Classics and Ancient Studies


The department of Classics and Ancient Studies aims to introduce students to a knowledge of the languages and an understanding of the literature and culture of ancient Greece and Rome in a broader Mediterranean context, as well as to develop an appreciation of how Greco-Roman antiquity has been used and abused by later eras. The study of the languages enables access to a wide range of challenging and influential ancient texts, artifacts, and ideas and also makes the grammar, syntax, and vocabulary of English and other modern languages more comprehensible. The study of these texts, in turn, develops analytical and critical thinking about both the past and the present, the ability to assess many different kinds of fragmentary evidence, as well as skills in writing, close reading and oral presentation, cultural awareness, and literary sensibility. Close cooperation between Barnard and Columbia enables ancient studies students to plan and implement an integrated, cohesive interdisciplinary study of the ancient world, including language, literature, mythology, history, religion, philosophy, law, political theory, comparative literature, medieval studies, gender studies, art history and material culture. The texts and monuments of the Greco-Roman world served as the basis of Western education until the twentieth-century and retain a core position in modern humanities and social thought that is currently expanding beyond the West. Exploring, analyzing, and assessing this legacy is the central goal of the program.


Language Requirement

Students may fulfill the foreign language requirement in Greek by completing Greek V1201 and V1202, or in Latin by completing Latin V1201 and V1202, or by completing one course in Greek or Latin at the 3000 levels or above. In rare instances, the language requirement may be fulfilled by passing an exemption examination with a sufficiently high grade. This examination tests the student's knowledge of grammar and her ability to translate written Greek or Latin.




The department offers two majors. The majors in Classics (Greek, Latin, or Classics) center on work in the original languages, whereas the major in Ancient Studies has an interdisciplinary focus. All members of the department are available for major advising and students ideally choose an advisor who can help them develop their required senior essays.

Read more about our different majors and minors here 


Our majors graduate well prepared for graduate careers in Classics and related academic fields such as history, philosophy, archaeology, art history or comparative literature. They also enter successful careers in secondary school teaching, museum work and arts administration, as well as law, medicine and biological sciences, business, politics, public service in both the government and non-profit sectors, journalism and creative writing, publishing, library science, and the arts (especially theater, film and dance).