About the Department of Classics

The Department of Classics at Berkeley is a leading center for the study of Greco-Roman antiquity. It is the intellectual home of a distinguished faculty, excellent graduate students, and an extraordinarily talented and diverse group of undergraduates. Our community is also enriched by many visiting scholars, including the annual Jane K. Sather Professor of Classical Literature.

Our faculty direct a number of centers: the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology, and the Sara B. Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy. These serve as a remarkable resource for our students while also attracting researchers from around the world.

Our Mission

The mission of the Department has four major components.

  • To give students across the University access to the literature, history, archaeology, mythology and philosophy of the ancient Greek and Roman world through an array of undergraduate courses on classical culture in translation. These courses introduce students to texts, artefacts, and ideas that are worth studying both in their own right and as abidingly influential elements in the imagination and history of later cultures. Such study deepens students' understanding of present-day issues by inculcating a sense of historical perspective that takes account of both the differences and the continuities between contemporary and ancient cultures.
  • To enable undergraduates to immerse themselves in the language and culture of ancient Greece and Rome through our majors in Greek, Latin, and Classical Civilizations. These majors equip students with knowledge and analytical skills that can be applied in many areas (e.g., law, politics, business, biosciences, computer science and media) as well as providing essential preparation for graduate study in Classics, Comparative Literature, Philosophy, and other fields.
  • To train and mentor future scholars and teachers through our top-rated graduate programs in Classics and Classical Archaeology. These programs combine intensive linguistic training in both Greek and Latin with wide-ranging intellectual exploration (including literature, history, archaeology, philosophy, and linguistics).
  • To seek, through our faculty appointments, the breadth and excellence that can sustain these three goals. We encourage individual and collaborative faculty research, intellectual engagement with students at all levels, and effective participation in the administrative and advisory work of the Department, the College, the Academic Senate, and the campus and university as a whole.

The Department encourages faculty participation in other programs and cooperation with other departments. It includes several faculty with joint appointments, and it enjoys strong connections with Art History, Comparative Literature, History, Linguistics, Medieval Studies, Near Eastern Studies, Philosophy, Rhetoric, Theater Dance and Performance Studies, and the Graduate Group in Ancient History and Mediterranean Archaeology, and the Graduate Theological Union. On campus, Classics faculty are involved in the Nemea Center for Classical Archaeology, the Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy, the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology, and the Archaeological Research Facility.

For more details on the Department's mission with regards to undergraduate majors, please visit the Undergraduate Learning Goals page.