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The Department of Middle East Studies (MES) teaches the diverse histories, religions, languages and literatures that originated in a vast region of the world extending from the Nile to the Oxus Rivers, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. Faculty provide students majoring in Middle East Studies with an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to societies, beginning with the emergence of cities and writing in Sumer and Ancient Egypt, to the rise of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and onwards to the Modern Middle East, extending to its transnational and diasporic communities. The course offerings in the major are designed to provide an understanding of the dynamics that have shaped the literary, linguistic, visual, social and political histories of Middle Eastern societies past and present.

Programs are customizable to complement another declared major or aid in specific professional pursuits. Students interested in declaring a Middle East Studies major should plan to meet with an advisor before doing so to create a comprehensive and cohesive plan of study.

Middle East Studies Major Requirements

PREREQUISITE MIDEAST 200: Introduction to the Middle East and two terms or proven first-year proficiency in a language appropriate to the student’s chosen Sub-major.

MAJOR REQUIREMENTS (minimum of 26-credits) A major in Middle East Studies requires a minimum of 26-credits at the 200-level or above. Two courses must be at the 400-level or above. At least one course within either the Disciplinary or the Elective Requirement must be from the pre-modern period and at least one course within either the Disciplinary or Elective Requirement must be modern. A minimum of 14-credits must be taken at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus. A minimum grade of C- is required to qualify a course for credit in the major.

  • Students pursuing Hebrew Studies are required to take a minimum of two upper-division courses taught in Hebrew or which require reading of Hebrew texts within either their Disciplinary or Elective Requirements.

LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT (minimum of 6-credits) Four terms or fourth-term proficiency appropriate to the selected Sub-major. Students may test out of the Language Requirement but will be expected to make up the credits towards the major’s 26-credits by taking additional coursework in either the Disciplinary or Elective Requirements.

  • Students pursuing the Hebrew Studies sub-major must take an additional term of Hebrew at the 300-level or above to complete the Language Requirement
  • Students pursuing the Ancient Middle East Studies sub-major may take two semesters of an ancient language (or one semester of two languages) that differs from that taken for the prerequisite.
  • Ancient languages: Akkadian, Aramaic, Coptic, Sumerian, Classical Hebrew, Classical Greek, Hittite, Ancient Egyptian, Syriac, or Ugaritic


DISCIPLINARY REQUIREMENT (minimum of 10-credits) At least three courses focused on a single discipline taught within the Department of Middle East Studies. Students are permitted to pursue additional disciplines beyond this list with approval of an MES advisor. No more than one of the three courses may be taken in a department other than Middle East Studies. 

ELECTIVE REQUIREMENT (minimum of 10-credits) At least three courses focused on other disciplines taught within the Department of Middle East Studies. The courses may focus on a single discipline or they may be cross-disciplinary. No more than one course may be taken in a department other than Middle East Studies. Language classes can be taken as electives, with the following restrictions: No more than one elective may be a 300-level or above language course appropriate to the selected sub-major. No more than one elective may be a 200-level or above language course in a second Middle East Studies language.


Submajors and Disciplines

Students must elect one Submajor and one Discipline upon declaration. 


Ancient Middle East Studies              

Arabic Studies                                  

Armenian Studies                               

Hebrew Studies                                 

Persian Studies                                  

Turkish Studies                                                  



Cultural Studies





Visual Culture

*Students are permitted to propose their own disciplinary focus; students should speak with an advisor when planning to do this. 

Discontinued Majors

As of Fall 2018, students will no longer be able to declare the following major:

  • Near Eastern Studies (NES)

As of Fall 2015, students will no longer be able to declare the following majors:

• Ancient Civilizations and Biblical Studies (ACABS)
• Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Turkish and Islamic Studies (AAPTIS)
• Hebrew and Jewish Cultural Studies (HJCS)
• Near Eastern Civilizations (NEC)

For students who have already declared NES, ACABS, AAPTIS, HJCS, or NEC, please continue to follow your plan of study.