M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – Middle East Studies

M.A. in Middle East Studies Handbook 2019-20

M.A. in Middle East Studies Handbook 2020-21

Program Description

Middle East Studies offers an interdisciplinary program leading to a Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS). Students take courses through the Jackson School of International Studies and other departments on campus. The course of studies provides a student with a thorough grounding in the modern Middle East and a view of how this region fits into the world community politically, historically, and economically. To achieve this understanding, students take courses in the social sciences, humanities, and a Middle Eastern language.

The Middle East Studies program offers a variety of courses. Courses on the economic development of the Middle East and advanced reading seminars on the region are given in the Jackson School. The Department of Political Science offers general courses about the government and politics of the Middle East as well as more specific offerings on theories of revolution in the Middle East and North Africa, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Faculty members in the Department of History also offer general courses on regional history and more specific courses on the expansion of Islam, the modern Middle East, and Ottoman history.

In addition to the social science-history focus, students must take courses beyond the second-year level in a Middle Eastern language. The four major Middle Eastern languages – Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish – are taught in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. Through the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, students may take courses in Islamic civilization, Islamic philosophy, Islamic law and jurisprudence, and the Quran.

Students may combine their work on a masters degree in Middle East Studies with study in a professional school. The student may count two courses taken in the graduate schools of Business Administration, Library and Information Science, Public Affairs, or the School of Law toward the MAIS degree. In the same manner, students may apply two non-Middle East courses from a social science discipline toward the degree.

– Arzoo Osanloo, Chair

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the basic Graduate School requirements outlined in the Universitys General Catalog, which include a 3.00 G.P.A. or better in their last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits; a Baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution; and submission of test results from the general Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Applicants must also meet all application requirements and deadlines set by the Jackson School and described in its application guidelines. Meeting these minimum standards, however, does not necessarily ensure admission. The weight given to GRE scores varies on a case by case basis.

Although knowledge of a Middle Eastern language is not a prerequisite for admission, applicants are generally expected to have had the equivalent of at least one years study of the language in which they plan to concentrate. Students accepted with no language training may wish to begin their language study in an intensive summer program.

Degree Requirements

All students must complete at least 36 credits in addition to fulfilling the language requirement. This program is completed within two years.


All students must complete three 3-credit or two 5-credit courses beyond the second-year level in one Middle East language. Native speakers of a language may satisfy this requirement through advanced literature or independent study.


    1. 20 credits on the modern Middle East, distributed across at least two disciplines in either the social sciences or the humanities.
    2. One approved Jackson School course, not necessarily focused on the Middle East.
    3. Two courses in one discipline or profession, not necessarily focused on the Middle East.

Thesis or Two Papers Option, Exam

To satisfy the requirements of the program, the student must elect either to (1) write a thesis and take an oral examination, or (2) submit two polished seminar papers and take an oral examination. A Supervisory Committee composed of at least two faculty members should be established early on in the student’s course of study, and at least two quarters before the anticipated date of graduation, to insure adequate oversight of the student’s progress.