Guide to College Majors in Classical Studies

Did you know?
The plots for many early Star Trek episodes were based on ancient Greek mythology. Captain Kirk's middle name, Tiberius, is the name of the second Roman Emperor.

What Is Classical Studies?

One thing that strikes classical studies students when they start reading the works of ancient philosophers and storytellers is how little human society has changed over the centuries. The same theories proposed by great minds such as Socrates, Plato, and Cicero are still applicable today--and that is why a classical studies degree is still valuable. Homer gave us poetry, Sophocles gave us drama, and Aristotle gave us philosophy that we can still use today.

In ancient Greek culture, students were taught philosophy, mathematics, rhetoric, government, and history. The Greeks and Romans studied the nature and origins of languages and then developed theories on how to use the structure of language for the benefit of society. What can you say and how can you say it to convince the masses to work together on building a more successful, efficient society that promotes the well-being of all?

A classical studies degree explores the ancient Greek and Latin languages; ancient history (political, social and cultural); and ancient myth, religion, mythology, philosophy, and literature in translation. These ancient teachings are the foundation for many modern societies and are the basis of disciplines like linguistics, archeology, religion, philosophy, art history, fine arts, sociology, history, communications, and law. For example, Plato focused on classifying forms of government, while Aristotle considered political science to be the "master science" which provides a model for political order - where the highest justice is achieved with maximum stability. We can still use their theories today.

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Career Education in Classical Studies

Degree and certificate programs for careers in classical studies

A bachelor of arts (BA) in classical studies is an excellent starting point for any of the humanities or liberal arts specialties that originated from the original classical disciplines. Although there are very few "classics' careers, a BA may be sufficient academic training for a variety of careers in the arts, government and politics, communications, and business--positions that require a broad-based education in human institutions. Online college courses in classics focus on the languages, religion and myth, philosophy, or literary works such as poetry, theatrical pieces and philosophical papers.

If you decide to pursue a career in the social sciences - such as anthropology, archeology, geography, history, political science, or sociology - you'll find the educational standards are among the highest of all occupations. Bachelor's degree holders have limited opportunities and aren't qualified for professional positions in most social science occupations. The bachelor's degree does, however, provide a suitable background for many different kinds of entry-level jobs, such as research assistant, administrative aide, or management or sales trainee. With the addition of a teaching license, social science graduates may qualify for teaching positions in secondary and elementary schools. All of these positions are excellent ways to earn money while you study for a more advanced degree--online degrees in particular have become popular among this demographic.

Graduates with master's degrees in applied social science specialties usually have better job opportunities, although the situation varies by field. A doctorate degree is the minimum requirement for most teaching positions in colleges and universities, and is important for advancement to many top-level nonacademic research and administrative posts.

Training in statistics and mathematics is essential for many social scientists. Mathematical and quantitative research methods are increasingly used in geography, political science, and other fields. The ability to utilize computers for research purposes is mandatory in most disciplines. Most geographers also will need to be familiar with GIS (geographic information system) technology.

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What Can You Do With a Degree in Classical Studies?

Career Specializations within Classical Studies

Professionals in the social sciences conduct research to help us understand different ways in which individuals and groups make decisions, exercise power, and respond to change. Interviews and surveys are widely used to collect facts, opinions, or other information. Through study and analysis, social scientists suggest solutions to social, business, personal, governmental, and environmental problems.

Depending on the job, social scientists may need a wide range of personal characteristics. You need intellectual curiosity and creativity, because you're constantly seeking new information about people, things, and ideas. Objectivity, open-mindedness, and systematic work habits are important in all kinds of social science research. The ability to think logically and methodically is important to a political scientist, for example, to compare the merits of various forms of government. Perseverance is essential for an anthropologist, who might spend years accumulating artifacts from an ancient (or contemporary) civilization. Excellent written and oral communication skills are necessary for all these professionals.

Here are some examples of careers you can pursue with a Classical Studies foundation and extra educational credentials:

  • Anthropologists and sociologists often find opportunities to perform policy research for consulting firms, nonprofit organizations, and social service agencies in such areas as crime, ethnic conflict, public health, and refugee policy. They can also work in product development, marketing, advertising, and in human resources, focusing on conflict resolution and issues relating to workforce diversity.
  • As construction projects increase, archaeologists will be needed to perform preliminary excavations in order to preserve historical artifacts. Geographers advise government, real-estate developers, utilities, and telecommunications firms on where to build new roads, buildings, power plants, and cable lines; and on environmental matters, such as where to build a landfill or preservation of wetland habitats. As the use of GIS technology expands, geographers will find numerous job opportunities applying the technology in non-traditional areas, such as emergency assistance to track locations of ambulances, police, and fire rescue units, and in homeland security and defense.
  • Historians and political scientists also find jobs in policy or research. Historians may find opportunities with historic preservation societies, as public interest in preserving and restoring historical sites increases. Political scientists utilize their knowledge of political institutions to further the interests of nonprofit, political lobbying, foreign relations, immigration, and social organizations. Most positions will require at least a master's degree. Philosophers will generally seek a PhD and teach at the college and university level.

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