Middle East Studies Major

The Middle East studies major helps students understand the forces that shape this dynamic region through an exploration of religion, politics, economics, culture, history, and geography.

This major builds upon the same multi-disciplinary core found in the International Affairs degree and moves quickly to focus on unique topics central to the Middle East. After four years of study, successful students will have knowledge of a modern regional language and the basic intellectual tools they need to understand the region's history and contemporary dynamics. Students are encouraged to study in the Middle East through one of GW's formal partnerships with a regional university or their own self-designed study abroad program.


Foundation (3 Credits)

IAFF 2040 Basic Topics in International Affairs: Middle East – An International Affairs Survey

Foreign Language (Credits will vary)

Students must prove 3rd year proficiency in a modern regional language (Arabic, Hebrew or Persian) by examination or coursework. For information on fulfilling the requirement by completing the Elliott School foreign language examination, please contact your academic advisor. For beginners, the coursework option generally requires the completion of six semesters of language study.  For those with substantial previous study in a modern regional language, the coursework option is considered fulfilled upon successful completion of one of the courses marked by an asterisk (*) below.

» Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations


ARAB 1001, 1002, 2001, 2002, 3001, [3301*, 3302*, or 3311*]
– or –
ARAB 1201, 1202, 2201, 3201, [3301*, 3302*, or 3311*]


HEBR 1001, 1002, 2001, 2002, 3001, and [3301* or 3302*]


PERS 1001, 1002, 2001, 2002, 3001, 3002*

Regional Foundation (3 Credits)

Students must take one course from the lists below to gain an understanding of a region of the world outside of the Middle East and the United States.

Select One:


IAFF 2093: Africa: Problems and Prospects
IAFF 2190W: Special Topics: *

  • North Africa and the World

IAFF 3189: Special Topics in African Studies:*

  • Transnational Justice in Africa

ANTH 3708: Cultures of Africa
GEOG 3164: Geography of Africa
HIST 3501: Special Topics in African History *
PSC 2381: Politics of Middle and Southern Africa
PSC 2482: African International Politics


IAFF 2091: East Asia Past and Present
IAFF 3186: Special Topics in Asian Studies: *

  • Development Issues in Southeast Asia
  • History and Politics of South Asia
  • Memory & Reconciliation: Asia
  • Politics and Conflict of South Asia

IAFF 3190: Special Topics in International Affairs: *

  • Human Rights and Democracy in Southeast Asia

ANTH 3703: Cultures of the Pacific
GEOG 3165: Geography of South Asia
HIST 3601: Special Topics in Asian History*

  • Two Koreas: Identities & Divisions
  • World War II in the Asia Pacific
  • History of North Korea
HIST 3640: History of Southeast Asia
HIST 3650: Modern South Asia, 1750-Present
HIST 3840: History of Central Asia
PSC 2369: Comparative Politics of South Asia
PSC 2373: Comparative Politics of South & Southeast Asia
PSC 2475: International Relations of East Asia

Europe and Eurasia

IAFF 2092: Russia and Eastern Europe: An Introduction
IAFF 2094: Europe: International & Domestic Interactions
IAFF 4191WResearch Seminar: Europe
HIST 1121: Europe's War of Ideas 1750-Today
HIST 3101: Special Topics in European History*
HIST 3125: Europe in the 20th Century
HIST 3126: European Integration: A History
HIST 3168: The Two Germanys and the Cold War
HIST 3178: The Making of the Modern Balkans
PSC 2330: Comparative Politics of Western Europe
PSC 2331: Comparative Politics of Central and Eastern Europe

Latin America

IAFF 2090: Latin America: Problems and Promise

IAFF 2190W: Special Topics:*

  • Latin American Populism

IAFF 3187: Special Topics in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies: *

  • Central American and Caribbean Perspectives
  • Political Economy of Latin America

ANTH 3702: Anthropology of Latin America
GEOG 3161: Geography of Latin America
HIST 3701: Special Topics in Latin American History: *

  • Latin America and the World since 1820

HIST 3711: History of Latin America (1820-Present)
PSC 2383: Comparative Politics of Latin America
PSC 2484: International Relations of Latin America

Academic Advisor Approval required for courses not listed here.

Research Methods (3 Credits)

Students must complete one course pertaining to qualitative or quantitative social science research methods.

  • Credit for only one of the following courses may be applied toward a degree: STAT 10511053, or 1111.

  • STAT courses may not be double-counted between the Math requirement and the Research Methods requirement.

Select One:

IAFF 2040: International Affairs Research Methods
ANTH 3531: Methods in Sociocultural Anthropology
ECON 2123: Introduction to Econometrics
GEOG 2104: Introduction to Cartography/GIS
GEOG 2105: Techniques of Spatial Analysis
PSC 2101: Scope and Methods of Political Science
PSYC 2101: Research Methods in Psychology
PUBH 3131: Epidemiology: Measuring Health and Disease
SOC 2101: Social Research Methods
STAT 1051: Introduction to Business & Economic Statistics
STAT 1053: Introduction to Statistics in Social Science
STAT 1111: Business and Economic Statistics I
STAT 2112: Business and Economic Statistics II

Middle Eastern Literature (3 Credits)

Select One 

AH 3113 Islamic Art and Architecture
ARAB 3501 Arabic and Arab Identity
ARAB 3502 Arab Film & Culture in English
ARAB 4001 Genres in Modern Arabic Literature
ARAB 4002 Arabic Narratives through the Ages
HEBR 3101 Modern Hebrew Literary Classics
HEBR 3102 Israeli Society and Culture: Literary Perspectives
HEBR 3301 or 3301W Modern Hebrew Fiction
HEBR 4001 Advanced Hebrew Literature
REL 3432 Persian Sufi Literature East and West

Multi-disciplinary Core (21 Credits)

NOTE: These are not exhaustive lists, and new courses may be added at any time.  If there is a course you would like to count toward one of these requirements that course does not appear on the list below, please consult the MES Program Associate Director.

History (6 Credits)

Select Two:

HIST 2803 The Ancient Near East and Egypt
HIST 3801 Special Topics in Middle East History

  • Jihad: Love & War in Islamic History

HIST 3810 History of the Middle East
HIST 3811 History of the Modern Middle East
HIST 3830: History of Iraq

Economics (3 Credits)

Select One:

ECON 2136 Natural Resources and Environmental Economics
ECON 2151 Economic Development
ECON 2180 Survey of International Economics
ECON 2181 International Trade Theory & Policy
ECON 2182 International Macroeconomics

Political Science (6 Credits)

Select Two:

PSC 2377 Government and Politics of the Middle East
PSC 2379 Israeli Politics and Foreign Policy
PSC 2476 The Arab-Israel Conflict
PSC 2478 International Relations of the Middle East

Religion (6 Credits)

Select Two:

REL 2401 Islam
REL 3405 Shiite Islam
REL 3414 Islamic Philosophy and Theology
REL 3425 Islamic Political Thought
REL 3431 Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)
REL 3432 Persian Sufi Literature East and West
REL 3475 Islamic Religion and Art
REL 3481 Women in Islam
REL 3990 Law & Diplomacy in the Ancient Near East & the Mediterranean

Select two courses related to the Middle East from any discipline, including International Affairs (IAFF) and indicate these courses on a Related Coursework Declaration form P D F file icon.  Submit this form to the MES Program Program Director for an approval signature, and take the signed form to Academic Advising.



Contact Academic Advising

Academic Advising and Student Services
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Washington, DC 20052
Phone: 202-994-3002
Fax: 202-994-9537
Email: advising@gwu.edu

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