Classics Careers

What can you do with a major or minor in Classics?  What can’t you do?

Classics majors build excellent reading, writing, and language skills. They learn to ask nuanced questions, analyze complex ideas, and interpret evidence in its context. By doing so, they learn to appreciate how the past shapes our own and others’ views and to engage other cultures on their own terms. These are skills necessary for lives of thoughtful inquiry, leadership, service, and care, and they are transferable to many professions.

The Classics major and minor have been intentionally crafted to be flexible and to complement another major or minor. A Classical Studies major, for example, includes four electives from any combination of Art, Classics, English, IHON, Greek, History, Latin, Philosophy, Religion, and the Sciences.  A Classics minor includes four electives from those same disciplines.

If you’re interested in graduate school, medical school, law school, or any other professional training, Classics is an excellent choice.  In general, Classics majors scored 2nd highest overall on the 2013 MCAT, had a 50% acceptance rate to medical school, scored an average of 159.5 on the LSAT (the 3rd highest score of the 173 different majors!), and had the highest average GRE Verbal score out of 286 intended graduate tracks.  Some years, Classics majors have outperformed all other majors on the MCAT verbal reasoning.

Transferable Skills

What skills will I learn as a Classics major or minor, and how will I demonstrate them to potential employers?

excellent reading, writing, and language skills

By mastering Latin and/or Greek, the Classics student shows commitment and work ethic, but also a much deeper knowledge of language and its uses. Classics students must read broadly for their classes, but also deeply (skill: reading quickly), and they are expected to write analytical papers that address arguments and content across multiple languages and cultures (skill: writing elegantly and persuasively; skill: juggling complex and varied data sets).

intellectual rigor and discipline

The Classics student, by mastering Greek and/or Latin shows commitment, discipline, and fortitude (skills: intellectual rigor and discipline).

ability to analyze nuanced questions, complex ideas, and interpret evidence in context

By preparing bibliographies for research papers — especially the annotated bibliography in which a student classifies, summarizes, and evaluates sources — the Classics major shows that he/she can process large amounts of often conflicting data quickly and efficiently, organize the data into useful sets, and then employ the data as intended (here, in a research paper, which itself will show the Classics student’s skills in expression, logic, and persuasion).

ability to engage other cultures on their own terms

In Roman Civilization, Greek Civilization, Classical and Comparative Mythology, as well as in our language reading courses, a Classics student learns how fundamentally different the ancient world was from our own, even as it provided the foundations on which our world rests. In Roman Civilization, for example, students make presentations on how Roman views of sexuality differ radically from those of the modern West: sexuality was defined less by the genders of the participants and more by their relative social standings. As a result, the Romans had no concept of our heterosexual and homosexual. These and other revelations open students’ eyes to the ways in which some cultural structures are not absolute.

ability to appreciate how past contexts shape present views

Classics students must constantly contend with change-over-time on a truly long scale. In Roman Civilization, for example, students read from Foucault’s Care of the Self: The History of Sexuality, Volume 3, and by writing essays and doing presentations on the topic, they look at how ideas of what it means to be a “real man” have changed from Roman times, through Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and finally the Modern era. Thinking about how the past shapes the present builds both a habit of thinking about the broader picture and an awareness that there may be more forces at work than are visible on the immediate surface. A sensitivity to these undercurrents is a valuable quality in any profession.

Classics Alumnae and Alumni: Where Are They Now?

Our majors and minors have gone on to successful careers in just about every field:  see just a few below.

PLU Classicists in the Professional World

  • Carmen Rowe (Classics 1992). J.D. (1998) Columbia Law School. Currently at Goldstein Law Office, Olympia, WA.
  • Nicholas Pharris (Classics 1999). Ph.D. (2006) Linguistics, University of Michigan. Currently Elections and Information Specialist, State of Washington.
  • Don Early (Classics 2000). Currently Manager, Dead Gentlemen Productions, and Financial Associate for Thrivent Financial.
  • Ben Dobyns (Film Studies, Latin 2001). Currently CEO of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment.
  • Matt Vancil (Classics, English 2001). Screenwriting (2007), American Film Institute Conservatory.  Formerly co-CEO of Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, Seattle.  Currently writer and content designer for Z2 (www.Z2.com).
  • Norita White Dobyns (Classics 2003). M.A. (2006) Ohio State University, graduate teaching and research assistant 2003-2006. Currently Regional Office Coordinator at DeVita, Seattle.
  • Lindsey Webb (Classical Languages, Philosophy, 2009).  Graduate of Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.  Currently working as the Food Programs Manager of the Seattle Millionaire’s Club Charity, and for Hampton Creek (Boston, Massachusetts) as a Relationship Specialist.
  • Brad Warren (Classics 2004). United States Marine Corps, 2006-2013. Currently enjoying living in Idaho.
  • Molly Olmstead (History, Latin, Religion 2008). MAE (2009) Pacific Lutheran University. Currently teaching for Peninsula School District, Gig Harbor, WA.
  • Joshua Rodriguez (Classics, English 2010). Currently at University of Washington Law School.
  • Bridgette Cooper (Classical Languages, Political Science 2011). Accepted at Fordham, University of Washington, Seattle University, George Washington, and William and Mary law schools. Currently Governmental Affairs Consultant, Gordon Thomas Honeywell and enrolled in UW Seattle Law School.

PLU Classicists and the Religious Life

  • Katie McCallum Sachse (English, Religion, Greek 1996). M.Div. (1999) Luther Seminary. Pacific Lutheran University Board of Regents, 2007-2012. Currently Pastor at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, Kirkland, WA.
  • Cindy Messler-Early (Religion, Greek 2000). M.Div. (2004) Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago, IL. Currently enjoying raising a family in Bellingham, WA.
  • Erik Samuelson (Classics, Religion 2001). M.Div. (2005) Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, M.A. (2006) Systematic Theology, Graduate Theological Union. Currently Campus Pastor and Director of Spiritual and Vocational Formation, Trinity Lutheran College.
  • Joshua Samuelson (Classics, Computer Science and Engineering  2003). M.Div. (2012) Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley. Currently Database Administrator, Holden Village, Chelan, WA.
  • Joseph Natwick (Classics, Religion 2011). Currently class of 2015 at Luther Seminary, St. Paul MN.

PLU Classicists and Graduate School

  • Eric Nelson (Classics 1982). Ph.D. (1992) Classics, University of Washington, Seattle. Associate Professor of Classics and Chair of the Department of Languages and Literatures, PLU.
  • Paul, Ojennus (Classics 1996). Ph.D (2003) Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder, M.L.I.S. The Information School, University of Washington, Seattle. Currently teaching in the World Languages and Cultures Department, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA.
  • Susan Allard-Nelson (Classics, Philosophy 1998). Ph.D. (2004) Ancient Philosophy, University of Warwick (UK). Currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Programs, PLU.
  • Jason Thompson, Ph.D. (Classics, English 2000). MFA Poetry, Ph.D. (2008) Rhetoric and Composition University of Arizona. Currently Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and New Media, University of Wyoming.
  • James Conrad (Classics, Political Science 2003). Accepted at London School of Economics and Durham University (UK). M.A. (2006) Classics and Ancient History, University of Durham (UK). M.A. (2010) Classics, UCSB. Currently Ph.D. graduate teaching assistant, Department of History, UCSB.
  • Eric Thienes (Classics, Art 2002). M.A. Classics (2007) University of Arizona.  Ph.D. (2015)in Classics, University of Missouri.  Currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Classics, PLU (2015-16).
  • Lisa Vleig (Classics, Anthropology, History 2006), M.A. (2011) Archeology, University College London (UK). Currently Field Technician and Registrar, Pacific Lutheran University Valley of the Kings Project.
  • Stephanie Steinke (Classics, Anthropology 2009). M.A. (2011) Greek and Roman Archeology, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK). Currently Graduate Teaching Assistant, Ancient History and Archaeology (Geographic Information Systems), University of North Dakota.
  • Kristen McCabe Lashua (History, English, Latin 2009). M.A. (2011), Ph.D. Teaching Assistant, and The Papers of George Washington Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Virginia.

Last updated 09 June 2015.

Classics Spotlight

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