Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
801 22nd St. NW, Phillips Hall 345
Washington, DC 20052

Phone: (202) 994-6125
Fax: (202) 994-2156


Classics Major (B.A.) & Minor

Why major in Classics?  Classical Studies, like the study of English, history, or the other liberal arts, is not primarily intended to provide skills for earning a living (although improvement in linguistic skills is a by-product of these studies useful for many careers). It should, instead, make living more worthwhile since it provides a greater understanding of the modern world by concentrating on the sources and values of Western civilization.

Upon graduation, those majoring in Classical Studies will find a variety of opportunities open to them (e.g., secondary school teaching, further study in graduate school, law school). By selecting their courses carefully, moreover, many students complete the requirements of two majors (Classical Studies and Archaeology, for example, or Classical Studies and History, or Classical Studies and Biology) in order to gain more flexibility in choosing a career. Thus students interested in law, medicine, or business can easily combine courses necessary for professional school preparation with courses broadly based in the humanities. Since many professional schools want students who have linguistic skills and a broad knowledge of our cultural traditions, a major in Classical Studies provides an ideal background for further study in various professional schools.

Careers related to a major in Classical Studies might be found in teaching, archaeology, museum work, publishing, or library science, all of which require graduate study. There are excellent employment opportunities for well-qualified secondary school teachers of Latin. Your professors in the Classics Program will be happy to discuss option for a Classical Studies major; to declare a major, consult the Chair of the Department, Prof. Eric Cline (ehcline@gwu.edu), or Professors Fisher, Friedland, and Smith.

Classical Studies encompasses the art, history, and literature of ancient Greece and Italy—in short, the study of classical civilization. This discipline is the oldest and most central of all the humanities and at one time comprised the basic liberal arts education. Some students may wish to pursue a career in Classics by attending graduate school in Classical Philology. For others, Classics is something they find interesting and that can help them learn analytic, linguistic and study skills to prepare them for professional schools or careers or graduate school in archaeology, journalism, publishing, teaching, philosophy, history, linguistics, political science library science or museum studies.

Students can often double or even triple major in Classical Studies to best prepare them for their future. Students often double major in Classics and history, archaeology, philosophy, political science, biology or even economics or business. Thus students interested in law, medicine, or business can easily combine courses necessary for professional school preparation with courses broadly based in the humanities. Since many professional schools want students who have linguistic skills and a broad knowledge of our cultural traditions, a major in Classical Studies provides an ideal background for further study in various professional schools.

GW is a good place to explore Classical Studies because the department is small, (with close association between student and professor), and yet diversity is offered by the student's contact with other departments offering courses in classical art, history, linguistics and philosophy. A Classical Studies program at GWU may also include classics courses taught at the other Washington area consortium universities. The major course of studies represents a good background in classics and a well-rounded curriculum. The Classics Program has an active Classics and Archaeology Club; the Department also awards three annual prizes to students in classics courses.

The resources of Washington, D.C., are additional advantages to those interested in classical antiquity. The Library of Congress and the several museums of the Smithsonian Institution are easily accessible. Lectures on classical subjects are frequently sponsored by these institutions, as well as by other organizations such as the Archaeological Institute of America, the Washington Classical Society, Dumbarton Oaks, or the other universities in the area.

For further information, consult the pamphlet "Careers for Classicists" in the CNELC Department (335 Phillips Hall), or contact the Classics Coordinator for the Department, Professor Elizabeth Fisher, via email (eaf@gwu.edu).


Interested in Graduate Work in Classics, Classical Archaeology or Ancient History?

If so, please make an appointment with one of the Classics faculty members (Professors Cline, Fisher, Friedland, or Smith). Interested students should begin Greek or Latin language training as soon as possible and continue taking one or both through graduation. Work with the department to create a program suited to your course of study.