Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Graduate Admissions

The Center for, and Department of, Middle Eastern Studies admit graduate students for the fall semester only. Please carefully review the details outlined below concerning the annual December 15th application deadline. Most applicants are notified about admissions decisions in February and March of the following year. Accepted students may only begin in the fall semester. Graduate courses are not currently offered online, and all degree programs must be completed in residence (on campus).


Before starting the application process, we encourage all applicants to read our website and the Graduate Handbooks in their entirety as well as be familiar with the Graduate School's Admissions site. Please refer to the FAQ for more commonly asked questions.

MA in Middle Eastern Studies


MA in Middle Eastern Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies

Dual Degrees

Dual Degree MA MES /MBA Business Administration Dual Degree MA MES /JD with the School of Law
Dual Degree MA MES / Communications (Journalism or Radio, Television, Film) Dual Degree MA MES / M.P.Aff. With the LBJ School of Public Affairs
Dual Degree MA MES /MSc with Information Studies Dual Degree MA MES / M.GPS With the LBJ School of Public Affairs



Ph.D. or MA/ Ph.D. in MELC

Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Ph.D. Tracks

Hebrew Bible / Ancient Near East* Arabic Linguistics (not accepting applications for Fall 2019)
Literature and Culture: Persian or Modern Hebrew Arabic Literature (not accepting applications for Fall 2019)
Middle Eastern History
*the MA / Ph.D. option not available in most cases for the Hebrew Bible / ANE track


Application Instructions - Fall 2019, Deadline Dec. 15th, 2018

The deadline for completed applications is December 15, 2018. All application materials must be received by this date.

Please submit the online Apply Texas application at least 3 weeks before the Dec. 15 deadline; this must first be in place before supporting materials can follow. The requests for online recommendations are only sent after the online Apply Texas application is submitted and paid for. In order to allow your recommenders adequate time to submit their letters, we encourage that applicants submit the Statement of Purpose (and additional required materials) at a later time, provided that it is uploaded by Dec. 15. Please refer to the instructions below. Applicants will be unable to upload any materials - and MES will not have access to the application - until the Apply Texas fee is paid. Any materials uploaded to the application are permanent and cannot be removed.

CMES dual-degree applicants:  The Center for MES (not the Department of MES, aka MELC) offers 7 dual-degrees with other master's programs on campus. Applicants must complete each program's set of requirements by each program's deadline, and not all UT programs share the same deadline. Dual-degree applicants submit only one online application through Apply Texas, and a list of majors and major codes may be viewed on this page. It is possible to gain admission into one program and not the other. Applicants have the option to upload a single statement of purpose (one which addresses both programs in a single document) or they may upload two discrete statements, one for each program. (If the latter is selected, please clearly label each graduate program at the top of each PDF.) As for recommendation letters, while a total of three letters is acceptable, dual-degree applicants should consider requesting more - up to six - so that something closer to three letters per program is possible. See #7 below to learn how applicants can create additional requests for recommendation letters beyond the maximum of three that the Apply Texas application permits.


The Application Process is a two-step process. Please do not send any materials to C/DMES Graduate Coordinator or Faculty. GIAC collects the following items electronically:


Step 1: General application materials:

  1. Please carefully review the Graduate School's admissions instructions.
  2. Apply for graduate admission via the Apply Texas application. Be certain to apply to the program that is your first choice:  MELC (DMES), MES (CMES), or one of CMES' dual-degree programs. The major code for MELC is 667800; MES is 668000. Applicants who wish to be considered by both MELC and MES (DMES and CMES) must submit and pay for two applications through Apply Texas. Applicants to one of the Center's dual-degree programs will submit only one Apply Texas application; these major codes can be seen here. Application fees are not refundable. If eligible, requests for fee waivers must be submitted several weeks prior to the Dec. 15 deadline.
  3. Pay the application fee:  $65 for US citizens and permanent residents; $90 for international applicants.
  4. Statement of Purpose:  This may be submitted towards the end of the online Apply Texas application (where it's referred to as the Departmental Essay). However, we strongly prefer that applicants upload the Statement of Purpose as a PDF document after application submission (not later than Dec. 15) using the Document Upload System. See additional instructions for this item below, under "Part 2 of 2."
  5. Official GRE:  The general GRE must have been taken within 5 years of the date that you request that the scores be sent to UT Austin. The entire exam must be taken; no section may be skipped. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) code for UT Austin is 6882There is no department code. Provided that the scores are still valid, both old and new versions of the GRE will be accepted. Multiple score sets are also accepted. Please see the GRE® site for details about the examination. Average scores of admitted students are listed further down this page.
  6. Official TOEFL/IELTS:  Required of all international applicants from countries not on this list. University minimum scores and average scores of admitted students are listed further down this page. If you earned a bachelors degree in an English-only speaking country, this exam is waived. However, if you have a bachelors from your home country and a master's from an English-speaking country, it is NOT waived. This is university policy. 
  7. Three letters of recommendation:  Applicants will enter the names and email addresses of their recommenders in the Apply Texas application. After the application loads onto the university's system - which can take 1-2 days during peak periods - these three persons will receive an email notification that provides them with their upload instructions. Their letters will then be attached to your application and you may monitor the letters as they arrive. You may issue additional requests for references beyond the original three. Applicants are expected to request letters from academic references who can speak to the prospective student’s scholarly abilities. One professional reference is acceptable if necessary. All letters must be in English, and letters not submitted through the online system, as well as letters housed in Interfolio, are unfortunately not accepted.

Step 2: Document Submissions:

After you successfully submit and pay for the Apply Texas application, you will receive a notification from GIAC providing a link to the Document Upload System. This notification can take 24-48 hours to receive during peak periods. Please proceed to then upload the following items (which, again, should include the Statement of Purpose). You can monitor the successful uploading of these materials through the Status Check System, where you may also monitor the arrival of your recommendation letters.
  1. Statement of Purpose:  The SoP should not exceed the equivalent of 3 double-spaced pages with 12-point Times New Roman font. It must outline your academic, research, and professional objectives. A statement of purpose is not a personal statement. While your story and background are naturally important, please ensure that it is not overly autobiographical, and do not include anecdotes that don't relate to larger academic questions. Which MES faculty do you wish to work with? Have you studied abroad or conducted research? Which types of courses fuel your interests? What is it that you wish to gain from UT Austin and the MES faculty? Finally, do not submit a generic statement that you submit to multiple schools.
  2. Transcripts:  Upload scanned PDF copies of all official transcripts from each college and/or university attended. 24-48 hours after submission & payment of the application, applicants will receive an email notification requesting that you upload transcripts from the institutions that you entered in the Apply Texas application. Do not list a study abroad program if the courses appear on another transcript (usually where the bachelors was completed) and do not list a study abroad program if a transcript cannot be produced. The grading system of the school must be included (usually on the reverse side for Western schools). All pages for each institution must be uploaded as a single PDF for each school. Translations for documents in languages other than English must be provided in the same PDF. If you are admitted to UT Austin - and you accept the admission offer - GIAC will then require the original/official documents. Carefully review this document for complete upload instructions.
  3. Résumé: Among other items, language abilities are a priority. Please summarize your abilities/proficiency levels and any relevant study abroad experiences near the top of this document.
  4. Academic writing sample:  The sample should be 10-20 pages in length, in English, and in the form of an academic thesis/professional report, a journal article, or a similar format. Applicants may select the subject matter, although it is helpful if the content is germane to the program to which the applicant is applying. Writing samples are submitted as a PDF through the Document Upload System. Please ensure that the text is 12-point Times New Roman or similar, at least 1.5 spacing. Please see the FAQ for more information.


All applicants are automatically considered for funding based upon the application materials submitted. Please see the Funding Overview page for further information. Regarding FLAS fellowships, Middle Eastern Studies does not currently offer its own FLAS fellowships. However, there are 3 other programs at UT Austin that offer FLAS for some Middle Eastern languages, including Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. Please visit our FLAS page for more information on this topic.

Admissions Criteria & Minimum Recommended Scores (GPA, GRE, TOEFL/IELTS)

The graduate admissions committee takes all elements of each application into consideration. No single item will guarantee admission or disqualify an applicant. Admission is competitive, and decisions are based on past academic records and potential for success as demonstrated through a statement of purpose conveying a clear intellectual and/or professional agenda, strong letters of recommendation, and a writing sample demonstrating scholarly talent.


The Graduate School requires a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a four-point scale for admitted graduate students. The graduate admission GPA is calculated based on upper-division and graduate coursework only. However, given that current students in MELC and MES must maintain a 3.50 minimum GPA, the committee will be looking for at least a 3.50 GPA (or approximate international equivalent) from your undergraduate and, if applicable, master's degree. Competitive applicants for funding will possess at least a 3.80 GPA. Those with a GPA below the 3.50 minimum may still be considered for conditional admission if all other application materials are compelling.


Students who have gained admission in recent years, with funding offers, have averaged the following scores/percentiles on the GRE. If multiple sets of scores are submitted, the highest set will be considered:

Verbal:                  ≥ 90th percentile (640 old system, 162 new system)

Quantitative:         ≥ 55th percentile (690 old system, 154 new system)

Analytical Writing: ≥ 85th percentile (5.0 on 6.0 scale)

Recommended minimums for admission without funding:

Verbal:                  ≥ 75th percentile (560 old; 157 new)

Quantitative:          ≥ 47th percentile (670 old; 152 new)

Analytical Writing:  ≥ 49th percentile (4.0 on 6.0 scale)

To compare the old scoring system to the new, please review the concordance information provided by ETS. For more information about the revision and how it could affect you, please visit the GRE Revised General Test Web page.

Prior to the 2011 revision of the General GRE test, for basic consideration, the recommended minimum GRE scores were 500 on the verbal section and 1000 overall. Applicants with GRE scores below these standards may have still been considered for admission, but were unlikely to receive funding offers.


International applicants:  While departmental standards are higher, UT Austin requires the following minimum scores:

  • 79 (internet-based test)
  • 213 (computer-based test)
  • 550 (paper-based test)
  • IELTS:  Overall band of 6.5

Among the variety of TOEFL exams, the internet-based TOEFL is the most common, and our graduate programs generally seek a score of >100 (120 is the maximum score). For the IELTS, we seek a score of > 8.0 (9.0 is the maximum score). More information.

Language Proficiency in MELC

Admission to the programs in Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish) requires proficiency in the primary language based on ACTFL standards. Please review their proficiency guidelines.

Arabic and Persian applicants must demonstrate proficiency at least at the Advanced-Low level. Modern Hebrew applicants must be at the Intermediate-High level for the master's program and Advanced-Low for the doctoral program.

Students focusing on HB/ANE are expected to have earned a master's degree in a relevant field. In rare cases, applicants may apply directly from a bachelors degree if they are determined to have a strong background in the necessary languages. Applicants should have at least three years of Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, two years of a second ancient Semitic language or one year of a second Semitic language plus proficiency in German (college or MA level), and a solid background in the study of the Hebrew Bible. 

Language Proficiency in MES

Applicants may enter the program at any level in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Turkish. Most applicants will have at minimum one year of college-level instruction if not much more. However, it is possible to gain admission to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies as a novice language learner. In such cases, the first year of language instruction at UT cannot be applied to completion of the MA; only 2nd year and above (upper-division level of above) may satisfy the language requirement (see bthe ottom of this page).

Program Contact:


Lisa Parisi Graduate Coordinator


Application Tools

Application Status Check

Upload Supplemental Documents

Letter of Recommendation Tracking

Graduate and International Admissions Center


Contact Admissions

If you have specific questions about the following topics, email one of the addresses below (do not send the same email to multiple email addresses). Include your name and UT EID in all correspondence.


Uploading Documents

Test Scores 

Letters of Recommendation 


International Applicants

Phone: 512-475-7391

Admissions FAQ

MELC / PhD Graduate Handbook

CMES / MA Graduate Handbook

Apply Now!

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