Skip over navigation

Undergraduate Introduction


Bernard A. Haykel,

Undergraduate Administrator for the Department of Near Eastern Studies:
James LaRegina,

Interdepartmental Committee


John Borneman, Anthropology,
Michael Cook, Near Eastern Studies,
M. Sükrü Hanioğlu, Near Eastern Studies,
Bernard A. Haykel, Near Eastern Studies,
Amaney Jamal, Politics,
Michael Laffan, History,
Michael Reynolds, Near Eastern Studies,
Max Weiss, History,
Qasim Zaman, Near Eastern Studies,

The Program in Near Eastern Studies provides students in any department of the University the opportunity to study the languages, modern history, and contemporary institutions of the Near East. Its purpose is to enhance a liberal education and to offer additional training for students who plan a career in that area. This website also explains that for the purposes of PNES, the Near East is defined as the entire Arab world and the present-day states of Iran, Israel, and Turkey, as well as the Islamic World more broadly.

Requirements for Admission

Students may enter the program through the Departments of Anthropology, History, Politics, Religion, Sociology, or the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Students from other departments who have an interest in Near Eastern studies may enter the program by special arrangements with the director. Students must meet the entrance requirements of the selected department in addition to those of the program.

Course of Study

The student's plan of study is guided and given coherence by the departmental adviser and the director of the program. The specific courses are described in the sections of this catalog for each of the cooperating departments listed above. In general, students follow the plan of study of their department; the Woodrow Wilson School student in the program selects the Near East in the modern world as a field of concentration. The requirements of the program are as follows.

Language: Students who have had no relevant language training will take at least two years of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish language as elective courses.

History: All students will take, as departmental courses, at least one appropriate history course in the Department of Near Eastern Studies. Students in the Department of History will take at least two such courses.

Social Sciences: All students will take at least two courses treating the Near East that are chosen from the offerings of the Departments of Anthropology, Near Eastern Studies, Politics, Religion, and Sociology, and the Woodrow Wilson School.

Students are encouraged to begin the study of a Near Eastern language as early as possible in order to enable them to continue it beyond the required minimum and, if desired, to offer it to meet the language requirement for the A.B. degree. The program also encourages qualified students to enroll in summer sessions in Near Eastern languages.

Junior independent work is divided between the student's department and the program.

The senior thesis is written on a Near Eastern subject under the supervision of a Near Eastern specialist in the appropriate department and the program.

Students take the regular senior departmental examination given by their department, except that a portion of it deals with the Near Eastern fields studied. These examinations are described in the sections of this catalog for each department.

Certificate of Proficiency

A student who completes the requirements of the program with satisfactory standing receives a certificate of proficiency in Near Eastern studies. A student who satisfactorily completes the intervening year abroad will have this fact noted on the certificate.

To Apply

To apply to the Program in Near Eastern Studies, please contact the Undergraduate Administrator for the Department of Near Eastern Studies:
James LaRegina at

You must also contact the Director of the Program, Professor Bernard A. Haykel, to discuss your academic plan.