Undergraduate Program Overview


The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations introduces students to the ancient and modern peoples, languages, cultures, and societies of the Near/Middle East. Loosely defined as stretching from Morocco in the west to Iran and Afghanistan in the east, the region is home some of the world’s great religions and civilizations. Historically, the influence of its languages, literatures and cultures has extended to Central, East and Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and North America. Thus, the study of the Near and Middle East is an important area of academic inquiry on account of its political, economic and cultural significance on the international stage.

The concentration offers students a multi-faceted and inter-disciplinary perspective on Near Middle Eastern cultures and languages that have been so influential throughout the world. Undergraduate concentrators develop skills in one or more of the languages of the region on their way to choosing from a wide variety of directions of study. The Department offers instruction in a range of ancient and modern languages including Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Iranian, Persian, Sumerian, Turkish (Ottoman and Modern), and Yiddish. The concentration provides a solid grounding in the student’s area of focus and offers an in-depth look at how scholars explore these languages and their associated cultures that have been so influential throughout the world. Undergraduate students have the option of applying for an A.B./A.M. degree.

The NELC concentration will be of interest to students who are considering careers in academia, government and Foreign Service, law, journalism, education, business, and divinity, among others, as well as those who anticipate graduate study in Near Eastern or related fields.

One of the strengths of the concentration in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations is the individual attention each student receives in pursuing his or her interests within the broader arena of the Near/Middle Eastern Studies. Students choose one of four specific tracks for concentration: The Middle East in Antiquity, Jewish Studies, Histories and Cultures of Muslim Societies (Islamic Studies) or Modern Middle Eastern Studies. The director of undergraduate studies assists each student to make an informed choice among these options, and assigns a faculty member to serve as the student's mentor/advisor, advising on courses and other work as the student progresses. There is no set way to meet the requirements, and students will benefit from the close guidance of their assigned adviser. The Department also offers secondary fields in the four pathways listed above, as well as language citations in several Middle Eastern languages.