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Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies - Social Sciences

This is an archived copy of the 2012-13 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit


  • Fred M. Donner

Deputy Director

  • Franklin Lewis

Deputy Director for Academic Programs

  • Paul E. Walker

Associate Director

  • Thomas E. R. Maguire 

Project Assistant

  • Traci Lombré

Public Education Project Director

  • Alexander Barna

Please see entry for Center for Middle Eastern Studies for the list of Middle Eastern Studies faculty, also available at .

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies offers an interdisciplinary Master of Arts program designed for students who wish to use their knowledge of the Middle East in careers other than university teaching and research. The program is also suitable for students considering an academic career who have not had the appropriate academic background for direct entrance into a doctoral program. Language and area studies preparation may be supplemented by relevant course work in a professional school or department. Students may be admitted to the Master of Arts program in either the Division of the Social Sciences or the Humanities and will receive the degree from the division through which they have registered. Students with significant previous training in Middle Eastern or Islamic studies who wish to earn a doctoral degree leading to careers in research and college or university teaching should apply for admission directly to one of the graduate doctoral departments or committees of the University.


Applicants for the Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies are expected to meet the graduate admissions requirements of the University and of the division to which they apply. In addition, applicants to the Middle Eastern Studies program must submit an academic writing sample. Foreign students must provide evidence of English proficiency by submitting scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Students are encouraged to enter the program in the autumn quarter. Although the program is designed for full time students, applications from those who can attend only on a part time basis will be considered.

The application process for admission and financial aid for all Social Sciences graduate programs is administered through the divisional Office of the Dean of Students. The Application for Admission and Financial Aid, with instructions, deadlines and department specific information is available online at:

Questions pertaining to admissions and aid should be directed to or (773) 702-8415. Most of the documents needed for the application can be uploaded through the online application. Any additional correspondence and materials sent in support of applications should be mailed to:

The University of Chicago
Division of the Social Sciences
Admissions Office, Foster 105
1130 East 59th Street

Program requirements

Only courses taken for a quality grade will count toward fulfilling the requirements. No P or R grades will be accepted.

The requirements are satisfactory completion of:

  • Six quarters of a Middle Eastern language (through at least two year proficiency)
  • One quarter core colloquium, Approaches to the Study of the Middle East
  • Three quarters of an approved integrated Middle Eastern survey course
  • Seven courses in relevant electives
  • One course in thesis preparation, or reading and research
  • A master’s thesis

The Master of Arts program (including the core methodology course and a three quarter survey course, six quarter language courses and three or four relevant electives) offers a joint degree option with the Harris School of Public Policy Studies or the Chicago Booth School of Business. A student may earn the M.P.P. in Public Policy or the M.B.A. along with the M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies in an integrated joint program that normally requires a total of three years of study.

Those with previous work in Islamic studies will be advised to substitute, where appropriate, more advanced and specialized courses in the field.

Language Study

Placement examinations will be given so that entering students may register for courses at the appropriate level of instruction. All or part of the language requirement may be met through the placement examination.

Students who elect to study Arabic will concentrate on the modern literary language. Students who elect to study Persian, Turkish, or Hebrew will concentrate on the modern and contemporary idiom.


In consultation with advisers, students select courses providing instruction in skills related to their future careers. These courses may be in research methodology; statistics; cross cultural, demographic, or economic analysis. They may be selected from the offerings of departments in the graduate divisions, such as the Departments of Economics, Statistics, or Sociology; or of the professional schools, such as the Chicago Booth School of Business, the Law School, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies or the School of Social Service Administration.

Students are strongly encouraged to consider participating in the University Writing Program (Little Red Schoolhouse).

Master’s Thesis

Students are required to submit a master’s thesis that should deal with a problem relevant to the student’s intended career and should give evidence of the specialized disciplinary aspects of his or her training. The student’s program adviser and a faculty member with special interest in the subject of the paper will guide the research and writing of the paper and judge whether it exhibits proof of competence in the field.

During the writing of the paper, the student will register for a thesis preparation or reading and research course. The thesis title will be listed on the student’s transcript.


Consult in the quarterly Time Schedules the listings of the Departments of Art History, Anthropology, English Language & Literature, History, Music, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, Political Science, Sociology, South Asian Languages & Civilizations, and the Committee on Geographical Studies.