traditional boundaries of Medieval Europe from ca. A.D. 300 to 1500, students have opportunities to study Byzantium, the Islamic world, Judaism, and Near Eastern Christianity.


I. 12 courses (36 credits) in the following distribution:

  • Two core courses (6 credits total) from the following list of courses:
    HIST 235: The Medieval World
    ENG 351: Chaucer and his Age I, or ENG 352: Chaucer and His Age II
    TRS 220: The Church from Paul to Luther
    HSHU 102: From Charlemagne to Chaucer [for Honors students only]

  • MDST 496: Senior seminar (3 credits): Directed thesis writing under the guidance of a thesis advisor. By the end of the semester a senior thesis of 25-30 pages (plus bibliography and apparatus) should be submitted. Offered every spring.

  • Six specialized courses (18 credits total): Courses in this category are selected each semester from a list of approved courses relevant for MBS. Two courses must be completed in each of the following categories:

    A. HISTORY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURES: 2 courses (6 credits) in any aspect of western or non-western medieval history (e.g., social, political, institutional, economic, legal, cultural, gender studies, etc.).

    B. THOUGHT AND WORSHIP: 2 courses (6 credits) in medieval religions, theology, philosophy, or liturgy (also including non-Christian traditions).

    C. CULTURAL AND ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS: 2 courses (6 credits) in medieval literatures, languages, art, architecture, music, or material culture.

  • Three approved elective courses (9 credits total): Students must complete an additional 3 courses from the three categories of specialized courses listed above. Electives may also include relevant language courses (e.g., Latin, Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Coptic) above and beyond the School's foreign language distribution requirement.

    For a complete list of approved undergraduate courses, please consult the Undergraduate Advisor. For current course offers, click here.

II. Senior thesis
A 25-30-page scholarly essay (plus bibliography and apparatus) to be submitted in the spring semester of senior year as part of MDST 496 (see above).

Note on specialization

Students are encouraged to develop a focus on one of the following three major fields of Medieval and Byzantine Studies: History and Social Structures; Thought and Worship; or Cultural and Artistic Expressions. In addition to the two courses in the field as specified by the course distribution requirements (see specialized courses above), students are encouraged to use their approved elective courses to developed a deeper understanding of their area of interest and to prepare for a senior thesis project. Please note that specializations need not correspond to traditional disciplines (e.g., theology, philosophy, English, etc.). Interdisciplinary and comparative approaches are encouraged.

Note on languages

Language studies in general fall outside the major, as part of the School's foreign language distribution requirement. For MBS majors, the language requirement should preferably be fulfilled by Latin or Greek, but students may, with permission, substitute other languages according to their chosen focus of studies and area of specialization. (Latin is strongly encouraged for students who wish to pursue an emphasis on medieval Europe and the Western tradition; Greek is recommended for those who are primarily interested in Byzantium; Arabic is advised for those focusing on Islamic Studies. Students building a specialization in medieval vernacular languages and literary traditions are advised to take courses in modern languages.) Further studies of relevant languages (i.e., beyond the School's foreign language requirement) can be accommodated under Approved Electives with the advisor's approval.