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. (Consult website for current courses).

- Arabic Linguistics
  • ARAB-390 Fundamentals of Language
  • ARAB 392 Fundamentals of Arabic Linguistics
  • ARAB 404 Arabic Morphology and Syntax
  • ARAB 492 Arabic Dialectology
  • ARAB 493 Field Methods in Arabic Dialectology
  • ARAB 520 History of Arabic Linguistics
  • ARAB 547 Issues and Methods in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Lang.
  • ARAB-548 Arabic Proficiency: Current Issues (3)
  • LING-711 Classical Arabic Phonetics

*Linguistics Department courses cover a wide range of subfields including theoretical linguistics, applied linguistics, sociolinguistics and computational linguistics. Students are encouraged to specialize in one field for the minor. Applied linguistics is recommended for those interested in the methodology of language teaching and second language acquisition; theoretical linguistics is recommended for those interested in phonology, morphology, syntax and semantic theory; for those interested in language variation, dialectology intercultural communication, and discourse analysis, sociolinguistics is recommended; for those interested in computer applications of Arabic linguistics, computational linguistics. Consult with the graduate adviser to determine the most suitable courses for your interests. Please consult the Linguistics department course offerings online.

- Arabic Literature
  • ARAB-423 Modern Arabic Poetry (3)
  • ARAB-511 Short Stories from the Maghreb (3)
- Islamic Studies
  • ARAB-351-352 Introduction to Arabic Culture (3, 3)
  • ARAB-373 Women in the Qur’an (3)
  • ARAB-444 Introduction to Islamic Civilization
  • ARAB-525 Qur’anic Exegesis (3)
  • ARAB-535-536 The Qur’an (3,3)
  • ARAB-555 Introduction to Arabic and Islamic Studies
  • ARAB-609 The Qur’an in History (3)
  • ARAB-610 Science in the Islamic World
  • ARAB-611 Islamic Thought on the Eve of Modernity
  • ARAB-627 Intro to the Hadith (3)
  • ARAB-760 Arab Historiography (3)
  • THEO-350 Readings in Sufism (3)

*ARAB-444 or its equivalent must be taken as the “gateway” course to the minor in Islamic studies. In addition to the courses offered in the Department of Arabic, a range of courses in Islamic studies are offered in the Department of History, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, and the Theology Department. With departmental approval, some of these courses may count towards the minor in Islamic Studies. A partial list of these courses is included under the Islamic Studies PhD program.

NB: Islamic studies courses may count toward the major if they are based on and require study of texts in Arabic. If, however, they are conducted in English and assignments are in English, they may not count toward the Arabic major.

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 course (3 credits).

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.