Middle Eastern Studies

Academic Program Introduction

Middle Eastern studies explores the many facets of Middle Eastern and North African civilizations. These include the languages, literature, history, religion, art, societies, and politics of the region, as well as its diaspora.

Majors learn modern standard Arabic. The program encourages, but does not require, students to study abroad in the Middle East, North Africa, or another Arabic-speaking region.

Learning goals

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the histories, ecologies, social, politics, cultures, religious traditions, and communities of the Middle East and North Africa.

  • Develop an in-depth field of study in a particular field, such as modern Arabic literature, Islamic studies, women and gender, Iranian studies, or history of the Muslim world.

Programs of study

Middle Eastern studies major and minor

Students may explore anthropology, art, history, literature, political science, religion, and women’s and gender studies.


Students learn to read, write, and speak in Arabic.

Research highlights

  • Closeup of a chalkboard in an Arabic class.

    In “Tongues of Eve: The Politics of Language in Postcolonial Algerian Literature,” an honors thesis, Molly Hoyer ’18 compares the work of two prominent Algerian novelists: Ahlam Mosteghanemi, who writes in Arabic, and Assia Djebar, who wrote in French. Hoyer double majored in Middle Eastern studies and comparative literary studies.


  • Arabic Cluster

    In the Arabic Cluster, students live together, communicate in Arabic, and participate in Arabic cultural activities. A Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant from an Arabic-speaking country also lives in the Arabic Cluster and helps arrange cultural events and programming.

for more

Our newsletter

Published annually, our newsletter features recent or upcoming classes, students’ first-hand accounts of Wintersession in Morocco and semesters abroad, interviews with faculty, and more.

Middle Eastern Studies Program

Founders Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Rachid Aadnani
Program Director