Concentrators in NES
M. Qasim Zaman
Jonathan M. Gribetz
The Department of Near Eastern Studies offers a liberal arts major designed to give students competence in a Near Eastern language and a broad knowledge of the literatures, civilizations, and history of the ancient, medieval, and modern Near East (comprising Afghanistan, the Arab countries, Central Asia, Iran, Israel, Muslim Africa, and Turkey). Accordingly, a plan of study is built around departmental and cognate courses in languages, history, literature, religion, law, anthropology, and politics, combined with the study of one or more Near Eastern languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish), determined by the student's interest. In addition to serving as the focal point of a broad liberal arts education, the Near Eastern studies major can be the basis for graduate or professional study. The department’s multiple small classes and seminars allow extensive student/teacher interaction and equip students to take up careers in business, economics, international affairs, government, diplomacy, and journalism.
Options For Non-majors
For non-majors the Department of Near Eastern Studies offers a range of courses that are relevant to the study of history, religion, comparative literature, linguistics, and anthropology. Many undergraduate courses require no knowledge of a foreign language, and the department's popular survey courses present comprehensive portraits of past and present Near Eastern civilizations.
Departmental Plan of Study
A student who has completed at least one course in the department is eligible to concentrate in Near Eastern studies. This course may be a language class or a course or seminar offered in any of the disciplines covered by the department.
Students who meet the prerequisite for entrance into the department may be admitted and begin their program of concentration in the second term of sophomore year.
Advanced placement is available in all of the languages offered by the department. Students seeking advanced placement in Arabic, Persian, or Turkish should consult the departmental representative to arrange for testing with the appropriate language instructor. A student with a Hebrew SAT II test score of 650 or a high score on the departmental Hebrew placement examination given during freshman orientation week will be considered to have satisfied the A. B. foreign language requirement and to be eligible for placement in a 300-level course.
Departmental Courses and Programs
Departmental concentrators who wish to acquire a broad background in Near Eastern civilization are free to study a wide variety of topics (in history, literature, and religion) in their courses and independent work. The department welcomes flexibility and encourages individual study plans with varying degrees of disciplinary specialization. Concentrators are required to take eight departmental or cognate courses. Language courses beyond the second-year level can be used to satisfy this requirement. No more than three cognate courses will be counted as departmentals. Frequently the department offers special courses on subjects not currently included in the regular curriculum (recent examples: Contemporary Islamic Fundamentalism: Main Currents and Trends; Gender and Women in the Contemporary Middle East; Modern Israel: Ideals and Reality), and these courses are recognized as departmentals.
Junior independent work consists of one paper each semester. The choice of a senior thesis topic must be approved by the student's adviser. The comprehensive examination in the department consists of an oral examination based on the senior thesis and related topics.
The departmental language requirement is four terms (i.e., through 107 level) of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. However, students are encouraged to utilize their chosen Near Eastern language for senior thesis research and are therefore advised to begin their language training as early as possible. Language courses beyond the second year count as departmentals, as does either elementary or intermediate study of a second Near Eastern language. Much of the necessary language training for the A.B. can be acquired through some combination of language study at Princeton, intensive summer language study, and year abroad programs. The department will work out with each undergraduate concentrator a language training schedule appropriate to his or her planned course of study. For information about summer Arabic study, click here.
Year Abroad and Summer Study
The department encourages students to consider a semester or year abroad for language and area study in the Middle East. The department also makes every effort to facilitate student participation in any of a number of excellent intensive summer language study programs in the United States and the Middle East. In particular, the Program in Near Eastern Studies offers an active program of support for students who wish to take advantage of such intensive study opportunities.
Certificate in Language and Culture