Middle East Studies, B.A.

Program Code: MESTD_BA

Program Description

The Middle East Studies major fosters the study of the Middle East from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. The core of the major is a foundation in the history of the region and the politics, societies, and cultures of the past and the present, in a global context. The major promotes the development of analytical skills, articulate expression of ideas, awareness of current events, and engagement in meaningful discussion.

What is Middle East Studies?

Middle Eastern Studies intends to instill an understanding of the history and culture of the multiple countries that make up the Middle East, from ancient through modern times. It is an interdisciplinary area of study that encompasses various aspects of the Middle East such as history, politics, religion, language, literature, art history, and more. Middle Eastern Studies offers a way to investigate a region of the world from multiple perspectives engaging a variety of methods of study.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are interested in gaining further insight into the ​politics, societies, and cultures of ​the Middle East.
  • You are interested in adding the Middle East Studies major to your major in a related field such as History, Global and International Studies, Political Science, and Arabic.
  • You have a desire to do in depth research on the Middle East, and hope to spend time in the Middle East.
  • You are interested in a career in international trade, diplomacy, aid, education, and more.
  • You are interested in graduate studies in fields such as history, middle east studies, Islamic studies, Jewish studies, archaeology, philosophy, comparative literature, religious studies, political science, sociology, economics, and more.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Middle East Studies, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 24
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 33

6 credits of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 6 credits of GH courses.

6 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives. Up to 12 credits of Arabic, Hebrew or another Middle Eastern language may count toward the major. 9 credits for the major must be at the 400-level.

Per Senate Policy 83-80.5, the college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
HIST/JST 181Introduction to the Middle East Keystone/General Education Course3
HIST/JST 190The Middle East Today Keystone/General Education Course3
HIST/JST 305YMiddle East Studies Research Workshop3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Students should choose 24 credits from the list below with the following criteria: 9 credits at the 400-level; no more than 12 credits of languages. 124
Society and Cultures in Modern Israel Keystone/General Education Course
Islamic Architecture and Art Keystone/General Education Course
Elementary Modern Standard Arabic I
Elementary Modern Standard Arabic II
Intermediate Modern Standard Arabic
Arab Language, Cultures, and Current Topics Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to the Qur'an Keystone/General Education Course
Islamic States, Societies and Cultures c. 600-1500 Keystone/General Education Course
Advanced Language & Cultures I
Advanced Language & Cultures II
Technology & Society in Modern Asia
Mesopotamian Civilization Keystone/General Education Course
MESOPOTAMIAN CIVILIZATION Keystone/General Education Course
Egyptian Civilization Keystone/General Education Course
Ancient Near Eastern and Egyptian Mythology Keystone/General Education Course
Prophecy in the Bible and the Ancient Near East Keystone/General Education Course
Jerusalem: Past, Present, and Future Keystone/General Education Course
Canaan and Israel in Antiquity Keystone/General Education Course
Ancient Egypt Keystone/General Education Course
Literature of the Ancient Near East Keystone/General Education Course
Law & Economy in the Ancient Near East
Languages and Cultures of the Ancient Near East
Literary Cultures of Islam
Basic Modern Hebrew I
Basic Modern Hebrew II
Intermediate Modern Hebrew
Advanced Hebrew--Conversation Emphasis
Advanced Hebrew--Reading Emphasis
The Byzantine Empire Keystone/General Education Course
Early Modern Empires of Islam: The Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals Keystone/General Education Course
Crusades: Holy War in the Middle Ages Keystone/General Education Course
The History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict (1917-Present) Keystone/General Education Course
The Indian Ocean World Keystone/General Education Course
Modern Iran Keystone/General Education Course
Orthodox Christianity: History and Interpretations Keystone/General Education Course
Jewish Histories of the Middle East
Classical Islamic Civilization, 600-1258
The Ottoman Empire
The Contemporary Middle East
Government and Politics of the Middle East Keystone/General Education Course
International Relations of the Middle East
Introduction to Islam Keystone/General Education Course

Honors version of courses may count toward the major. Additional courses may count toward the major in consultation with the director of Middle East Studies.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program


University Park

108 Weaver Building
University Park, PA 16802