Classics is the study of the civilization, language, history, literature, archaeology, art, philosophy, law and mythology of the ancient Greek and Roman societies, which are generally accepted as the models for our current societies. The timeless works of these antiquated cultures continue to raise important questions about human nature and society, making them applicable to many modern-day issues such as globalization, imperialism, democracy, gender, aesthetics and numerous others.
The study of Classics helps us understand why our modern day societies behave in the way that they do and leads us to valuable comparisons in order to learn the important lessons to be learned from Greek and Roman societies.
The Classics Department at Johns Hopkins University offers a rigorous, but uniquely flexible, degree program. The Classics Department gives students a strong grounding in the languages and cultures of ancient Greece and Rome while simultaneously accommodating a variety of interests in the approaches to the ancient world. Because of the small classes, you will work very closely with your professors as a Classics major and are encouraged to focus your coursework in a specific area of interest. Possible areas of influence include language and literature, the anthropology of ancient cultures, ancient philosophy and thought, ancient science and medicine, art and archaeology, and ancient history. In addition, you will study the language and literature of Ancient Greek and/or Latin. Honoring the true mission of teaching and research at Johns Hopkins University, a degree in Classics gives you the rare opportunity to study and research antiquated cultures with renowned Classics professors and draw valuable conclusions that you will apply to the modern world and your future as an innovative thinker and leader.
- Minor in Classics
- Minor in Ancient Law
- B.A. in Classics
- B.A/M.A in Classics
- M.A./PhD in Classics (No student will be admitted for the M.A. as a terminal degree. Students are only admitted to the Ph.D. program)
- PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology
Career Paths for Classics Majors
There are many possible professions and career paths for Classics majors. The ability to speak various languages can lead to positions all over the world. In addition, the knowledge of languages such as ancient Greek and Latin is a rare skill that sets you apart in a competitive job market. Many doctors, lawyers, politicians, and historians have a background in classical studies.
With a deep understanding of cultures and philosophies, you can search for positions that work closely with companies, organizations, and/or people who rely on those with an intuitive knowledge of social systems. Your interest and experience through your degree can also lead to professions in various other entities such as journalism, consulting, NGOs, Government, and/or economics. What you decide to do depends on your interests, values, skills and experiences. Taking the time to explore multiple career fields create the foundation for an enjoyable career.
Industry Application of Classic Majors
Listed below are several industries to which your degree in Classics will apply.
Your specialized area of research as a Classics major may determine your career path; however, it is not the only factor that will contribute to your future career. Internship and research experience, extracurricular activities, and the skills you develop as a result of your academic and out-of-class experiences all influence the career paths of Hopkins students.
- Internships and Research Experiences
- To be competitive in today’s job market, it is important you apply the knowledge gained from your coursework to the workplace. Employers value the academic preparation Johns Hopkins University provides, but they want to see your ability to employ knowledge outside the classroom. Internships in professional work environments are an excellent way to apply the knowledge you will obtain through the Classics program. To learn more about internships, consult the Career Center.
- Research is imperative to your success as a student and a professional. The Classics department at JHU will provide you with ample opportunity to explore research avenues and master the valuable skills of conducting innovative research. The Milton S. Eisenhower Library has deep holdings in the various fields of classical antiquity, and the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Collection offers a fascinating collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities, which gives students the extraordinary opportunity to work hands-on with ancient artifacts in a museum setting. In addition, the department has close ties to several local and regional institutions whose mission includes the study of the ancient world: the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Center for Hellenic Studies.
- Extracurricular and Volunteer Activities
- Employers want to see your ability to work on a team and to lead a project. Involvement in extracurricular and volunteer activities is the most effective way to develop and hone these skills. As a Classics major, you can participate in several extracurricular activities such as publishing work, attending conferences, community events, and possibly most important, studying abroad. Full immersion into a foreign country provides you with unlimited opportunities to practice and perfect another language. In addition, you will gain a vast understanding of cultural practices, differences, and expectations, which will provide excellent insight to your own culture, possible career interests and your studies as a Classics major. The Department of Classics is a member of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome and can provide information on other yearlong, semester-long, or summer programs in Greece and Italy (e.g. the College Year in Athens and the summer session of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens). Interested students, especially classics majors and minors, are encouraged to consider these options for studying overseas. Meet with your Career Counselor and/or Academic Advisor for more information on volunteer opportunities, extracurricular activities, and study abroad programs.
- Develop Skills and Abilities Associated with Classics
- As a John Hopkins student, you will acquire a plethora of skills transferable to your career path. Throughout your coursework in the Classics department, you will develop unique and valuable skills such as evaluating translations and original texts, mastering language, articulation, and persuasion skills, analyzing and comparing massive structures such as culture and society, presenting and debating arguments, and applying historical ideas in a modern context in order to change the present from lessons learned in the past.
- Speak foreign languages and listen with objectivity and paraphrase the content of a message
- Use various media to present ideas imaginatively
- Express one’s needs, wants, opinions and preferences without offending sensitivities of others
- Analyze behavior of self and others in group situations
- Work Independently (Initiative)
- Maintain deadlines and manage time effectively
- Apply curiosity and creativity to projects and small groups/teams
- Organization and Accuracy
- Identify a general principle that explains interrelated experiences or factual data
- Apply information creatively to specific problems or tasks
- Predict future trends and patterns
- Critical Thinking/Analytical Skills
- Analyze texts, artworks, and writings
- Compare translations and interpretations
- Form new perspectives based on historical situations
- Create innovative solutions for complex problems
- Analyze the interrelationships of events and ideas from several perspectives
- Relate historical events and documents to present-day situation.
- Research and Investigation
- Ability to gather and synthesize information from original sources in various fields (philosophy, art, music, archaeology)
- Use a variety of sources of information
- Identify information sources appropriate to special needs or problems
- Formulate questions relevant to clarifying a particular problem, topic or issue
Additional skills may be applicable depending on what career path you choose. Schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor to discuss the skills necessary for your individual career plan.
Classics graduates from John Hopkins University go into a variety of fields. Since 2005, the Career Center has surveyed recent graduates about their academic and career plans six months after graduation. Here is a summary of their responses. Listed below are actual job titles that JHU alumni acquired with their degrees in Classics:
- Business Account Representative
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Documentation Manager
- Law Student
- Manager/Team Leader
- Project Manager
Dean of Students, The Avalon School
Classics, Class of 1996
- How did you get interested in your field? Was it your original goal when you started at Hopkins? -
To avoid the "parochialism of time", to develop my intellectual, communication and analytical abilities while studying the roots of Western Civilization. Gilman Hall offered so many intellectual treasures in one building and a Classics major was flexible enough to allow me to take advantage of many of them.
- What was your career path? How did you get to where you are today? - After leaving my beloved Gilman Hall, where breadth and depth of intellectual pursuit where everywhere available, I headed into graduate work in the Classics, after a great Fulbright year in Switzerland, where I was only able to study in depth. I missed the breadth that Hopkins had offered and left grad school when offered a teaching position. I then started an independent school. I have been able to teach in a variety of disciplines as well as coach numerous athletic teams and become involved in administration and development.
- What was your first job after college? Was it in your current field? - My first full-time job was in teaching.
- What advice do you have for current students, especially freshmen and sophomores? - Don't skip class (at least until you’re a senior). Take classes outside of your major and field of expertise. Freshmen should eat lunch with different people often that first semester. Read as much as you can. Get to know non-tourist Baltimore and some Baltimore history.
- What is your typical day like? - Faculty Meeting in the morning and then some time to get ready for the day's classes. Usually I have planned the classes out the night before. This past year I taught five classes of grades 7-11 in four different subject matters. Teachers cover breaks and lunch to keep a veneer of civility on the rambunctious "creativity" of youthful exuberance. Most of us also coach after school. I coached varsity basketball which was from 6-8 every evening. Between the end of school at 3 until practice I often graded or prepare for the next day, hang out with colleagues, etc.
- What’s most rewarding about your industry and/ or job? What's most challenging? - Rewarding: The fertile intellectual ground provided by a very intelligent, creative and interesting faculty as well as the gifted and inquisitive students who always provoke new ways of looking at things. Seeing a student turn on, find that spark of interest in the world outside of himself. Usually excellence in one field drags the habits in other fields upward.
Challenging: The pay is difficult, cultural condescension to the teaching field is amusingly annoying, parents who have a hard time seeing their children for who they are not who they wish they were. Keeping kids interested and awake in the completely unnatural and inhuman environment of rows of desks.
- What are typical entry-level positions for this field? What tips do you have for students to be successful in these positions? - Patience. Because you mean well and want to inspire kids like teachers in movies does not matter at all to them. Their perception is the reality. Be patient and firm. Be friendly but don't be a "friend".
- Where do you see the field going in the next 5-10 years? - I think the industrial school model we've been using for the past hundred years will continue to fail most of its students. I see localized and decentralized non-traditional education taking off.
- What skills and out-of-class experiences (i.e. internships, co-curricular activities, volunteering, etc.) are ideal for entering your industry / career field? - Good humor, humility, patience, toughness, intellectual curiosity.
- Where can someone in an entry-level position expect to be in two years? Five years? Ten years? - If you are still teaching after five years then it's your calling. You should get involved in camps and extracurricular activities. School administration is the logical step after a few years in most schools.
- What related occupations and industries would you recommend students explore who are interested in your industry or career field? - Organization Behavior, communications, development.
Additional Alumni Profiles
Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.
For more information on what you can do with a Classics Major go to What can I do with a major in Classics.
Want to know more? Read our Hopkins Career Profiles on Law and Paralegal, Medicine, and Teaching.
If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.
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For information on the top Graduate programs, the best people to talk to are the experts in the field you wish to study such as faculty members and graduate students in that specific discipline. We strongly encourage you to talk with your advisor and/or other faculty members with whom you have a good, working relationship. This will also help when you request letters of recommendation.
The Career Center is here to help you navigate the graduate school search process. Learn about Graduate and Professional School
For information on advanced degree programs in Classics at JHU, visit the department’s graduate school web pages:
Involvement with professional associations is a great way to further explore your potential career paths as a Classics major. These groups will not only provide materials and further resources to help you make your career decision, but they also provide essential networking benefits. In addition, many professional associations have student chapters at JHU.
If you are interested in joining any of the JHU chapters/groups, contact the group and/or its advisor. More information.