Arabic and Islamic Studies at Georgetown
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The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, institutional home to four of the most distinguished programs at Georgetown University:
• The Undergraduate Programs in Arabic
• The M.A and Ph.D. Programs in Arabic and Islamic Studies
• The Division of Eastern Mediterranean Languages (Hebrew, Persian, Turkish)
Although we teach four languages in the department, Arabic remains at the center of what we do. Indeed, the need for area-studies specialists with advanced proficiency in Arabic has never been greater or more compelling. As Americans struggle to build a better understanding of the Arab world, its society, its religion, and its culture, we have continued to develop a determined and vigorous long-term strategy to create and maintain linguistic and cultural expertise among our students. Arabic is the native language of over 200 million people in 20 different countries as well as the liturgical language for over a billion Muslims. It is a member of the Semitic language family and has a long and distinguished literary and intellectual tradition. It is now a key factor in understanding and negotiating crucial contemporary global issues. In accordance with Georgetown’s Jesuit ethos, we stress knowledge of Arabic as a path to living altruistically and creatively in a globally-integrated world.
Our Undergraduate Programs support the largest Arabic enrollment of any university in the U.S. We work closely with undergraduates to create an understanding of the Arab world through the highest-quality teaching of Arabic language and culture. A particular goal of this department at the undergraduate level is to help students reach advanced levels of communicative competence (proficiency) in both spoken and written Arabic.
Despite the rapid growth of the past few years, our department remains student centered, and Arabic majors have advisers who guide them through their studies from the day they arrive on campus. Arabic majors may also qualify for the Sultan Qaboos bin Said Scholarship, a financial aid opportunity designed especially for them. We also offer an accelerated Master’s degree program for qualified undergraduate students.
We have an active study abroad program with sites in Egypt, Morocco, and other Arab countries, and summer programs in Alexandria, Doha, and Ifrane. Additionally, the Washington area offers opportunities for activities involving Arab embassies and other Arab and Middle Eastern organizations. Our students often arrange internships with government agencies or non-profit organizations that focus on the Arab world and the Middle East.
Georgetown was first in the country to establish its M.A and Ph.D. Programs in Arabic Literature, Language and Linguistics. Our Arabic faculty are top-notch, engaged in active research projects on dialectology, linguistics, Islamic studies, as well as classical and contemporary Arabic literature. Our graduates go on to successful careers in academia, government and the policy world.
The department recently established a Ph.D. Program in Islamic Studies seeks to advance knowledge and understanding of classical and modern Islamic religious thought and Islamic textual traditions, and to provide understanding of Islamic culture and intellectual history in the pre-modern and modern periods. The program offers undergraduate and graduate training in the study of the history, religion, culture, society, languages, literatures, and thought of the Islamic world, and introduces students to the traditional and modern scholarly approaches to the study of Islam.
The Islamic Studies Ph.D. program at Georgetown combines all the disciplines that traditionally informed the study of Islam in the US: philology, Biblical studies, history, religious studies, and area studies. Moreover, the program complements the world-renowned strength of Georgetown faculty in modern Islamic studies by providing solid grounding in the study of Islam in the classical period. The existing strength of the Arabic program at Georgetown, as well as the superb quality and professional standing of the Georgetown faculty with expertise in the study of Islam, makes Georgetown an ideal place for pursuing a doctoral degree in Islamic Studies.
The Division of Eastern Mediterranean Languages is where instruction in Hebrew, Persian and Turkish takes place. Under the direction of dedicated, active faculty, these programs have been growing steadily in recent years, preparing undergraduates and graduate students for study and work across the Middle East. With increased funding, we look forward to developing our strengths in these fields even more. In this regard, please look for new courses, including Ottoman Turkish and Media Persian, in the coming semesters.
Finally, as our undergraduate and graduate students quickly learn, the strengths of the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies are greatly amplified by the fact that Georgetown is the home to the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) and the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU), research centers that offer degree programs, lectures, and coursework on a wide range of topics concerning the Arab world.

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