Middle East Studies Master of Arts

The Master of Arts in Middle East Studies program at the Elliott School of International Affairs has become one of the most exciting and fascinating places to study an exciting and fascinating region. Our reputation as a center for serious scholarship and critical policy research has garnered national and international recognition. We have been named a National Resource Center and designated recipient of the federally-funded FLAS language fellowship program, received a major endowment gift to help fund student research and important policy and academic programming, and become the hub of the country’s leading organization for political scientists specializing in the region (the Project on Middle East Political Science).

Subscribe to the Elliott School’s email list to learn more about the Master of Arts in Middle East Studies program, including how to register for an upcoming Elliott School information session.


graphic: a folded map of Europe and Africa with the Middle East countries darkened



What You'll Study 

The M.A. in Middle East Studies program is highly interdisciplinary with courses in anthropology, history, politics, religion, geography, as well as Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian to ensure that our students develop a well-rounded understanding of the region and can function in a multilingual globalized work environment. In consultation with the program director, each student will develop a program of study that includes a professional specialization based on the student's specific academic and career interests.

Program of Study






How to Apply 


When you're ready to apply to the master's program, you will need to follow the graduate admissions process, including completing and submitting the online application with all of the required materials.


There are also certain prerequisites that applicants must meet to be able to apply to the program. 



Academic coursework in an approved Middle Eastern language, which will prepare students to complete the program’s language requirement*, is required at the time of application. This can be demonstrated by:

  • Study that is equal to four semesters of university-level coursework or equivalent.
  • Completion of formal language training as part of employment (ex. Peace Corps, JET, etc.).
  • Growing up in a household where the language is spoken.

Approved languages for the M.A. in Middle East Studies are: Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic), Persian, Hebrew, Kurdish, and Turkish.

*Students need to have a strong foundation in a foreign language before enrolling to be successful in completing the language requirement during the program.



Affiliated Institute

photo: text, The George Washington University, The Elliott School of International Affairs, Institute for Middle East Studies, photo of the Institute's door

Our Institute for Middle East Studies strongly supports our students by offering research opportunities abroad, event series on campus, and other resources.  As a designated National Resource Center by the United States Department of Education, the Institute of Middle East Studies has been recognized for its cutting-edge scholarly work and unique ability to influence policy-makers and opinion leaders in the DC area. As home to the Project on Middle East Political Science, the premiere network of political scientists studying the region, we regularly host the top experts in the field. Our wide range of events offers both intellectual engagement and unparalleled networking opportunities. The Middle East Policy Forum, run by Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm, brings major political figures from the U.S. and the Arab world to GW.



The MES capstone program is a particularly exciting part of our curriculum. This is a two-member, policy-oriented project carried out under the guidance of one of GW’s faculty members or an approved outside expert. Most students conduct short fieldwork trips abroad during winter or spring break with financial support from the Institute for Middle East Studies. Recent graduates have completed significant papers on everything from political parties and religious education to drug-smuggling, and their research has taken them to cities across the region, including Algiers, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Amman, Irbil, Rabat, Tunis, Muscat, Kuwait City, Manama, and Jerusalem.


Language Training Support 

IMES Grants are available to assist students in undertaking an in-country course of language study.

“I chose the M.A. in MES at the Elliott School for the excellent faculty, small program size, location, resources, and other unique opportunities that come up in DC. The program has also enabled me to learn Arabic, pursue research opportunities with professors, and has provided opportunities for internships in DC.”

Josh Kaye



Where You'll Go 

graphic: pie chart, 27% private, 18% public, 45% non-profit, 10% other Middle East Studies



Our graduates continue to pursue a wide variety of exciting careers in diplomacy and public service, business, security, conflict resolution, development and public health. For 2016 graduates, the top employers included: 

  • BAE Systems
  • Exiger Diligence
  • FTI Consulting
  • Gemini Global LLC
  • McLarty Associates
  • USAID/OFfice of Foreign Disaster Assistance
  • U.S. Department of State
  • U.S. Senate

While you study with us and even once you leave, we'll provide you with resources and support to help you get the job you've always wanted post-graduation. From career counseling, workshops, site visits and information sessions, The Graduate Student Career Development Center has a variety of tools and tips to get you to where you want to be. 



"My experience in the Middle East Studies program has been great. The program has offered me a variety of opportunities, and has guided me with both my academic and professional endeavors."

Aram Mohammadi


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