Classics is the study of the ancient Greek and Roman cultures in their broadest sense: the languages of ancient Greek and Latin, literature and mythology, history, philosophy, and art and archaeology. It is also about modern life and modern identities. Citizenship and immigration, democracy and protest, beauty and love – so many key modern ideas and debates engage with ancient practices and institutions.
Classics is an interdisciplinary degree subject and its breadth makes Classics at UCSB dynamic, challenging, and fun. It also gives our graduates highly marketable skills. Learning ancient languages brings special rigor to a Humanities degree. Classics graduates go on to become archivists, lawyers, lobbyists, journalists, teachers, actors, and management consultants. They work in PR, in museums, in business, and in IT where their skills in language, critical thinking, and communication are valued. For more information about careers for Classics majors, see our Majoring in Classics section.
The UCSB Classics major must select one of four emphases: (1) Language and Literature, (2) Greek and Roman Culture, (3) Classical Archaeology, or (4) Ancient Greek Philosophy. For each emphasis the student must begin the study of Greek and/or Latin, and take both general Classics courses and courses in the chosen area of emphasis.
Language & Literature
The Language & Literature emphasis focuses on examining the Graeco-Roman world through an exploration of ancient texts in their original languages. Reading in Greek and/or Latin texts offers the student a sampling of poetry, drama, history, philosophy, oratory, etc., in close collaboration with faculty.
Students who wish to pursue graduate studies in Classics must take the Language & Literature emphasis, but this emphasis also serves well students with interdisciplinary interests who seek a challenging liberal arts major and who enjoy small classes in which they receive significant personal attention.
Greek & Roman Culture
The emphasis in Greek & Roman Culture encourages students to pursue in-depth study of one of various clusters of interdisciplinary subjects pertaining to the Classical world: literary traditions and representations, politics and society, material culture and intellectual life. A breadth requirement in Comparative Ancient & Classical Cultures encourages cross-cultural comparison with pre-modern civilizations of Mesoamerica, the Middle East, or South or East Asia. A minimum of one year of Greek or Latin is required.
This emphasis is ideal for the student with interdisciplinary interests seeking a strong, liberal arts degree with a modern, global perspective on the Classical world.
The Classical Archaeology emphasis brings together classical art history, classical archaeology, anthropology, and ancient history into a coherent program of study. A minimum of five quarters of Greek or Latin is required.
This emphasis is for students with an interest in archaeology looking for a strong, liberal arts major, or for students planning to pursue graduate studies in Classical Archaeology.
Ancient Greek Philosophy (new in 2023-24!)
The emphasis in Ancient Greek Philosophy offers an in-depth study of one of the world’s most influential philosphical traditions. It is an ideal preparation for a graduate degree in philosophy, law, or medicine. It encourages a global perspective through comparison with the philosophical traditions of other ancient cultures, such as China and India. A minimum of one year of Greek or Latin is required.
The Classics Minor is designed to provide foundations in one ancient language, supplemented by basic knowledge of the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. It is ideal for students preparing for medical or law school or for those planning on graduate studies in the Humanities in fields other than Classics, such as English or Political Science.