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PhD in NES

Graduate Studies
M. Qasim Zaman

Director of Graduate Studies
Lara Harb

Michael A. Cook (On leave)
M. Şükrü Hanioğlu
Bernard Haykel 
Hossein Modarressi
Marina Rustow  (On leave)
M. Qasim Zaman
Associate Professors
Michael A. Reynolds (On leave)
Cyrus Schayegh
Max Weiss
Assistant Professors
Jonathan M. Gribetz
Lara Harb
Eve Krakowski (On leave)
Satyel K. Larson
M’hamed Oualdi
Daniel Sheffield
Senior Lecturer
Nancy Coffin
Gregory Bell
Tarek Elsayed
Hannah Essien
Nilüfer Hatemi
Thomas Hefter
Anita Husen
Amineh Mahallati 
Philip Zhakevich
Associated Faculty
Molly Greene, History (On leave)
Amaney A. Jamal, Politics
Michael Laffan, History
Lital Levy, Comparative Literature
Shaun E. Marmon, Religion
The Department of Near Eastern Studies trains doctoral students in the study of the medieval and modern Middle East and related regions. For a full account of the fields of specialization of current faculty, please visit the departmental web site at

Application and Admission

Prior to making a formal application to the Graduate School for admission, all prospective applicants should review the information on the web site. All applicants must submit a sample of written work with their applications. Short-listed applicants should expect to be invited to visit Princeton for interviews and language profiency evaluations at the end of February. Students pursuing an M.A. degree in the Program in Near Eastern Studies who wish to apply for transfer to the department should do so in their second year.

Study Prior to the General Examination

A student normally takes three or four courses each semester during the first two years of study in the Department. For the course of study at Princeton, both before and after the General Examination, see the Graduate Handbook. Students are encouraged to take courses in other departments where these are relevant to their interests.

Language Requirement

Before taking the General Examination, all students must demonstrate research-level competence in at least one Near Eastern language and knowledge equivalent to a minimum of two years of university study of a second Near Eastern Language. In addition, all students must pass an examination in at least one European language of scholarship other than English; knowledge of two such languages is often required. Students are urged to avail themselves of the possibilities for intensive summer language instruction in order to accelerate their language training. Information on approved summer study and University grants for such study may be obtained from the Program in Near Eastern Studies.

The General Examination

The General Examination must be taken within a single examination period; it is normally taken at some time between the beginning of the second year and the end of the third year of study. It consists of four written parts: three three- or four-hour examinations on broad fields of study chosen in consultation with the candidate's adviser and the director of graduate studies as well as an examination on research methods and the critical evaluation of sources for, and authorities on, some posed problem. This is followed by an oral examination. The examination committee normally consists of three members of the Princeton faculty. One of the fields may be taken in another department (for example, anthropology, comparative literature, history, politics).

The following are some of the fields that may be offered at the General Examination: early Islamic history; medieval Islamic history; modern Near Eastern history; Ottoman history; classical Arabic poetry, prose, or philology; classical or modern Persian literature; modern Arabic literature; modern Hebrew literature; classical Islamic thought; modern Islamic thought; and Jewish history in the medieval Islamic world. In some cases a student may be permitted to choose one narrowly defined field involving close work on primary sources relevant to his or her anticipated post-Generals dissertation research.

Dissertation Research

Students must submit a detailed outline of their research plans to their adviser and the director of graduate studies within three months of taking Generals. In the course of their research, many students spend about a year in the Near East, either supported by outside fellowships, or allocating to their work in absentia some of the support they have been awarded by Princeton. Where appropriate a student may have two advisers, one of whom may be in another department. The dissertation should not normally exceed 100,000 words.

Library Resources

The Princeton University Library contains about 500,000 books, serials, and manuscripts in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. This constitutes one of the most important such collections in the United States. Most extensive are the Arabic holdings, with over 269,000 printed books and serials and a collection of 10,000 manuscripts, which is unmatched in any other U.S. library. There are, in addition, approximately 58,000 Persian, 80,000 Turkish and Ottoman, and 79,000 modern and rabbinic Hebrew printed books and serials, as well as over 3,000 Persian and Ottoman manuscripts. Current books and periodicals are acquired on a regular basis from all of the countries of the Middle East and Islamic Africa. The Library receives over 1,000 current serial publications relating to the Near East in Near Eastern and Western languages. The Library's holdings in this field, in Near Eastern and Western languages combined, exceed 700,000 volumes.