Master of Arts


Students must take a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate courses in Middle Eastern Studies. These courses can be offered by the MELC department or, with the approval of the MELC DGS, courses offered by other departments or schools appropriate to the course of study of the student. Each student’s curriculum must be approved by his/her academic advisor, normally the Director of Graduate Studies.

For Students majoring in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish (for Ancient Egyptian, see special requirements below):

  1. Six credits of the required course work must be fulfilled by courses in two of the following fields: ancient (pre-Islamic), pre-modern (medieval), or modern (1500 CE to present) history of the Middle East, chosen with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.
  2. At least three credit hours of the course work must be fulfilled by a methodology/theory course from a discipline in the student’s personal academic interest, selected with the approval of the DGS.
  3. At least twelve credit hours of coursework in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish language(s). Students will choose one of the following options:
    1. “One major language” track: In this option, students are required to complete twelve credits in their chosen Middle Eastern language. Out of these twelve credits, at least six credits must be obtained through language study at the 4th year Advanced Level. In the case of Arabic, this is Advanced Arabic III (3 cr hrs) and Advanced Arabic IV (3 cr hrs), and in the case of other major MELC languages, the equivalent must be completed. Students who begin their MA entering at the 4th year level or above may with the prior approval of the course instructor and the DGS, count non-language courses in which they use their major MELC language towards the twelve credits. These are courses where the student reads primary sources in the chosen language. For Hebrew, language credits can be fulfilled with a combination of Modern and Biblical Hebrew courses. The combination of courses and required levels must be approved by the Director of Hebrew Language Program housed in Borns Jewish Studies Program.
    2. “Two languages” track: In this option, in addition to a major Middle Eastern language as described above, the student also chooses a second Middle Eastern language and is required to fulfill six credits at the Intermediate (2nd year) level or above.

Students majoring in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, or Turkish who intend to continue to the Ph.D. program are required to follow the (b) track with two Middle Eastern languages.

At the conclusion of their coursework, the following additional requirements must be met by students majoring in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew or Turkish:

  1. For students who are not native speakers of their major language, there will be a two-hour comprehensive exam in their major language, which will (a) test all four language skills (reading, writing, listening comprehension, and speaking) and (b) include a translation exercise. Students who are native speakers of their major language will normally take a comprehensive language exam in their minor language at the highest level attained, but at least Intermediate II. Students who are native speakers of their major language and who are following the “one major language” (terminal MA) track, and who have not studied a minor language, will take a two-hour written examination in a subject area to be agreed upon with the DGS.
  2. Take a two-hour comprehensive exam in history covering two of the following three areas: ancient, pre-modern/medieval, and/or modern Middle East.
  3. Submit a suitable term or seminar paper substantially revised and expanded, which must demonstrate the following:
    1. A clear understanding of the chosen topic.
    2. The ability to conceive and carry out an original project of a scholarly nature, including the use of primary and secondary texts in the original language, where appropriate.
    3. An advanced level of critical or theoretical insight.
    4. Command of academic English.
    5. Competence in the proper use of research and bibliographic tools.

The paper must be modeled, both in format and in intellectual substance, on articles that would be acceptable for publication in a scholarly journal of an appropriate sub-discipline of Middle Eastern Studies.

  1. The MA requires a minimum of 36 graduate-level credits in ancient Egyptian language, civilization, and appropriate electives, including six credits of MA thesis research.
  2. An MA thesis is required.
  3. Students will demonstrate reading proficiency in scholarly French or German by the end of the first year, either by completing a 492-level course, or by passing the proficiency examination administered by the Bloomington Evaluation Services and Testing office. Note that 400-level language courses taken to acquire and demonstrate modern-language proficiency do not count towards the required 36 graduate credits.
  4. At the conclusion of their course work, students will take written examinations in Egyptian history (two hours) and in Egyptian religion (two hours) and take a translation examination in Middle Egyptian (two hours).

A student may request a waiver of one, two, or all three of the required final examinations if s/he earned an A in the relevant courses, and if s/he has a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or better in the program as of the end of the semester before graduation is expected. This request will be considered at the end of the fourth week of the student’s final semester and may be approved if the student’s MA thesis is well in hand and if s/he is performing at a high level in all current classes.

Model two-year curriculum (substitutions based on previous coursework or student interest must approved by the track advisor):

Year 1: Fall:

MELC-E500: Elementary Middle Egyptian I (3 credits).

MELC-E601: Seminar in History of Ancient Egypt (3 credits).

Elective chosen in consultation with program advisor. Recommended subjects include Coptic; Classical Greek; Biblical Hebrew; Arabic; anthropology/archaeology; historical linguistics; ancient history; art history (3 credits).

Year 1 Spring:

MELC-E550: Elementary Middle Egyptian II (3 credits).

MELC-E661: Seminar in Religions of Ancient Egypt (3 credits).

Elective chosen in consultation with program advisor. Recommended subjects include Coptic; Ancient Greek; Biblical Hebrew; Arabic; anthropology/archaeology; historical linguistics; ancient history; art history (3 credits).

Year 2: Fall:

MELC-E 600: Intermediate Middle Egyptian (3 credits).
MELC-E 660: Demotic I: Grammar and Script (3 credits).
MELC-N 710: Thesis research (3 credits).

Year 2 Spring:

MELC-E 650: Late Egyptian: Grammar and Texts (3 credits).
MELC-E 670: Demotic II: Persian and Ptolemaic Texts (3 credits).
MELC-N 710: Thesis research (3 credits).

Students admitted to the Dual Master’s Degree Program will earn two master’s degrees through a combination of work in two departments of the College of Arts and Sciences Graduate Division that allows them to count credit earned to satisfy major requirements of one department simultaneously as elective credit in another department. Specifically, the dual master’s degree is governed by the following regulations:

  1. The student must be formally admitted by both departments and by the Graduate School. The student must meet fully all degree requirements of both departments (course credits, research and foreign language skills, examination, and essay or thesis or preparation of portfolio, etc.). Dual MA degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences require a minimum of 50 credits, with at least 21 credits earned in each of the programs.
  2. Where both departments require a thesis, the student will be allowed to write a single thesis that meets the standards and requirements for both fields with equal representation for both departments on the thesis committee and the thesis credit split between both.
  3. The dual degree program must be completed within six years from the semester in which the student first enrolled in courses counting toward a dual degree.

4. The student must complete the requirements for both departments at the same time (did not receive a degree in one department before the other)

Dual MA students will have a file and an advisor in both departments. Both departments must certify completion of degree requirements.

Dual MA students who are subsequently admitted to the Ph.D. program can count the work done to satisfy the second MA degree towards an intensive minor.

Current graduate students in the College of Arts and Sciences departments at IU who want to pursue a double major in MELC must do the following:

  1. Meet with the DGS of your current department to discuss the feasibility/advisability of a double degree. If you are applying for a double Ph.D., you should discuss the matter with your Ph.D. advisor.
  2. Meet with the MELC DGS.
  3. Submit online e-application; All IU students, including international students, applying to another department at IU are considered domestic applicants for admissions purposes and therefore must complete a domestic e-application.
  4. Include in the statement of purpose your reasons for pursuing a double degree, and for Ph.D. students, indicate which MELC faculty member(s) would serve as your MELC advisor and committee members.
  5. You may reuse your original GRE or TOEFL scores and original letters of recommendation if they are still valid, but you should have at least one letter from an IU faculty member in your current department and one from a MELC faculty member if you have taken MELC courses.
  6. Deadline: Only applications submitted by January 15th are guaranteed to receive full consideration for financial aid in the coming fall semester.
  7. Once admitted, double Ph.D. students must complete an Advisory Committee form (for the double Ph.D.) and a Double Ph.D. form.

Students pursuing a dual Master of Public Affairs (through the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs)/Master of Arts in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures will complete a total of 66 credit hours: 36 credit hours in the Master of Public Affairs program, plus 30 credit hours in Near Eastern Languages and Culture

MPA Core (18 credits)






Public Management
Statistical Analysis for Effective Decision Making

Public Management Economics
Law and Public Affairs SPEA V560 Public Finance and Budgeting Capstone in Public and Environmental Affairs

MPA Concentration (18 credits)

Students will complete eighteen credit hours pertaining to one of the specialized concentration

areas of the M.P.A., with courses to be chosen in consultation with a SPEA faculty advisor MA in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (30 credits)

Students will complete 12-18 credits in graduate-level courses on the culture, history, politics, and religious traditions of the Middle East.

Students will complete 12-18 credit hours of graduate level courses in an appropriate Middle Eastern language. Students should complete their language to at least the third-year level (i.e., in the case of Arabic, to the level of A670, Advanced Arabic II), and must take no fewer than 12 credits of language courses. For students who begin their program with a high level of proficiency in their major language (whether attained through previous instruction or because they are native speakers), the 12-hour minimum in language can include seminars or research courses with substantial content in the major language, to be approved by the MELC Director of Graduate Studies.

Students will submit a term or seminar paper (i.e., a paper originally written in one of their courses) substantially revised and expanded, and meeting the following criteria:

  • A clear understanding of a chosen topic
  • Demonstrated ability to conceive and carry out an original project of a scholarly nature, including the use of primary and secondary texts in the original language, where appropriate
  • An advanced level of critical or theoretical insight
  • Command of expository English
  • Competence in the proper use of research and bibliographic tools
  • The paper should be suitable in form and content for publication in a professional journal in a recognized sub-field of Middle Eastern Studies.

Students will undergo two, two-hour comprehensive examinations in Middle Eastern language, history, and culture. Students who are not native-speakers of their major language will undergo a four-skill language examination, along with a two-hour written examination in Middle Eastern history. Students who are native speakers of their major language will undergo a two-hour history examination and a second two-hour examination in a field to be determined in consultation with Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Director of Graduate Studies.

Select List of Representative MELC Courses that may Count towards the Dual Degree: Arabic 600 Intermediate Arabic I

Arabic 660 Advanced Arabic I Researching Politics of Muslim Countries

States and Societies in Muslim Central Asia and the Middle East Islam and Politics in Muslim Central Asia & Middle East

Representations of Islam and Muslims in Ethnographic Literature of Central Asia and the Middle East Islam and Modernity

African and Middle Eastern Narratives

MA Students must notify the Director of Graduate Studies of their intention to take the MA examinations before the end of the semester BEFORE they plan to take their exams.

Each student will have an examining committee composed of three faculty members, including the faculty members responsible for the language exam, history, and other required exams if and as applicable, and the individual research paper or MA thesis. If additional faculty readers are required to fill the committee, they will be appointed by the DGS. All examiners and readers must be members of the MELC Graduate Faculty; any exceptions must be approved in writing by the Department Chair. The exams should be taken, and the paper or thesis submitted in the final semester of the student’s coursework or shortly thereafter, in accordance with the University Graduate School rules.

Students who fail an exam may be offered one opportunity to re-take it. Those who do not successfully pass the exams by the end of their sixth semester may be placed on probation and subsequently dismissed from the program for lack of progress as described in the “Academic Regulations” section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Each student is responsible for checking with the HLS Graduate Affairs Office the week prior to the exams to make sure the examiners have turned in the exam questions to the HLS Graduate Office. The room and proctor are arranged by the HLS Graduate Affairs Office.

In case of need for special accommodations for disabilities, the student is responsible for notifying the DGS and furnishing appropriate paperwork in time for the Department to make appropriate arrangements.

Each examiner grades his/her own exam or paper on a scale of High Pass, Pass, or Fail. The examiner also reads the other exams/paper. In case of disagreement as to the student’s grade, the case will be referred to the Chair or DGS. Grade assessments will need to be submitted to the Graduate Secretary a week after the final day of testing.

The MA thesis is optional except for students on the Ancient Egyptian track. Students who wish to write a thesis may count six credit hours of thesis research (MELC-M710) towards their required 36 graduate credits. The DGS will help interested students find an appropriate MA thesis advisor. Students who write a thesis must still take the MA exams. For details about the requirements regarding the MA thesis, refer to the IU Graduate School Bloomington website.

Important Deadlines Pertaining to Degree Completion

Master’s Requirements

All coursework for the Master’s Degree must normally be completed within 5 years of the last month of the first semester. Dual Master’s Degrees must be completed within 6 years of the last month of the first semester. Degrees are granted monthly. A graduation month of June, July, or August will require summer enrollment.

The Application for Advanced Degree form (commonly called a MAAD Doc) should be submitted by the student at least six weeks before the date of graduation.

Please refer to the IU Graduate School Bloomington’s (GSB) webpage for specific information regarding thesis submission deadlines, submission methods, and formatting requirements. The typical deadline for MAAD doc and thesis submission is the 15th of the month, but this date varies in May and December. Please check the GSB website to confirm your submission deadline.

Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Checklist

RequirementDescriptionAverage Time/Deadline
MA coursework4th year language, history and methodology courses, and 2nd language if track 2.2-3 years
MA examMajor language exam, and 2 history exams. Student must submit a completed form to HLS Director of Graduate Services with the names of exam members.Form submitted at the end of the semester BEFORE taking exams.
MA paperStudent will revise and submit a paper for a previous course with an agreed Professor.Submitted before graduation.
Master’s application for advanced Degree (eDoc)The electronic document can be found on the UGS ONE page. The Graduate Secretary will not submit the document until the MA paper is submitted and the exams are passed.This eDoc should be submitted by the student by the 1st of the month they wish to graduate to give grad services time to review before submission to the graduate school