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Requirements | Middle East Studies

Learn about the requirements for the Middle East Studies program. 

Master of Arts (MA) Requirements

MA students concentrating in Middle East Studies (MES) must complete 20 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone.

They must pass the Middle East History Test with a 70 percent or higher grade, preferably in the first semester.

Middle East Studies concentrators are permitted to use one course outside of Middle East Studies on a relevant topic toward their concentration with program approval.

Students are also required to achieve proficiency in Arabic or Persian (Farsi). Native speakers of Arabic or Persian (Farsi) must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at the school, which can include English.

3 Middle East courses (12 credits) consisting of:

  • 2 courses with the prefix SA.860.XXX (8 credits)
  • 1 additional Middle East Studies (or cross-listed) course (4 credits)
For additional requirements, click here

Middle East Seminar

Middle East Studies concentrators have the possibility to participate in a field seminar: a two-year, for-credit project that includes funded periods of residence and study in the region. Participants have the option to combine language study with fieldwork or field research geared toward the production of a written or media deliverable: a monograph, a thesis, a website, a documentary.

During the first semester, students learn about fieldwork, media capture, and conceive a project of their own. During the second semester, they refine their project and make the contacts and arrangements for a successful experience in the field (usually from six to 10 weeks, in one or two periods during the summer and winter break).

For those who want to receive full credits and complete a deliverable, the second year consists of a long workshop during which they compose and edit their written document, or edit their documentary. Deliverable is due by April of the final semester. (Early December for those whose final semester is fall.)

Participation in this unique educational project requires signing up to the Middle East Seminar every semester. The first semester is audit-only.


Students must pass the Middle East Contemporary History Exam with a 70 percent or higher grade.

These requirements must be completed in addition to the requirements for your degree program.

Master of International Public Policy (MIPP) Requirements

MIPP students can add an affiliation in Middle East Studies to their degree plan. At least three of your eight courses must be Middle East Studies courses to complete the affiliation requirement.

These requirements must be completed in addition to the requirements for your degree program.

Learning Goals

Middle East Studies concentrators will be prepared for careers in public or private sectors (diplomacy, intelligence, international organizations, finance, consulting, energy, aid, and assistance). Concentrators will have acquired a diverse body of knowledge to claim legitimate expertise in regional affairs. They will be proficient in Arabic or Persian/Farsi.

  1. Content: assimilate a large number of facts to establish unquestionable expertise in the region (physical environment, history, culture, sociography, demography, economics, political economy, regimes, institutions, legal systems, politics, geopolitics, etc.).
  2. Context: be able to decipher and interpret current events in light of the relevant structures and agents that affect and are affected by those events: populations, regimes, classes, ethnosectarian groups, non-state actors, foreign governments, etc.
  3. Skills: be able to recognize processes and dynamics that have been presented in the relevant literature about the region.
  4. Skills: be able to collect a comprehensive body of sources on a topic; critically analyze and synthesize those sources; compose a compelling, well-structured, and well-written deliverable.
  5. Skills: demonstrate significant progress in the acquisition and mastery of at least a regional language (Arabic or Farsi). Novice Concentrators are welcome, and the Program can direct them to available fellowships to continue with language acquisition after graduation.
  6. Skills: for participants in the Seminar, be able to operate in a professional capacity in the Middle East: establish residence for a prolonged period; build a network of contacts; conduct interviews and/or gather data; maintain positive and safe social relationships within the parameters of the cultural environment.