Concurrent AB-AM

The Concurrent AB-AM Degree Program in NELC

The NELC offers a concurrent AB-AM degree that allows students who are primary concentrators (full or joint) to obtain a Master’s degree (AM) in NELC in addition to their Bachelor’s degree (AB) during their four years at Harvard.

The program: Students work with different disciplinary approaches and through access to diverse faculty and wide expertise to gain a broad understanding of the histories and cultures of the Middle East and its diasporic formations (in the Ancient Near East, Jewish Studies, and Islamic Studies). They develop a special competence in one area of interest and hone their research skills and their ability to think critically about it. Students also acquire an intermediate-level proficiency in at least one NELC language. Other than that, the program is structured to offer students maximum flexibility towards specializing in a field of their choice. They can work closely with one or more members of the faculty in our department, which covers a wide range of academic fields, including history, literature, religious studies, political science, archeology, linguistics and philosophy. The program provides Undergraduates the opportunity to engage with more complex research in fields covered by the NELC department than offered in the concentration, and to allow access to advanced course offerings usually reserved for MA-students and incoming Doctoral students.The program is open to primary NELC concentrators (full or joint) who have demonstrated advanced mastery of the field. On rare occasions, the program may also accept Harvard undergraduates from other concentrations with equivalent, advanced NELC background.

The formal requirements for the AM degree for those in the program are as follows:

  • Eight half-courses at the 100-level or above. Courses counted towards the AM should ordinarily be taken in the student's fourth year. Courses taken in the third year may in some circumstances  count if approved by the DGS or DUS. All eight half-courses must be letter graded (300-level only SAT/UNSAT) and the cumulative grade average in these courses must be B+ or higher.

Advising: Students in the AM program will be assigned an academic advisor from the NELC faculty for their fourth year at Harvard. NELC concentrators can retain their faculty concentration advisor.

Allocating courses: With regards to the eight required courses for the AM degree: four higher-level courses must be allocated for use solely towards the AM degree requirements; and four other courses (+120/200/300-level) may be allocated for use simultaneously towards both the AM degree requirements and the Harvard College AB degree requirements. The courses allocated solely towards the AM degree requirements can not be used for Harvard College AB degree requirements, nor for NELC Concentration requirements or as requirements for any other concentration. Up to four graduate level courses taken before the fourth year can be allocated for either sole AM use or joint AB-AM use. Candidates for the AB/AM degree must allocate these courses by the start of the final term before graduation.

Application process: Students seeking admission to the AB/AM program in NELC must submit to the Department by November 21 of their third year a detailed, coherent plan for courses of study in NELC covering a broad swath of courses that go significantly beyond the level required for the undergraduate concentration. This plan must be approved by the NELC DGS and DUS together before admission to the AB/AM program can be approved. After submitting the plan of study, students must apply for admission to the AB/AM program through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences by the Graduate School’s stated deadline (which is typically in the middle of December). This application is just like a graduate school application, and requires reference letters amongst other things. Details on the application can be found here. Acceptance notices are given in the winter by the GSAS admissions office

Final research paper: During the fourth year, the student undertakes the writing of a research paper, the subject and scope of which will be determined in direct consultation with the academic advisor, and under the supervision of the academic advisor, with at least one additional reader appointed by the department. The student’s undergraduate Senior Thesis, if applicable, can replace the research paper (specifically, Senior Tutorials will be allowed to double count toward the Undergraduate Concentration and the AM degree). There will be an oral defense of the research paper. Students register for NEC300 while working on their research paper.

Other programs and departments: The geographies and temporalities covered by Faculty in the NELC Department are also studied by colleagues elswhere at Harvard. Classes taken in other departments can, therefore, with the approval of the DGS and the DUS, be used to count towards the fulfilment of the NELC AM requirement. The AB/AM program in NELC differs specifically from the AB/AM program offered at CMES in a few important ways: in spite of an obvious overlap in spatial and disciplinary terms, the temporal focus of the the NELC AB/AM is different and constitutes essentially an extension of its Undergraduate concentration in its study of the philologies, literatures, religions and histories of the region. This includes Antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period.

Word of warning: The AM program requires at minimum four additional courses in NELC beyond the standard deparmental concentration requirements, because at most four of the eight courses for the AB degree can be used for both the AB degree requirements and the AM degree requirements. As a consequence, the consensus recommendation is for students to forgo this program and take advantage of the many other academic opportunities that the University offers in their fourth year.

For more information: Further details on the application process are available at the GSAS website and from the Studies Coordinator Eva Stathi Misho ( For questions on bracketing courses and whether it makes sense for you to apply to this program, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Gojko Barjamovic (