BA in Middle East & North Africa Studies

Middle East & North Africa Studies is a major offered by the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies to students enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The interdisciplinary major in Middle East & North Africa (MENA) Studies provides a coherent grounding in the history, cultures, artistic production, and one or more of the languages of the MENA region. (MENA is defined for this purpose as comprising the Arabic-, Hebrew-, Persian-, and Turkish-speaking areas of the world.) MENA Studies capitalizes on BU’s unusually strong offerings in four Middle Eastern languages (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish) and many aspects of Middle Eastern and North African culture and politics. It is designed to be flexible, easily tailored to each student’s particular interests and learning goals, whether those focus on a certain country in the region or a particular transnational issue. MENA Studies works well on its own, in combination with a minor, or as a double major with International Relations or a disciplinary major.

Graduating MENA Studies majors are well prepared for graduate study and for careers in government, local and international non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Majors study one or more MENA languages for a total of at least six semesters; they also develop competence in both humanities and social sciences, and the mini-seminar CAS ME 101 helps them integrate these disciplinary approaches and understand the utility and limits of each. Every student builds a “MENA Portfolio” tracking his or her coursework, language learning milestones, study abroad experiences, and reflections. Seniors may present their research projects at an annual majors’ conference. Discussions with MENA faculty and fellow students help majors understand the disciplinary and other biases most prevalent in the region and how they are often replicated among scholars who study it. Majors thus have a continuous opportunity to explore, deepen, and perhaps revise their pre-existing beliefs and ideas about this contested region.

Study Abroad

BU sponsors four study abroad programs in the MENA region: Rabat, Morocco; Haifa, Israel; Istanbul, Turkey; and an exchange program at the American University in Beirut, Lebanon. It is strongly recommended that students take advantage of one of these programs or pursue another appropriate course of study in the region.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate substantive interdisciplinary knowledge of legal, political, economic, social, cultural, and historical factors influencing international affairs.
  • Display an in-depth understanding of an important functional subfield of the discipline and a major geographical region of the world.
  • Conduct theoretically informed and empirically based analysis of real-world conditions and events and present the results of that analysis persuasively in written and oral forms.


All students entering as freshmen in Fall 2018 and after will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, a general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements are flexible and can be satisfied in many different ways, through coursework in and beyond the major and, in some cases, through co-curricular activities. Students majoring in Middle East & North Africa Studies will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship, as well as some requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation, Scientific and Social Inquiry, Communication, and the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, co-curricular experiences.

MENA Studies majors are required to complete eleven 4-credit courses and a 1-credit mini-seminar with a grade of “C” or higher, as outlined below:

  • CAS ME 101 Issues in Middle East & North Africa Studies (1 cr, mini-seminar)
  • One broad introduction to the region chosen from List A
  • At least three humanities courses chosen from List B
  • At least three social sciences courses chosen from List C
  • Four electives: these may include any from the three lists not used to fulfill the above requirements; language courses from List D as specified below; any other courses on the MENA region (including “topics” courses) offered throughout the University; and/or senior honors work

Majors must fulfill the language requirement as specified below in List D. By petition with advisor’s consent, students may also count relevant courses from Consortium schools and non-BU study abroad programs.

At least three of the 11 courses counted for the major must be at or above the 400 level. At least 7 of the 11 courses for the major must be taken at Boston University (or BU-sponsored Study Abroad programs).

Unless otherwise noted, all courses listed below are 4-credit hours.

List A: Broad Introduction to the Region

One course from List A:

  • CAS AH 220 Islamic Art and Architecture
  • CAS AH 539/AN 548/HI 596/IR 515/RN 563 Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History
  • CAS AN 317 Power and Society in the Middle East
  • CAS AN 319 Anthropology of Muslim Cultures and Politics
  • CAS HI 230 Special Topics in the History of Media
  • CAS HI 382/IR 328 Turko-Persia in the Twentieth Century
  • CAS HI 387 Introduction to the Middle East
  • CAS HI 390 Mecca to Dubai: Cities in the Middle East
  • CAS IR 307/PO 368 Introduction to Middle East Politics
  • CAS IR/GE 382 Understanding the Middle East
  • CAS XL 223 Introduction to Middle Eastern Literatures

List B: Humanities

Three courses from List B:

  • CAS AH 220/AR 232 Islamic Art and Architecture
  • CAS AH 313 Imperial Reflections: Early Modern Islamic Art and Architecture
  • CAS AH 314 After Genghis Khan: Art and Architecture in Central Asia and Iran
  • CAS AH 317 From Morocco to Timbuktu: Art and Architecture at the Saharan Crossroads
  • CAS AH 428 Seminar: Islamic Art
  • CAS AH 539/AN 548/HI 596/RN 563 Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History
  • CAS AH 540 Europe and the Islamic World: Medieval and Early-Modern Cultural Exchange
  • CAS AH 541 Courtly Commissions: Ottoman Art and Architecture
  • CAS AR 342/RN 390 Archaeology in the Holy Land
  • CAS AR 347 Egypt and Northeast Africa: Early States in Egypt, Nubia, Eritrea/Ethiopia
  • CAS LF 456 The Postcolonial Novel
  • CAS LH 250 Masterpieces of Modern Hebrew Literature (in English translation)
  • CAS LH 283 Israeli Culture through Film (in English translation)
  • CAS LH 284 The Culture and Civilization of Modern Israel (in English translation)
  • CAS LH 330 Israeli Popular Music
  • CAS LH 350 Hebrew Narrative: Biblical and Modern
  • CAS LH 351 Styles and Meaning of Hebrew Poetry: Modern Hebrew Poetry
  • CAS LH 453 Israeli Culture through Film
  • CAS LT 281 Istanbul at the Crossroads
  • CAS LT 304 Turkey and the Middle East: A Content-Based Language Course
  • CAS LY 281 Contemporary Arabic Literature: Subversion, Censorship, Exile (in English translation)
  • CAS LY 284 War in Arab Literature and Film (in English translation)
  • CAS LY 350 Introduction to Arabic Literature
  • CAS LY 441 1001 Nights in the World Literary Imagination
  • CAS LY 470 Topics in Arabic Literature
  • CAS LY 471 Topics in Arab Culture and Arabic Language
  • CAS LZ 380 Persian Epic and Romance (in English translation)
  • CAS LZ 381 Rumi and Persian Sufi Poetry (in English translation) (meets with CAS RN 348)
  • CAS RN 104 Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • CAS RN 201 The Hebrew Bible
  • CAS RN 212 Christianity
  • CAS RN 214 Islam
  • CAS RN 216 Judaism
  • CAS RN 220 Holy City: Jerusalem in Time, Space, and Imagination
  • CAS RN 301 Varieties of Early Christianity
  • CAS RN 308 The Open Heaven: Apocalyptic Literature in Early Judaism and Christianity
  • CAS RN 316 Modern Islam
  • CAS RN 323 Classical Jewish Thought
  • CAS RN 331 Zionism and the State of Israel
  • CAS RN 332 Foundations of Jewish Politics
  • CAS RN 334 Dead Sea Scrolls
  • CAS RN 335 Josephus and Ancient Judaism
  • CAS RN 338 Mysticism and Philosophy: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives
  • CAS RN 340 The Quran
  • CAS RN 341 Islamic Mysticism: Sufism
  • CAS RN 344 Islam and the West
  • CAS RN 345 Islamic Law
  • CAS RN 347 Islamic Theology and Philosophy
  • CAS RN 434 Representations of Muhammad
  • CAS RN 435 Women, Gender, and Islam
  • CAS XL 223 Introduction to Middle Eastern Literatures
  • CAS XL 342 Travel Writing and the Muslim World
  • CAS XL 343 Alexander the Great in the East
  • CAS XL 386 Africa on Screen

List C: Social Sciences

Three courses from List C:

  • CAS AH 539/AN 548/HI 596/IR 515/RN 563 Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History
  • CAS AN 307 Turkey and Middle East in Comparative Perspective
  • CAS AN 317 Power and Society in the Middle East
  • CAS AN 319 Anthropology of Muslim Cultures and Politics
  • CAS AN 320 Women in the Muslim World
  • CAS AN 327 Islam in Africa
  • CAS AN 525 Ritual and Political Identity
  • CAS AN 532 Literacy and Islam in Africa
  • CAS AR 209 The Near Eastern Bronze Age
  • CAS AR 221 Archaeology of the Islamic World
  • CAS AR 341 Archaeology of Mesopotamia
  • CAS AR 342/RN 390 Archaeology in the Holy Land
  • CAS AR 343 Anatolian Archaeology
  • CAS AR 348 Gods, Graves, and Pyramids: Ancient Egyptian Religion and Rituals
  • CAS AR 532 Studies in Archaeology of the Near and Middle East
  • CAS HI 176 World History after 1500
  • CAS HI 213/RN 208 Sacred and Secular Power in Christianity and Islam
  • CAS HI 354E/RN 346E History, Islam, and Politics in the MENA (Rabat Program)
  • CAS HI 378 Armenia from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • CAS HI 379 Modern Armenian History and Literature
  • CAS HI 381/IR 397 History of Modern Iran, 1900–Present
  • CAS HI 382/IR 328 Turko-Persia in the Twentieth Century
  • CAS HI 385/IR 329 History of Premodern Iran
  • CAS HI 387 Introduction to the Middle East
  • CAS HI 389 Americans and the Middle East
  • CAS HI 390 Mecca to Dubai: Cities in the Middle East
  • CAS HI 392 Israel: History, Politics, Culture, Identity
  • CAS HI 393 Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  • CAS HI 484 Revolutionary Change in North Africa and the Middle East
  • CAS HI 485 Selected Problems in the Modern Middle East
  • CAS HI 486 Islamic History
  • CAS HI 591/IR 591 The Making of the Modern Middle East
  • CAS HI 592 The Birth of a State: Israel 1945-1955
  • CAS HI 593 Youth on the Agenda: Roles and Images of Young People in the Jewish Nation
  • CAS HI 595 Morocco: History on the Cusp of Three Continents
  • CAS HI 596/AH 539/AN 548/RN 563 Muslim Societies: An Interdisciplinary History
  • CAS IR 307/PO 368 Introduction to Middle East Politics
  • CAS IR 325/HI 229 The Great Powers and the Eastern Mediterranean
  • CAS IR 382/GE 382 Understanding the Middle East
  • CAS IR 383/PO 376 Understanding Modern North Africa
  • CAS IR 503/PO 503 The U.S. in the Middle East
  • CAS IR 504/PO 577 Seminar: The Persian Gulf/Arabian Peninsula
  • CAS IR 507 Islam and Politics
  • CAS IR 508 Islamic Political Movements and U.S. Policy
  • CAS IR 509/ PO 556 Islam in Middle East Politics
  • CAS IR 511 The Middle East Today
  • CAS IR 558/PO 540 Turkey and the European Union: The History and Contemporary Aspects of Turkey’s European Path
  • CAS IR 561/PO 589/RN 561 Religion and International Relations
  • CAS IR 587 Political Economy of the Middle East
  • CAS PO 570 Politics and Society in North Africa and the Middle East
  • KHC HI 101 War for the Greater Middle East

List D: Middle Eastern Language Courses (requirement and language courses as electives)

At least six semesters of Middle Eastern (ME) language courses are required, unless the student enters with background in a ME language (Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish). All majors must demonstrate fourth-semester proficiency (by completing L_ 212 or higher) in one ME language, as well as taking at least two ME language courses past 212 or in a different language. Students who are certified bilingual in one ME language must complete two semesters of courses in a different ME language or languages.

Courses at the CAS 212 level or higher in the student’s first ME language, and at the 112 level or higher in a second or subsequent ME language, may also be counted as electives for the major.


  • CAS LY 111 Elementary Modern Arabic I
  • CAS LY 112 Elementary Modern Arabic II
  • CAS LY 211 Second-Year Modern Arabic I
  • CAS LY 212 Second-Year Modern Arabic II
  • CAS LY 214 Levantine Arabic
  • CAS LY 303 Third-Year Modern Arabic I
  • CAS LY 304 Third-Year Modern Arabic II
  • CAS LY 403 Advanced Arabic I
  • CAS LY 404 Advanced Arabic II
  • CAS LY 420 Media Arabic
  • CAS LY 572 Arabic Translation and Interpreting


  • CAS LH 111 Fundamentals of Modern Hebrew 1
  • CAS LH 112 Fundamentals of Modern Hebrew 2
  • CAS LH 117 Biblical Hebrew 1
  • CAS LH 139 Intensive First-Year Hebrew
  • CAS LH 211 Intermediate Modern Hebrew 1
  • CAS LH 212 Intermediate Modern Hebrew 2
  • CAS LH 311 Advanced Modern Hebrew: Voices in Israeli Society
  • CAS LH 312 Sixth-Semester Hebrew
  • CAS LH 320 Readings in Classical Hebrew
  • CAS LH 330 Israeli Popular Music

Persian (Farsi):

  • CAS LZ 111 First-Semester Modern Persian (Farsi)
  • CAS LZ 112 Second-Semester Modern Persian (Farsi)
  • CAS LZ 211 Third-Semester Modern Persian (Farsi)
  • CAS LZ 212 Fourth-Semester Modern Persian (Farsi)
  • CAS LZ 311 Advanced Persian 1


  • CAS LT 111 First-Semester Turkish
  • CAS LT 112 Second-Semester Turkish
  • CAS LT 211 Third-Semester Turkish
  • CAS LT 212 Fourth-Semester Turkish
  • CAS LT 303 Advanced Turkish I
  • CAS LT 304 Turkey and the Middle East: A Content-Based Language Course


Majors take four electives chosen from any of the courses in lists A–C, senior honors, or Middle Eastern language courses as specified directly above.

Honors in the Major

Honors in the MENA Studies major may be earned by completing two semesters of independent senior honors work and presenting an original research paper (thesis) in written and oral form to a committee of faculty readers. The committee will consider both the thesis and the result of the oral examination to determine whether the student will receive honors in the major. A grade of B+ or better in each semester is also required to receive honors. While it will normally require two on-campus semesters of research and writing, in special cases a one-semester honors project can grow out of research begun during a semester of study abroad or service learning in the MENA region. Students doing honors work will present their work at an annual symposium to which all Middle East faculty and fellow majors will be invited.