The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization offers BA and MA degree programs that investigate major literary and cultural traditions of the Near East and Central Asia. Arabic, Persian, Tajik, Turkish (Modern and Ottoman), and Central Asian Turkic (such as Uzbek, Kazak, Kyrgyz, and Uygur) are the languages of the most significant manifestations of Islamic civilization. Hebrew and Aramaic are languages of the Bible and are central to Judaism and Jewish culture. A rich and vast heritage from other ancient Near Eastern cultures is explored through study of languages and literatures such as Egyptian (Hieroglyphic, Coptic), Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Syriac. Undergraduates can select from degree options concentrating in Languages and Civilization; Culture and Civilization; Comparative Islamic Studies; and Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.
Middle East Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies offers an interdisciplinary program leading to a Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS). Students take courses through the Jackson School of International Studies and other departments on campus.
The Middle East Studies program offers a variety of courses. Courses on the economic development of the Middle East and advanced reading seminars on the region are given in the Jackson School. The Department of Political Science offers general courses about the government and politics of the Middle East as well as more specific offerings on theories of revolution in the Middle East and North Africa, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Faculty members in the Department of History also offer general courses on regional history and more specific courses on the expansion of Islam, the modern Middle East, and Ottoman history.
In addition to the social science-history focus, students must take courses beyond the second-year level in a Middle Eastern language. The four major Middle Eastern languages – Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish – are taught in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization. Through the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, students may take courses in Islamic civilization, Islamic philosophy, Islamic law and jurisprudence, and the Quran.
Students may combine their work on a masters degree in Middle East Studies with study in a professional school. The student may count two courses taken in the graduate schools of Business Administration, Library and Information Science, Public Affairs, or the School of Law toward the MAIS degree. In the same manner, students may apply two non-Middle East courses from a social science discipline toward the degree.
The Jackson School's Comparative Religion Program offers a Master of Arts in International Studies within which, for a "major" in Judaism, a student must complete four to five courses and a third year of Hebrew study.
The Near and Middle Eastern Studies Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Program is designed for students with a master’s degree who wish to pursue research with a comparative perspective in the following fields: Near Eastern languages and literature (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian [or Dari or Tajik]); Turkish and Central Asian Turkic languages; Near Eastern linguistics; Islamic topics, namely Islamic law, history, institutions, theology and mysticism; comparative religion (Judaism, Christianity and Islam); or interdisciplinary investigations of modern topics using the social sciences.