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Arab Studies Major

In order to major in Arab Studies, you must apply through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies.


Chris Alexander, Associate Dean & Professor of Political Science
Jonathan Berkey, James B. Duke Professor of International Studies
Rebecca Joubin, Associate Professor of Arab Studies
Ken Menkhaus, Professor of Political Science
Rizwan Zamir, Assistant Professor of Religion

Learning Outcomes

Students who major in Arab Studies will learn to:

  • converse comfortably in Arabic on a wide range of topics
  • read Arabic well, both scholarly writing and popular media
  • write Arabic fluently
  • understand the history, politics, religions and culture of the Arab World
  • develop an original research question, do the necessary research, and analyze their results
  • present their work orally, visually, and in writing  


Courses: ARB 101, 102, 201, 202 or the equivalent

Students are required to spend at least one summer and one semester on an accredited program in the Arab world. In individual cases, an intensive Middlebury program in the United States may fulfill this requirement. Students may count up to four approved courses from an accredited study abroad program toward their major.

Course Requirements

The major requires 12 courses, including:

Three Arabic Courses

Select at least three of the following courses, all of which are taught in Arabic:

  • ARB 321 Contemporary Arabic Literature
  • ARB 322 Media in the Arab World
  • ARB 331 Arabic Media and Society
  • ARB 325 Contemporary Syrian Television Drama
  • ARB 335 Contemporary Egyptian Society
  • ARB 340 Gender and Politics in Contemporary Syrian Literature
  • ARB 341 Gender Studies in the Arab World

Additional new courses offered by Arab Studies may be counted towards the major.

Four of the following courses

You must take at least four of the following or additional courses from the list above:

  • HIS 175 Islamic Civilization 600-1500
  • HIS 176 Islamic Civilization since 1500
  • HIS 218 Jihad and Crusade
  • HIS 375 Nationalism/Colonialism Modern Arab World
  • POL 291 Politics of the Middle East (formerly 241)
  • REL 272 Introduction to Islam
  • REL 276 Sunni and Shi'ite Islam
  • REL 277 Islamic Mysticism
  • REL 375 Islamic Eschatology
  • REL 376 Islamic Ethics
  • REL 378 Islam in the Modern Age Classics in Islamic Literature

Note: Upon approval, students may count other courses in literary and cultural studies toward the major if they clearly relate to the thesis project.

One methods course

Select at least one methods course from the department best suited to your intended thesis:

  • ENG 220 Literary Analysis
  • ENG 391 Literary Criticism
  • HIS 2XX Any 200-level course in history; HIS 218 recommended
  • LIT 432 Theory and Practice of Literary Translation
  • POL 201 Methods and Statistics in Political Science (formerly 221)
  • REL 301 Perspectives in the Study of Religion
Thesis (both courses required)
  • CIS 495 Thesis (fall)
  • CIS 496 Thesis (spring)