Classics as an intellectual discipline embraces the study of ancient Greece and Rome, two civilizations whose legacy has played a major role in shaping our modern world. The concentration in Classics is inter-disciplinary, combining the study of language, linguistics, and literature; archaeology, art, and architecture; history; philosophy, science, and medicine; and myth and religion. To study Classics at Harvard, no prior knowledge of an ancient language is required. Students may either start Greek and/or Latin from scratch, or build upon prior knowledge by taking more advanced courses.
The Department of the Classics has been at the forefront of graduate education in Classics for well over a century. It offers a variety of approaches, emphasizing a wide range of knowledge and skills rather than a narrow early specialization. The department offers doctoral degrees in ancient history, Byzantine Greek, classical archaeology, classical philology, classical philosophy, medieval Latin, and modern Greek. All candidates admitted to the Ph.D. programs are expected to enter with competence in the pertinent languages, ancient and modern, on which they will build in the course of their graduate study.