Middle Eastern Studies

Syracuse University’s relationship with the Middle East extends back more than 60 years and spans many disciplines—from public administration and media studies to literature and religion. Today, SU provides an array of opportunities for students to learn about and visit this extraordinary region. More than 20 faculty members are experts in the Middle East, while the University offers over 80 such graduate and undergraduate courses. 

Located in the Maxwell School’s Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, the Middle Eastern Studies Program (MESP) offers both an interdisciplinary minor and a bachelor of arts degree through The College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a graduate certificate of advanced studies through the Maxwell School. All three programs are steeped in world-class instruction and study-abroad opportunities, providing unique insights into one of today’s fastest growing regions.

Major Requirements(+)

This interdisciplinary major, which leads to a B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies, provides students with the opportunity to study the languages, history, culture, religions and politics of the Middle East. The major will require students to complete (a) three core courses, (b) three consecutive semesters in one of the regional languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish), (c) two lower division courses and (d) three upper division courses.

The Major in open to all undergraduates who have completed at least two Middle Eastern content courses (one of which can be a language course) and have a GPA of 2.8 or better. Prospective majors must meet with the Program Director (Professor Yuksel Sezgin) (https://www.maxwell.syr.edu/psc/Sezgin,_Yuksel/) before submitting a major application. At least 18 of the 36 credits required for the major should be in courses numbered 300 or above. A maximum of six credits of independent study can be applied to the major by petition. Experience credit courses (i.e., internships) may not be used to satisfy the requirements of the major.

To view the course catalog for the major please click here

To view the checklist for program requirements click here

Minor Requirements(+)

The Minor in Middle Eastern Studies (MES) was established in 2003 to expose students to the diverse cultures, languages, literatures, religions, and political systems of the Middle East as it takes center stage in the international geopolitical landscape. Students must complete a total of 20 credits (6 courses) for the Minor in Middle Eastern Studies: 8 credits in a regional language, 3 credits in one core course, and another 9 credits in upper division courses (numbered 300 or above). At least 12 credits total should be in upper division courses (numbered 300 or above). In accordance with university policy, a maximum of six credits may be counted toward more than one degree.

To view the course catalog for the minor please click here

To view the checklist for program requirements click here

Certificate of Advanced Studies(+)

The Certificate of Advanced Studies in Middle Eastern Affairs is available to Syracuse University students in all graduate programs who are looking to supplement their degree with a strong foundation in the region’s culture and politics or to prepare for a career involving regional specialization. View Details

Fall 2015 Course Offerings(+)

Class#    Subject    Title Crosslisted/Meet w/    Instructor Time Days
16001 MES 165 Discovering Islam REL 165 Abdel Meguid      9:30-10:50am TTh
28445 MES 300 US Foreign Policy in the Middle East   PSC 350 Ferrero 5:15-6:35pm MW
27917 MES 318 The Middle East to 1900 HST 318 Kallander, A. 9:30-10:50am TTh
28444 MES 344 Politics of the Middle East PSC 344 Ferrero 3:30-4:50pm TTH
28138 MES 386 Sounds of the Silk Road HOM/SAS 386 Babiracki 3:45-5:05pm MW
28443 MES 393 Middle Eastern Political Systems PSC 393 Bashiriyeh 3:45-5:05pm MW
15449 MES 394 Islamic Political Thought PSC 394 Bashiriyeh 12:45-2:05pm MW
28513 MES 430 Social Theory & Middle East MES/PSC 682 Bashiriyeh 12:45-3:30pm F
28512 MES 682 Social Theory & Middle East MES 430 Bashiriyeh 12:45-3:30pm F
28692 MES 165 Discovering Islam REL/SAS 165 Kassam ONLINE  
28769 MES 364 Muslim Poets & Storytellers REL/SAS 364 Kassam ONLINE  
12767 ARB 101 Arabic I-SEC M001   Humsi 3:30-4:50pm TTH
          3:45-5:05pm W
12917 ARB 101 Arabic I-SEC M002   Phillips 9:30-10:50am TTH
          9:30-10:25am W
14787 ARB 101 Arabic I-SEC M003   Phillips 11:00am-12:20pm   TTH
          10:35-11:30am W
15583 ARB 101 Arabic I-SEC M004   Humsi 5:00-6:20pm TTH
          5:15-6:35pm W
12761 ARB 201 Arabic III-SEC M001   Phillips 12:30-1:50pm TTH
          11:40am-12:35pm W
17539 ARB 201 Arabic III-SEC M002   TBA 2:00-3:20pm TTH
          12:45-1:40pm W
14453 ARB 302 Arabic V   Habib 5:00-6:20pm TTH
11095 HEB 101 Hebrew I-SEC M001   Downie 11:00am-12:20pm TTH
          10:35-11:30am W
11097 HEB 101 Hebrew I-SEC M002   Downie 12:30-1:50pm TTH
          12:45-1:40pm W
11099 HEB 201 Hebrew III   Brown Sofer 12:30-1:50pm TTH
          11:40am-12:35pm W
13581 HEB 301 Advanced Hebrew I   Frieden 2:15-3:35pm MW
16767 LIN 626 Structure of Standard Arabic Habib 3:30-4:50pm TTH
27854 TRK101 Turkish I   TBA 2:15-3:35pm TTH
          12:45-1:40pm W
27853 TRK 201 Turkish III   TBA TBA TBA
28042 REL 114 The Bible JSP 114 TBA 12:45-2:05pm MW
28010 REL 131 Great Jewish Writers JSP/LIT 131 Frieden 10:35-11:30am MWF
13181 REL 135 Judaism JSP 135 Braiterman 11:00-12:20pm TTh
28531 REL 307 Temple and the Dead Sea Scrolls JSP 307 TBA 5:15-6:35pm MW
28015 REL 435 Modern Judaic Thought JSP/PHI 435 Braiterman 3:30-6:15pm T

To view the past course listings for MES , please click here.

Spring 2015 Course Offerings(+)




Meets w/     



36147 MES165 Discovering Islam REl/SAS364 Kassam online TBA



The MId-East in 20th Century




36999 MES336 Arabic Cultures LIT336 Habib TTh 5:00-6:20pm
38135 MES344 Politics of the Middle East PSC344 TBA MW 2:15-3:35pm
38141 MES364 Enchanting Words: Muslim Poets, Singers      
and Storytellers       
REL/SAS364 Kassam online        TBA
38175 MES391 Revolutions in the Middle East PSC391 Bashiriyeh MW 3:45-5:05pm
51507 MES392 Soc. of  Islamic Fundamentalism PSC392 Bashiriyeh MW 12:45-2:05pm
51483 MES453 Feminisms in Middle East WGS/MES453 Olwan TTh 11:00-12:20pm
33383 ARB102 Arabic II   Humsi TTh 3:30-4:50pm
          W 3:45-5:05pm
34009 ARB102 Arabic II   Phillips TTh 9:30-10:50am
          W 9:30-10:25am
37075 ARB102 Arabic II   Humsi TTh 5:00-6:20pm
          W 5:15-6:35pm
33385 ARB202 Arabic IV   Phillips TTh 11:00-12:20pm
          W 12:45-1:40pm
36277 ARB302 Arabic VI   Habib TTh 3:30-4:50pm
38377 TRK102 Turkish II   TBA MTWTh   1:25-2:15pm
33387 TRK202 Turkish IV   TBA MW 2:25-3:20pm
31875 HEB102 Hebrew II   Downie TTh 11:00-12:20pm
31877 HEB102 Hebrew II   TBA TTh 12:30-1:50pm
31879 HEB202 Hebrew IV   TBA TTh 12:30-1:50pm
          W 11:40-12:35pm
51706 GEO400 The Greater Middle East   Koch M 2:15-5:00pm
37567 REL235 Travel Narratives and Pilgrimages JSP/LIT235 Frieden TTh 12:30-1:50pm
51319 REL300 Soc. of  Islamic Fundamentalism   Bashiriyeh MW 12:45-2:05pm
38191 PSC300 The E.U., Mid East & N. Africa Karakas-Keles     TTH 2:00-3:20pm

To view the past course listings for MES , please click here.

Study Abroad(+)

The Road to Democracy in the Islamic World
June 14-July 8, 2015 (3 or 6 credits)

This program is inspired by the mass demonstrations against authoritarian rule in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria, and protests in Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and now Turkey. We aim to explore the multifaceted dynamics of the road to democracy in the Islamic World by studying such factors as what drives these uprisings, what are its road blocks, and what impact international actors have had on this process. 

This three-credit course (PSC/ IRP/ MES 400/600)—open to both undergraduate and graduate students from Syracuse as well as other universities—is made up of two stand-alone units. In the first unit Professor Boroujerdi will examine the dynamics of the recent wave of revolutions against authoritarian rule in the Arab World. In the second unit Professor Bonham will ascertain the extent to which American foreign policy has helped or hindered the development of democratic governance in the Islamic world.

Undergraduate or graduate students wishing to earn an additional three credits and at the same time explore in more depth some of the themes discussed in the course, can sign up for an optional Independent Study (PSC/ IRP/ MES 490/690). Working closely with Professor Boroujerdi and Professor Bonham, they will define a research topic, conduct research and present the results in a research paper format. Students pursuing the independent study option will have individual conferences with the professors in the afternoons. 

Detailed information about the program can be found here

Need based grants available to those who qualify.

G. Matthew Bonham is professor of political science and international relations at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, and co-director of the public diplomacy program. He has taught at the University of California-Berkeley, and the American University. His research involves international communication and the development of models of policy decision-making. He is currently conducting on the operational code and cognitive map of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Mehrzad Boroujerdi is professor and chair of political science at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He served as the founding director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program at Syracuse University from 2003 to 2014.

Student Resources(+)

The Middles Eastern Studies Program is one of six regional centers in the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, located in the Maxwell School. As a member of the interdisciplinary Moynihan Institute, MESP provides students with internships and other immersion opportunities to help them learn about the world in which they live. MESP students also benefit from the program’s joint affiliation with The College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School. Below is a list of offices, academic programs and departments, and public programming with which MESP is affiliated.

• Advising and Academic Support (The College of Arts and Sciences)

• Bird Library

• Central New York Humanities Corridor

• Department of Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

• Executive Education Programs (Maxwell School)

• The Graduate School

• Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

• Ray Smith Symposium

• Slutzker Center for International Services

• The SU Humanities Center

• Syracuse Symposium

Frequently Asked Questions(+)

How do I declare a major in Middle Eastern Studies (MES)?

You can pick up a “Declaration of Major” form at Student Records (329 Hall of Languages). It needs to be signed by either Professor Yuksel Sezgin, the Program’s Director (100F Eggers Hall), or by the Secretary at the Soling Program (Tolley Building). Once that is done, you will need to take it back to 329 HL for processing.

Who will advise me about what courses to take and how to satisfy the requirements for the major?

Once you enter the major you will be assigned an advisor, who will meet with you each semester during the course registration period and make sure you are staying on track. In addition, you will receive a checklist the fall of your senior year that will lay out everything needed to be completed before you graduate.

When can I declare a major in MES?

You can declare the major at any time.

What courses are required for the B.A. in Middle Eastern Studies?

The B.A. includes three core courses (one should be a senior seminar), at least two lower division and three upper division electives from the list of approved classes, and three consecutive semesters of a relevant regional language (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish).

Can an undergraduate student take a graduate course, or vice versa?

Yes, but you will need to obtain permission first. In order to do so, you must obtain a petition from the department offering the course and have it signed by the professor teaching the course, the relevant department chair, and your home college. Once you collect these signatures you can take the form to the Registrar’s Office, where they will manually enroll you.

Can the same courses count toward more than one major?

Students can only double count two courses (6 credits) across degrees. For example, students double majoring in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies or other highly related fields must fill the rest of the quota for each major independently. The same rule applies to minors as well: only two classes may be credited toward more than one degree. Triple counting is prohibited in all cases.

Can I take part in study abroad opportunities in the region?

MES students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the numerous study abroad opportunities offered by the program in conjunction with SU Abroad. We currently sponsor exchanges with universities in Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank. Other destinations are also possible through independent providers. You can receive up to a maximum of 15 credits for study at other universities.

How can I transfer credits that I take at one of the above study abroad centers?

In order to get credit toward the major from classes taken at another university, you will need to pick up a petition from Student Records (329 HL) and have it signed; first by either Professor Sezgin (100F Eggers) or the Secretary at the Soling Program (Tolley Building), and then by the Student Records Office (329 HL). A syllabus or course description for each desired class should be attached.

What types of career paths are open to students majoring in MES?

In recent years, Middle Eastern Studies has become an extraordinarily relevant and dynamic field that currently lacks the volume of experts with language skills and regional understanding to meet the demands of the US government, non-profit organizations, and private sector. Knowledge of any of the region’s critical languages will prove immensely valuable in many capacities, and there is a wide array of government-sponsored programs, grants, and fellowships—not to mention full-time jobs—available for those who choose to pursue this course of study. Expertise in Middle Eastern Studies also provides an excellent supplement to a career in many other fields, including law, politics, and business.

What fields will a degree in Middle Eastern Studies prepare me for graduate school in?

A degree in Middle Eastern Studies most directly prepares students for graduate work in regional studies, but is also a useful background for further education in law, history, political science, geography, management, business, international relations, and many of the humanities.

How do I graduate with distinction in the major?

Students receive distinction in Middle Eastern Studies by completing the major with a minimum GPA of 3.5 in included courses; demonstrating competence in a regional language through coursework at the 202 level or beyond; taking MES 499 (Thesis Preparation: 3 credits); and successfully defending a 60-70 page thesis before two members of the faculty. Students in the Honors Program can graduate with distinction in Middle Eastern Studies as well as in their other major.

Are there any awards affiliated with the major?

The Hasan Abdullah Yabroudi Prize (for guidelines, see http://middle-eastern-studies.syr.edu/Awards.htm) is awarded annually to the best essay by an undergraduate student at the University dealing with any aspect of the Middle East. The author of the winning paper is presented with a certificate and a $500 prize.

Where can I find information about Middle East-related internships and language study programs?

A good deal of information about such opportunities is available at http://middle-eastern-studies.syr.edu/Internships.htm

How do I test out of a language course, and will I receive credit for doing so?

You can test out of language courses by talking to the appropriate faculty member from the list below. By doing so, you can pass out of the language requirement and/or place into higher level classes. You cannot, however, receive any credit toward the major for classes you have tested out of.

  • Arabic: Professor Rania Habib, rhabib@ufl.edu
  • Hebrew: Professor Dina Vincow, dvincow@syr.edu
  • Persian: Professor Arsalan Kahnemuyipour, akahnemu@syr.edu
  • Turkish: Professor Jaklin Kornfilt, kornfilt@syr.edu

Who should I contact if I’m having problems registering for a class within the major, or if credits aren’t showing up properly in my transcript/online records?

For the time being you can contact Ms. Eileen Julian at the office of Curriculum, Instruction and Programs. Her e-mail is emjulian@syr.edu and her phone number is (315) 443-2014.

I’m not a Syracuse student, but I want to take MES classes. Can I?

Yes. You can register through Syracuse University Continuing Education, 700 University Ave, (315) 443-3261. Their email is: ucinfo@uc.syr.edu and website: http://www.suce.syr.edu/

Whom can I talk to if I have additional questions about the program?

Email Professor Yuksel Sezgin at ysezgin@maxwell.syr.edu with any further questions you might have.

Middle Eastern Studies

Offerings: minor | BA | CAS

Yüksel Sezgin

Middle Eastern Studies
441 Hall of Languages
Phone: 315-443-1414
Fax: 315-443-8093
Email: srassocdeancas@syr.edu

Program Home

View Program Faculty

Research Affiliates & Visiting Scholars

View Past Courses

View Certificate Program


facebook logo visit MES on Facebook

Learn More

Bachelor of Arts BA
Bachelor of Science BS
Master of Arts MA
Master of Science MS
Education/Teacher Prep MS
Doctor of Philosophy PhD
Minor m
Certificate C