Although silicon solar cells currently dominate the market share for photovoltaic (PV) devices, it is important to explore other materials and device configurations that could be cheaper and more environmentally friendly to produce, as well as potentially more efficient at energy conversion. Here, we review some of our recent theoretical work aimed at accurate evaluation of key materials properties associated with optimizing alternative PV materials. These include potential new light absorbers and transparent conductors in devices ranging from traditional PVs to tandem dye-sensitized solar cells and thin-film PVs to intermediate band gap PVs. We specifically focus on two materials families: transition-metal oxides (TMOs), such as NiO, CoO, FeO, and Cu2O, and mixed metal sulfides, such as Cu2ZnSnS4. Both families are p-type semiconductors being explored as less expensive solar cell components.