Department of Middle Eastern Studies
Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Doctor of Philosophy in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures

The doctoral program in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures offers graduate training in the following core areas within the Department:

  1. Hebrew Bible / Ancient Near East
  2. Middle Eastern Literatures & Cultures (Arabic/Persian/Hebrew)
  3. Islamic Studies
  4. Arabic linguistics (2018-19 admission closed)
  5. Middle Eastern History

 MELC PhD Requirments 2018-2020

MELC (Core degree) 

9 hours of MELC courses, 9 hours of language seminars, at least 3 hours of comprehensive exams, reading knowledge of French or German, mastery in a Middle Eastern language, at least 6 credit hours of dissertation coursework 

Literature and Film Track 

Courses must include: 6 hours of literary theory/cultural studies 

Students are strongly encouraged to acquire a second Middle Eastern language 

Islamic Studies Track 

Courses must include: 3 hours of Islamic Studies Disciplinary Introduction seminar 

Students are required to have mastery of Arabic  


Bible Track 

Courses must include: 12 hours of the Bible in Hebrew, 3 hours of Comparative Semitic Grammar, 12 hours in a Minor field, 12 hours of Near Eastern language work 

Arabic Track 

Students are required to choose a major field in either Arabic literature/culture or language/linguistics, in addition to two minor fields (such as intellectual history or gender studies) 

History Track

Additional requirements: students will typically accrue 30 hours of coursework before entering comprehensive exams.

Students are required to reach Advanced / Superior in the language of their research field. A secondary research language may be substituted for French or German.


GPA and Credit Hours Requirement

All students must maintain a minimum 3.50 GPA in order to remain in good standing. If a student happens to fall between a 3.00 – 3.50 in a given semester, he/she will enter probation and have one semester to bring their grades back above a 3.50. Failure to do so could result in dismissal from the program. Students must possess at least a 3.50 in order to graduate from the program. At least 30 credit hours are needed for Ph.D. at UT Austin, which includes at least 6 credit hours of dissertation coursework. (MEL 399R + MEL 399W is the minimum requirement.) Most doctoral students will far exceed 30 credits. Credits that were applied to a master's degree at UT Austin may not be applied to the doctoral degree. 


Ph.D. students in living languages normally take three years of coursework in their area of concentration beyond the MA degree. Ph.D. students in Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near East also take three years of coursework after admission to the program. Before taking the comprehensive exams, each student must demonstrate, through formal testing, proficiency in the language required by her/his major field. Reading knowledge in one research language is required and must be demonstrated by passing a reading test administered by the department.

To be admitted to candidacy for the degree, the student must pass comprehensive written and oral examinations. The purpose of the comprehensive exams is to certify that the student has mastered a sufficient breadth and depth of knowledge for an academic career and has the skills and abilities required to complete a doctoral dissertation. The exams in most tracks must be taken by the beginning of the fourth year of the program. HB/ANE students take their exams at the end of the third year. After passing these examinations, the candidate sets up a dissertation committee with the help of his/her supervisor. This committee approves the dissertation proposal, guides the student in writing and revising the dissertation, and administers the final oral defense.

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    Calhoun Hall (CAL) 528
    Austin, TX 78712