Medieval and Renaissance Studies (BA)

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Program Description

The undergraduate program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies (MARS) is part of the Medieval and Renaissance Center (MARC). It focuses on the history, institutions, languages, literatures, thought, faith, art, and music of Europe, the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean world together with their global connections–-from Timbuktu to India to Mongolia and beyond–-from the collapse of the Roman empire to about 1700. Notably “other” from modern and contemporary societies, this important period invites us to engage its multifold diversity (cultural, linguistic, religious, philosophical, aesthetic) and also to grapple with the roots of questions that remain urgent today, ranging from humanitarian ideals (individual freedom, equality, social and environmental responsibility) to long-lasting systems that continue to counter those ideals (racism, colonialism, environmental exploitation). Studying the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is therefore a powerful tool for facing the complexity not only of the past, but also of our own present.

The MARS curriculum links undergraduates with NYU’s outstanding humanities faculty; with the superb libraries, museums, and collections in the New York area; and with musical and theatrical performances of works from this period that are given regularly in the city. It also enriches students’ experience in CAS study away programs. Students design their own programs in consultation with the program director and faculty, receiving individualized attention from a center of excellence situated within a great university and a vibrant city.

MARS majors have gone on to graduate work in medieval studies, early modern studies, archival and museum studies, religious studies, history, art history, music, and literature and language studies, as well as to professional schools (medicine, law, management) and careers in business and education.

General Information

The program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the histories and cultures of the Middle Ages and the early modern period. It is specifically designed for students wishing to work in more than one field of specialization and to develop individualized programs of study around their own interests rather than those of a single departmental major. Individual advisement enables students to develop a coherent course of study that suits their needs and interests. Among the fields of concentration from which students may draw to develop their programs are

  1. language and literature: classics, comparative literature, English, French, German, Hebrew and Judaic studies, Italian, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, and Spanish and Portuguese;
  2. art history;
  3. history;
  4. music; and
  5. philosophy and religion.

Other more specialized programs of study may be designed in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.

Available to majors and minors is the Marco Polo Travel Award (granted to an outstanding student each year to allow her or him to travel abroad for research), as well as a field prize for outstanding work in the major.

Honors Program

To qualify for the honors program in the medieval and Renaissance studies major, students must maintain at least a 3.65 cumulative average and a 3.65 major average. The honors track is a year-long 8-credit program, which requires students to write and orally defend a senior honors thesis. During the fall semester of their senior year, students who qualify for honors enroll in MEDI-UA 999 Senior Honors Seminar ; in the spring semester, they enroll in MEDI-UA 998 Independent Study. The Senior Honors Seminar guides students through the research and writing of the thesis. In Honors Independent Study, students complete their honors theses under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Students interested in honors must consult with the director of the program by the end of junior year.

Accelerated B.A./M.A. Program

Qualifying students may apply to earn an accelerated B.A. in Medieval and Renaissance studies and an M.A. in a related department. Interested students must consult with the director of the program. Requirements for the B.A./M.A. program are outlined in the pre-professional, accelerated, and specialized programs section of this Bulletin.

Study Away

The program prepares and encourages its students to complement their work in Medieval and
Renaissance studies with a semester at one of NYU’s academic centers in Florence, London,
Madrid, Paris, and Prague, or at one of the Western European exchange universities. Medieval
and Renaissance Studies majors should consult the director when making plans to study away.


New York University's Office of Undergraduate Admissions supports the application process for all undergraduate programs at NYU.  For additional information about undergraduate admissions, including application requirements, see How to Apply