About the Program Anchor

About the Program

The Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies offers programs of study leading to M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

The graduate programs in Arabic and Islamic Studies aim to combine a thorough understanding of the Arabic language with scholarly research in the literary, linguistic and intellectual traditions of the Arab and Islamic world. The Arabic and Islamic Studies Department offers graduate level courses in Arabic linguistics, Islamic studies, and literature of the classical and modern eras. M.A. students will complete one major concentration and one minor concentration towards the degree. Similarly, Ph.D. students who are admitted with advanced standing will complete one major concentration and one minor concentration towards the degree. Those who are admitted to the Ph.D. program without an earned master’s degree in a related field will complete one major concentration and two minor concentrations.

The department also offers interaction and collaboration with cognate programs on campus (Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding) and abroad (Center for Arabic Studies Abroad). Our location in the nation’s capital offers opportunities for collaboration with Arab embassies, organizations and communities.

Degrees offered

  • M.A.
  • Ph.D.

Application Deadlines

Fall 2021

January 15, 2021

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Degree Requirements Anchor

Degree Requirements

For a detailed explanation of requirements, see the department’s Graduate Student Handbook.

All students must have Arabic language competence equivalent to three years of intensive undergrad language study.  Students will take a language exam in first week of classes.  If a student fails the exam, he/she must enroll in advanced Arabic courses, and will take exam at end of Fall term.  Students have until the end of the Spring term to pass the test.

Master’s candidates

  • 36 credits, including 11 courses (33 credits) plus a M.A. research course (3 credits); 8 of these courses are in a major concentration and 3 in a minor concentration.
  • Master’s Research paper (written in Arabic or English) to be completed during the last semester of course work as an MA research course; minimum grade of B+ required
  • Must pass a Comprehensive Exam based on the study and reading done for the candidate’s coursework

Ph.D. candidates

  • In addition to English, Ph.D. students must also have reading proficiency in at least one other European language that is relevant to their research.
  • Candidates entering with a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree in an unrelated field of study are expected to complete 54 credits/18 graduate courses including ten in the major concentration and five in each of two minor concentrations
  • Students entering with advanced standing, that is, with a master’s in a related field of study, are expected to complete a total of 36 credits/12 courses
  • Must pass a written and oral Comprehensive Exam
  • Must successfully complete doctoral dissertation and dissertation defense
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Application Requirements Anchor

Application Requirements

Please be sure to review the Graduate School Admissions How to Apply page.


Please be sure to review the program’s website for additional information on program application requirements.

Application Materials required:

  • Application Form
  • Non-refundable Application Fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Writing Sample
  • Transcripts – Applicants are required to upload to the application system copies of official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended. Visit our How to Apply page for additional details and FAQs.
  • Official Recommendations (3)
  • Supplemental Data
  • TOEFL/IELTS (please see below)
  • GRE has been waived for the Fall 2021 admissions cycle



All applicants are required to demonstrate a level of proficiency in the English language sufficient to meet the admission requirement of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Proficiency can be demonstrated by the receipt of a bachelor’s or advanced degree from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or from a university where English is the primary language of instruction (please note that applicants receiving degrees at universities in U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico, are required to submit the TOEFL or IELTS unless the primary language of instruction at the institution is English).

All other applicants must achieve at least a minimum score on either the TOEFL or IELTS test. Test scores must be received by the application deadline date. Applicants should allow six to eight weeks from the test date for the reporting of scores to the institution. Applications will not be considered without TOEFL/IELTS scores.

TOEFL: A minimum score of 100 (iBT test) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). TOEFL information: http://www.ets.org/toefl/

IELTS: A minimum score of 7.5 from the International English Language Testing System. IELTS Information: http://www.ielts.org

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