Middle Eastern Studies

Undergraduate

One of four interdisciplinary majors within the Asian Studies program, the major in Middle Eastern studies allows you to specialize in the history, languages, cultures, and politics of the Middle East. The Five College Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies allows you to complement any disciplinary major with multidisciplinary studies and linguistic attainments.

Program Overview

Language study is the core component of the major. As a student, you are expected to incorporate the humanities and the social sciences fully into your studies with classes at Mount Holyoke and the other colleges in the Five College Consortium.

Complementing course work at Mount Holyoke are extracurricular activities and study abroad programs that broaden and deepen your understanding of this region.

On campus, you will experience regional culture at many levels, including language tables and clubs, guest lectures, performing and visual arts, film, festivals, and regional cuisine. These activities are often initiated by and benefit greatly from the diverse student population of Mount Holyoke.

Most of our students spend a semester or a summer in study abroad programs to gain a deeper understanding of this region. We offer many approved Middle Eastern study abroad programs.

Middle Eastern studies majors graduate to pursue graduate studies and careers in fields as varied as education, business, NGOs, journalism, the arts, and government service.

Community Voices

Spotlight on Middle Eastern Studies students and alums

Megan Brookman 鈥14 Graduate Student

Olivia Griffin 鈥13 Program Coordinator

Courses and Requirements

Learning Goals

By majoring in Middle Eastern Studies, students should:

  • Develop proficiency in Arabic, Hebrew, or another language widely spoken in the Middle East. By "proficiency" we mean: 
    • Ability to read newspapers, magazines, and popular literature.
    • Ability to converse with a native speaker on non-technical subjects.
    • Ability to write coherent paragraphs on non-technical subjects. 
  • Develop knowledge of the history of the premodern and modern Middle East. 
  • Develop knowledge of the arts, literature, religions, and philosophies of the Middle East. 
  • Develop knowledge of the geography, politics, economics, and societies of the Middle East.

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 40 credits:

Four courses (16 credits), equivalent to two years of college-level study of a Middle Eastern language, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, and Armenian 116
Two introductory courses (8 credits) providing an overview of Middle Eastern history: 28
One course (4 credits) must be in the premodern period (pre-1500 CE). The following course(s) fulfill the premodern history requirement:
RELIG-102
Introduction to Islam
One course (4 credits) must be in the modern period (1500鈥損resent).
Four elective courses (16 credits): 216
Two (8 credits) must be from Group One: Humanities (language, literature, the arts, history, philosophy, and religion and interdisciplinary courses in these areas) 3
Two (8 credits) must be from Group Two: Social Science (anthropology, economics, geography, international relations, linguistics, politics, sociology, and interdisciplinary courses in these areas)
At least three courses (12 credits) must be at the 300 level. One of the three 300-level courses must be a non-language and non-independent study course. 4
Total Credits40
1

Classes in Arabic and Modern Hebrew are currently taught in the Five Colleges. Additional courses in Arabic and in other languages are offered through the Five College Mentored Language Program. Students may count up to 4 credits toward the major for studying a Middle Eastern language through the Five College Mentored Language Program.

2

A full list of the approved courses for the major appears at the end of the Middle Eastern Studies Courses section.

3

In order to count toward the major, studio art or performance courses must be supplemented with analytical written work.

4

A course that is taught outside of 精东传媒 must be approved by the chair of the Asian Studies program to count as a 300-level course.

Additional Specifications

  • Any course that devotes 50 percent or more of its substance to Middle Eastern countries, peoples, or issues may be counted toward the major. One course on Middle Eastern diasporas may count toward the major.

  • A maximum of 16 lower-level language credits and a total of 24 language credits can be counted toward the major.

  • Students who declare a Middle Eastern studies major automatically fulfill the College's "outside the major" requirement.

Requirements for the Certificate

Because of the wide range of courses available through the Five Colleges, students must design a program that will meet their intellectual, academic, and prospective professional needs in conjunction with a Middle Eastern Studies advisor from Mount Holyoke. Students are encouraged to declare intentions and begin work with an advisor during the sophomore year.

A minimum of seven courses:

Knowledge equivalent to at least two years of college-level study of a Middle Eastern language, such as Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Persian, and Armenian 10-4
Two introductory courses providing an overview of Middle Eastern history:2
One course must be in the pre-modern period (600-1500 CE)
One course must be in the modern period (1500-present)
Five courses from the following groups, including at least one course in each of the following three groups:5
Group one: Religion and Philosophy
Group two: Literature, Art, and Language study beyond what is required to satisfy the language requirement above
Group three: History and Social Sciences
Total Courses7
1

Classes in Arabic and Modern Hebrew are currently taught in the Five Colleges. Additional courses in Arabic and in other languages are offered through the Five College Mentored Language Program. This requirement may be fulfilled through course completion or by examination.

Additional Specifications

  • Students are also encouraged to spend time in the Middle East, learning Arabic and other languages and immersing themselves in the culture of the area. Plans for study abroad should be designed in consultation with the student鈥檚 advisor.
  • Courses offered at the Five Colleges in the upcoming semester that qualify for the Certificate are listed on the , as is the application students must submit when all requirements have been completed. Courses not listed, whether taken at one of the Five Colleges or elsewhere, must be approved by the committee on the recommendation of the campus advisor.
  • Students must receive a grade of B or better in every course counted toward the certificate.
  • Contact information: Sohail Hashmi, Professor of International Relations; Amina Steinfels, Associate Professor of Religion; .

Most Middle Eastern studies courses at Mount Holyoke are listed below, but students should also consult the catalogue entries or websites of other departments, including art history, history, international relations, politics, and religion.

Middle Eastern Studies majors should also plan to use the rich resources of the Five College Consortium in selecting their courses (listings are available through the or individual college websites).

Please consult the chair of the Asian studies program for guidelines regarding Asian languages not taught in the Five Colleges.

Courses Counting toward the Major in Middle Eastern Studies

Anthropology
ANTHR-316MESpecial Topics in Anthropology: 'Political Anthropology of the Middle East'4
Asian Studies
ASIAN-130First Year Arabic I4
ASIAN-131First Year Arabic II4
ASIAN-362Political Anthropology of the Middle East4
Gender Studies
GNDST-210SLWomen and Gender in Philosophy and Religion: 'Women and Gender in Islam'4
Politics
POLIT-216Middle East Politics4
POLIT-224The United States and Iran4
POLIT-226The United States, Israel, and the Arabs4
POLIT-333Just War and Jihad: Comparative Ethics of War and Peace4
POLIT-341Political Islam4
POLIT-342Islamic Political Thought4
Religion
RELIG-102Introduction to Islam4
RELIG-207Women and Gender in Islam4
RELIG-311Sufism: The Mystic Path in Islam4
RELIG-343The Sabbath4

Courses Counting toward the Five College Certificate in Middle Eastern Studies

A list of currently offered courses approved towards the Five College certificate is maintained on the . 

Contact us

The Department of Asian Students helps students explore the rich and extremely diverse cultures of Asia, home to some 60 percent of humanity.

Denise Falk
  • Academic Department Coordinator

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