The study of Arabic opens the door to the rich history and culture of West Asia and North Africa, and of pre-modern and global Islamic civilizations. Arabic is one of the official languages of the United Nations and is spoken by more some 300 million people, making it the fifth largest group of native speakers of any language worldwide. It is an official language in 26 countries, and as the language of the Quran, it is used by Muslims daily all around the world.
Our program offers instruction in several varieties of the language, beginning with three years of training that focus on modern standard Arabic, the variety used in writing and in prepared speeches. We also teach spoken Egyptian Arabic, the language of daily life in the most populous Arab country, as well as other dialects on an occasional basis. Students interested in modern and contemporary studies will find seminars in modern Arabic thought, literature, film, and song. Those interested in pre-modern traditions will find seminars in classical Arabic literature, Islamic texts, and related topics. Other courses offered by our faculty include Islamic Spain, Arabic sociolinguistics, Arabic-to-English translation, anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa, urbanism in the southern Mediterranean, and anthropology of Islam and religious minorities of the region. Graduate students are encouraged to take the course in teaching Arabic as a second language and to work as teaching assistants in our language classes.
An M.A. in Arabic prepares students for work in any field where language proficiency is an advantage. Such fields include language teaching, translation, law, business, and journalism. It is also excellent preparation for doctoral work, whether in Arabic, Islamic studies, anthropology, history, political science, or international relations. The Ph.D. in Arabic concentrates on Arabic literature and culture, whether pre-modern, modern, or contemporary, and prepares students for work in academia. Applicants to the Ph.D. program should have a specific field of research in mind when applying for admission. We encourage applicants to contact the faculty in order to discuss their proposed research.