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 Middle East Studies

School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Acting Director: A. Ezz El Arab

Middle East Studies is an academic program designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the peoples, societies and economies of the region. The graduate program offers courses in Arabic language and literature, anthropology, economics, history, political science and sociology with the purpose of introducing students to a variety of methodologies for studying the Middle East. The graduate program focuses on the period from the 18th century onwards and addresses issues of religion, ecology, history, economy, society, polity, gender, and culture. Given the geographical location of Cairo, the program as a whole concentrates on the Arab region. The program is intended for students who wish to pursue a variety of careers such as academia, diplomacy, other government service, work with NGOs, development, business, finance, journalism, public relations and cultural affairs.

Master of Arts

The master's degree program in Middle East Studies is an interdisciplinary degree program. Applicants for admission should have an undergraduate degree of high standing (B grade or higher). Prerequisites are often assigned depending on the individual student's academic background. The program is designed to meet the needs of professionals who need in-depth knowledge of the modern Middle East. A thesis is optional. Students should take the six concentration courses and either four additional courses and sit for the comprehensive exam or two additional courses and submit a thesis.


In addition to normal university requirements in English, students must demonstrate proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic equivalent to the AUC Arabic Language Institute's course ALNG 311; an advanced level as specified by the guidelines of the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL). Proficiency is tested by examination. Students who have no background in Arabic should enroll first in the Arabic Language Institute's full-time intensive Arabic program until they reach low intermediate proficiency. Arabic language training is offered by AUC's Arabic Language Institute, which also administers proficiency tests. Students whose proficiency is between low intermediate and advanced are encouraged to take Arabic language courses in addition to their academic courses until they fulfill the proficiency requirement. They are also encouraged to enroll in intensive Arabic language summer programs. Those whose proficiency is below ALNG 311 may register for up to 6 credits of Arabic language as part of their tuition but these credits will not count as part of the required ten courses for the degree.

Comprehensive Examination

At the completion of all course requirements an examination is adminstered by an interdisciplinary examining board. An oral examination will be given immediately following the written test if further evidence of the candidate's knowledge is deemed necessary by the department.


Ten courses are required for the degree. Those choosing the thesis option are required to present a thesis and register for eight courses. All students must take the following six courses:




Islamic Institutions



Seminar on the Twentieth-Century Middle East



Economic Development in the Middle East Countries



Middle East Politics



Middle Eastern Societies and Cultures



Interdisciplinary Seminar (to be taken in the candidate´s final semester)


Four additional courses (with a maximum of two courses at the 400-level), from Arabic Studies, Economics, History, Management, Political Science, and Anthropology/Sociology. Selected or special topic courses in any department which have the Middle East as the central concern of the course will be accepted. No more than two courses from any single group may be taken. Two courses are required of students with the thesis option. One course may be at the 400-level.


Students opting to do a thesis must complete a thesis in accordance with university regulations. Before commencing work on the thesis, the student must have a thesis proposal approved by three faculty members, one of whom is on the Middle East Studies Interdisciplinary Committee.

Graduate Diploma

The diploma program in Middle East Studies is designed to fill the need for familiarity with modern Middle Eastern culture and society, particularly for students who have not been exposed to an intensive study of the Middle East at the undergraduate level.

Students are expected to finish the program in two semesters, though they may take up to four semesters to complete their requirements.


An applicant should have an undergraduate degree of high standing (a GPA of 3.0 or above). Prerequisites may be assigned depending on the applicant's academic background.


To obtain the diploma each candidate must demonstrate, in addition to the normal university requirements in English, proficiency in classical Arabic up to the completion of ALNG 102.


A minimum of five courses must be selected from among the five categories listed below: one from Arabic Studies/History, one from each of two other categories, and two electives from any other category. Prerequisites may be required depending on the background of the individual student.

1. Sociology/Anthropology: SOC 400 Selected Topics in Sociology, ANTH 400 Selected Topics in Anthropology, SOC/ANTH 472 Third World Development, SOC/ANTH 502 Structure and Process in Egyptian Society, SOC/ANTH 515 Kin, Friends and Neighbors, SOC/ANTH 520 Sex Roles, Gender and Society, SOC/ANTH 525 Religion, Ideology and Society, SOC/ANTH 530 Stratification of the State, SOC/ANTH 540 Agrarian and Pastoral Transformation, SOC/ANTH 555 Comparative Health and Healing Systems.

2. Arabic Studies/History: HIST 410 Modern European Imperialism, ARBS 451 Islamic Institutions, ARBS/HIST/MEHT 454 Modern Movements in Islam, HIST/MEHT 462 Selected Topics in the History of the Modern Middle East, ARBS/HIST/MEHT 463 Selected Topics in the History of Islamic Thought and Institutions, ARBS 542 Seminar on the Nineteenth-Century Middle East.

3. Economics: ECON 414 Economics of Egypt, ECON 415 Economic Development in the Middle East, ECON 511 Economic Development in Middle East Countries.

4. Management: PADM 505 Administrative Environment in Egypt, PADM 512 Comparative Management, PADM 516 Comparative Administration.

5. Political Science: POLS 405 International Politics in the Middle East, POLS 540 Politics of Modern Egypt, POLS 570 Special Topics in Political Science (when topic is appropriate).

Middle East Studies Courses (MEST)

 CourseNumber CourseTitle


Interdisciplinary Seminar


Selected Topics





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