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Arabic Studies

The Arabic program in the Department of Middle East Studies at U-M combines the study of Arabic culture, literature, and linguistics with methodological training in the language. Arabic was first taught at UM in 1892 and has been an integral part of the Department of Middle East Studies since its foundation in 1948. Arabic is the key to a fascinating history of a millennium and a half, stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. It boasts an overwhelmingly rich written heritage of the region, from the Qur’an to the postmodern. While much of its earlier history overlaps with MES’s offerings in Islamic studies, the department also teaches many contemporary aspects of Arabic language, literature and culture.

Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages in the U.S.  Developing proficiency in the language enables students to communicate with native speakers, increase their awareness of other cultures, understand their family and ethnic heritage if they are Arabic heritage speakers, and prepare them for professional and government careers and/or graduate study related to Arabic.

Language instruction follows the communicative-proficiency approach with focus on the cognitive and affective domains of language learning as well as on the students and their needs.  This approach, which is guided by the Proficiency and the Foreign Language and National Standards, emphasizes all aspects of language: linguistic, communicative, socio-linguistic, and strategic competences. To the advanced learner MES offers courses in Arabic grammar, Arabic-English translation, Arabic linguistics, business Arabic, media Arabic, Arabic culture, Arabic literature, and content-based courses, taught in Arabic.  

In addition to one of the broadest undergraduate programs, U-M offers a graduate MA in Arabic Studies program consisting of two tracks, an MA in Arabic for Professional Purposes and Professional (APP) and an MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL), and a Ph.D. program in Arabic Linguistics or Arabic Literature.

Arabic studies courses taught in English can be found in the LSA Course Guide under the subject "MIDEAST," while Arabic language courses are listed in the LSA Course Guide under the subject "ARABIC." Please note that Arabic studies course offerings vary by semester. Please contact the department at with any questions.