Course Requirements

For full program details, please see the Graduate Handbook.


Candidates for the master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies take a program of 36 credits, including 11 courses (33 credits) plus a M.A. research course (3 credits). The distribution of the courses is 8 in a major concentration and 3 in a minor concentration. Entering students determine their specific program of study in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, and are expected to fulfill the following requirements:

1. Two Core Courses:

ARAB-555                 Introduction to Arabic and Islamic Studies

According to their major and minor concentrations, students will also take one of the following seminars that consider the latest scholarship in each field, along with foundational disciplinary scholarship. These seminars will be taught in yearly rotation.

Students whose major concentration is Arabic Literature will also take:

ARAB-557                 Introduction to Literary Methodology

Students whose major concentration is Arabic Linguistics will also take:

ARAB-556                 Introduction to Linguistics Methodology

Students who have taken these or equivalent courses may replace them with history or religion courses from the relevant core list, pending approval of the DGS.

2. At least 6 courses in one of the 3 major concentrations catalogued on the Arabic and Islamic Studies lists. (See appendix for a list of courses classified by field, and consult website for current courses).

  • Arabic Linguistics
  • Arabic Literature
  • Islamic Studies

3. At least 3 additional courses in a minor concentration. Minor concentrations are based on the other concentrations catalogued on the Arabic and Islamic Studies lists.

4. M.A. research paper (3 credits).

The master’s research paper is related to the work of a particular graduate course in Arabic and Islamic Studies. It marks the significant development and revision of a term paper the student has written in a seminar, modeled along a publishable research paper in the field. It may be written either in Arabic or in English and normally consists of at least 25-35 typed pages (at least 12 000 words with 1.5 space).

This process will happen during the last semester of course work as an MA research course (independent study). The Master’s Research Paper is not a Master thesis and does not require a specific registration. Students don’t need to file a Thesis Proposal form with the Graduate School. The candidate obtains the approval of the professor as mentor for that topic. The student then gets approval of the Director of Graduate Studies for the topic before registering for an independent study course with the professor. No defense is required for the research paper.

5. Distributional requirements

a. At least 3 of the above courses must be in the classical period and 3 in the modern.

b. Courses must include at least 4 advanced Arabic seminars; these seminars must include readings and research using primary Arabic sources. 


Masters candidates who are not native speakers of Arabic must pass a written and oral proficiency examination in Arabic. This exam may be taken at any point during the student’s program, but must be completed before the student takes the comprehensive examination.


In accordance with Graduate School rules, students admitted to the Master’s Degree program are allowed three years from matriculation to complete all requirements for the degree and to graduate. Students working towards this degree part-time are also subject to the three year time limit.