Study people, texts, and culture
By being a humanities student at the University of Illinois, you'll be able to pursue your passions while earning a top education.
Choosing a major in the humanities will help you reach your goals. You’ll advance your critical thinking, learn how to better understand others, make sense of the world, and more. Best of all, after you graduate, you’ll go on to do amazing things and make the world in which we live a better place.
Illinois has 23 undergraduate humanities majors, from literature to language, ancient history to current cultures. Find out more about our programs of study below and then APPLY to become a part of the rich humanities tradition at Illinois.
Visit the Graduate College's website for information on humanities graduate programs at Illinois.
Explore UNDERGRADUATE humanities majors:
African American studies explores the life and culture of African American peoples and their African Diaspora relationships, patterns, and ties.
Through this major, you'll join a new generation of leaders committed to public engagement, a diverse democratic society, and social justice. This program will prepare you for careers in the private or public sectors, teaching, social work, human resources, criminal justice, management and administration, city planning, marketing, policy-making, medicine, law, and more.
A major in Asian American studies provides a social science approach to the study of race, gender, sexuality, diversity, citizenship, and globalization.
You'll gain knowledge in theory and issues of the United States and Asian-American history and culture. After you graduate, you will be prepared for any career in which an understanding of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality is essential.
A major in classics involves the study of the languages, culture, history, and thought of the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. A secondary education option is also available in the teaching of Latin.
Classics offers the opportunity to study literature (epic, drama, historical writing, and much more), the history and archaeology of the Greek and Roman Mediterranean, philosophy (both ancient and modern), and linguistics. Classics majors have gone into careers in research, teaching, law, medicine, journalism, business, and more.
Comparative & world literature offers exciting and innovative ways to approach comparative literary and cultural studies.
You will be able to learn about and compare literary and cultural traditions, often studied in the original languages. Graduates are prepared to enter a vast array of fields including linguistics, academia, cultural arts, law, and communication.
Hear from comparative & world literature professor Harriet Murav:
Through a combination of small writing workshops and courses in the study of literature, creative writing students hone their critical and analytic skills and develop an individual voice as they produce original work in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.
Through this major, you'll gain creative rigor: you will learn to formulate and articulate complex ideas, develop original works, and give and receive effective feedback. Our alumni have gone on to careers in communications, media, healthcare, law, politics, education, public service, business, publishing, and much more.
A major center for the study and research of the cultures and languages of East Asia, Illinois has, through East Asian Languages & Cultures, trained hundreds of students who have gone on to careers in education, business, finance, industry, government, and the arts.
The goal of the undergraduate major is that the student will gain a firm competence in an East Asian language, an in-depth knowledge of East Asian cultures through multiple disciplines, and more advanced knowledge of the region through research and writing in small seminar courses. The Major and Minor, administered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, are designed for students seeking a broad liberal arts education and preparation for graduate study or professional careers involving East Asia.
The close study of literature, text, and culture teaches English students to analyze key social and artistic issues as they emerge through fiction, drama, poetry, film, and essays, and to acquire the professional writing skills to explore complex problems and work toward solutions. A secondary education option in the teaching of English is also available.
Our alumni have gone on to careers in communications, media, healthcare, law, politics, education, public service, business, publishing, library and information science, and much more.
Students in the Department of French will be able to study French literature, civilization, cinema, and linguistics. A secondary education teaching option is also available in French.
Through a well-designed series of courses in French language, you'll have ample opportunities to attain fluency in French, as well as pursue interdisciplinary study. Upon graduation, you will be well-equipped to pursue a career in numerous fields such as business, education, hospitality, tourism, government, social services, and non-for-profit organizations, as well as take your skilsl abroad.
Students in gender & women's studies explore, analyze, and challenge the ways in which gender shapes people's lives.
You'll learn the skills you need to initiate change and work for justice while developing communication and critical thinking skills. Upon graduation, you will be well prepared for graduate or professional school and many career fields, including social work, law, public policy, victim advocacy, community health, counseling, and various fields of non-profit work addressing civil rights and social justice.
A degree in German provides students with a solid training in all aspects of German or Scandinavian languages, as well as an in-depth understanding of the cultures expressed in these languages. A secondary education option in German teaching is also available.
Through various course offerings, you'll have the chance to explore the history and structure of the languages and their multifaceted use in literature, culture, and business. Students that earn a degree from the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures pursue a wide array of career paths in business, education, arts, tourism, and hospitality. Students also secure admission to graduate and professional schools.
History students learn how to understand the past, grasp its relationship to the present, and confront the greatest challenges of our time. A secondary education option in social science and the teaching of history is also available.
You'll master research skills, critical thinking, and writing. Upon graduation, you will be able to go into a successful career in a wide range of fields, including teaching, law, technology, museums, and many more.
History of art majors learn to analyze and interpret visual cultures, both past and present, from around the globe-fundamental skills in a world increasingly reliant on visual communication and intercultural exchange. History of art is part of the College of LAS and the School of Art & Design at Illinois.
A history of art degree will provide you with visual, verbal, research, and critical skills applicable to any number of careers. Our graduates have pursued a broad range of careers in both the public and private sectors, and been admitted to professional schools for law, medicine, business, and other fields.
Italian at Illinois is an interdisciplinary and flexible major for those interested in Italian culture, Mediterranean societies in a global context, and the European tradition in the face of globalization.
You'll gain linguistic and cultural skills to understand the role of culture for economic, social, and political development. Alumni have found careers in publishing, consulting, project management, non-profit organizations, law, teaching, immigration, translating, and more.
Jewish studies encompasses a wide range of Jewish languages, history, religion, and culture.
Through Jewish studies, you'll learn gain knowledge of the world through the study of Jewish cultures, history, literatures, and religion. Our program, populated by award-winning faculty, will help you study the richness and multiplicity of the Jewish worlds past and present. We offer courses in Hebrew and Yiddish, along with a diverse array of courses that foster a broad appreciation of Jewish religion, culture, and history—including the History of Antisemitism, The Holocaust, Israeli Cinema and Television, Jewish Storytelling, and Zionism: A Global History.
Many of our courses are taught as small seminars, in which students have ample opportunities to interact with leading scholars in the field, and we also offer select courses in an online format. Diverse and scintillating public programs—from Klezmer to Israeli cinema—engage students, faculty, and community while fostering dialogue about a range of concerns Jewish studies graduates are prepared to enter various fields including academia, museum curation, anthropology, law, foreign service, and more.
Latin American studies is an interdisciplinary major that explorations the major area of the Americas. As a Latin American studies student, you'll have a curriculum that is in-depth, integrative, cross-disciplinary, and spans across varies perspectives.
You will gain knowledge of Latin America's geography, anthropology, history, culture, politics, economics, environment, and more. Upon graduation, you'll be ready for a job or further education in education, business, the arts, government agencies, tourism, and non-governmental organizations.
Latina/Latino studies focuses on the study of Latin American origin populations in the United States. The major provides students with the skills they need to be active and successful participants in our multi-racial, multi-cultural democracy.
Graduates of Latina/Latino studies have found careers in a wide array of fields, such as applied health, law, journalism, social work, education, community activism, government, and business.
The linguistics major provides a background in all the core areas of theoretical linguistics, and to ensure that students are familiar with more than one foreign language, including at least one "Non-Western" language. The Department of Linguistics offers undergraduate instruction in Linguistics, English as an International Language, English as a Second Language, and a variety of "less commonly taught" languages.
Linguistics majors pursue a wide range of careers that reflect the diversity of their interests and experiences, being well prepared for jobs in industry, as well as graduate studies.
The medieval studies major is global in scope, with introductory coursework in the medieval cultures of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East followed by an individual plan of study of advanced coursework allowing a student to focus on a particular area.
A degree in medieval studies will allow you to learn about medieval cultures across the world, including periods and movements, institutions, material culture, ideas, beliefs, and values. The coursework spans both geographic regions and disciplines to introduce students to the breadth of medieval cultures as well as to the diversity of methods and perspectives for their study.
Philosophy is the oldest, broadest, and most fundamental body of inquiry investigating questions having to do with the understanding of ourselves and whatever else there may be; the nature of various forms of knowledge and experience; and ethical issues and problems of value.
Because philosophy is a theoretical discipline emphasizing both deductive reasoning and rational argumentation, you'll gain powerful critical and independent thinking skills, as well as facility in clear written and verbal expression. Philosophy majors go on to have successful careers in law, business, technology, print journalism, television, public policy, government, diplomatic corps, academics, and medicine.
Students in Portuguese study the world's sixth most spoken language in order to build familiarity with Brazil and other Portuguese-speaking countries. They learn about globalization; ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, and class; migration; nation-making; modernity and postmodernity; and colonial and postcolonial histories.
As a Portuguese student, you will gain professional proficiency in the Portuguese language and the ability to discuss economy, environment, and society at large. Portuguese alumni have used their linguistic and cultural competencies in variety of career fields, including international consulting/business, social work, teaching/academia, diplomacy, marketing, translation and interpretation, and much more.
A major in religion allows students to study diverse religious traditions from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Primary areas of study include Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Philosophy of Religion, and Religion in America. R
As a student in religion, you'll concentrate in a particular area of interest while gaining broad exposure to the major religious traditions of the world through the study of diverse cultures, texts, and ideologies. Upon graduation, you will be prepared for a variety of careers, including working in education, law, journalism, museums and the arts, government or foreign affairs, and non-profit or non-governmental organization work.
Russian, East European, & Eurasian studies allows students to study an important and complex area of the world by drawing together the approaches of different disciplines while building knowledge in a single discipline.
You'll learn about history, sociology, political science, and culture of the region that includes Russia and many other countries, from the Czech Republic to Estonia to Uzbekistan. Graduates are prepared for a variety of positions either working or furthering their education in academia, government, and non-governmental organizations both in the United States and abroad.
Slavic studies includes the study of the language, literature, and culture of the Slavic countries. Students can concentrate in Czech studies; Polish studies; Russian language, literature, and culture; South Slavic studies; or Ukrainian studies.
As a Slavic studies student, you'll develop intensive cultural literacy and communication skills through humanities-oriented training. Upon graduation, you will be prepared for law school, business school, or other graduate study, or for a career with non-governmental organizations, government agencies, teaching, research, journalism, and more.
Students who study Spanish will learn core concepts of culture, literature, and linguistics, allowing for the building of expertise and pursuit of other areas of interest. A major in Spanish is frequently done in conjunction with another major, and an option in Spanish teaching is also available.
Spanish alumni find careers as teachers, Peace Corps members, translators, medical professionals, professors/instructors, business professionals, public service officials, and more.