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Middle East and North Africa Studies

Middle East Studies Director: Ian Barrow (History)
Phone 802-443-2554

The Middle East and North Africa Studies major highlights the social, historical, political, cultural, and linguistic traditions of this varied region and illuminates the area’s centrality and relevance in today’s world. Transcending the simplistic paradigms which often saturate current news outlets, the major emphasizes and encourages a complex and multi-disciplinary approach towards the study of the region. The major also draws upon and showcases the expertise of our diverse faculty from multiple departments and programs, whose research, publications, and teaching encapsulate the region’s geographic expanse.

As a Middle East and North Africa Studies major, you will be exposed to a rich array of disciplinary and intellectual perspectives. Our curriculum stresses the region’s foundational religious traditions; the historical rise of major Islamic empires; the promises and disruptions of modern colonialism and nationalism; current political conflicts and wars; disputes and negotiations over borders and natural resources;  the rise of diasporic and refugee communities; and the region’s cultural richness in poetry, literature, linguistics, religious practices, and even food.

Finally, Middle East and North Africa Studies majors develop advanced proficiency in either Arabic or Hebrew through coursework at Middlebury College and at one of the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad in the Middle East.


Introduction to International and Global Studies. Students must take IGST 0101 before studying abroad. IGST 0101 is not open to seniors except for those who declared the major as sophomores and spent the fall semester of their junior year abroad. Students who declare their major as a sophomore but have not taken IGST 0101, and plan to study abroad for only one semester must take it in the fall of their junior year prior to going abroad.

Regional specialization. Five courses on the Middle East and/or North Africa in at least three departments (at least one of which should be in Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science or Sociology). At least three regional courses must be taken at Middlebury. See available courses here.

Global Courses. Three global courses from the Global list; only one can be at the 0100 level. These global courses are thematic, trans-regional, emphasize connectivity of places and the circulation of ideas and phenomena. Except for students who study abroad an entire year, these courses must be taken on the Middlebury College campus.

Language Study. Successful completion of three years of Arabic or Modern Hebrew or its equivalent. Students who choose Modern Hebrew must be willing to pursue language study beyond Middlebury, if the College’s Hebrew program is unable to offer a full range of advanced courses.

Study Abroad. Students studying Arabic must study at least one semester at one of the Middlebury C.V. Starr Schools Abroad in the Middle East and North Africa:

The School in Jordan (The University of Jordan, Amman) - Arabic

The School in Morocco (Mohammed V University, Rabat) - Arabic

Students studying Hebrew must study abroad at a pre-approved university in Israel. Students who study abroad in Israel must have successfully completed a minimum of three semesters of Hebrew at Middlebury and are required to take the Ulpan in Israel. 

Students studying abroad in the Middle East and North Africa should visit the Schools Abroad web page.

Students who study abroad for one semester may count up to two courses toward the major and those who study abroad for a full year may count up to four. Major credit will be granted, pending approval, upon the student’s return from abroad. For regional courses, approval is granted by the track director and for global courses by the IGS director. Students should share the syllabi and all written work for all courses they wish to count with the track or program director, respectively.

For the class of 2022, 2022.5, 2023 and 2023.5 only: in lieu of study abroad, students will take a minimum of two additional language courses at the 300 level and above.

Senior Program. The senior program consists of: (1) a senior IGST seminar at 400-level or with permission of IGS director, a thematic senior seminar in a department  and (2) an upper-level course, preferably two, in Arabic or Hebrew after returning from abroad. The language departments determine which courses fulfill this requirement, in consultation with the program director.

Honors. Students who seek to graduate with Honors may elect to write a two-term senior honors thesis. Students are eligible to write an honors thesis if they have a 3.5 GPA or better in all courses that count for the major. These include all language courses, all regional courses, all global courses, all courses taken abroad, and all courses with an IGST designation. Thesis grades do not count in the calculation of the GPA for honors. Thesis guidelines and procedures can be found at go/igsthesis.

To assist you in tracking the completion of your requirements, please meet with your advisor to complete and submit the advising wizard for your track.