Program Information

Master of Arts Program in Near Eastern Studies

The program has three elements: (1) a coherent sequence of courses on the region, totaling 40 points; (2) a demonstrated ability in one modern language of the area; and (3) a master's thesis or report written under the supervision of an adviser. The program includes an optional internship course. The degree can be completed in two years (four semesters) of full-time study; students may also, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, study part-time.


Course of Study

Course of Study:

The 40 points of course work allow a flexible program, with just two required courses and a distribution requirement:

  • The required courses are the core course: Problems and Methods in Middle Eastern Studies (G77.1687) and History of the Islamic Middle East 1750 to the Present (G77.1642) (or, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), an advanced history seminar). Students select the remaining eight courses according to their individual research interests, in consultation with the DGS.
  • The distribution requirement stipulates that these include at least one course each from two of the following disciplines: Anthropology, Economics, Politics, and Sociology. For example, two of the following courses: Anthropology for Middle East Studies (G14.1322); Economics of the Middle East (G31.1608); Middle East Government and Politics (G53.2590); and Sociology of Islam (G77.1612).


Language Requirement

To complete the degree, students must demonstrate proficiency at the upper-intermediate level in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. (Other languages may be considered as meeting this requirement with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.) Students with no language background may satisfy the requirement by completing four semesters (16 points) of language training at NYU; however, only two of those semesters (8 points of undergraduate language credits) may be counted toward the degree. Students who have prior language training or who take an intensive language course in the summer following their first year may satisfy the requirement by testing at an upper intermediate level of proficiency or by enrolling in an advanced class. Native speakers with fluency in reading, writing, listening, and speaking may waive this requirement with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. The program encourages all students to pursue language training through the advanced (graduate) level.


Master's Thesis or Report

The master's thesis should generally have the format, style, and length of a substantial article in a scholarly journal. Alternatively, with the approval of your thesis advisor, it could have the format and style of a substantial professional report, of the kind that might be commissioned by an NGO or international organization, or a creative project such as a film. In either case, it must present your own research and analysis and relate them to existing scholarly and/or professional understandings of the topic.

You should begin thinking about possible topics for your thesis during your first year in the master's program. We encourage you to take courses offered by faculty who may be able to work with you on your thesis or who may be able to suggest research areas or topics. When you meet with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) toward the end of the spring term of your first year to discuss fall courses, you should discuss possible thesis ideas. You should try to use the summer between your first and second years in the program to develop your thesis topic and, if possible, conduct preliminary research.

In the fall semester of your second year you must define your thesis topic and, in consultation with the DGS, select a faculty thesis advisor as well as a second reader. As early in the semester as possible you should develop, in consultation with your thesis advisor, a brief proposal discussing your research project, how it relates to the existing literature on the topic, and the sources or materials you plan to work with, including a bibliography. When your proposal is approved by your advisor – in any case no later than the end of the fall semester – you must submit to the DGS a copy of your proposal as well as a thesis proposal approval form to be signed by your advisor and your second reader; this form will also serve as confirmation that your advisor and second reader are willing to work with you on your thesis.

Students who are in the journalism, museum studies or business programs must follow the procedures and deadlines outlined above regarding consultation with the DGS, development of a thesis topic, selection of an advisor and a second reader, and submission of the approval form. Students in the journalism and museum studies programs must adhere to the requirements of the Journalism Department and the Program in Museum Studies, respectively, regarding the master's project and master's essay. Journalism master's projects should be read and approved by two faculty members, one of whom should be affiliated with NES and the other with Journalism. The Museum Studies master's essay should be read and approved by an NES-affiliated faculty member; the other advisor/reader should be affiliated with the Museum Studies program.

For a list of recent/past Master's Thesis topics, click here.



The internship program draws on the resources of New York City as a center of international politics and culture. Internships provide practical training in the kinds of research and report writing required for careers in public and nongovernmental service, policy research, cultural affairs, and political advocacy. The internship program enables students to make professional contacts in fields they are interested in joining and to share their skills with organizations as they explore a particular field or issue. Organizations providing internships include (but are not limited to) human rights organizations, United Nations agencies and missions, media organizations, policy research groups, and other nongovernmental organizations. The internship involves 10-15 hours of work per week during one semester. Students receive up to 4 points toward the degree by registering for Internship, NEST-GA 2997. They must submit weekly progress reports on their internship project as well as mid- and end-of-semester reports.


Joint Degree Master of Arts in Journalism & Near Eastern Studies

The joint degree program gives students professional training for careers as newspaper, magazine, or broadcast journalists, combined with study of the politics, history, and cultures of the Middle East. Please refer to the Journalism section of the Graduate School of Arts and Science (GSAS) bulletin for requirements.


Master of Arts Program in Near Eastern Studies with a Concentration in Museum Studies

The Master of Arts program in Near Eastern studies with a concentration in museum studies is designed for those who intend to pursue careers in museums and cultural organizations and for those currently employed in the field who wish to acquire formal training. The program combines a comprehensive knowledge of the contemporary theory and practice of museum work with a substantive curriculum in Near Eastern studies. It offers individualized internships in a wide variety of museums, cultural organizations, and nonprofit institutions in the United States and abroad.

Students must complete 48 points of course work (32 points of Near Eastern studies, including up to 8 points of language, and 16 points of museum studies), an internship in a museum or cultural institution, and a master's essay based on the student's combined study and internship. The course and language requirements for Near Eastern studies are identical to the requirements for the Master of Arts as listed above. Museum studies requirements for all students in this program include two courses selected from History and Theory of Museums, MSMS-GA 1500, Museum Collections and Exhibitions, MSMS-GA 1501, and Museum Management, MSMS-GA 1502, as well as Internship, MSMS-GA 3990, and Research Seminar, MSMS-GA 3991. The remaining 8 points are elective courses. (Consult the Program in Museum Studies section of this bulletin for course offerings and additional information.)


Near Eastern Studies with a Business Track

The Master of Arts program in Near Eastern studies with a business track prepares students to work in organizations that require research on business and finance in the Middle East. Graduate business courses for the degree are offered through NYU's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. Students are advised by the Director of Graduate Studies at the Kevorkian Center.

The required 40 points of course work generally consists of 25 points in Near Eastern studies (the two required courses and 17 points of electives, including the two-course distribution requirement), and 15 points of business courses. Students in the Business Track must also write a thesis or final report that combines their interest in the Middle East and in Business and Finance. The final project may be completed in conjunction with an approved internship. Recommended courses include: Statistics and Data Analysis, COR1-GB 1305, Financial Accounting and Reporting, COR1-GB 1306, Understanding Firms and Markets, COR1-GB 1303, The Global Economy, COR1-GB 2303, Managing Organizations, COR1-GB 1302, Marketing: Delivering Value to Customers and Businesses, COR1-GB 2310, Foundations of Finance, COR1-GB 3211, Strategy, COR1-GB 2301, or Competitive Advantage from Operations, COR1-GB 2314.

Students interested in this track should have completed undergraduate economics and calculus courses before beginning the program and may be need to enroll in two noncredit workshops given in the last two weeks before the fall and spring semesters: Mathematics and Calculus Workshop, NOCR-GB 2002, and Workshop in Fundamentals of Economics, NOCR-GB 2003.