Master of Arts (MA)


The Department offers a Master of Arts in Near Eastern Languages & Cultures, rather than in Arabic, Hebrew, or any of its other language areas, allowing students to build across and between these languages and the discourses, histories, areas, and peoples they signify, to build language, research, and analytical skills toward PhD programs and to work effectively in the international arena.

To be awarded the NELC Masters degree, students must apply to and be admitted to the program, assemble an advising committee, complete a total of at least 30 credit hours of graduate coursework, demonstrate proficiency in a conventional research Western research language, and complete a Master's Degree examination.

Admission - Advising - Coursework - Research Language - Thesis - Exams


The Department of Near Eastern Languages & Cultures admits students to its MA program for enrollment every Autumn semester [begins late August], with applications due the preceding November [for international applicants] or mid-December [for domestic applicants].


MA students are expected, by the end of their first year, to identify a primary advisor from among the department’s Graduate Faculty as well as a second committee member who may be selected either from among the department’s Graduate Faculty or, with approval from the Graduate Studies Committee, from another department’s Graduate Faculty.  MA committees may have 3rd or in some circumstances 4th members, but must be comprised of a minimum of 2 members.


Students are expected, in the course of 2 academic years, to complete at least 30 graduate credit hours, comprised of the following sub-requirements and in addition to any language coursework as may be required by students' advisors.

1. Core Seminar [1 credit hour]

NELC 5101 Introduction to the Field of NELC

2. Elective Seminar [1 of 6 courses, 3 credit hours]

CS 7360 Theorizing Culture
CS 7370 Theorizing Religion
HIST 7900 Colloquium in the Philosophy of History, Historiography, & the Historian’s Skills
NELC[/CLAS] 5401 Methodologies for the Study of Ancient Religions
NELC 5568 Studies in Orality and Literacy
NELC[/CS] 7301 Theorizing Literature

3. Elective NELC coursework [minimum 15 credit hours]
graduate coursework in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, or NELC subject course categories, including:

- all coursework must be at 5000-level or higher, and of which
- a minimum 6 credit hours must be at the 6000-level or higher and an additional
- minimum 3 credit hours must be at the 8000-level

4. Additional Coursework
sufficient credit hours of additional graduate coursework to reach total of 30, from NELC or elsewhere with agreement of advisor, possibly including:

- [if writing a thesis] NELC 6999 NELC MA Thesis (3 credit hours) during their final term, or
- students may enroll in NELC 6998 NELC MA Exams (3 credit hours) during their final term.

Research Language

MA students must demonstrate reading competence in at least one language of modern secondary scholarship besides English (usually French or German) by:

  • receiving a grade of B or higher in either FRENCH 6571 French Reading for Research I or GERMAN 6101 Basic German for Graduate Students. [note: neither of these courses count toward the minimum 30 graduate credit hours coursework requirement.], or
  • passing the proficiency exam offered by the relevant department, or
  • petitioning the Graduate Studies Committee to consider other evidence of competence, such as an undergraduate major or minor in the language, or
  • passing a 6000-level or higher-level course taught in the language. 


Completion of a Master’s Thesis is NOT a requirement of the NELC MA program; the decision to produce an MA thesis should be made collaboratively by each student and their committee.

  • If a student elects to produce a thesis, the Graduate School will consider them to be pursuing the Thesis Option, which the student will specify when formally applying to graduate at the beginning of their final term in the program.
  • The student and committee may elect to conduct a formal thesis defense meeting (of approximately 2 hours, during business hours), or they may instead opt to critique and revise the draft less formally.
  • Whether a formal defense meeting is held or not, the student’s committee must formally signify their approval of the text on the Report on Final Document form to the Graduate School.
  • The thesis draft must be approved by the student’s committee before the student takes the exam.
  • Thesis Option students must also submit their document – after the submission of the Report on Final Document – for recording and publication by the University.


All MA students - whether Thesis Option or Non-Thesis Optionmust complete an MA exam.

  • Exams are administered by the student’s advising committee and with content and in a form agreed between the student and the committee.
  • Exams are held during a student’s final term in the program (typically by the end of the third-to-last week of the semester).
  • The exam requirement may be satisfied in any of five ways; (students and committees are expected to determine which is most appropriate for their program and future plans):

Thesis Option:
     thesis and oral exams
     thesis, oral defense, and oral exams
     thesis, oral defense, written exams, and oral exams

Non-Thesis Option:
     written exams
     written exams and oral exams

  • Students must record their satisfaction of the exam requirement by coordinating the submission, with approval from the advising committee, of the Report on Final Examination form to the Graduate School.

[Section 6 of the Graduate School Handbook contains the full articulation of policies governing requirements beyond coursework for Master’s degrees at Ohio State.]