Master of Arts in Middle East Studies


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

GW’s Middle East Studies program has become one of the most exciting and fascinating places to study an exciting and fascinating region. Our reputation as a center for serious scholarship and critical policy research has garnered national and international recognition.

We have been named a National Resource Center and designated recipient of the federally-funded FLAS language fellowship program, received a major endowment gift to help fund student research and important policy and academic programming, and become the hub of the country’s leading organization for political scientists specializing in the region (the Project on Middle East Political Science).

What You'll Study

Our program is highly interdisciplinary with courses in anthropology, history, politics, religion, geography, as well as Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian to ensure that our students develop a well-rounded understanding of the region and can function in a multilingual globalized work environment. In consultation with the program director, each student will develop a program of study that includes a professional specialization based on the student's specific academic and career interests.

To earn your Master of Arts in Middle East Studies you must successfully complete our 40 credit program which includes a 3 credit Cornerstone course, 9 credits of core courses, 12 credits in your chosen Professional Specialization field, 9 credits of electives, a 4 credit Capstone sequence and a 3 credit Skills course.


The MES capstone program is a particularly exciting part of our curriculum. This is a two-member, policy-oriented project carried out under the guidance of one of GW’s faculty members or an approved outside expert. Most students conduct short fieldwork trips abroad during winter or spring break with financial support from the Institute for Middle East Studies. Recent graduates have completed significant papers on everything from political parties and religious education to drug-smuggling, and their research has taken them to cities across the region, including Algiers, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Amman, Irbil, Rabat, Tunis, Muscat, Kuwait City, Manama, and Jerusalem.



Foreign Language

Academic coursework in an approved Middle Eastern language, which will prepare students to complete the program’s language requirement*, is required at the time of application. This can be demonstrated by:

  • Study that is equal to four semesters of university-level coursework or equivalent.
  • Completion of formal language training as part of employment (ex. Peace Corps, JET, etc.).
  • Growing up in a household where the language is spoken.

Approved languages for the M.A. in Middle East Studies are Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic), Persian, Hebrew, Kurdish, and Turkish.

*Students need to have a strong foundation in a foreign language before enrolling to be successful in completing the language requirement during the program.


©The George Washington University - Elliott School Of International Affairs

Affiliated Institute

Our Institute for Middle East Studies strongly supports our students by offering research opportunities abroad, event series on campus, and other resources. As a designated National Resource Center by the United States Department of Education, the Institute of Middle East Studies has been recognized for its cutting-edge scholarly work and unique ability to influence policy-makers and opinion leaders in the DC area.

As home to the Project on Middle East Political Science, the premier network of political scientists studying the region, we regularly host the top experts in the field. Our wide range of events offers both intellectual engagement and unparalleled networking opportunities. The Middle East Policy Forum, run by Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm, brings major political figures from the U.S. and the Arab world to GW.

Where You'll Go

graphic: pie chart, 27% private, 18% public, 45% non-profit, 10% other Middle East Studies

Our graduates continue to pursue a wide variety of exciting careers in diplomacy and public service, business, security, conflict resolution, development, and public health. For 2016 graduates, the top employers included:

  • BAE Systems
  • Exiger Diligence
  • FTI Consulting
  • Gemini Global LLC
  • McLarty Associates
  • USAID/Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Senate

While you study with us and even once you leave, we'll provide you with resources and support to help you get the job you've always wanted post-graduation. From career counseling, workshops, site visits, and information sessions, The Graduate Student Career Development Center has a variety of tools and tips to get you to where you want to be.

Elliott School by the Numbers

Elliott School by the Numbers

©The George Washington University - Elliott School Of International Affairs

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

Elliott School graduates are consistently sought after for challenging global careers. What's more, our Washington, DC location allows us to form strong relationships with public, private, and non-pro ... Read More

Elliott School graduates are consistently sought after for challenging global careers. What's more, our Washington, DC location allows us to form strong relationships with public, private, and non-profit organizations that regularly employ Elliott School students and alumni. Read less