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Graduate Program

The Near East is a region of critical importance. As its many nations continue to play pivotal roles on the world stage, the need for firm knowledge about Near Eastern languages and cultures becomes increasingly clear. These languages and cultures are our specialty. Indeed, in NELC one can find experts in Arabic, Hebrew (ancient and modern), Persian, Turkish (Ottoman and Modern), Egyptian (hieroglyphic and Coptic), and the languages of Central Asia. Our courses offer great breadth, in terms of the number of different languages taught, and great depth, in terms of the historical range our courses cover (from ancient to medieval to modern periods). As a NELC graduate student, you will develop a thorough understanding of historical and cultural contexts and skills in critical analysis of texts, research procedures, and integrative thinking.

NELC does not have a Ph.D. program. If you are interested in a Ph.D. program, please refer to the Near and Middle Eastern Studies program of the UW Graduate School for more information on their doctoral program in a closely related field.


Application Information

Application Deadline: January 15

What NELC is looking for in a MA candidate: We are looking for students who demonstrate a passion for and have abilities in the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Near East. Students must have a Bachelor's Degree and are strongly encouraged, though not required, to have undertaken at least two years of formal language study in a Near Eastern language before applying. A GPA of 3.4 or higher is required. Native speakers of Near Eastern languages are also encouraged to apply. Your overall application will be considered in the selection process.

Application Process: You will need to complete the UW Graduate School’s online application by January 15th to be considered for NELC’s M.A. program. Students can only begin the program Autumn quarter. Visit the Graduate School's webpage regarding admission here.

Read our Graduate Admissions FAQ's flier for questions about the NELC admissions process.

If you are an International applicant living outside the U.S., you are strongly encouraged to complete application requirements at least thirty days prior to the deadline for the program to ensure sufficient time for graduate admission review.

Items Needed for the Online Application*:
(1) Statement of purpose;
(2) Sample of written work;
(3) Three letters of recommendation;
(4) GRE scores;
(5) List of language experience;
(6) Unofficial transcript(s); If you are accepted, the Graduate School will ask for your official transcript(s).
(7) TOEFL scores (non-native English speakers. Minimum test scores: TOEFLiBT – 92, TOEFLC – 237, TOEFL – 580).

Please do not mail any materials to the Department. Official GRE scores must be reported to UW institution code 4854. There is no department code.

Funding: NELC has some teaching assistantships and fellowships available. Applicants interested in a T.A. position should apply for it simultaneously.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the Graduate Program Advisor at


Graduate Non-Matriculated (GNM) Students

Please check with the Graduate Program Advisor to see if NELC is accepting GNM students before you start the application process.
When to apply
Autumn Quarter—September 1
Winter Quarter—December 1
Spring Quarter—March 1
Summer Quarter—May 15


Requirements for Graduate Students

Graduate students must meet both Graduate School Requirements and NELC Department Graduate Program Requirements in order to graduate.

Graduate School Requirements

I. 36 CREDITS: Credits completed with a final course grade of 2.7 or higher (400 level or above, with at least 18/36 credits at the 500 level or above. Please note that 498/499 courses do not count for graduate level credit). Please note that courses numbered 600, 700, and 800 ARE NOT calculated into a student's grade point average.
II. CUMULATIVE GPA: Minimum of 2.0.
III. MASTER’S DEGREE REQUEST: File online through MyUW.
IV. TIME LIMIT: Complete all degree requirements within six years.


NELC Department Graduate Program Requirements

Details about all of these requirements can be found in our Graduate Student Handbook

I. The M.A. SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE: As early as possible, but no later than the end of the 3rd quarter of study, students should select a Supervisory Committee.
II. READING LISTS: A reading list serves as a guideline for students preparing for exams. These lists will include readings covered in the students’ coursework, plus additional material.
III. EXAMINATIONS: The scheduling of the exams is by agreement of the examiners and students. The M.A. exams are normally scheduled for students’ final quarter of M.A. study, however, the faculty may accept petitions for earlier examinations.

  1. The Concentration Near Eastern Language Exam: Students must demonstrate knowledge at an advanced level of a Near East language. Students must take an exam or pass the third year series of NELC UW courses with a 3.5 or higher GPA.
  2. The Second Near Eastern Language Exam: Students must demonstrate knowledge at the intermediate level of a Near East Language. Students must take an exam or pass the second year series of NELC UW courses with a 3.5 or higher GPA.
  3. The Research Language Exam: Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of a research language that is pertinent to the research in their area of study (French, German, etc).  Students must take an exam or pass the first year series of UW courses with a 3.5 or higher GPA.
  4. The General Culture of the Near East Exam: Students will take a written    examination on the General Culture of the Near East. The exam will assume broad core knowledge of the Near East and comparative perspectives on the field.  However, it will not be a standardized exam but rather suited to each student’s course of study.
  5. Specialization Exam: This exam assesses students’ ability to analyze the       scholarship produced in a particular field. They should be prepared to assess the accuracy of content in particular works and to demonstrate a strong grasp of the chronology of their discipline. Students will need to demonstrate an awareness of the major scholarly approaches to the subject and the important questions each has raised over time.

IV.FINAL PAPER: In order to complete the M.A. program, students must submit either a seminar paper OR a thesis.


Important NELC Graduate Program Documents

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