The Faculty of Language and Linguistics has long prided itself in the breadth and depth of language offerings provided to Georgetown and consortium students.  For many years, the Division of Eastern Mediterranean Languages, housed in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, has been the home of Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish.  Each language has three levels offered each academic year, for a yearlong sequence, taught by one Full-Time Non-Tenure Line Faculty member and one Part-Time Adjunct.  All three are taught as intensive courses at the Beginning level (12 credits in one academic year), and Persian continues as an intensive course at the Intermediate level.  The strong language offerings are complemented by courses across the university, including advanced topics and content courses in the language, as well as relevant regional courses taught in English. 

For many years, motivated students have been taking over three years of Persian and Turkish despite the lack of a Minor that would reflect this work on their transcript. Recently, the School of Foreign Service has announced that their undergraduate students are allowed to minor in subjects in the College.

National Status in “Less Commonly Taught Languages”

Georgetown University is one of the only universities in the nation that has been able to offer three levels of Persian and Turkish, consistently, year in and year out.  This makes us an attractive choice for undergraduates and graduate students who want to be sure of getting a full spectrum of language classes without interruption.  Since the inception of the U.S. Department of State’s National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y), in 2006, which allowed high school students to study for a year in Turkey, we have been getting inquiries and applications from motivated seniors who want to be sure that they can continue to study Turkish.  In contrast to our robust offerings, some universities offer Beginning Turkish only every other year, with Intermediate the second year – so students cannot start or continue according to their own schedules.

Enrollment Data from the American Association of teachers of Turkic Languages

AATT contacted 53 institutions of higher education and found that Modern Turkish was taught at 34 U.S. institutions in the Fall of 2015. 14 institutions didn’t participate in the survey, and 5 institutions did not offer Modern Turkish in Fall 2015.   According to this survey, a total of 534 students were taking Modern Turkish in the Fall of 2015.  Of these, 293 were undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty in First-Year Turkish; 138 were in Second-Year Turkish; 94 were in Third-Year Turkish, and 9 were in Fourth-Year Turkish.  Also, in the Fall of 2015, 24 students around the nation were taking Ottoman Turkish.


TURK-340 Turkish Media taught in Turkish: 7 students

ARAB/ANTH/TURK-363 “Anthropology and Islam” taught in English:  17 students

Proposed Curriculum 

Minors in Persian studies are required to complete six courses taught in Persian/Farsi.

Language Courses:

Intensive Persian Beginners I & II (12 credits)- Also offered during summer session

Intensive Persian Intermediate I & II (12 credits)- Also offered during summer session

Advanced Persian I & II (6 credits)

Content Courses:

Persian Media and Translation (3 credits)

Films of the Persian-Speaking World (3 credits)

Please note:

*Students with no previous Persian background should complete all language courses through advanced. Students with previous Persian experience may substitute language courses with content courses. Students with advanced Arabic language may also be able to substitute language courses with content courses on a case-by-case basis.

*Intensive summer courses and study abroad courses taught in Persian may also be counted towards the Persian Studies minor, on the basis of placement tests and the professor’s permission.

Some Typical Paths to the Minor:

Student A: College Undergraduate discovers Persian in the second year, takes:

2nd year: Intensive Beginning Persian 2 classes, 12 credits

3rd year: Intermediate Persian 2 classes 12 credits

4th year: Advanced Persian 2 classes and 6 credits

Turkish Minor: 6 classes, 30 credits (through Advanced Persian)


Student B: College Undergraduate, discovers Persian in junior year:

3rd year: Intensive Beginning Persian 2 classes, 12 credits

Summer Study of Persian, 8-week, 12-credit program, places into Advanced upon return

4th year: Advanced Persian 2 classes, 6 credits, Iranian Cinema 1 class, 3 credits

Turkish Minor: 5 classes, 21 credits at Georgetown, 12 credits in summer (Through Advanced Persian)


Farima Mostowfi, Director of Persian Language and Culture Program
Maziar Valamotamed, Adjunct Lecturer

Faculty Offering Courses Related to the Persian-Speaking World

Shireen Hunter
Ray Takeyh
James Millward
Touqir Hussain
Roger Kangas
Jean-Francois Seznec
Denise Natali
Judith Tucker
Colin Kahl
Sylvia Onder

Study Abroad Links

CLS Persian Tajikistan
Summer Persian in Turkey
Academic Year and Summer Persian in Tajikistan
Persian Study in Iran
Boren Awards

Georgetown Links

Summer Arabic and Persian Institute
Arabic and Islamic Studies
Center for Eurasian, Russian and Eastern European Studies

Resources on the Region

The Persian and Turkish programs are currently running with one FT NTL each and 1 Adjunct each (teaching 6 credit hours per semester), and 10-15 hours each of TA assistance.  The CNDLS Language Lab provides important support for technology used in language learning, including Share Stream Films, Teletandem On-Line conversations with native speakers, and events space.  The faculty members in Persian and Turkish have been active members of Title VI grant applications to the US Department of Education, as well as frequently serving as committee members to determine the Foreign Language and Area Studies awards for summer study by undergraduates and graduate students.  Current grant application for STARTALK coming from the Department of Linguistics relies upon the availability of “Less Commonly Taught Languages” at Georgetown to be competitive.

The light administrative task of coordination of the Minor could be assigned to the Coordinator of Small Program Languages, who would consult with the relevant faculty about which courses (other than language) would count toward the minor.

Funding Opportunities

Although funding approaches have been made by potential donors who wish to support either Persian or Turkish, the lack of a Minor has made it seems as if there is no institutional support.  For potential donors to Persian and Turkish, the need to give to the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies sometimes creates a barrier connected to national pride and feelings about religion.  The ability to donate directly to “The Persian Program” or “The Turkish Program” in support of students pursuing a minor would be more appealing to many donors.

International Society for Iranian Studies
Encyclopedia Iranica
American Institute of Iranian Studies
American Institute of Afghanistan Studies
Central Eurasian Studies Society

International Center for Persian Studies