Middle East Studies at OSU

What does OSU offer?


Ohio State is distinguished by its curriculum on the history and religions of the ancient Mediterranean, late antique and Byzantine studies, literary studies, cultural studies, postcolonial studies, archaeology, sociolinguistics, and cultural anthropology, housed in several, closely collaborating departments:


Beyond our Arabic and Hebrew programs, commonly found across the nation, OSU also offers rarer concentrations in Judeo-Arabic, Aramaic, Akkadian, Syriac, other Semitic languages, and modern Uzbek.


Degree Programs

OSU has one of the country’s top graduate programs in Ottoman History. OSU’s strengths in Islamic Studies, Jewish literary traditions, linguistics, comparative Semitics, Hebrew Bible, Late Antique and Medieval Near East, modern Arabic and Hebrew literature, cultural and linguistic anthropology of Central Asia and South Asia, distinguish it among peer institutions.


Research Tools

OSU's Library offers one of the most competitive collections in the country with respect to Middle East Studies, Islamic Studies, and Jewish Studies. To support scholarship, the Middle East Studies library services have curated a research guide. OSU's collection houses over 150,000 books on the history and culture of the Middle East and North Africa from the 7th CC AD to the present. For further assistance, students may consult and work with our subject librarian, Magda El-Sherbini

Near Eastern and South Asian Languages & Cultures (NESA) offers undergraduate students the opportunity to study under its faculty on one of its 4 majors:

NESA also offers 6 minors:

Note: Advanced Persian and Turkish courses are offered, which are rare among major research institutions.


See undergraduate and graduate degree options below. Please select a program, then apply through the admissions office. Undergraduate admission applications can be accessed here. Graduate admission applications can be accessed here

NESA also collaborates with Classics, History, and History of Art in offering a Graduate Interdisciplinary Specialization in Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean.  Beyond these formal degree options, a wide variety of interests can be satisfied in the courses taught by faculty members across 16 departments at OSU, focused on topics related to North Africa/West Asia/Central Asia/South Asia. NESA offers 80 language courses, and 67 non-language courses - 32 of which are conducted in their regional languages. 


Undergraduate Degree Programs: 

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NESA offers students at Ohio State a variety of language studies options. A Bachelor of Arts is available in both Arabic and Hebrew. Degree requirements are a minimum of 40 hours of language beyond the mandatory 101-104 course sequence. While there are currently only standardized major options for Arabic and Hebrew, students with other language interests (such as Persian or Turkish) can work with NESA faculty members to create a personalized program of study (PSP). 

NELC offers a B.A. in Jewish Studies and the interdisciplinary B.A. in Islamic Studies. Degree Requirements in many other departments offer degrees potentially related to the Middle East, especially History, Political Science and Sociology. Individualized undergraduate degree programs are available in the Colleges of Agriculture, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Students can minor in ArabicHebrewPersian, Jewish StudiesSouth Asia Studies, or Turkish and Central Asian Studies. A minor in Middle East Studies is offered by the International Studies Department (IS). 

Please check out upcoming courses being offered and this selection of Middle East Courses offered by the International Studies Department (IS):

2200 Introduction to the Modern Middle East

2500 Introduction to Development Studies: Introduction to the contemporary field of development studies through examination of the developing countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.*

2800 Introduction to Peace Studies: The meanings of peace and peacefulness in today's world, varied approaches to peace, contributions of many disciplines and professionals, and the significance of people's movements.*

4537 Middle Eastern Economic Development (Cross-Listed as Agricultural Econ 4537)

4597.01 Problems & Policies in Population, Food & Environment: Especially related to low-income countries (Cross-listed as Agricultural Econ 4597.01) *

4661 City and Culture: Introduction to the comparative and cross-cultural study of cities, urban culture, and urbanism.

4700 Terror & Terrorism: Focus mainly on terrorism as political violence carried out by non-state actors.

4850 Understanding the Global Information Society: Invites students to think critically about the global networks that are shaping the new knowledge creation & sharing processes. To monitor news, investigate web resources & gather information for assignments, report & case study analysis.

5616 Challenges to Childhood: An International Perspective: Course will explore children's forced participation in war and its consequences and child poverty, labor, health, abuse, and victimization in international perspective.

5645 Contemporary Issues in the Middle East (Cross-Listed in NELC 5645)

5700 Rebuilding Failed & Weak States (Ukraine, IRAQ, Rwanda) (Cross-Listed as Public Policy & Mgmt 5700)

2201 Introduction to Jewish Studies

4191 Internship in Jewish Studies

2600 Historical Overview of Human Design on the Land: Efforts of individuals and societies to control and shape the environment from earliest times to present.

*An honors section is available. 


Graduate Degree Programs:

The M.A. program in NELC offers study in some of the world’s richest languages, literatures, and cultural traditions including Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish, as well as a number of ancient Near Eastern languages, among them Aramaic, Biblical Hebrew, and Ugaritic. The curriculum is rigorous but flexible, preparing students for professional employment in business, education, or government, or for the pursuit of doctoral work involving NELC languages in the study of the dynamically changing societies of the Near East. Students may specialize in one NELC language or in two coherently combined NELC languages, in consultation with the faculty advisor.

The  NELC Ph.D. program builds on linguistic, literary, and cultural studies to support a selection of interdisciplinary foci. The four primary languages taught in NELC (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish), which are in reality the four major languages of the Middle East and as such are at the center of every comprehensive program in this field nationally, can each be the basis of a course of study leading to the Ph.D which will build upon a focused but flexible set of core courses. Students may pursue a PhD focusing on the Middle East in a number of programs across the university.  Degree Requirements in many other departments offer degrees potentially related to the Middle East, inlcude History, Comparative Studies, Political Science and Sociology, especially. Please check our faculty list to learn more about the possibilities for PhDs related to the Middle East. 

Please check out the announcements under the "For Faculty" tab, as there are a lot of opportunities that fit graduate student needs for academic and career development, as well. Also look at the "International Career Paths" page and "Graduate Funding Opportunities" pages. 

We encourage students to study abroad in the Middle East. 

What does the MESC do?

Our mission is to connect students and faculty to one another, to valuable resources, and to amazing opportunities. Through our newsletter, we send out information about campus events, scholarship and grant opportunities, and current global issues. Join the newsletter here.

As we view ourselves as a primary stakeholder in a wider Middle East studies community at OSU, we value your participation and feedback. Our email is mesc@osu.edu.

Some links on this page are to .pdf files. If you require these materials in alternate format contact our web manager.