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Kamran Scot Aghaie, Chair CAL 528 | 204 W 21st St F9400 | Austin, TX 78712-1029 • 512-471-3881

Frequently Asked Questions

These are answers to questions that potential applicants often ask after having read the information about the UT Graduate School and the Center. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator if you have questions.

Admission Criteria

  • The Center admits students only in the fall. Spring admission is offered only in exceptional cases.
  • The Center admits about one out of four applicants, keeping the graduate program at about 30 students at any given time.
  • Admitted students come from a variety of academic backgrounds. The Center does not require an undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies or a related area, although preference is sometimes given to students coming from strong backgrounds languages and/or the humanities. Given the competitive process, applicants increase their chances of admission if their application reflects an active interest in the Middle East (study, work, travel, community participation, etc.).
  • Statement of Purpose:  From the outset, please clearly and succinctly outline your academic/research/professional objectives.  You should be able to encompass these goals in no more than the equivalent of 3 pages.
  • GPA and GRE are only two of the many factors involved in the admission decision. We have admitted students with lower than  average GRE or GPA if, for example, their letters of reference  or personal statement were exceptionally strong. The average GPA of admitted applicants is 3.80 on a 4.00-point scale.  Average GRE scores can be seen in our application instructions.  Students who apply to joint degree programs which require a special exam (e.g., GMAT or LSAT) must take the GRE exam as well.  Students may consider taking the GRE early so that they have an opportunity to take it again - if they are not content with their scores - and still meet the Dec. 15 application deadline.
  • We strongly encourage students to submit reference letters from people who know them well and can reflect that knowledge in the letter. Letters from current professors are most helpful. A combination of two letters from persons who can attest to an applicant’s academic interests and aptitude and one letter from a current employer is quite common. Applicants who have been away from school for a while are encouraged to look for at least one person who can comment on their academic background in his or her letter.

Dual Degree Admissions

Prospective students submit a single Apply Texas application (and pay one fee) for the designated dual-degree major code. Each graduate program will independently review the application materials and it is possible to be admitted into one program but not the other (some students accept admission in one program and then re-apply to the other in the following year). Some base application materials are common to various programs (statement of purpose, GRE, transcripts, test scores, and test scores) but be careful to ensure that you are completing both sets of requirements, which can vary. For example, CMES requires a resume, but the other program may not. The other program may require a writing sample, but CMES does not. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that each program receives the appropriate required materials by each program's deadline. For top applicants, CMES will consult with the other program to try to devise a funding package which involves cost-sharing by each program.


The Center degree is interdisciplinary in nature. The degree program is quite flexible, but students who are interested in a particular area of study and expect to take courses in that area only are encouraged to apply to other programs. If, for example, you are interested in Turkey’s political system, you will be able to take Turkish language courses and courses in history, social sciences, and arts/humanities that pertain to Turkey, but you must also expect to take courses that are of a general regional nature, or that pertain to other countries and political/cultural/religious systems in the Middle East.

Non-degree Seekers

The Center rarely admits non-degree seekers. Applications by non-degree seekers are considered only if a very strong case for admission is presented, and it is clear that the applicant, while in a position to function at the graduate level, is indeed not pursuing an advanced degree. CMES will not consider, for example, fall applicants who wish to take courses in the previous spring as non-degree seekers with the hope of applying these courses to their degree.  

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