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Near and Middle Eastern Studies

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 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 the 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 are 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 administered by the program.
  2. Within three years of admission, completion of two advanced courses in the humanities, one of which must be in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization (NELC), and two advanced courses in the social sciences, one of which must be 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 are required if none was taken at the M.A. level.
  4. A student is expected to have studied three languages, two of which must be regional languages and one of which must be a "Western" European language other than English, such as French, German, Italian, Russian, or Spanish. The student's Supervisory Committee decides whether a fourth language is required and whether the fourth required language is European or regional. Students pursuing language-related work may anticipate a fourth required language, whereas those pursuing social-science-related studies may not. Before the general examination (see below) may be taken, the student must complete 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: For all students conducting fieldwork or working with documents, whether social science or humanities focused, and for all social science-oriented students, the following courses are strongly encouraged: (a) ANTH 550; and (b) POL S 491; or (c) their equivalents in appropriate disciplines.

    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) are required.

  6. Disciplinary core courses: Each student is required to take two disciplinary core courses in appropriate fields. Core courses (or field courses) survey the literature, methods, and theoretical issues involved in a broad field of inquiry, as opposed to elective topical courses, which cover a much smaller area. Core courses should be chosen according to the anticipated research interests and fields for preliminary examination of each student. For example, these core disciplinary courses might focus on comparative politics, comparative religion, feminist theory, ethnicity and nationalism, analysis of linguistic structures, seminar in cognitive anthropology, comparative legal institutions, or international political economy. Courses on a narrow field of inquiry (such as Arab-Israeli conflict) do not constitute field or core courses, though they may contribute to a student's general field.

PhD Examinations and Dissertation

  1. Preliminary examinations, consisting of three written and an oral. The three written examinations include: area of specialization, theory and discipline, and a self-designated field, revolving around the student's interest. The oral examination, following the written examinations, is two hours in length and addresses all these areas.
  2. General examination, consisting of a take-home part and an oral part
  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. Either the chair of the studentís committee, the programís graduate adviser, or the programís director informs students of the results of this annual review.