Our renowned Master of Arts in Arab Studies (MAAS) program offers comprehensive interdisciplinary training in the politics, culture, history, economics, and language of the contemporary Arab Middle East and North Africa, as well as rigorous Arabic language training. Students design a program of study that allows them to develop expertise on the pressing issues relevant to the Middle East and North Africa today in one of five concentration areas: Politics, Culture and Society, Development, History, or Women and Gender. In addition to their main concentration, students select options from the full range of courses in Middle East Studies offered at Georgetown. The MAAS program further cultivates an in-depth understanding of the region through the program’s intensive Arabic instruction, which allows our students to reach proficiency level. Students have the unique opportunity to deepen their language skills by opting to take courses taught entirely in Arabic.
MAAS students may choose to pursue one of several dual degrees, as well as enroll concurrently in graduate certificate programs in International Business Diplomacy or Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies.
Demonstrate broad comprehensive knowledge of the Arab World, and the ability to integrate it, through a multidisciplinary study of language, culture, politics, history, and economics.
Demonstrate expertise in one of the following concentrations: Politics, Economics and Business, Development, History, Culture and Society and Women and Gender.
Understand and engage critically with the theoretical and methodological paradigms most appropriate for the study of the Arab World.
Develop skills in analytical and integrative thinking, and learn to communicate effectively and creatively for different audiences and purposes.
Acquire basic and advanced research skills, including fluency with relevant print and virtual bibliographic and research guides on the Arab World.
Demonstrate superior research, writing and speaking abilities on Arab, Islamic and Middle Eastern affairs.
Acquire the cultural skills sufficient to function professionally in the region.
Display a deep understanding of the Arab World in its contemporary global environment—political, economic and cultural, with particular attention to relations to its complex interactions with the United States.
Attain proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic through the utilization of fundamental reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, and be able to communicate clearly and concisely in written and spoken form.
Uphold the values of Georgetown University’s founding traditions and its principled commitments to intellectual openness and diversity, justice and the common good.
The Master of Arts in Arab Studies program is a demanding, full-time curriculum comprised of 36 credit hours (12 three-credit courses), not including acquisition-level Arabic classes. The program is designed for full-time students who complete the degree in two years depending on their Arabic language competency. Students generally take nine graduate credits (three classes) per semester, plus Arabic if necessary.
Upon entry, students must choose to concentrate in one of five significant areas: culture and society, development, history, politics or women and gender. Students have considerable flexibility in designing their program in order to meet their academic and professional goals and interests. Although the program structure is very flexible, there are some basic guidelines:
Completion of four core courses (12 credits):
MAAS 501- Introduction to the Study of the Arab World
MAAS 502 - 20th c. Middle East History
Two core courses for declared concentration (see concentration requirements)
Completion of eight electives (24 credits):
At least four electives should be offered through CCAS, Department of History, or Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies
A maximum of four electives may be taken from other departments at Georgetown
Passage of MAAS oral and written Modern Standard Arabic proficiency exam Students must complete this requirement by the end of the program. Oral comprehensive exam OR thesis
Oral comprehensive exam: The oral exam is designed to provide a cross-disciplinary conclusion to the student's coursework and total educational experience in the program. The exam is administered by a panel of three faculty members who have taught the student, two of whom will be in the student's concentration area. The exam takes place after the student has completed his/her coursework.
Thesis option: Students have the option of writing and defending a thesis in their final semester in lieu of the oral exam. Thesis students must take a methods course and enroll in the three-credit MAAS Thesis Colloquium, both of which count as elective courses.
Rigorous training in the Arabic language is a core element of the program, which is supported by the largest and oldest Arabic language department in the country. Students are expected to enter the program having taken at least two years/levels of Arabic prior to entering the program. MAAS students must be continuously enrolled in an Arabic language class until they pass the MAAS Arabic proficiency exam. The program’s demanding Arabic language requirement is a distinctive feature regularly cited by students and alumni alike as a major draw and strength.
Arabic Proficiency Exam
In order to graduate, all students must pass a written and oral proficiency exam in Modern Standard Arabic. The exam is offered at the end of each semester and students must continue to enroll in Arabic classes until they pass the exam. The written exam consists of three sections: grammar (25%), reading comprehension (50%), and writing (25%). The oral exam is an ACTFL oral proficiency interview (OPI) administered through the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. The passing score for MAAS students is Advanced Mid and the exam is conducted in Modern Standard Arabic. Students are given three attempts to pass the Arabic proficiency exam, excluding the exam taken during orientation.
Arabic Language Classes
The MAAS program has designated sections of Intensive Intermediate and Advanced Arabic, offered through the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. The MAAS sections consist of one hour of grammar and one hour of conversation five days a week. Students must be able to enroll in the MAAS section of Intermediate Arabic (ARAB 111-03) upon matriculation to the program. Intermediate Arabic (ARAB 111/112) and Advanced Arabic (ARAB 215/216) are six-credit courses that students take in addition to their graduate coursework. Once students pass the Arabic proficiency exam, they may enroll in Arabic content courses, or courses taught in Arabic, to maintain or continue to improve their Arabic skills.
Arabic content courses are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Undergraduate-level language courses (those numbered below 350) do not count toward the MAAS degree, so students must taken them in addition to the required nine graduate credits per semester. However, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers students Language Study Scholarships to cover the cost of one undergraduate-level language course per semester, so MAAS students taking intermediate, advanced, or post-advanced courses below 350 will not pay additional tuition. Arabic courses numbered above 350 count for graduate credit and are not eligible for a Language Study Scholarship. Once students have passed the Arabic proficiency exam, they are permitted to take other language courses for which they may receive a Language Study Scholarship.
Culture and Society
Students learn the diverse aspects of culture and society in the Arab world, from structures and institutions, art, poetry, multiple discourses and practices, and definitions of identity, drawing on anthropology, sociology, literature and religious studies. Concentration requirements:
MAAS-518, Culture and Society of the Arab World
MAAS-640, Development in the Arab World: Theories, Issues, and Institutions OR MAAS-532, Women and Gender in the Arab World
Students learn about development and political economy in the Arab world, focusing on economic and social development, education, humanitarian aid, gender, and environmental dimensions of development. This concentration draws on economic history, political economy, sociology, and politics. Concentration requirements:
MAAS-640, Development in the Arab World: Theories, Issues, and Institutions
MAAS-564, Economics of the Middle East
In this concentration, students learn about the history of Middle East and North Africa, from the rise of Islam to the present. A wide range of subjects are covered, such as methods and approaches, colonial history, gender, environmental and legal dimensions. It draws on political, economic, social, and cultural history of the region.
HIST-760, Arab Historiography
One seminar in Middle East history, such as HIST-863/864
This concentration also requires that students demonstrate good chronological and geographical coverage of the Arab world.
Students learn about contemporary political developments in the Arab world and the Middle East. The program covers the study of authoritarianism, nationalism, domestic institutions and policies, war and peace-making, identity and security politics, and environmental security. It draws on Comparative Politics, International Relations, history, sociology, political economy and development.
INAF-725, Comparative Politics of the Middle East
INAF-619, Arab and Middle East International Politics
This concentration also requires that students demonstrate good geographic coverage of the Arab world.
Women and Gender
Concentrators learn to identify and analyze the gender dimensions of political, economic and historical phenomena in the Arab world. Through a diverse range of fields such as law, history, literature, economics and anthropology, the concentration provides the students with tools to understand the changing shape of gender relations.
MAAS-532 Women and Gender in the Arab World
MAAS-640, Development in the Arab World: Theories, Issues, and Institutions OR MAAS-518, Culture and Society of the Arab World
Dual Degree Programs
One of the attractive features of the MAAS program is its provision for students to enroll simultaneously in either the J.D. program or various Ph.D. programs. Joint degree students receive full preparation both in their discipline and in regional studies, and save up to one year of course work compared to students who pursue the two degrees sequentially. They experience substantial time and cost savings, and may also take advantage of the opportunities provided by both programs, including access to financial aid, teaching fellowships, and alumni networks.
Applicants for the dual degree programs must submit two separate and complete applications: one to the MAAS program and one to the Ph.D. or J.D. program. Admission to the dual degree program is conditional upon acceptance into both programs. While dual degree applicants normally submit both applications in advance of initiating their studies at Georgetown, MAAS candidates who become interested in this option during the first year of study are eligible to apply at the end of their first semester.
Specific degree requirements vary among departments. Please see the student handbook and collaborating departmental websites for additional information.
Currently, the MAAS program has dual degrees with the following programs:
Ph.D., Arabic and Islamic Studies (Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies)
Ph.D., Government (Department of Government)
Ph.D., History (Department of History)
J.D., (Georgetown Law Center)
BSFS (Georgetown Undergraduate School of Foreign Service)
Enrolling in a course through CCAS
Georgetown allows qualified non-degree seeking students to enroll in selected graduate courses for credit. Interested individuals should consult the School of Continuing Studies for more information on courses, applications, and necessary approvals. Information on enrolling as a visiting non-degree student is available here.
Please note that the Arab Studies program will only allow Continuing Studies students to enroll in Arab Studies courses is space is available during the registration period.
Enrolling in Arabic classes at Georgetown
Every summer, Georgetownoffers the Arabic and Persian Language Institute in conjunction with the Department of Arabic & Islamic Studies. Arabic classes offered through the Institute are open to non-degree seeking individuals. For more information, please consult the School of Continuing Studies or Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies websites.
Studying Arabic abroad through Qatar University
The Qatar Scholarship Program offers dedicated Arabic language students from the United States the opportunity to master their skills in an intensive Arabic language program at the University of Qatar in Doha. The program runs from September to June and covers residence costs, travel expenses, tuition, books and a stipend. Scholarship recipients will be enrolled in the Department of Arabic of the College of Arts and Sciences for one academic year, in a program for non-native speakers. The Center administers the application and selection of students for this program.