Classical Studies Program

Classics at Fresno State

What is Classics and Why Study It?

"The Greeks," historian Jacob Burckhardt wrote, are "the representatives of genius on earth . . . if we ignore them we are simply accepting our own decline." The Classical tradition that started with the Greeks and expanded with the Romans defined civilization for millions of people in the ancient Mediterranean region, including North Africa and the Middle East. In later centuries its influence spread around the globe with explorers, colonizers, and missionaries. To learn about the ancient Greek and Roman cultures and languages is to possess a key to our own cultural and linguistic roots and ultimately to ourselves as modern Americans.

At Fresno State, we have both a minor and a special major in Classical Studies, with an emphasis upon the Greek and Latin languages. Many of our students win lucrative McClatchy and Garabedian scholarships, and they also travel and study overseas, including at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens (which requires a strong knowledge of ancient Greek). Many continue their studies in a variety of fields in graduate school at excellent institutions, including Yale, Brown, Princeton, UCLA, and Stanford.

A testimonial from The Princeton Review:

“We can’t overestimate the value of a Classics major. Check this out: according to Association of American Medical Colleges, students who major or double-major in Classics have a better success rate getting into medical school than do students who concentrate solely in biology, microbiology, and other branches of science. Crazy, huh? Furthermore, according to Harvard Magazine, Classics majors (and math majors) have the highest success rates of any majors in law school. Believe it or not: political science, economics, and pre-law majors lag fairly far behind. Even furthermore, Classics majors consistently have some of the highest scores on GREs of all undergraduates.”