Middle East Studies at OSU

The Middle East Studies Center (MESC) at The Ohio State University promotes learner-centered teaching, scholarly exchange, and intercultural experience related to the Middle East. MESC combines efforts with Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC), the Undergraduate International Studies Program (UISP), and the Middle East Studies Library Collection, to support students, faculty and staff.  See courses in UISP related to the Middle East below. Together, we enhance academic rigor, provide a depth of research resources, and access to culturally and linguistically diverse experiences and sources of knowledge.  For example, OSU is known for Ottoman studies, and boasts one of the strongest Turkish language programs in the nation, along with related library collections unparalleled outside of Turkey and related language study and field work opportunities.  OSU offers a range of opportunities for cultivating a full range of related 21st century skills based on this regional diversity and its importance in global dynamics. These include language fluency and comprehensive linguistic ability in the languages of the Middle East, critical media analysis, and cultural/political literacy, each of which can make a powerful impression on a resume.  

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 West Asia/North Africa/South Asia. NELC offers 80 language courses, and 67 non-language courses - 32 of which are conducted in their regional languages.  NELC offers a B.A. in Arabic (61 enrolled as of March 2014), an Arabic minor (43), a Hebrew major (3), a Hebrew minor (10), an Islamic Studies major (5), a Persian minor (12), South Asian Studies minor (6), Turkish minor (3), and the Center for Jewish Studies offers both a major (7) and minor (21) in Jewish Studies.  Advanced Persian and Turkish courses are offered, which is rare amongst major research institutions. See undergraduate and graduate degree options below. 

In this age of geopolitical and economic changes in the Middle East, and shifting agendas of international and regional powers, OSU has been dynamic in its responses on campus and as part of the national scholarly community to synthesize findings and share the analyses of its 74 faculty researching the Middle East.  The Middle East offers a richness of cultural, linguistic and socio-political diversity.  MESC supports the professional development of the language faculty and NELC’s proficiency initiatives by funding and organizing proficiency-based teaching workshops, and procuring resources for administering tests.  Such concrete evidence for language ability greatly enhances student credentials, and job-readiness upon graduation. See more on career paths here.

Undergraduate Degree Programs: 

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC) 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 NELC faculty members to create a personalized program of study (PSP). A minor in ArabicHebrewPersian or Turkish requires the mandatory 101-104 sequence and 20 hours in other language and area studies courses.

Area studies undergraduate interdisciplinary degrees include a major with a Middle East area studies concentration in the International Studies Department (IS). Degree requirements consist of 30 hours in either Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish, as well as 40 hours in Political Science, History, Economics, or other Middle East-related International Studies courses. 

A selection of Middle East Courses in UISP: 

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. 

The interdisciplinary B.A. in Islamic Studies is offered through NELC, while the Melton Center for Jewish Studies offers the B.A. in Jewish Studies. Individualized undergraduate degree programs are available in the Colleges of Agriculture, Humanities, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Degree Requirements in many other departments offer degrees potentially related to the Middle East, especially History, Political Sciance and Sociology. Minors in Middle East Studies and Jewish Studies are offered through IS and the Melton Center for Jewish Studies.

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.

NELC is now also offering a Ph.D. program.  The 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 either an MA or a PhD in the Department of Comparative Studies.  Degree Requirements in many other departments offer degrees potentially related to the Middle East, History, Political Science and Sociology, especially. 

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. 


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