Master of Arts in the Field of Middle East Studies

The master of arts in the field of Middle East studies degree program combines a rigorous academic foundation with a strong professional orientation. Bridging the theory and practice of international affairs, the program prepares students for careers in government, the private sector, and international and nongovernmental organizations.

The curriculum includes a range of courses covering the history, politics, economics, international relations, and cultures of the societies and nations of the Middle East. In consultation with the program director, each student develops a program of study that, through a set of core courses, combines a broad overview of the region along with a more specialized field based on the student's specific academic and career interests. In addition, completion of the program requires demonstrated oral and reading proficiency in a language of the Middle East region.

Visit the program website for additional program information.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 40 credits, including a 3-credit cornerstone course, 9 credits in core field courses, 3 credits in skills courses, a 4-credit capstone sequence, 12 credits in one professional specialization, and 9 credits in elective courses. In addition, students must fulfill a foreign language proficiency requirement (see below).

See note regarding special topics and skills courses, the capstone sequence, and LAW courses*.

Cornerstone (3 credits)
IAFF 6361Middle East Studies Cornerstone
Core field courses (9 credits)
One course in each of the following disciplines for a total of three courses: ANTH/GEOG, HIST, and PSC.
ANTH 6707Issues in Middle East Anthropology
GEOG 6262Geographical Perspectives on the Middle East
HIST 6801Topics in Middle Eastern History (History of the Modern Middle East)
HIST 6801Topics in Middle Eastern History (Middle East in the World)
PSC 6377Comparative Politics of the Middle East
PSC 6478International Relations of the Middle East
Professional skills courses (3 credits)
Three 1-credit professional skills courses in any combination from the following:
IAFF 6502Professional Skills I
IAFF 6503Professional Skills II
Capstone sequence (4 credits)
Students are required to complete a two-semester capstone sequence that involves collaboration on a project of mutual interest and research related to the Middle East. The capstone sequence includes a 1-credit course that must be taken in the fall of the student’s second or third year and a 3-credit course that must be taken in the spring of the student’s second or third year. Both courses in the capstone sequence must be taken consecutively.
IAFF 6377Middle East Studies Program Capstone Workshop
IAFF 6379Middle East Studies Capstone
Professional specialization (12 credits)
12 credits in one of the professional specializations listed below. At least one 3-credit course must cover content on the Middle East. Students may construct an individualized professional specialization in consultation with, and with the approval of, the Program Director.
Middle East electives (9 credits)
Three elective courses (9 credits) related to the Middle East, selected in consultation with the Program Director. Students may include up to 6 credits of content-based language study (i.e. not basic language acquisition) toward this requirement. All offerings under ANTH 6707, IAFF 6378, HIST 6801, and REL 6460 may be used for elective requirements and repeated for credit provided the topic differs.
ANTH 6707Issues in Middle East Anthropology
ECON 6295Special Topics *
IAFF 6364Religion and Society in the Modern Middle East
IAFF 6378Special Topics in Middle East Studies
GEOG 6262Geographical Perspectives on the Middle East
HIST 6801Topics in Middle Eastern History
REL 6401Islamic Historiographies
REL 6402Qur'an and Hadith
REL 6441Islamic Law
REL 6460Topics in the Study of Islam
*Only specific topics that are determined by the Program Director to be relevant to the student's program of study may be used to fulfill this requirement. Any topic intended to be used for this requirement must be approved by the Program Director prior to enrollment.

*Specific subject matter covered in special/selected topics courses varies by semester. Consult the Schedule of Classes for each semester's offerings. Topics courses not listed here may be used to fulfill program requirements if approved by the Program Director. 

Additional information regarding skills courses and the capstone is available on the Elliott School website. 

Law School courses—Students may, with permission of their advisor, include courses in the Law School in their major field. Enrolling in a LAW course also requires permission of the Law School dean of students. Students should consult the Elliott School Office of Academic Advising and Student Services office before enrolling in LAW courses.


Thematic specializations

Regional specializations

Foreign language proficiency requirement 

Students in the Middle East studies program are required to demonstrate the currently-required level of proficiency in one of the following languages by passing a reading and speaking proficiency examination administered by the Elliott School: Modern Standard Arabic (taught at GW); Persian; Hebrew (taught at GW); Kurdish; or Turkish. The Elliott School administers foreign language proficiency examinations once in the fall and once in the spring semesters. Students may take the examination at any point during their academic program. Students have three opportunities to pass the examination. Consult the Program Director for more information