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Why Study Classics?

What is classics?

Classics is the study of the languages, literature, and culture of ancient Greece and Rome.

Why study classics?

Classics prepares you for life and work.

Study of classics hones your communication skills.

By reading and studying the influential authors of antiquity, our students learn the language of effective persuasion, both written and oral.

“I learned to become a better writer through my degree. I use these writing skills in both my medical education and in my scientific research.” Kelly Falls, 2012 classical civilization minor currently enrolled in an MD/PhD program at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

“Papers and other longer assignments have increased my ability to structure logical arguments and communicate clearly, which help in almost any business context.” Dan LeClerc, 2005 classics-business double major, currently in his second year at the Wharton School of Business. LeClerc has held positions at Bain and Company and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This summer he worked at Clinton Health Access Initiative in Kampala, Uganda.

Classics teaches you to take the long view and see the big picture. Courses in our department span thousands of years from Bronze Age Greece to contemporary America.

Classics teaches you to read closely and to see the fine details. Accustomed to close reading and analysis, classics students generally excel at law school, but alumni have brought the skills of close reading and careful analysis that they developed in classics courses into many career fields.

“My classics courses were some of the more research-intensive of the humanities classes I took at Emory. Learning how to identify, evaluate, and use critical references was helpful in my first job as a nonprofit program manager, where I often had to work independently and creatively to find the information I needed.” 2008 classics-English double major

“My writing skills and critical reading/thinking skills have been valuable in just about everything I’ve done since graduating. I think the field of classics teaches these particularly well because you’re studying many different areas that all weave in and out of each other.” Sarah Powers Norman, 2005 classics major

Classics teaches you to love words wherever they are found. The vocabulary of Greek and Latin underlies English, particularly its scientific and academic vocabularies.

“Learning Latin has helped me in my study of medicine.” 2012 graduate currently in a joint MD/PhD program.

“My knowledge of Latin has proven invaluable in the editing process and in the use of the English language.” 1995 graduate with a double major in art history and Latin, now the executive director of a local nonprofit best known for its international art magazine

Classics helps to stimulate the imagination.

J. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, and Toni Morrison, author of Beloved, and other modern literary classics, are two recent examples of writers who have undergraduate degrees in classics, but poets artists, novelists, and thinkers of all ages have drawn heavily on Greek and Roman mythology and literature as inspiration for their work.

“Students who have a degree in classics are people who are not afraid of taking the less expected route.
. . . Being able to challenge established patterns and thoughts makes the person more valuable as an employee.” 1991 classical civilization major

Classics is also fun.

“I enjoyed being around the professors who were so kind, who often invited their students to their homes, who seemed to enjoy each other’s company.” Brandon Jones, 2005 classics-English double major, currently pursuing a PhD in classics and teaching at the University of Washington.

What can you do with a classics major?

The short answer is, just about anything you want. Employers—as well as graduate and professional schools—want liberal arts graduates for their broad knowledge and exceptional abilities to reason, connect ideas, and communicate across disciplines. With a liberal arts major such as classics, you’ll be prepared to excel in many careers, not just trained for one.

Where do classics majors work?

Classics majors go on to work in fields including business, law, medicine, education, and religion, in a range of roles. Our graduates are doctors, lawyers, consultants, bankers, classics professors, ministers, and teachers of all kinds.


Law is a very common profession for classicists, and classics students generally have the highest scores on the LSATs of students in any major.


Quite a few classics students go to medical school. A 2012 classical civilization minor currently enrolled in an MD/PhD program at the University of Iowa Carver Col­lege of Medicine says “Learning Latin has helped me in my study of medicine. Many medical terms are derived from Latin. . . I also learned to become a better writer through my degree. I use these writing skills in both my medical education and in my scientific research.”


Dan LeClerc, a 2005 graduate with a double major in classics and business who is currently in his second year in an MBA program at the Wharton School, says, “Having the classics line on my resume has been infinitely more interesting and revealing to potential employers than a business degree was. Especially out of undergrad, employers are seeking students with diverse passions and a track record of success, not cardboard copies of business people.” LeClerc has held positions at Bain and Company, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Kampala, Uganda. Other recent graduates of the department have worked for Google, for Calvin Klein Home, for McKinsey & Company, for Carter’s Inc., and for various nonprofits.


High School Teachers — Many of our students go directly into high school Latin teaching upon graduating or after attending master of arts in teaching programs.

Classics Professors — Graduates also attend PhD programs in classics and become classics professors. Recent graduates are currently attending graduate programs in classics at Harvard University, Tufts University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Toronto, and the University of Washington. Graduates of Emory who major in classics are currently professors at Georgetown University, the University of Massachusetts, and Emory (Betty Gage Holland Professor of History). A 1999 graduate of Emory with a classics major just spent the year as the Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Oxford University in England.


Some classics majors have taken their broad humanities training and their expertise in ancient Greek into the ministry. This is also a good choice for students pursuing the joint major in classics and religion.