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Georgetown University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences M.A. in Arabic & Islamic Studies
Georgetown University - Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

M.A. in Arabic & Islamic Studies

Washington, USA

1 Years


Full time, Part time

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USD 2,139 / per credit *


* cost per credit for academic year 2019-2020.


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The Arabic and Islamic Studies M.A. program at Georgetown seeks to advance knowledge and understanding of classical and modern Islamic thought and to provide an understanding of Arabophone culture and intellectual history in the pre-modern and modern periods. With a special emphasis on Arabic textual traditions, the program offers graduate training in the study of the languages, literature, and thought of the Islamic world, and introduces students to scholarly approaches to the study of Islam.

Entering students are required to have Arabic language competence equivalent to at least that attained by the end of the third year of intensive language study in the undergraduate program at Georgetown University. In the first week of their first academic year, students who are non-native Arabic speakers are required to take an Arabic language exam administered by the department.

Students who fail this exam are required to be enrolled in advanced Arabic classes, and to take the exam again at the end of the fall semester. If they still do not score satisfactorily they have until the end of the spring semester to successfully retake the exam. Students must pass the Arabic proficiency exam by the end of August of their first academic year if they are to continue in the program. Arabic language courses taken to enable students to reach the required proficiency level do not count towards the degree credits.

Students who desire ACTFL proficiency certification should make arrangements with the department.

Course Requirements

Candidates for the master’s degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies take a program of 36 credits, including 11 courses (33 credits) plus an M.A. research course (3 credits). The distribution of the courses is 8 in a major concentration and 3 in a minor concentration. Entering students determine their specific program of study in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, and are expected to fulfill the following requirements:

1. Two Core Courses:

  • ARAB-555 Introduction to Arabic and Islamic Studies

According to their major and minor concentrations, students will also take one of the following seminars that consider the latest scholarship in each field, along with the foundational disciplinary scholarship. These seminars will be taught in yearly rotation.

Students whose major concentration is Arabic Literature will also take:

  • ARAB-557 Introduction to Literary Methodology

Students whose major concentration is Arabic Linguistics will also take:

  • ARAB-556 Introduction to Linguistics Methodology

Students who have taken these or equivalent courses may replace them with history or religion courses from the relevant core list, pending approval of the DGS.

2. At least 6 courses in one of the 3 major concentrations cataloged on the Arabic and Islamic Studies lists. (See appendix for a list of courses classified by field, and consult website for current courses).

  • Arabic Linguistics
  • Arabic Literature
  • Islamic Studies

3. At least 3 additional courses in a minor concentration. Minor concentrations are based on the other concentrations cataloged on the Arabic and Islamic Studies lists.

4. M.A. research paper (3 credits).

The master’s research paper is related to the work of a particular graduate course in Arabic and Islamic Studies. It marks the significant development and revision of a term paper the student has written in a seminar, modeled along a publishable research paper in the field. It may be written either in Arabic or in English and normally consists of at least 25-35 typed pages (at least 12 000 words with 1.5 space).

This process will happen during the last semester of coursework as an MA research course (independent study). The Master’s Research Paper is not a Master thesis and does not require a specific registration. Students don’t need to file a Thesis Proposal form with the Graduate School. The candidate obtains the approval of the professor as a mentor for that topic. The student then gets the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies for the topic before registering for an independent study course with the professor. No defense is required for the research paper.

5. Distributional requirements.

a. At least 3 of the above courses must be in the classical period and 3 in the modern.

b. Courses must include at least 4 advanced Arabic seminars; these seminars must include readings and research using primary Arabic sources.


Masters candidates who are not native speakers of Arabic must pass a written and oral proficiency examination in Arabic. This exam may be taken at any point during the student’s program but must be completed before the student takes the comprehensive examination.


In accordance with Graduate School rules, students admitted to the Master’s Degree program are allowed three years from matriculation to complete all requirements for the degree and to graduate. Students working towards this degree part-time are also subject to the three-year time limit.


About the School


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