In the early years of the college, Tufts students were expected to be "well sustained in" Latin. The Department of Latin was one of the original Departments of Instruction created for the academic year 1891-1892. As Tufts College transitioned from course of study to major subjects of study in the 1893-1894 academic year, Latin was one of the original twelve offerings. Readings by the leading thinkers of ancient Rome were required, and a composition course was added in 1897. The Latin professor also taught English-language courses concerning Roman life, art and history. These were not always considered part of the Department of Latin, but came under headings such as Classical Civilization. In 1939, the Department of Greek and the Department of Latin united to form the Department of Classics.
Among the subjects that a student was expected to be "well sustained in" during the early years of Tufts College was Latin. The Department of Latin was one of the original Departments of Instruction created for the academic year 1891-1892. Prior to that year, Latin and Greek were requirements in various courses of study, such as the classical course and the philosophical course. According to the 1893-1894 catalogue, Latin was offered as one of the original twelve "major subjects" offered. In addition to emphasizing language skills and acquainting students with the history and literature of Rome, the aim of the department was to give students "the mental training by which a man is better equipped for any pursuit in life, and the habit of independent study and research which is essential to all true scholarship." Course descriptions listed the authors to be read, such as Cicero, Horace, and Livy.
In the academic year 1897-1898, a course in Latin composition was added. From 1899 until the formation of the Department of Classics, the professors of Latin and Greek also taught English-language courses in subjects such as Greek and/or Roman literature, history, art, drama, pedagogy, and mythology (knowledge of Latin or Greek was not a prerequisite). These courses came under a succession of headings: Classical Archaeology (1899-1911), Classical History and Archaeology (1911-1920), and Classical Civilization (1920-1928). From 1932-1952, the Greek and Roman history courses were taught by the Greek and Latin professors for the Department of History. Other classical culture courses were split between the Department of Greek and the Department of Latin.
In 1939, the Department of Greek and the Department of Latin united to form the Department of Classics.