Director of Graduate Studies
B041 New Cabell Hall
MESALC’s multi-disciplinary MA degree is intended for students seeking graduate-level training in Middle Eastern or South Asian languages and an in-depth knowledge of the Middle East (including North Africa) or South Asia. It has been used by our students either as a stepping stone to a PhD program or as a way to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for government or non-government work. The MA program in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies emphasizes language skills and cultural knowledge and sensitivity. We try to help students get to the point of being able to understand these parts of the world from the inside.
Students choose a regional focus (either the Middle East or South Asia) and a regional language (either Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Hindi, Urdu, or Sanskrit). Those accepted into the Middle East side of the program with an interest in Arabic need at least a second-year proficiency in the language, but students focusing on Persian or Hebrew may apply without previous language study. No previous language training is required for those accepted into the South Asia side of the program.
Students in Middle Eastern Studies will attain at least a third-year competency in Arabic or at least a second-year competency in Persian or Hebrew. Students in South Asian Studies will attain at least a second-year competency in Hindi, Urdu, or Sanskrit. Both Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies students will complete a total of 30 course credits, including nine graduate-level courses in their regional focus (27 credits in courses numbered 5000 or above, selected with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies), and fulfill all the requirements for MESA 8995, a 3-credit research seminar (that students will normally take in the final semester of their program), including a Masters Paper (on a topic determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies). This degree is intended to take two years, but students may be able to complete it in less time, provided they are able to fulfill all the requirements. Students who study the full four semesters will have enough room in their schedules to fulfill the requirements for a certificate if desired. Certificates are possible in the following areas: Africana Studies, American Studies, Digital Humanities, Environmental Humanities, and Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Applicants must satisfy the general admission requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. For applicants concentrating in Middle Eastern Studies with Arabic as their language, two years of successful study at the college level in Arabic are required. For applicants concentrating in Middle Eastern Studies with Persian or Hebrew as their language, no previous study is required. For applicants concentrating in South Asian Studies no previous language study is required. In addition, acceptance into the MA program in MESALC will depend upon the applicant's undergraduate performance and promise of future success.
If you are eligible to apply to the Bridge to the Doctorate program, you are encouraged to do so. This program is only for US citizens and permanent residents who are under-represented, either in universities generally or in their particular field, and whose undergraduate career has not prepared them for study at the PhD level. This program provides Bridge Fellows with substantial funding for two years, but it does not usually result in the conferral of a graduate degree. For full information on this program, please see the Bridge to the Doctorate Program website.
Current UVA undergraduates who wish to enroll in a master’s program in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences may do so through the Masters Promotion route. On the basis of the faculty’s direct experience with such applicants during their period of undergraduate enrollment, the Graduate School will waive all formal application requirements, including the application fee. Students who successfully completed courses offered through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, that is, at the 5000 level or above, may count up to six credits of such coursework toward a master’s degree as long as those credits were not used to fulfill requirements for the undergraduate degree. Therefore, any student thinking of applying for Masters Promotion is encouraged to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies as early as his or her third year.
To apply officially through the Masters Promotion route to the MA Program in Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, the applicant is to provide to the Director of Graduate Studies:
a personal statement
a writing sample, and
an unofficial transcript
In addition, the applicant must have a faculty member who knows the student well provide a letter of recommendation. That faculty member need not be in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures.
- Successful completion of the second year of the student's chosen language (Persian, Hebrew, and South Asian languages) or successful completion of the third year of Arabic;
- 27 credits from regional studies courses at the 5000-level or above (selected with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies) that satisfy the following distribution requirements (note that third-year Arabic language courses do not count toward these requirements nor do the first two years of study in any other language):
- 3 credits from a course on the history of the region;
- 3 credits from a course on religion in the region;
- 3 credits from a course on the politics of the region;
- 3 credits from an upper-level literature course related to the region; and
- 15 credits of further study of the language, the region, or one's primary discipline. These courses will be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, who meets with every student at least once per semester.
- MESA 8995, the MA research seminar, which guides you through the research and writing of an MA Paper (on a topic to be determined in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies).
Potential Curricula for MA Students in Middle Eastern Studies
This sample curriculum assumes that an incoming student has an interest in Arabic and has already completed two years of college-level Arabic.
|Year 1, Semester 1||Year 1, Semester 2|
|ARAB 5010||ARAB 5020|
|HIME 7011||HIME 7021|
|RELI 5400||ARAB 5240|
|Year 2, Semester 1||Year 2, Semester 2|
|ARAB 5830||ARAB 5840|
|PLIR 7650||PETR 5220|
|PLCP 5410||MESA 8995|
Potential Curricula for MA Students in South Asian Studies
This sample curriculum assumes that an incoming student has an interest in Urdu but no previous study of the language.
|Year 1, Semester 1||Year 1, Semester 2|
|URDU 1010||URDU 1020|
|HISA 5021||RELH 5053|
|SATR 5110||PLCP 8561|
|SAST 6071||SATR 7300|
|Year 2, Semester 1||Year 2, Semester 2|
|URDU 2010||URDU 2020|
|HISA 7011||HISA 9021|
|ANTH 5620||MESA 8995|
Instructions for Applying for Graduate Study in MESALC
Applications are now being accepted for graduate study toward an MA degree in Middle Eastern or South Asian Studies at the University of Virginia. The deadline for submitting your application (with all supporting materials) is 1 May, but we will consider any applications that come in before then, and we encourage early applications.
The following procedures obtain for submitting an application:
- Begin by going to the Admissions Website for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).
- To use the GSAS online application system, you must first set up an account. Where the account registration form asks for "Academic Department/Program," click the DOWN arrow and select "Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies (MA)."
- Then complete the application form online. Some tips:
- Specialization and Application Semester: In the section called Application Information, you will again need to elect the Intended Program and Degree ("Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies (MA)"). This time you will also need to select "Not Applicable" for the Specialization box (since our degree does not have separate specializations.
- Recommendation Letters: The online application system REQUIRES you to put in information about (at least) two references (writers of recommendation letters).
- Writing sample: This does not have to be in the field of Middle Eastern or South Asian Studies. Give us a five to ten page example of your best academic writing.