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Overview of the Undergraduate Major

Every period in history is better illuminated and understood by using evidence from research in different fields rather than by studying it solely from the point of view of a single discipline. People of the past, after all, did not live their lives according to the departmental divisions of a modern university. Medieval studies, particularly in the last half century, have benefited enormously from this interdisciplinary approach. Work in family history, genealogy, archeology, folklore, iconography, textual criticism, linguistic analysis, and statistical research has advanced and deepened our knowledge of the highways and byways of the period.

The study of the Middle Ages has been strong and active at the University of Virginia for many years. A diverse community of scholars routinely offers dozens of courses on medieval topics in the departments of History, Classics, Religious Studies, Philosophy, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern Studies, Art History, Architecture, Music, and Government. Research and teaching on the medieval period are supported by extensive holdings in the University Library, including Special Collections.

For the interested and able student, the major provides a way to pursue Medieval Studies without additional departmental requirements, to embark upon a program of language study within the field, to receive sound preparation for graduate work, and a chance to share knowledge and opinions with other scholars on a critical period of western civilization. By its comprehensive structure, it promotes cordiality, collegiality, and an exchange of views across departmental lines. Work in Medieval Studies helps to develop and refine powers of criticism and imagination, and encourages, through practice, the ability to think and write with clarity and precision. It thus furnishes skills useful in a wide variety of vocational fields.

Requirements for the Major

1. The major is open to all qualified students in the College of Arts and Sciences who have demonstrated competence in a foreign language through the 2000 level, or its equivalent, which is appropriate to their work in the program.

2. Requirements for graduation from the Major:

  • a) 30 hours of credit in courses approved by the student’s advisor with passing grades, and at least a 2.0 average, distributed over the following fields of study:
    • History (9 hours)
    • Literature (9 hours)
    • Art or Music (3 hours)
    • Philosophy, Religious Studies, or Political Thought (3 hours)
    • The Colloquium in Medieval Studies (MSP 3501) by the spring of the junior year (3 hours); this course will sometimes be taught in conjunction with a 3000-level class in an affiliated department
    • The Seminar in Medieval Studies (MSP 4995) in the fall or spring of the senior year (3 hours), generally administered as an independent study with a thesis director.
  • b) a senior thesis written under the supervision of a member of the faculty and approved by the student’s advisor and the Director of the Medieval Studies Program. The grade for MSP 4995 (see above) will depend upon the quality of the thesis and its timely completion.

3. The major may be combined with another departmental program as a double major.

As an interdisciplinary major, Medieval Studies requires the student to explore sources and methods in different fields, and to develop an individual program from a vast array of courses. The program can be tailored to each student’s abilities and needs through individual consultation, work in small classes, and careful supervision of the senior essay.

Requirements for the Minor

Students may complete a Minor in Medieval Studies by taking at least 18 credit-hours in medieval courses approved by the program director. At least one course must be taken in each of the four contributing fields of study (History; Literature; Art or Music; Philosophy, Religious Studies, or Political Thought).

Declare your Major or Minor in Medieval Studies

To declare the Major or Minor, you will need to fill out the DocuSign information. Please identify the director of Medieval Studies (Prof. Deborah McGrady dlm4z) as your advisor. Thereafter the document will be forwarded to the director who will fill in the necessary information and forward it to the registrar. Please visit this page to begin the process: Declaring Major or Minor instructions.

Medieval and Renaissance Studies in English

Note: there is a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies within the undergraduate English major.  It can be combined with our program in a double major or major + minor arrangement.  You can find out about the English concentration  here: UVA Medieval and Renaissance English Program.

Becoming a Medieval Studies Major/Minor

To discuss becoming a Medieval Studies Major or Minor or to ask questions about the undergraduate program more generally, please contact Prof. Deborah McGrady at

“The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at”