Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Graduate Admissions

The Center for, and Department of, Middle Eastern Studies admit graduate students for the fall semester only. Please see below for details concerning the annual mid-December application deadline; applicants are notified of decisions in February and March of the following year. Graduate courses are not offered online at this time, and all degree programs must be completed in residence, on campus. (However, one online course, usually undergraduate level, is typically offered each year in advanced Persian. Participants need not be students at UT Austin.)

Admission is open in the following programs/academic areas for the 2016-17 academic year

MA in Middle Eastern Studies (Center for MES) - including all associated dual-degree programs

PhD or MA/PhD in MELC (Department of MES):

  • Hebrew Bible / Ancient Near East (PhD only, not MA/PhD)
  • Persian, Modern Hebrew, and Turkish Literature/Culture
  • Islamic Studies

Admission is closed in the following academic areas for the 2016-17 academic year

PhD or MA/PHD in MELC (Department of MES):

  • Arabic linguistics
  • Arabic literature

Application Instructions - Fall 2016, Deadline Dec. 15

The deadline for completed applications is December 15, 2015. All application materials must be received by this date.

Please submit the online Apply Texas application early (recommended at least 2 weeks before the deadline), which must first be in place before supporting materials can follow. The requests for online recommendations are only sent after the online Apply Texas application is submitted and paid for. In order to allow your recommenders adequate time to submit their letters, we encourage that applicants submit the Statement of Purpose (and additional required materials) at a later time, provided that it is uploaded by Dec. 15. Please refer to the instructions below. Applicants will be unable to upload any materials - and MES will not have access to the application - until the Apply Texas fee is paid. Any materials uploaded to the application are permanent and cannot be removed.

CMES dual-degree applicants:  The Center for MES (not the Department of MES, aka MELC) offers 7 dual-degree program with other UT Austin graduate programs. Applicants must complete each program's set of requirements by each program's deadline. Not all UT programs share the same deadline. Dual-degree applicants submit only one online application through Apply Texas, and a list of majors and major codes may be viewed on this page. It is possible to gain admission into one program and not the other.

Part 1 of 2

Please do not send any physical materials to C/DMES. GIAC collects the following items electronically:

General application materials:

  1. Please carefully review the Graduate School's admissions instructions.
  2. Apply for graduate admission via the Apply Texas application. Be certain to apply to the program that is your first choice:  MELC (DMES), MES (CMES), or one of CMES' dual-degree programs. The major code for MELC is 667800; MES is 668000. Applicants who wish to be considered by both MELC and MES (DMES and CMES) must submit two applications through Apply Texas. Applicants to one of the Center's dual-degree program will submit only one Apply Texas application; these major codes can be seen on this page.
  3. Pay the application fee:  $65 for US citizens and permanent residents; $90 for international applicants.
  4. Statement of Purpose:  This may be submitted within the online Apply Texas application. However, we strongly prefer that applicants upload the SoP as a PDF document after application submission (not later than Dec. 15) using the Document Upload System. See additional instructions for this item below, under "Part 2 of 2."
  5. Official GRE:  The general GRE must have been taken within 5 years of the date that you request that the scores be sent to UT Austin. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) code for UT Austin is 6882There is no department code. Provided that the scores are still valid, both old and new versions of the GRE will be accepted. Multiple score sets are also accepted. Please see the GRE® site for details about the examination. Average scores of admitted students are listed further down this page.
  6. Official TOEFL/IELTS:  Required of all international applicants from countries not on this list. University minimum scores and average scores of admitted students are listed further down this page. If you earned a bachelors degree in an English-only speaking country, this exam is waived. However, if you have a bachelors from your home country and a master's from an English-speaking country, it is NOT waived. This is university policy. 
  7. Three letters of recommendation:  Applicants will enter the names and email addresses of their recommenders in the Apply Texas application. After the application loads onto the university's system - which can take 1-2 days during peak periods - these three persons will receive an email notification that provides them with their upload instructions. Their letters will then be attached to your application and you may monitor the letters as they arrive. You may issue additional requests for references beyond the original three. Applicants are expected to request letters from academic references who can speak to the prospective student’s scholarly abilities. One professional reference is acceptable if necessary. All letters must be in English, and letters not submitted through the online system, as well as letters housed in Interfolio, are unfortunately not accepted.

Part 2 of 2

After you successfully submit and pay for the Apply Texas application, you will receive a notification from GIAC providing a link to the Document Upload System. This notification can take 24-48 hours to receive during peak periods. Please proceed to then upload the following items (which, again, should include the Statement of Purpose). You can monitor the successful uploading of these materials through the Status Check System, where you may also monitor the arrival of your recommendation letters.
  1. Statement of Purpose:  The SoP should not exceed the equivalent of 3 double-spaced pages with 12-point Times New Roman font. It must outline your academic, research, and professional objectives. A statement of purpose is not a personal statement. While your story is naturally important, please ensure that it is not overly autobiographical, and please do not include anecdotes that don't relate to larger academic questions. Which MES faculty do you wish to work with? Have you studied abroad or conducted research? Which types of courses fuel your interests? What is it that you wish to gain from UT Austin and the MES faculty? Finally, do not submit a generic statement that you submit to multiple schools. CMES applicants should highlight in this document whether they wish to pursue a 12-month option.
  2. Transcripts:  Upload scanned PDF copies of all official transcripts from each college and/or university attended. 24-48 hours after submission & payment of the application, applicants will receive an email notification requesting that you upload transcripts from the institutions that you entered in the Apply Texas application. Do not list a study abroad program if the courses appear on another transcript (usually where the bachelors was completed) and do not list a study abroad program if a transcript cannot be produced. The grading system of the school must be included (usually on the reverse side for Western schools). All pages for each institution must be uploaded as a single PDF for each school. Translations for documents in languages other than English must be provided in the same PDF. If you are admitted to UT Austin - and you accept the admission offer - GIAC will then require the original/official documents. Carefully review this document for complete upload instructions.
  3. Résumé: Among other items, language abilities are a priority. Please summarize your abilities/proficiency levels and any relevant study abroad experiences near the top of this document.
  4. Writing sample:  The sample should be 10-20 pages in length, in English, and in the form of an essay, academic thesis/professional report, or a published article. Applicants may select the subject matter, although it is helpful if the content is germane to the program to which they're applying. Writing samples are submitted as a PDF through the Document Upload System. Please ensure that the text is 12-point Times New Roman or similar, at least 1.5 spacing. Please see the FAQ for more information.


All applicants are automatically considered for funding based on the application materials. Please see the Funding Overview page for further information. Regarding FLAS fellowships, Middle Eastern Studies does not currently offer its own FLAS fellowships. However, there are 3 other programs at UT Austin that offer FLAS fellowships for some Middle Eastern languages, including Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. Please visit our FLAS page for details.

Admissions Criteria & Minimum Recommended Scores (GPA, GRE, TOEFL/IELTS)

The graduate admissions committee takes all elements of each application into consideration. No single item will guarantee admission or disqualify an applicant. Admission is competitive, and decisions are based on past academic records and potential for success as demonstrated through a statement of purpose conveying a clear intellectual and/or professional agenda, strong letters of recommendation, and a writing sample demonstrating scholarly talent.


The Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a four-point scale for admitted graduate students. The graduate admission GPA is calculated based on upper-division and graduate coursework only. However, given that current students in MELC and MES must maintain a 3.50 minimum GPA, the committee will be looking for at least a 3.50 GPA (or approximate international equivalent) from your undergraduate and, if applicable, master's degree. Competitive applicants for funding will possess at least a 3.80 GPA. Those with a GPA below the 3.50 minimum may still be considered for conditional admission if all other application materials are compelling.


Students who have gained admission in recent years, with funding offers, have averaged the following scores/percentiles on the GRE. If multiple sets of scores are submitted, the highest set will be considered:

Verbal:                  ≥ 90th percentile (650 old system, 163 new system)

Quantitative:         ≥ 57th percentile (690 old system, 154 new system)

Analytical Writing: ≥ 85th percentile (5.0 on 6.0 scale)

Recommended minimums for admission without funding:

Verbal:                  ≥ 70th percentile (560 old; 157 new)

Analytical Writing:  ≥ 49th percentile (4.0 on 6.0 scale)

To compare the old scoring system to the new, please review the concordance information provided by ETS. For more information about the revision and how it could affect you, please visit the GRE Revised General Test Web page.

Prior to the 2011 revision of the General GRE test, for basic consideration, the recommended minimum GRE scores were 500 on the verbal section and 1000 overall. Applicants with GRE scores below these standards may have still been considered for admission, but were unlikely to receive funding offers.


International applicants:  While departmental standards are higher, UT Austin requires the following minimum scores:

  • 79 (internet-based test)
  • 213 (computer-based test)
  • 550 (paper-based test)
  • IELTS:  Overall band of 6.5

Among the variety of TOEFL exams, the internet-based TOEFL is the most common, and our graduate programs generally seek a score of >100 (120 is the maximum score). For the IELTS, we seek a score of > 8.0 (9.0 is the maximum score).  More information.

Language Proficiency in MELC

Admission to the programs in Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish) requires proficiency in the primary language based on ACTFL standards. Please review their proficiency guildelines.

Arabic and Persian applicants must demonstrate proficiency at least at the Advanced-Low level. Modern Hebrew applicants must be at the Intermediate-High level for the master's program and Advanced-Low for the doctoral program.

Students focusing on HB/ANE must already have earned a master's degree in the field and have three years of Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, two years of a second ancient Semitic language or one year of a second Semitic language language plus proficiency in German (college or MA level), and background in the study of the Hebrew Bible. 

Language Proficiency in MES

Applicants may enter the program at any level in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish. Most applicants will have at minimum one year of college level instruction, if not much more. However, it is possible to gain admission to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies as a novice language learner. In such cases, the first year of language instruction at UT cannot be applied to completion of the MA; only 2nd year and above may satisfy the language requirement (see bottom of this page).

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