ARCHIVED CATALOG: Visit to view the 2023-2024 General Catalog.

UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Humanities and Fine Arts,
Humanities and Social Sciences 4001
Telephone (805) 893-3556
Department Chair: Dorota Dutsch


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 where we come from and who we are today. Citizenship and immigration, democracy and protest, beauty and love – so many of our key modern ideas and debates have their roots in 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.

Classics majors are able to take many small classes taught by senior faculty, an aspect that makes Classics especially attractive to serious students. To serve the interests of as many students as possible the department offers a major with three distinct emphases (see below). Double majors do well in our department. Law and medical schools are particularly alert to the value of double majors with Classics. We are a friendly department and look after our students.

Our graduate program provides rigorous academic preparation during the PhD. The smaller size of graduate program allows us to give students a lot of personal attention and care. Our students are also given extensive training in teaching – more than is typically possible in a larger graduate program. This experience is valued in a competitive job market. The university has generous fellowship packages and all of our current graduate students are fully funded through fellowships or TAships.

In recent years the department, together with our active affiliated faculty and other colleagues, has hosted the Association of Ancient Historians annual conference, a photography exhibition and invited lectures on 18th and 19th century African American classicists, and a research focus group on ancient and modern slavery and captivity. Our graduate students have a range of interests including close philological study of individual authors and the reception of Classics in Latin America. The department is enriched through hosting visiting scholars from around the world.

Our undergraduate and graduate students take advantage of many opportunities to study abroad – especially, but not exclusively in Greece and Italy.

The department provides advising to undergraduate and graduate students. Course descriptions are prepared and posted on the website at the start of each quarter.

Prizes and Awards

The Keith Aldrich Memorial Awards are given each year by the department to an undergraduate major in classics and to a graduate student in classics, in recognition of outstanding academic achievement.

The Dumas Award in Greek Mythology is given for essays on a mythological topic written in Classics 40. The Dumas Travel Scholarship supports travel to Greece by undergraduates and graduate students.

Undergraduate Honors

The Department of Classics at UCSB allows and encourages qualified students to pursue undergraduate honors in classics. Students admitted to the honors program in classics will write an honors thesis during their senior year, supervised by a member of the faculty. Successful completion of the program will be recognized by the award of Distinction in the Major at graduation. An honors thesis for distinction in classics is a substantial piece of critical writing that advances a sustained argument and that shows the student’s ability to conduct research with primary and secondary sources. A thesis is usually at least 25 pages in length (excluding appendices and bibliography). Candidates for the honors program in classics should petition the department chair at the end of their junior year; candidates must have been in residence at UCSB for one year (three quarters) as classics majors by time of graduation, must have maintained a grade-point average of 3.6 in the major, and must obtain the consent of two faculty members, one to serve as advisor and one as a second reader. In the first quarter of their senior year, honors students will work with faculty members to develop a suitable topic; in each of the remaining quarters, they will enroll in Classics 195A-B, Senior Honors Thesis in Classics, to research and write the honors thesis in consultation with the thesis advisor and the second reader. Writing an honors thesis is strongly recommended for students considering graduate work in classics.

Undergraduate Program

Students choose an emphasis in one of three areas: (1) language and literature, (2) Greek and Roman culture, or (3) archaeology. All three are excellent liberal-arts degrees, but while option (2) is an intellectually exciting and rigorous exploration of classical culture generally, option (3) is an equally exciting and rigorous but more specialized study of material remains, and option (1) devotes special attention to Greek and Latin language and literature and is better suited for those intending to pursue graduate study in classics or a professional degree in law or medicine. Students should keep in mind that strong language preparation (2-3 years of each language) is normally required for admission to a graduate program in Classics. Since this exceeds the minimum language requirements in all of the three major emphases, those interested in taking this route will need to do more than satisfy the minimal language requirements for their major, whichever emphasis they choose.

Note: In the first quarter of their junior year, all majors must make an appointment with the undergraduate advisor to review their progress towards meeting the requirements of the major.