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The M.A. Program in Middle Eastern Studies requires 30 credits of approved graduate work, including acceptable transfer credits.

Required Courses

Students must take two required foundational courses, MES 71000: Approaches to the Study of the Middle East, and MES 73000: History of the Modern Middle East. The courses are offered each once annually and should be taken ideally during a student’s first year in the Program.

Elective Courses

Other than the required foundational courses and the Capstone Project or Thesis, students take seven elective courses. These may be MAMES courses or cross-listed Middle East-related courses offered through one of the Graduate Center’s PhD Programs or one of the MA programs of CUNY’s colleges (with the appropriate program’s permission)

Capstone Project

Students who choose to undertake a Capstone Project as their culminating graduation requirement   enroll in the Capstone Seminar under a directing faculty member. The Seminar enables students to integrate and synthesize the knowledge of the Middle East that they have developed during their previous study into a culminating applied final project. This may include, but is not limited to, an artistic or documentary video, source or archival directory, academic paper synthesizing secondary sources, artistic performance whether live or recorded, exhibition, literary or cultural criticism, report on service, or computer application. Students will be encouraged to draw interactively on Middle Eastern and diasporic resources in and around New York City: museums, collections, archives, research and policy institutions, neighborhood cultural programs and centers, religious institutions, political and media organizations, and related cultural and intellectual events. Each Capstone student will present his/her completed project to the MAMES Program faculty and student body.

MA Thesis

Students who had been approved to write an MA Thesis as their culminating MAMES project, conceptualize, research, and write, under the supervision of a selected faculty member, a ca. 10,000-word piece of work featuring original research.

Meet with the Program Advisor
At the very beginning of the term preceding that in which the thesis is to be researched and written, meet the Program’s Deputy Director/Advisor to discuss your plan and to seek the Program’s approval to pursue this track. You will be expected to have a GPA of 3.7 and ideally to have written a substantial research paper that can be revised and expanded into a thesis. Once you have secured the Program’s approval to pursue the thesis track, seek the agreement of a selected MAMES faculty member to be your Thesis Advisor, and begin preparatory work for the project under his/her guidance.

Thesis Proposal
In consultation with your thesis advisor, write a ca. 1200-word Thesis Proposal in which you (a) present a thesis question(s) and explain how they relate to existing scholarly discussion of the proposed topic, (b) discuss your proposed research methodology, and (c) discuss anticipated key arguments or findings. In addition, construct a separate research bibliography. The purpose of the proposal and bibliography is to document that you are on track to conduct a tenable scholarly project.

Submission for Approval
The Thesis Proposal and bibliography, with an attached approval form that your Thesis Advisor has signed, must be submitted to the Program’s Director for approval by the end of the term before that in which the thesis will be written (May 20 for a Fall Term Thesis and December 10 for one to be written in the Spring Term). Once approved, the signed proposal is deposited with the Program, and you will be cleared to enroll in MES 79000: Thesis Supervision under the supervision of your selected Advisor (typically in your last term in the Program).

Research involving human subjects (e.g. ethnography, interviews) requires Internal Review Board (IRB) approval. Follow the instructions of the Office of Sponsored Research about how to secure that approval.
Depositing your Thesis
Before depositing, your thesis must be signed off by your thesis advisor and, three working days before the deadline for depositing, by MAMES Director. For instructions on formatting the thesis and on depositing procedures and deadlines, see the Mina Rees Library Dissertations and Theses Page. Make sure you review the instructions and begin the depositing process at least two weeks before the deadline. You may also set up a preliminary review meeting at the Library’s Dissertation Office (room 2304).

Deposit Deadlines

For Degree Date Enrollment Required Deposit Required By
February 1 Preceding Fall term Last business day in January
May/June Commencement Spring term April 30
October 1 Preceding Spring term September 15

Language Requirements

Before graduating, students must achieve upper intermediate proficiency (two years of study at a university accredited in the US, or equivalent) in a Middle Eastern language (such as Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish; other languages will be considered in consultation with a Program advisor). Students may demonstrate the required proficiency by passing a credit bearing fourth semester language course at CUNY or another accredited university, or through a qualifying exam to be arranged by MAMES.

If you have not achieved the required level of proficiency before matriculating, you may do so during your MA studies, though note that in accordance with Graduate Center policy, first and second year language courses do not count towards the 30 required MA credits. CUNY colleges currently offer regular (day-time) courses only in Arabic and Hebrew. Please consult with a Program advisor about other language-study opportunities that may be available in NYC or elsewhere during the academic year or via summer language programs in the US and abroad.

Internship Program

Our Internship Program aims to allow students to hold internships with entities or institutions whose activities are closely related to the Middle East, where they can apply their academic and linguistic experience, interact with and serve Middle Eastern communities, begin to devise a Capstone Project, expand their professional network, and develop skills relevant to future professional employment. Past internship sites have included Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Arab-American Family Support Center, Seeds for Peace, The New York Immigration Coalition, the Clinton Foundation, and the Islamic Art Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Subject to consultations with a Program Advisor, and with the approval of the Executive Officer, interns will enroll in MES 77000 through which their internship (involving ca. 150 hours work) will be counted as a one-semester, three credit experience. For students undertaking such a professionally oriented internship, quality control will be assured via a detailed log maintained and submitted to the faculty member supervising the internship at monthly intervals. In addition, the internship process is completed by a certifying exit questionnaire evaluating the student’s performance that the intern’s workplace manager will submit to the supervising faculty member.