Over the past three decades, Los Angeles has become the principal metropolitan center for the Iranian-American community and the symbolic capital of the global Iranian Diaspora. As the leading university for Los Angeles and the Southern California region, UCLA is the foremost academic locale for Iranian Studies. Indeed, the UCLA Program of Iranian Studies is the oldest of its kind in the United States, having educated thousands of students and produced outstanding intellectual leaders in the field for the past 50 years.
Iranian Studies began at UCLA in the late 1960s as a doctoral program largely inspired by European precedents. After a bachelor’s degree was established in 1989, the program began to attract young scholars interested in the newly introduced undergraduate philological and historical courses.
Today, the Program of Iranian Studies continues to educate a large number of students, offering a wide range of courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels including Old and Middle Iranian languages, Old Iranian literary traditions, ancient Iranian religions, ancient Iranian history, and classical Persian literature and culture. Old Persian cuneiform and Avestan are taught at the elementary and advanced levels as are Parthian, Pahlavi and Bactrian. Also offered are a year-long undergraduate survey on the history of the Achaemenid, Arsacid and Sasanian empires, as well as an introductory course on the history of Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism. In addition, courses in elementary, intermediate and advanced Persian are taught, including graduate seminars on classical Persian poetics and prose. Coursework on Judeo-Persian and Baha’i studies is also offered.
The UCLA Program of Iranian Studies has been successful in securing academic positions for its Ph.D. graduates at prestigious institutions such as UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Harvard, Stanford, Tehran University and the University of Washington.