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Master of Arts (in Arabic Studies, Hebrew Studies, or Persian Studies)
The University libraries have extensive holdings on Middle Eastern languages and cultures. The Perry-Castaneda Library contains about a hundred thousand volumes in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. More information about the General Libraries' resources is given here.
Each student in the Middle Eastern languages and cultures program concentrates in Arabic, Hebrew, or Persian. The master's degree is offered in language, linguistics, literature, pedagogy, and Islamic studies, and in cultural studies in the student's area of concentration. The doctoral degree is offered in Arabic language, linguistics, and literature and in Islamic studies; in Hebrew language, linguistics, and literature (biblical, rabbinic, and modern), biblical history and archaeology, Jewish thought, and the culture of ancient and modern Israel; and in Persian language and Persian literature.
With the approval of the graduate adviser and the graduate dean, students may design special programs that include courses from outside the department that are related to the major area of study.
Graduate courses are offered in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish languages and literatures and in the cultures of the Middle East. The study of these languages, literatures, and cultures may also be included in programs leading to master's or doctoral degrees in other departments. Students who are interested in an interdisciplinary professional degree with a regional concentration on the Middle East should consider the program in Middle Eastern studies.
Master of Arts
Arabic studies. This program offers graduate training in Arabic language (modern Fusha and the classical language), linguistics, literature, and pedagogy and in Islamic studies; provides training in linguistic analysis, literary and cultural history, literary criticism, and teaching methodology; and introduces research methods leading to independent investigation. Participation in the program assumes a Bachelor of Arts in Arabic language and literature, or the equivalent. It requires a level of competence in modern Fusha Arabic that enables students to participate fully in courses conducted exclusively in Arabic: that is, proficiency of advanced or better in at least three of the four skills on a nationally recognized scale. Courses taken to make up undergraduate deficiencies may not be counted toward the degree.
The Master of Arts with thesis requires thirty semester hours of coursework: eighteen hours of linguistics, literature, pedagogy, and Islamic studies; six hours of electives chosen in consultation with a faculty adviser and the Arabic faculty; and six hours in the thesis course. No more than nine hours may be in upper-division courses. The thesis is normally written in English; under certain circumstances and with written consent of the graduate dean, it may be written in Arabic.
The Master of Arts with report requires thirty-three semester hours of coursework: twenty-one hours of linguistics, literature, pedagogy, and Islamic studies; nine hours of electives chosen in consultation with a faculty adviser and the Arabic faculty; and three hours in the report course. No more than nine hours may be in upper-division courses. With special permission, the report may be written in Arabic.
Hebrew studies. This program offers graduate training in Hebrew language, linguistics, and literature (biblical, rabbinic, modern); Hebrew language pedagogy; Jewish thought; the culture of ancient and modern Israel; and biblical archaeology. The program trains students in research methods leading to independent investigation. Entering students should have a Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew language and literature, or the equivalent. Those who do not must take Hebrew 321, Hebrew Grammar, Hebrew 322, Introduction to Hebrew Literature, and Hebrew 325, Advanced Conversation and Composition, before taking graduate Hebrew courses. These courses may not be counted toward the degree. To acquire a master's degree, students are expected to demonstrate a level of competence of intermediate high or better on a nationally accepted proficiency scale. For students specializing in ancient Hebrew culture or biblical archaeology, the language requirement is determined by the Hebrew faculty and the graduate adviser. At least thirty semester hours of coursework are required, including a six-semester-hour thesis course. The thesis is normally written in English; under certain circumstances and with written consent of the graduate dean, it may be written in Hebrew.
Persian studies. This program offers graduate training in Persian language and literature. Participation assumes practical mastery of the modern Persian language. The program provides exposure to major literary texts and genres and introduces research methods leading to independent work. One year of Arabic is required. Credit for that coursework and for any coursework in Persian that the student needs to develop reading competence may not be counted toward the degree.
The Master of Arts with thesis requires thirty semester hours of coursework: Persian 384C (Topic 1: Ferdowsi's Shâhnâmeh), 384C (Topic 2: Sa'di's Golestân), 384C (Topic 3: Hâfez and Classical Persian Lyric Poetry), 388, a survey course in twentieth-century Persian literature, a course in literary criticism, an elective in Persian literature, and the six-semester-hour thesis course. The requirements for the Master of Arts with report are the same, except that a relevant course with Iranian or Islamic studies content and the three-semester-hour report course replace the thesis course.
Doctor of Philosophy
Participation in the doctoral degree program requires a master's degree or the
equivalent in the relevant area and language. The program is designed to increase
the breadth and depth of the student's knowledge and to develop his or her
for independent scholarly research. The courses required are determined by the
student's interests. For research purposes, reading knowledge of one or two
other than the student's language of concentration, is required; another Middle
Eastern language of relevance to the student's research is expected. A period of
and research is recommended in a country where the language of concentration is
An examination committee oversees the student's progress and eventually administers a comprehensive examination. After passing this examination, the candidate sets up a dissertation committee with the help of the graduate adviser. This committee approves the dissertation proposal, guides the student in writing the dissertation, and administers the final oral defense. The dissertation is normally written in English; under certain circumstances and with the written consent of the graduate dean, it may be written in the language of concentration.
Arabic studies and Hebrew studies. Students choose between a specialization in literature and culture with supporting work in language and linguistics and a specialization in language and linguistics with supporting work in literature and culture. They normally take relevant courses in such fields as Islamic studies or Jewish studies, language pedagogy, and history and anthropology of the Middle East. Those who specialize in literature and culture must take two courses in literary criticism; those who specialize in language and linguistics must take Linguistics 480K and 380L or their equivalents. Arabic studies students must have sufficient competence in Fusha to participate fully in courses conducted exclusively in Arabic and must pass a test to demonstrate the advanced proficiency needed to use scholarly publications and participate in scholarly activities in Arabic. Hebrew studies students must be able to use Hebrew scholarly publications and to participate in scholarly activities in Hebrew.
Persian studies. Students must take at least two years of Arabic and two courses in literary criticism, as well as relevant courses in such fields as history, Islamic studies, and political science.
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Mailing address: Graduate Program, Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712