Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

Master of Arts
Doctor of Philosophy

The Department of Middle Eastern Studies administers the master’s and doctoral degree programs in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.

For More Information

Campus address: Calhoun Hall (CAL) 528, phone (512) 471-3881, fax (512) 471-7834; campus mail code: F9400

Mailing address: The University of Texas at Austin, Graduate Program, Middle Eastern Studies, 204 W 21st Street Stop F9400, Austin TX 78712

URL: https://liberalarts.utexas.edu/mes/index.php

Facilities for Graduate Work

University library holdings on the Middle East form one of the leading collections in North America. These include 150,000 volumes and 1,230 serial titles in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, Tajiki, and Azerbaijani, and more than 160,500 volumes in Western languages. This collection includes a comprehensive set of English-language reference works, general texts, basic monographs, and essential journals on the Middle East. Among the special collections are strong holdings on Shi’ism, Islamic jurisprudence, and Arabic and Persian literature; a set of Arabic manuscripts on the Yezidis of Yemen; a virtually complete set of Turkish and Azerbaijani periodicals that forms a unique national resource; and more than 2,000 volumes of census records on Middle Eastern countries. The University Libraries has the largest collection of South African Jewish materials in the United States, both in belles lettres and in periodicals. Electronic material supporting Middle Eastern studies is also extensive and includes electronic databases such as JSTOR and ATLA; the Perry-Castañeda digitized map collection; the Encyclopedia of IslamRecords on Islam: Primary Documents; The Encyclopaedia Judaica; and the Judaic Classics Library. The department has also donated to the main library a collection of approximately four thousand English-language books and reference works, some 10,000 digitized slides, and hundreds of films and periodicals. The Harry Ransom Center holds writers’ personal papers, including those of T. E. Lawrence, Paul Bowles, Freya Stark, Richard Burton, and others with a special Middle Eastern connection. The Ransom Center has significant holdings relating to Judaica, including the Isaac Bashevis Singer Archive, the Leon Uris Archive, and a portion of the literary archive of Bernard Malamud. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History holds the Development Communication Archive, donated by the federal Agency for International Development, which consists of more than 350 linear feet of original records on issues ranging from agriculture and the environment to health and community development; about a quarter of the documents cover Middle Eastern projects. University faculty members and students also have access to vast centralized resources such as the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago and the Yale University-sponsored OACIS project.

Areas of Study

The Department of Middle Eastern Studies offers master’s and doctoral degrees in Middle Eastern languages and cultures. At the doctoral level, students select a field of study from among the following: linguistics (theoretical linguistics or language pedagogy), literatures/cultures, history, Hebrew Bible/ancient Near East, or Islamic studies.

Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members served on the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) in the spring 2021 semester.

Kamran S Aghaie
Mahmoud M Al-Batal
Olla N Al-Shalchi
Kamran Ali
Samy Ayoub
Hina Azam
David P Birdsong
Pascale R Bos
Benjamin Claude Brower
Jason M Brownlee
Kristen Elizabeth Brustad
Mounira M Charrad
Rasha Diab
Patience L Epps
Caroline J Frick
Steven J Friesen
Kathryn Fuller
Mohammad Ghanoonparvar
Karen Grumberg
Jo Ann Hackett
John Huehnergard
Syed A Hyder
Jonathan Kaplan
Mikiya Koyagi
Shanti Kumar
Mohammad A Mohammad
A Azfar Moin
Stephennie Mulder
Avigail Noy
Jeannette Okur
Athanasio Papalexandrou
Na'ama Pat-El
Esther L Raizen
Elizabeth Richmond-Garza
Jonathan Wyn Schofer
Sonia T Seeman
Snehal A Shingavi
Faegheh S Shirazi
Denise A Spellberg
Jeremi Suri
Bruce Wells
Hannah Chapelle Wojciehowski

Admission Requirements

Master of Arts

Offered by the Department for Middle Eastern Studies, the Master of Arts (MA) in Middle Eastern languages and cultures (MELC) is an interdisciplinary academic degree designed to broaden and deepen the student’s knowledge of the languages and cultures of the Middle East prior to taking advanced PhD coursework. Courses taken at The University of Texas at Austin for the MA degree in MELC, but not the MA report or thesis courses, may count toward the hours required for the PhD. The MELC MA degree is to be taken as part of the MELC PhD program. It is not a terminal M.A. degree. Students who are interested in a terminal M.A. degree should consider the MA in Middle Eastern Studies offered by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. The MA program in Middle Eastern languages and cultures is understood as a step in preparing students for the PhD. Students will not be admitted for the MA alone. The entering student must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. 

Doctor of Philosophy

In applying to the doctoral program in Middle Eastern languages and cultures, students select an area of study from among the following: linguistics (theoretical linguistics or language pedagogy), literatures/cultures, history, Hebrew Bible/ancient Near East, or Islamic studies. Through the course of their studies, students develop methodological expertise in at least one of the following areas: textual analysis, literary theory, linguistic theory, cultural theory, or the theories and methodologies of historical inquiry. Because scholarship in Middle Eastern languages and cultures requires a high degree of language proficiency, students normally complete a Master of Arts in the area of concentration before acceptance into the PhD program. In exceptional cases, the Graduate Admissions Committee may take extensive study outside of a master’s program into account. For students specializing in a living language tradition, advanced proficiency in the language of concentration is required. Students focusing on the ancient Near East should have three years of Biblical Hebrew and either knowledge of Biblical Aramaic or experience with a second ancient Semitic language, as well as background in the critical study of the Hebrew Bible.