About Us


Departmental & Programs History and Frequently Asked Questions

Departmental & Programs History


Coursework in Hebrew and Arabic were first offered at Ohio State through the Department of Romance Languages in 1967 and 1969, respectively, and undergraduate major programs in both languages were first offered in 1973.

An independent Hebrew program formed in 1974, the same year the University first offered an undergraduate Islamic Studies major. The Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (JaNELL) emerged in 1979, locating the Arabic, Hebrew, and Islamic Studies programs together with new Persian, Turkish, Yiddish, and Modern Greek course offerings.

JaNELL added undergraduate minor programs for Arabic and Turkish in 1987, an MA program in 1988, as well as minors in Persian and Hebrew in 1990 and 1991, before being renamed the Department of Near Eastern, Judaic, and Hellenic Languages and Literatures (NJH) in 1992.

With the relocations, in 1996, of the Modern Greek and Yiddish programs into the Departments of Classics and German, the department was again renamed in 2000 to become the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (NELC). NELC extended its language offerings to include Hindi and Urdu in 2006 and, in 2007, admitted its first PhD program cohort. In 2008, the Department added Uzbek to its language course offerings, and in 2010 created an undergraduate minor program in South Asia Studies.  Jewish Studies has become part of NELC starting in Autumn 2017.

Today, in addition to its 4 undergraduate majors (Arabic, Hebrew, Islamic Studies, and Jewish Studies) and its 7 undergraduate minors (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Jewish Studies, Jewish Oral History, South Asia Studies, and Turkish), NELC offers courses both in English and in other modern and ancient languages for its own students, as part of the University’s General Education (GE) curriculum, and for graduate students across the University.


Frequently Asked Questions


Course Offerings - Study Abroad & Transfer - Language Examinations - Academic Programs - Administration & Miscellaneous

Course Offerings

Q: Do you participate in specialized academic programs, where high school students, individuals over the age of 60, non-OSU affiliated community members, and other non-OSU students can enroll in courses?

Potential participants must first work either with ODEE or the Ohio State Academy for high school students. All students must enroll in the Department’s coursework through these programs. While the Department is happy to host students through these programs, no one may ‘sit in’ on any NELC courses, under any circumstances, with or without the permission of any instructor, without formally registering.

Q: I would have liked to perform better in a language course. What are my options?

Students have several options for reviewing and improving their language skills both in and out of the classroom. Under some circumstances, classes may be re-taken or complemented with study abroad programs or transfer credit from other institutions. Students may also, less formally, develop personal study programs or seek tutoring or speaking practice. Students should always consult with their advisors and faculty about their specific case.

Q: Are Individualized Studies credit hours available for any NELC subjects?

With the approval of a specific member of the faculty and of the Department, students may enroll in 2193 or 5193 credit hours, within certain parameters. More information, and paperwork, at nelc.osu.edu.

Q: Does the NELC Department offer summer courses?

The Department does not typically offer regular summer semester coursework. An intensive summer Arabic language program has historically been available during the 7-week summer session. Students must apply and be accepted, and must take both 1101 & 1102 or 1103 & 2104. More information at nelc.osu.edu.

Q: Does the NELC Department offer online courses?

The Department does not currently offer online courses.

Q: Is Individualized Instruction available for any NELC language?

The Department does not offer Individualized Instruction (“II”), where students receive credit for GE-level language coursework by enrolling in credit hours directly with a formalized tutor instead of in classroom-based language coursework.

Study Abroad & Transfer

Q: I plan on studying abroad next semester. Can I get credit for language classes?

The Department does not pre-approve study abroad language coursework credit. Students must complete language proficiency exams after completing their program and provide syllabi for all coursework completed. Department faculty will evaluate both in determining returning students’ credits and placements.

Q: How does transfer credit work?

First and foremost, students must provide all transfer materials to the University Registrar, who will then approve coursework for transfer to OSU and allow Departments to evaluate the coursework for equivalency with specific Ohio State course numbers. For language coursework, students must complete a proficiency exam. All students must provide all of the materials (preferably syllabi) from all courses. A faculty member will review these materials and determine what OSU credit should be awarded. NELC faculty can only evaluate courses in NELC subjects; students need to work separately with each relevant Department. Names of designated transfer credit contacts for all subjects are available at registrar.osu.edu.

Language Examinations

Q: How can I arrange to take a proficiency or placement exam for one of the NELC languages?

Arabic and Hebrew exams are administered by the Center for Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (CLLC) as computerized tests, available without appointment during most business hours.  More information at cllc.osu.edu/undergraduate/testing.  Hindi, Persian, Turkish, Urdu exams can be arranged with an email to nelc@osu.edu. Appointments are typically available Monday through Friday between 9:30 and 3:30.

Q: What are the possible outcomes of the NELC language proficiency exams?

The language exams serve 4 purposes: a) to determine the most appropriate course enrollments for a student with existing background in a language, b) to assess the correspondence between language coursework at other institutions and the relevant OSU language curriculum, for evaluating study abroad and transfer credit, c) to award foreign language EM credit to non-native speakers, and d) to document native speakers’ eligibility for foreign language requirement Validation.

Native speakers (as determined typically by the official language in the place of highschool completion), upon demonstrating their proficiency on the language exam, are eligible for language “Validation,” which satisfies Ohio State GE language requirements (as applicable) without awarding any corresponding credit hours. [Self-identifying native speakers must still complete the written proficiency exam in order to produce documentation of their language competency.]

Non-Native speakers may be awarded EM credit for 1101, 1102, and/or 1103 (in any NELC language) based on their corresponding performance on the proficiency exam. Students awarded EM credit receive 4 credit hours toward their undergraduate degree for the equivalency of each course.

Q: What is the format of the language exams?

Arabic and Hebrew exams are computerized tests; all others are based on written exams, with the possibility of oral exams in situations needing further clarification. Proficiency exams are not meant to gauge fluency, but rather to assess students’ most appropriate placement in 1101, 1102, 1103, or beyond, in the Ohio State curriculum for any given language.

Q: I am currently in a language class that I find too challenging. What can I do?

Students enrolled in their first course in any language sequence after having taken a proficiency exam should first speak with their instructor about any concerns they may have about their placement. Exams are typically a reliable, but inexact way to assess students’ language competency and to determine what language coursework is most appropriate for them. If a student, their instructor, and the Department determine that the student should be enrolled in a different course, the adjustment must be made before the University’s course add deadline. For further questions, contact nelc@osu.edu.

Academic Programs

Q: What do ‘EM’ and ‘K’ mean on my transcript?

EM credit is credit by examination [i.e., instead of credit from enrolling in coursework] and ‘K’ credit is transfer credit. Visit registrar.osu.edu for more information.

Q: I am an incoming undergraduate interested in a NELC major, how do I apply?

No formal application to the Department is necessary; applicants may indicate their interest on the main University application.

Q: Where do I apply for the NELC Graduate Program?  What are the admission qualifications and application requirements?

All graduate application materials must be submitted directly to the Graduate Admissions office at gradapply.osu.edu. No materials should be sent to the Department. Application deadlines are posted on the NELC Graduate Admissions page.

Q: I would like to declare a major/minor in one of the NELC programs

Interested students should contact the NELC Undergraduate Advisor, Tommy Beyl, at beyl.1@osu.edu or visit Hagerty Hall 355 for possible walk-in advising.

Administration & Miscellaneous

Q: I am searching for a specific NELC faculty/staff member, how can I find them?

You can find a list of staff/faculty members along with their emails on the NELC People page. Go to nelc.osu.edu and click on People.

Q: Who is located in the NELC office?

The Department Chair's office is in 300G, David Liu (Fiscal & Human Resources Associate) in 300E, and the Academic Program Coordiantor in 300F.

Q: How can I provide/receive tutoring, translation, or other services?

Interested parties may email inquiries to nelc@osu.edu, with descriptions of the assistance being sought and contact information. The Department can then forward those requests to its faculty and students, who could then offer their assistance directly.

Q: I contacted a faculty member/advisor and they did not respond, what should I do?

Students, community members, and colleagues on campus are encouraged to contact members of the Department directly at the email addresses published on the Departmental website. Faculty and staff are not always able to maintain regular work schedules and are frequently travelling or on Leave, so email is not always the most reliable means of communication. Anyone experiencing difficulty contacting members of the Department about important matters are invited to cc: nelc@osu.edu for possible additional assistance.

*If you have any other questions or concerns please contact us at nelc@osu.edu.*