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Studies in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization

exclamation Important: Please note that NELC does not offer a Ph.D. program.

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization offers a Bachelors of Arts degree in Near Eastern Studies. Students choose one of four options offered within the major: Languages and Civilization, Culture and Civilization, Comparative Islamic Studies, and Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Courses are designed for students planning careers in government service, non-governmental organizations, teaching, and in the private sector.

The program focuses on the languages and civilizations of the Islamic Near and Middle East, the Semitic Near East, and Islamic Central Asia, with an emphasis on the ancient and medieval roots of these civilizations as well as more recent cultural developments. Each of the languages offered represents a major literary tradition. Arabic, Persian, Tajik, Turkish, and Central Eurasian Turkic (such as Uzbek, Kazakh, and Kirghiz) are the languages of the most significant manifestations of Islamic civilization. Hebrew and Aramaic are languages of the Bible, and central to Judaism and Jewish culture. A rich and vast heritage from other ancient Near Eastern cultures is explored through study of languages and literatures such as Egyptian (Hieroglyphic, Coptic), Akkadian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, and Syriac. The languages are taught in conjunction with their socio-cultural context, so that linguistic skills will be formed and enhanced by a broad and sympathetic understanding, and a firm foundation will be laid for both intellectual exploration and practical experience.


Student Learning Goals

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization provides a liberal arts education in new global realities and their connections specifically to history of culture in the Near East and Central Asia. A detailed and critical knowledge of ancient and modern languages of these regions is of utmost importance for a better understanding of their rich cultural heritages, and development of language skills requires cultural-historical knowledge. This includes the following:

  • Development of language skills, including proficiency in ancient languages of the Near East, and proficiency in modern foreign languages of the Near East and Central Asia, involving all four language skills (speaking, writing, reading, and listening).
  • Expansion of student understanding of cultural diversity through study of languages, literature, religious, and other cultural aspects of the ancient and modern Near East and Central Asia:
    • Close textual and hermeneutic studies of ancient languages and texts.
    • Classical and modern literature.
    • History of culture.


Additionally, NELC focuses on the development of student abilities in:

  • Critical analyses of texts.
  • Thorough understanding of historical and cultural contexts.
  • Integrative and critical thinking.
  • Analytical writing.
  • Research procedures and strategies.


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