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Near and Middle Eastern Studies

Program Overview

The interdisciplinary PhD program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies is designed for students who wish to pursue research with a comparative perspective in Near Eastern languages and literature: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian (or Dari or Tajik), Turkish and Central Asian Turkic languages; Near Eastern linguistics; Islamic topics, namely, Islamic law, history, institutions, theology, and mysticism; comparative religion: ()Judaism, Christianity, and Islam); and interdisciplinary investigations of modern topics using the social sciences. The program, administered by an interdisciplinary Graduate School faculty group, includes courses offered in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, the Jackson School of International Studies, and other departments on campus. Students must take courses in both the humanities and social sciences.

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
311 Loew Hall, Box 352192
(206) 543-6398

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

  1. MA or equivalent in a discipline or field directly related to the proposed PhD work
  2. Third-year competenence in a regional language, and reading knowledge of a second language pertinent to PhD research
  3. Application deadline for autumn quarter admission is February 1. Application procedures are at

Degree Requirements

Minimum 90 credits

Specific coursework and areas of concentration determined by the student's interests within the framework of the degree and satisfactory progress requirements listed below.

  1. Within 18 months of admission, demonstration of a general knowledge of history and culture in one of the following general fields: Islamic civilization; Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, or Central Asian Turkic languages and literature; the modern Middle East; or comparative religion either through previous degree work or through examination.
  2. Within three years of admission, completion of two advanced courses in the humanities, one in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization (NELC), and two advanced courses in the social sciences, one in the Department of History. These courses are in addition to work the student may have done at the BA and MA level.
  3. Within three years of admission, completion of a graduate seminar. Two graduate seminars if none was taken at the MA level.
  4. Study in three languages, two regional and one "Western" European other than English, such as French, German, Italian, Russian, or Spanish. The Supervisory Committee decides whether a fourth language is required and whether it is European or regional. Before the general examination (see below), the student completes the language requirements including the second-year level in a regional language different from the two languages offered at the time of admission if both were not regional languages.
  5. Disciplinary method and theory requirements: ANTH 550 and POL S 491, or their equivalents in appropriate disciplines, strongly encouraged for all students conducting fieldwork or working with documents, whether social science or humanities focused, and for all social science-oriented students.

    For students doing humanities-oriented research but not conducting fieldwork, two method and theory courses in the appropriate discipline or disciplines (e.g., comparative literature, philosophy).

  6. Disciplinary core courses: Two disciplinary core courses in appropriate fields.
PhD Examinations and Dissertation
  1. Preliminary examinations, three written and an oral.
  2. General examination
  3. Final examination, the PhD thesis defense

Annual Review: A subcommittee of the Near and Middle Eastern Studies program faculty meets each spring to review the progress of all students in the PhD program. .