Why study the Humanities?

In the Humanities Division, you will develop a global perspective and an understanding of diverse cultures, both of which are essential in our increasingly connected world. You’ll learn to think critically and communicate expressively across media and genres, engaging with texts, languages, history, culture and civilization. The Humanities pushes boundaries, embraces scholarship and investigates issues of power and difference.

Students ready to explore the Humanities as an undergraduate can also enroll in Humanities First, a new First Year experience to connect with the UW community, think broadly about human life, and to explore the questions that matter.

Find Yourself in the Humanities


The research interests of our faculty and students are as wide-ranging as the cultures and civilizations our 12 departments explore. We focus on the past, present and future — from exploring the earliest collections of Buddhist manuscripts to investigating racial bias in automatic speech recognition software.

The Simpson Center for the Humanities, one of the largest and most comprehensive humanities centers in the country, provides funding and support for fellowships, research clusters, graduate study groups, conferences, and symposia on a wide range of research topics.

More about Art & Sciences Research

Circle of students sit outside on grass and have class.

A Summer of Research

Through the undergraduate Summer Institute in the Arts & Humanities, you can spend your summer conducting original research on an interdisciplinary theme and present your findings to the community in a closing symposium. And you’ll receive academic credit, too. 

Read More about A Summer of Research

What do Humanities students do after graduating?

When you study the Humanities, you’ll develop the necessary perspectives and critical thinking to explore the big questions of what it means to be human in our interconnected world. Because these are skills that employers value, you can use your humanities education to pursue a career in many industries including business, health care, media and public relations, technology and education.

Person presents a graph of data in front of a projector.

Classics has given me a framework for thinking about the world. It has given me the opportunity to study cultures different from ours but that also ended up as the roots of our own; to consider the past and how we perceive or interact with it; and to see those threads of shared humanity run throughout time.

Grecia Leal Pardo BA in Classics and Drama, 2019
portrait of Grecia Leal Pardo

Alumni Career Paths

  • Sales development manager 
  • Public health researcher 
  • Web analyst 
  • Publicist
  • Business entrepreneur 
  • Educator 
  • Community organizer
  • Attorney
  • Editor
  • Digital content creator
  • Literary translator
Smiling teacher gesturing in front of class

Humanities programs

Whatever your interest, there’s a program in the Humanities Division for you.

  • Department of Asian Languages & Literature
    • B.A., Asian Languages and Cultures
    • B.A., Chinese
    • B.A., Japanese
    • B.A., Korean
    • B.A., South Asian Languages
    • M.A., Buddhist Studies
    • M.A., Chinese
    • M.A., Japanese
    • M.A., South Asian Languages
    • Ph.D., Buddhist Studies
    • Ph.D., Chinese
    • Ph.D., Japanese
    • Ph.D., South Asian Languages
  • Department of Cinema and Media Studies
    • B.A., Cinema and Media Studies
    • B.A., Comparative Literature
    • Cinema and Media Studies
    • M.A., Cinema and Media Studies
    • Ph.D., Cinema and Media Studies
  • Department of Classics
    • B.A., Classical Studies
    • B.A., Classics
    • B.A., Greek
    • B.A., Latin
    • M.A., Classics
    • M.A., Greek
    • M.A., Latin
    • Ph.D., Classics
    • Ph.D., Classics and Ancient Philosophy
  • Department of Comparative History of Ideas
    • B.A., Comparative History of Ideas
  • Department of English
    • B.A., English: Creative Writing
    • B.A., English: Language and Literature
    • M.A., English: Language and Literature
    • M.A., English: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages
    • M.F.A., English: Creative Writing
    • Ph.D., English: Language and Literature
  • Department of French & Italian Studies
    • B.A., French Studies
    • B.A., Italian Studies
    • M.A., French Studies
    • Ph.D., French Studies
  • Department of German Studies
    • B.A., Germanics
    • M.A., Germanics: Literature and Culture
    • M.A., Germanics: Pedagogy and Culture
    • Ph.D., Germanics
  • Department of Linguistics
    • B.A., Linguistics
    • M.S., Computational Linguistics
    • Ph.D., Linguistics
  • Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization
    • B.A., Near Eastern Studies: Comparative Civilizations
    • B.A., Near Eastern Studies: Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East
    • B.A., Near Eastern Studies: Languages and Cultures
    • M.A., Near Eastern Studies
  • Department of Scandinavian Studies
    • B.A., Danish
    • B.A., Finnish
    • B.A., Norwegian
    • B.A., Scandinavian Area Studies
    • B.A., Swedish
    • M.A., Scandinavian Area Studies
    • M.A., Scandinavian Languages and Literature
    • Ph.D., Scandinavian Languages and Literature
  • Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures
    • B.A., Eastern European Languages, Literature, and Culture
    • B.A., Russian Language, Literature, and Culture
    • M.A., Slavic Languages & Literatures
    • Ph.D., Slavic Languages & Literatures
  • Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies
    • B.A., Spanish
    • M.A., Hispanic Literary and Cultural Studies
    • Ph.D., Hispanic Studies

Cool Courses

Explore some of the exciting courses offered in the Humanities Division. Seventy-five percent of Humanities courses have fewer than 25 students.

Students recreating ancient technology in Classics lab.

STEM in the Ancient World

Learn about the advanced technology of ancient Greece and Rome from the late Bronze Age to the early Roman Empire, and then put ancient innovations to the test by working in teams to build catapults and other ancient technology. 

A dried and cracked pond bed with only a little bit of water in it.

The Water Crisis in Literature and Film

How has water's meaning changed as people become more conscious of risks in supply and access? Explore texts and other media from Europe, Africa, and the Americas that address the water crisis and reflect on the variety of aesthetic, cultural, and political responses to it.

A baby holds brightly colored toys in the shape of letters.

Infant Brain & Language Development

Learn how biological and environmental factors shape language development in childhood, and explore how early language and brain growth inform children's opportunities to learn worldwide.

Ready to dive into the Humanities?

Learn a new language, explore cultures and broaden your perspective through the study of others.

Divisional Dean of Humanities

Brian Reed
portrait of Brian Reed


Janet Yale


Explore Our Other Divisions