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

Policies for CMES Graduate Students

The following policies apply to students in the M.A. program in Middle Eastern Studies.

Graduate Conference Courses and "Bumping-Up" an Upper-Division Course

As interaction with peers is an integral part of the learning process, a student is limited to taking two conference courses as part of the degree plan. A conference course may take the form of individual study or of a “bumped-up” upper-division undergraduate course.  To bump up a course is to receive graduate credit for an upper-division undergraduate course by completing additional graduate-level coursework along with the undergraduate requirements of the course.  The arrangements to bump-up a course must be made in accordance with the instructor and approved by the graduate advisor. Conference course and bump-up forms can be obtained online or from the Graduate Coordinator.

Language Courses

Language courses through the third year (Arabic) or second year (Persian, Turkish, Modern Hebrew) are undergraduate courses and cannot be bumped up for graduate credit.  Fourth-year language courses and above are content courses and are assigned both undergraduate and graduate course numbers and can therefore be taken for graduate credit without bumping up the course.

Upper-division Undergraduate Courses

A student may not receive credit for more than 6 hours of upper-division undergraduate coursework that has not been bumped up for graduate credit.  Upper-division courses are designated by the last two digits of the course number: they are numbered x20-x79.

Concentration Courses

Ideally these are related to a student's thesis/report topic, if not directly then peripherally.  They can also be taught by the thesis/report supervisor even if the subject matter is unlreated to the thesis/report topic. The entire course need not parallel a student’s research; rather, some portion of the course content must provide beneficial instruction on the research topic or on the theories and methods to be applied. At minimum, a concentration course should involve theoretical or methodological work that serves as the foundation for the thesis/report. Both organized courses (seminars) and conference courses (directed reading) may serve as concentration courses. Please consult with the Graduate Adviser or Graduate Coordinator if you are unsure whether a course will satisfy these parameters.

Concentration courses come in 4 varieties:

  1. It must relate to the student’s thesis or report topic, or
  2. It must be taken with a thesis/report reader (supervisor, co-supervisor, or 2nd reader).
  3. A course in your chosen discipline (e.g., anthropology, political science, etc) that has no MES content and is not cross-listed with MES, provided that the instructor permits a major paper/project/presentation related to the Middle East be done which comprises at least 30% of the final grade. In this case the non-MES coursework petition must be used, approved by the Graduate Adviser. See below for more information about seeking permission for non-MES courses.
  4. May be a theory/methods-type course. There is a limit of 1 course of this type and the content of these courses need not necessarily be rooted in Middle Eastern content. Must be approved by Graduate Adviser.

Students are strongly encouraged to take a theory or methods course in the primary disciplinary approach of the thesis/report as one of their concentration courses. Such courses are offered by several departments across campus and may be approved for the program of work despite a lack of Middle Eastern content.

Course Categorizations: History, Social Science, or Arts/Humanities?

Course categorization is decided based upon two basic considerations: the disciplinary training of the instructor and the disciplinary method used to teach the course.  A course’s cross-listings provide a helpful tool for determining how a particular course will apply towards your degree.  For example, a course cross-listed with HIS will usually be applied to the history requirement.



  • MES 384:  Social Science (Government, Anthropology, Sociology, Business, some Communications)
  • MES 385:  History
  • MES 386:  Arts/Humanities


  • MES 341:  Social Science (Government, Anthropology, Sociology, Business, some Communications)
  • MES 342:  Arts/Humanities
  • MES 343:  History

Non-MES Courses

A course that is cross-listed with MES may appear on the program of work regardless of the department under which a student registers for the course. For example, HIS 388K may apply to the degree without any special approval, if it is cross-listed with MES 381. A non-language course that is not cross-listed with MES cannot be applied to the MES degree without advance approval. To request this approval, a student must submit a Non-MES Course Credit Petition to the graduate advisor demonstrating that the non-MES course contains at least 30% Middle Eastern studies content.

This content should be represented in all aspects of the class, including lectures, readings, and assignments. This approval must be sought and granted by the twelfth class day of the semester in which the non-MES course is taken. Retroactive approvals will not be granted. Courses taken outside of the department that apply neither to the CMES degree nor a dual degree program may be taken with approval of the Graduate Adviser.

Thesis & Report Distinctions

Composition of the Committee:  At least two faculty must serve as thesis/report readers. It is most common to have a supervisor and a 2nd reader; two co-supervisors is also acceptable. In the first example, the supervisor must be on the CMES Graduate Studies Committee. Please see the 2013-14 GSC list. In the second example, one of the co-supervisors must be on this GSC list.

As stated under the program requirements, the MA with a thesis requires 30 credit hours, while the professional report option requires completion of 33 credit hours.

No university document distinguishes clearly between a report and a thesis in terms of length or scope, although as a general rule the thesis is a project of greater depth and academic inclination. Most faculty members regard it as an original contribution to knowledge. Contrastingly, a report is a project of a smaller scale in which a student often reviews what scholars have said on a particular topic. The thesis course spans two semesters, while a report course lasts only one. The lack of established parameters regarding thesis and report requirements makes it exceedingly important that your supervisor’s expectations are clearly defined and coincide with those of your 2nd reader.

This PDF document describes the things you should bear in mind as you choose which path to take. You should discuss these expectations in detail and in consultation with the Graduate Adviser or faculty supervisor before beginning your thesis/report work.

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