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Value of a CAMS Major

CAMS students master an interdisciplinary subject with a long-term perspective on the human condition and on cultural achievements across diverse geographical regions. The study of CAMS requires the mastery of skills in assessing a range of evidence, deliberation and argumentation, analytical thinking, and writing and communication. The study of an ancient language is an especially effective way of sharpening the skill of expression and thought.  If English is not your native language, the completion of a major in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies is an excellent way to prove your language skills to prospective employers. The perspectives and skills developed as a CAMS student are valued in a wide range of professions, and our graduates have entered a great variety of careers.

Some of our majors plan academic careers in CAMS-related fields.  Our students have enrolled in graduate programs in Classics, Ancient History, Near Eastern Studies, Egyptology, Biblical Studies, Archaeology, Art History, and related fields at Universities such as Yale, Columbia, Cornell, the University of Michigan, University of Chicago, SUNY Buffalo, University of California at Santa Barbara, Brandeis, The Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and Oxford University.

The majority of our students do not choose careers in academia, but take positions ranging from teachers of Latin in public and private secondary schools to positions in finance and banking companies, such as Goldman Sachs.  (See the After Penn State page for further information concerning the variety of career and employment opportunities for CAMS graduates.)

Evidence has shown that a degree in Classics is a valuable asset. Classics majors have some of the highest GRE scores.  Studies indicate that Classics majors are among the two most successful majors in law school, outperforming significantly pre-law, political science, and economic majors (see preLaw 2014 "Back to School" issue). Applicants to medical school from Classics majors and minors are well received; a second major or a minor in Classics adds distinction to the many applications from majors in biology, microbiology, and other fields of science. For more information on an Undergraduate Degree in Classics and careers, see The Princeton Review, The American Philological Association, and Psychology Today.


Prominent People who Majored or Minored in Classics:


Toni Morrison, author, winner of Nobel Prize in Literature, 1993

J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter

Lynn Sherr, ABC News, 20/20 1986-2008 (read her 2003 lecture “Why in Heaven’s Name Are you Majoring in Greek?

Tim O’Reilly, Publisher of Technology Books & Magazines, Founder of O’Reilly Media, read his interview for ForbesThe Benefits of a Classical Education

Jerry Brown, Current (39th) Governor of California (2011-present), 34th Governor of California (1975-1983)

David Packard, co-founder of first CEO of Hewlett Packard

Ted Turner, founder, TBS and CNN, former Vice-Chairman Arial Warner

William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense (1997-2001)

James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State (1989-1992)

Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post 1968-1991

Teller, magician, illusionist, writer, of Penn & Teller

Charles Geschke, software executive, founder of Adobe Systems

Mary Ann Hopkins, Associate Professor & Director of Global Health Concentration, Surgery, NYU Medical Center, & Doctors Without Borders Volunteer

Hunter S. Rawlings, III, President of Cornell University (1995-2003, 2005-2006)

Student Testimonial

“The day I changed my major to Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies was one of the happiest of my college career.  Even before switching to CAMS,  I was interested in what the department had to offer. (...)
An undergraduate advisor suggested LATIN 003 as a way of easing into college life, as I had taken Latin classes throughout high school and had performed well on the Advanced Placement exams.  The beginning was rough, but I enjoyed the challenge of translating Latin prose and the information that the texts conveyed.  Although I pursued an Advertising degree during my first two years of college, I continued to sign up for Latin courses, and by the end of my sophomore year, I had realized that Classics, not Advertising, was the right major for me. In addition to the Latin courses, I also studied the ancient civilizations of Rome, Greece, and Egypt in the CAMS major.  All of these classes were interesting, educational, and taught by knowledgeable faculty members.   The CAMS faculty is always helpful; they provide insight into the class material and make suggestions for outside reading during office hours and after class.  When I wrote my senior thesis for the Honors College, I received much help from the CAMS faculty while researching and writing the thesis.  Now that I have received my diplomas from Penn State, both in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Spanish, I have decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Education.  I have been accepted at the Complutense University of Madrid, one of the oldest universities in Europe, to study secondary education, specializing in classical languages.  I am confident that the education I received at Penn State, notably in the CAMS department, will aid me greatly in my postgraduate studies and in securing a teaching job, whether in the United States, Spain, or elsewhere.”

Celia Meehan
2010 CAMS graduate

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