Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Graduate Program in Arabic Studies

Master of Arts in Arabic Studies

The MA program in Arabic studies offers graduate training in the following core areas within the Department: literature and literary theory, linguistic analysis, and language pedagogy.  In addition, students are expected to increase their cultural knowledge through courses in areas such as in religion, history, or another Middle Eastern language.

The program aims to help students build the language, research, and writing skills necessary for academic and professional careers. Students may choose to concentrate in any one of the core areas; however, all students must take at least one seminar in literature, linguistics, pedagogy, and culture. Other courses will be selected in consultation with an assigned faculty mentor to constitute a coherent program of study that balances breadth and depth.

Degree Requirements

A Master of Arts in Arabic studies requires 36 hours of coursework, with two options: the thesis track or the report track.  The thesis track is recommended for those intending to continue to a doctoral program.

MA with thesis (36 hours):
  1. 12 hours of graduate seminars, one in each of the following areas: literature, linguistics, language pedagogy, and culture;
  2. 18 hours of coursework chosen in consultation with a faculty mentor;
  3. 6 hours of thesis coursework.
MA with report (36 hours)
  1. 12 hours of graduate seminars, one in each of the following areas: literature, linguistics, language pedagogy, and culture;
  2. 21 hours of coursework chosen in consultation with a faculty mentor;
  3. 3 hours of report coursework.

Ph.D. in Arabic Studies

The PhD in Arabic studies aims to broaden and deepen the student’s knowledge of Arabic language, literature, and culture and to develop his or her skills and abilities for scholarly research and teaching. A period of study and research in an Arabic-speaking country is strongly recommended.

Students are expected to reach Superior proficiency in Arabic before graduation, and will demonstrate this proficiency in part by giving a public lecture in Arabic in their field of expertise. Doctoral candidates are expected to present at least one paper at an academic or professional conference by the time they graduate.

Degree Requirements

Students choose a major field of study in either Arabic literature and culture or Arabic language and linguistics. In addition, each student must undertake two minor fields of study and examination: the first must be the non-major field, either literature and culture or language and linguistics, and the second should be a culture field such as intellectual history or Islamic studies, a methodological field such as linguistics, literary criticism, or gender studies, or an additional Middle Eastern language or culture.

PhD students normally take three years of coursework beyond the MA degree. During their first year, incoming students choose a faculty mentor with whom they plan to work in their major field. This mentor will oversee the student’s registration for courses and design of major and minor fields. Students are also encouraged to seek the advice of other faculty members in the program on their course of study.

Reading knowledge in one research language is required (usually German for linguistics and French for literature) and must be demonstrated by passing a reading test administered by the department.  Another Middle Eastern language of relevance to the research interests of the student is encouraged.

Before taking the comprehensive exams, each student must demonstrate through formal testing a minimum of Superior proficiency in Arabic, and a high level of accuracy in reading both classical and modern Arabic texts.  

To be admitted to candidacy for the degree, the student must pass the comprehensive exams in the three areas selected as the major and minor fields of study. During the third year of the program, the student will submit to his/her supervisor a list of exam fields and choose an exam committee consisting of at least three DMES faculty members. Students are encouraged to include one faculty member from outside the department as appropriate. The student will work with the members of the exam committee to prepare for the exams, which consist of take-home essays given over the period of one month, followed by an oral defense.

The purpose of the comprehensive exams is to certify that the student has mastered a sufficient breadth and depth of knowledge for an academic career and has the skills and abilities required to complete a doctoral dissertation. The exams must be taken by the beginning of the fourth year of the program.

After passing this examination, the candidate sets up a dissertation committee with the help of his/her supervisor. This committee approves the dissertation proposal, guides the student in writing the dissertation, and administers the final oral defense.

Arabic Studies 

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Further Resources:

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    204 W 21st Street Stop F9400
    Calhoun Hall (CAL) 528
    Austin, TX 78712