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Overview Due to the rise in commercial and cultural interaction with Middle Eastern countries, interest in the Middle East--its languages, literature, culture, religions, histories, and peoples--is ever increasing. In order to meet these growing needs, the Program in Middle East Studies, with its interdisciplinary approach, provides a unique opportunity to learn about the languages, peoples, literatures, cultures, religions, and histories of the region from the Maghrib in the west to Afghanistan in the east. The program encompasses the study of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic civilizations from antiquity to the modern era as they struggle to retain their roots while coping with regional conflicts and the challenge of modernity.
Middle East studies courses are offered in the departments of anthropology, art, Asian and Middle Eastern languages and cultures, French, government and foreign affairs, history, and religious studies. Moreover, Middle East studies are of growing interest to students in the School of Law, the McIntire School of Commerce, the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, the School of Medicine, and the School of Nursing. There are four core fields of study in the Middle East studies program: (1) language(s), and literature(s); (2) government and foreign affairs; (3) history; (4) religious studies.
Language courses are available in Arabic, Biblical Hebrew, Persian, and occasionally Turkish. Non-language courses cover the history, literatures, religions, and civilizations of the area extending from Morocco to Iran; the politics of the region; the history of Islam; Islamic thought and culture; Middle Eastern literatures in translation; women’s studies; mysticism; Judaism; and relations between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Faculty The faculty of the Program in Middle East Studies are recognized scholars, researchers, and teachers with national and international reputations in their respective fields. Many hold positions in regional and national organizations in Middle East studies. The faculty members are dedicated to their fields and to their students, making themselves easily accessible for consultation outside of the classroom.
Students Students have the choice of majoring in Middle East studies, minoring in it, or including it as a dual major. The major is directed at preparing students for graduate study or professional fields involving Middle Eastern relations. Our undergraduates go on to graduate or professional schools, work in numerous governmental, federal, and congressional agencies, and some have joined the Peace Corps in Middle Eastern and North African countries, and are now serving as rural community development specialists, teachers in schools for the blind, and teachers of English as a Second Language.
Media Center/Language Laboratory The language laboratory is used extensively to help students practice and reinforce their speaking and listening skills. The language laboratory is also available for student use outside of class time.
Study Abroad Students of Arabic may choose to apply for admission to the University of Virginia-Yarmouk University Summer Arabic Program. This study abroad program provides an opportunity to study intensive Arabic at the intermediate, upper intermediate, and advanced levels, in Irbid, Jordan, and to partake of a unique cultural experience. The program periodically receives grants from which it can offer fellowships to participants.
Requirements for Major The major is open to all qualified students with a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Admission to the program is determined by the chair and coordinator of the major on the basis of an interview and after review of the applicant’s undergraduate record. One year of language instruction in any of the Middle Eastern languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish) is a corequisite for the major. Language courses completed beyond the first-year requirement may be counted toward the major.
A total of 36 credits is required distributed in the following manner:
Students in the major are expected to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. Up to 12 credits toward the major are accepted as transfer credit from other accredited institutions. Each individual case is examined and approved by the director of the program in consultation with other faculty members in Middle East studies.
Distinguished Majors Program The Middle East studies program offers a DMP for qualified majors with the opportunity to pursue in-depth analysis of issues and topics related to the major. Students seeking admission to the DMP should have major and University GPA of 3.4 or above. Applicants make their application to the DMP in the second semester of the second year, at the same time they are declaring their majors. Notification of acceptance is made in the fall of their third year. Students in the DMP are required to: (1) take courses to satisfy general major distribution rules for Middle East studies; (2) take at least 12 credits at the 400- and 500-levels; and (3) write a thesis during the fourth year while enrolled in the thesis courses MEST 498 and MEST 499 (6 credits).
Students who successfully complete the requirements of the DMP are evaluated according to the following rankings: distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction. Evaluations are based upon quality of the thesis, overall work in major field of study, and overall College record.
Requirements for Minor The requirements consist of 20 credits pertaining to the Middle East. The courses may include: (1) no more than nine credits pertaining to the Middle East in one discipline; (2) two semesters of Middle Eastern language not exceeding eight credits; and (3) at least three credits in a course at the 300-level or above.
Additional Information For more information, contact Abdulaziz Sachedina, Program Director, Middle East Studies Program, Cocke Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924-6725; aas@Virginia.edu.
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