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Why Major in Classics

What is Classics?

Classics is the exploration of the ancient world of Greece and Rome, including subjects like:

  • Languages (Greek and Latin)
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Science
  • Religions
  • Politics

Until the nineteenth century, being educated meant knowing the classics, usually in the original languages; the New Testament, for example, was written in Greek. 

We study all aspects of the classical world, the most fascinating era of human history that invented “the humanities,” which can be both familiar to us and foreign at the same time.

Advantages of Studying the Classics

Despite myths, humanities majors find well paying and satisfying jobs.

  • A study by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences shows "humanities grads to be gainfully employed and holding positions of authority, and finds that only a slightly smaller share of them than of their better-paid counterparts think they have enough money."
  • "When it comes to measures of career satisfaction, humanities grads are as satisfied as those who majored in STEM.”
  • More about humanities majors' career satisfaction can be found here.

A training in Classics is a tremendous asset for careers in publishing, education, culture industries, and entertainment, including film, literature, advertising, and gaming.

  • Famous students of Classics include:
    • Thomas Jefferson
    • J.R.R. Tolkien
    • Ted Turner - Founder of CNN
    • Tom Hiddleston - Actor, “Loki”
    • Jack Emmert - Game Designer
    • Philip Johnson - Architect
    • Chuck Geschke - Co-Founder of Adobe
    • Vince Lombardi - Football Coach
    • Chris Martin - Lead Singer of 'Coldplay'
    • Willa Cather - Writer
    • Jane Addams - Activist
    • W.E.B. Du Bois - Social Activist and Co-Founder of NAACP
    • Robert Millikan - Nobel Prize Winner in Physics
    • Toni Morrison - Nobel Prize Winner in Literature
    • Friedrich Nietzsche - Philosopher
    • Sigmund Freud - Founder of Modern Psychology

Classics skills make you stand out professionally.

  • Ancient oratory will teach you clear communication, persuasion, and the importance of ideas, all of which employers value.
  • Develop both analytical and synthetic skills: the ability to combine diverse materials in pursuit of an overarching goal (classicists use literary, artistic, and archaeological material to solve historical problems).
  • Tap into the original source material that is always relevant and renews itself, even as the circumstances of our own world change.
  • Understand the commonalities that lie behind different cultures, often on a deep level.
  • Stand out by invoking mythological paradigms and archetypes.
  • Why does the Oracle in the Matrix smoke? Grasp iconic classical allusions, and infuse your work with your own.
  • Classical knowledge will make you distinctive among applicants for a position, if you own and stand behind this distinction. Everyone else will have done the “expected” thing, so their resumes all look the same.
  • Ancient philosophy is the supreme way to think outside the box.


  • It's easy to double-major when you study the Classics, due to the relatively low number of required credit hours.
  • Many of our students are double-majors, usually in Classical Humanities and a scientific field (e.g., molecular genetics).
  • The flexibility of the Classics major allows you to pursue the multiple academic interests and passions you may have.

Classics and Law

  • Knowing Latin is a great asset for the study of law.
    • More than any practical benefit, law schools favor applicants who have learned ancient languages, because they require memorizing rules and information and paying attention to details in texts, which is basically what lawyers do.
  • A recent study shows that Classics majors also have the highest LSAT scores.

Classics and Medicine

  • Medical schools are increasingly looking for students with humanities exposure, because it helps them develop empathy and narrative competence.
  • The foundation of Medical Humanities at Ohio State, in which the Department participates, is the teaching of empathy, ethics, and narrative competence as they relate to the study and practice of medicine.

Classics and Early Christianity

  • Serious study of the New Testament must be done in the Greek, its original language.
  • Students interested in an MDiv will also benefit from the Department’s courses on early Christianity in its pagan Graeco-Roman context.

Classics and Linguistics 

  • The study of language emerged from European scholars’ knowledge of Greek and Latin, so a great deal of terminology and concepts in linguistics rely on them.
  • Historical linguistics began when scholars began to compare Greek and Latin to the languages of Asia.
  • Courses in the art and archaeology of Greece and Rome enrich our students’ experience of the ancient world, as do our Study Abroad programs and archaeological fieldwork led by faculty in Classics and affiliated disciplines.

  • Many Ohio State Classics undergraduates participate in summer and academic-year programs, offered at such institutions as:
    • The American Academy in Rome
    • The American School of Classical Studies in Athens
    • The Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome
    • The College Year in Athens

Why Study Classics?

In brief: for the intellectual thrill and the professional advantages.

Students who major in Classics are captivated by a wide range of different aspects about the ancient world, some of which include:

  • Ancient religions
  • Mythology
  • The epic poems of Homer and Vergil
  • The origins of radical democracy at Athens
  • Empire and republic at Rome
  • Ancient medicine and Roman law
  • Philosophy (such as Plato and Aristotle
    • In ethics and politics, philosophy offers challenging alternatives to modern thought

Antiquity also had different conceptions of gender, sexuality, the gods, and what it meant to be human and happy.

We study all this through art, literature, and archaeology, either as a source of western culture, as an alternative to our modern way of life, or as fascinating variations of human potential.

Students have the opportunity to major in Classical Humanities, Greek and/or Latin, and Classics and Ancient History. 

The ancient languages are not required for the Classical Humanities major.

For more on why you should major in Classics, visit Society for Classical Studies Website.

Undergraduate Major Requirements