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Middle Eastern Studies


The Department of Middle Eastern Studies  offers instruction in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. There are also course offerings in related languages, including Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, Syraiac, and Ugaritic.


Arabic has approximately 300 million native speakers across the Middle East and northern Africa, and is the liturgical language of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims. Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of the third highest number of states after English and French, and is one of the six working languages of the United Nations. A cradle of civilization, the Arab world saw major advances in philospohy, mathematics, and medicine, to name but a few.  

Read more about Arabic at UT, and if you are interested in learning more, try out the BBC's Guide to Arabic.

Middle Eastern Studies at UT is also the home of the Arabic Flagship Program. Check out this video about it!

And see student testimonials here:

The Flagship Program can include a capstone year studying in Morocco!


Hebrew is the native language of Israel and has approximately 9 million speakers, of which 5 million are native speakers. Approximately 220,000 fluent Hebrew-speakers live in the USA. Hebrew is considered the only successfully revived dead language. The first five books of the Torah, and most of the rest of the Hebrew Bible, is written in Biblical Hebrew, and as such is seen as a holy language in Judaism. 

Read more about Hebrew at UT.


Persian, or Farsi, is an official language of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, with approximately 70 million native speakers. Though it uses an Arabic-based script, Persian is an Indo-European language. It is the language of one of the world's great literary traditions.

Read more about Persian at UT.


Turkish, an official language of Turkey and Cyprus, has approximately 75 million native speakers, and 13 million other fluent speakers. Turkey is the 16th largest economy in the world and is of growing importance politically and economically, and historical and archaeological finds within her borders make Turkey a cradle of human civilization.

Check out this video on learning Turkish at UT Austin, with Dr. Jeanette Okur:  

Read more about Turkish at UT, and if you are interested in learning more, try out the BBC's Guide to Turkish.

Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies is also an awarding center for FLAS fellowships to support language study. Here, Matthew Rabatin, Senior Program and Outreach Coordinator for the Center for European Studies, talks through the opportunities and requirements of FLAS in the context of European Studies (a European link would not be required for fellowships awarded through Middle Eastern Studies).

Department Scholarships

Course Offerings for Summer 2020

  • MES F342 Law/Justice in the Bible
    This course examines the legal traditions of the Torah (Pentateuch) and what they reveal about the practice of law and justice in ancient Israel and the wider biblical world. It then explores the reuse of these traditions in other portions of the Hebrew Bible and the growth of related traditions in prophetic and wisdom literature. Legal and ethical theories will also be used to provide context for understanding ideas about law and justice in the ancient world. The course acquaints students with how various biblical traditions developed over time to form the foundation for later rabbinic and Christian ethical thought. With Dr. Bruce Wells.
  • MES 310 Social Transformation: Love/Relationships
    This course examines the social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual perspectives toward the ideas and experience of love. Some portion of the course will emphasize on the nature of the mind, human consciousness, and the state of Presence. The course will also offer insights to understand how love and intimacy interact with rapid social, economic, and cultural change, and how the subsequent change transformed the social world and the meaning of love. With Dr. Mehdi Haghshenas.


  • Texas Language Center

    University of Texas at Austin
    2505 University Ave, B7800
    BUR 572
    Austin, Texas 78712-1085