The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Middle Eastern Studies - MA

Division: Social Sciences
Degree Type: MA

Program Description

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) offers an interdisciplinary MA program that is designed for students who wish to use their knowledge of the Middle East in careers other than university teaching and research. The program is also suitable for students considering an academic career who have not had the appropriate academic background for direct entrance into a doctoral program. Language and area studies preparation may be supplemented by relevant course work in a professional school or department. Students may be admitted to the MA program in either the Division of the Social Sciences or the Division of the Humanities and will receive the degree from the division through which they have registered. Students with significant previous training in Middle Eastern or Islamic studies who wish to earn a doctoral degree leading to careers in research and college or university teaching should apply for admission directly to one of the graduate doctoral departments or committees of the University.

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Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: January 5

CMES admits applicants once a year for the following Autumn Quarter. Applications received after the deadline cannot be considered.

Campus Visits

Campus visits and interviews are not required. Contact the department for more information.

Degree Objective

CMES admits applicants only for the MA.

Application Requirements

  1. Online Application Form
  2. Non-refundable application fee Fee waiver information »
  3. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  4. GRE and TOEFL Scores
  5. Statement of Academic Purpose
  6. Writing Sample
  7. Resume/CV
  8. Transcripts

Admissions Decisions

Admissions decisions are emailed in early March. Direct all questions about your application directly to the admissions office.

Program Requirements

The requirements are satisfactory completion of:

  1. 6 quarters of a Middle Eastern language (through at least two year proficiency)
  2. 1 quarter core colloquium, Approaches to the Study of the Middle East
  3. 3 quarters of an approved integrated Middle Eastern survey course (e.g., Introduction to Judaic Civilization; History of the Islamic Middle East, 600 to the Present)
  4. 7 courses in relevant electives
  5. 1 course in thesis preparation, or reading and research
  6. Master's Thesis

Language Requirement

Placement examinations are given so that entering students may register for courses at the appropriate level of instruction.

Middle Eastern Studies

All students in the MA program are required to take the core colloquium, Approaches to the Study of Middle East (CMES 30001/HIST 58001). Students must enroll in one of the following three quarter sequences: Islamic History and Society (NEHC 31000, 31100, 31200/HIST 35704, 35804, 35904) or Islamic Thought and Literature (NEHC 30601, 30602, 30603/SOSC 22000, 22100, 2220).


In consultation with advisors, students select courses providing instruction in skills related to their future careers. These courses may be in research methodology; statistics; cross cultural, demographic, or economic analysis; or computer training. They may be selected from the offerings of departments in the graduate divisions.

Master's Thesis

Students are required to submit a Master's Thesis that should deal with a problem relevant to the student's intended career and should give evidence of the specialized disciplinary aspects of his or her training.

Costs & Financial Aid

Estimated Cost of Attendance

For information on the estimated cost of attendance, please visit the Social Sciences Division website.

Loans for Domestic Students

Admitted students may need to apply for loans (private or federally supported) and/or the federal work-study program to cover any tuition and living expenses not covered by a University award. If you need to subsidize your graduate studies through loans and/or work-study, you will need to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) and apply for student loans through the University's Student Loan Administration. Visit the Student Loan Administration to download loan forms and to search the frequently asked questions. Students admitted for Autumn Quarter who wish to be considered for a student loan should submit a loan application to the SLA office by the May 15 priority deadline; notifications concerning loan approval are sent out in the summer. SLA also determines eligibility for the work-study program, but job assignments cannot be made until the student is actually on campus.

Merit-based Scholarships and Fellowships

All applicants who indicate on the graduate application that they would like to be considered for financial aid will be reviewed for merit-based scholarships and fellowships; there are no separate forms to complete. The Division of the Social Sciences has limited resources, which are allocated based on the criteria of academic record and scholarly promise; financial need and U.S. citizenship are not factors. We offer a limited number of partial tuition scholarships (one-third tuition, one-half tuition, two-thirds tuition) along with a very small number of full-tuition awards. Students who we admit without a financial award or with partial tuition scholarships pay the balance of tuition from a combination of their own resources and educational loans.

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