Program of Study (CAS Bulletin)

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (2016 - 2018)

Major: General Requirements

The Middle Eastern and Islamic studies (MEIS) major requires ten 4-point courses (40 points) completed with a grade of C or better. (Courses graded pass/fail cannot count toward the requirements of the major.) The major consists of two components: (1) language study and (2) non-language courses. All MEIS majors must complete at least six non-language courses (24 points); the number of language courses required for the major depends on one’s beginning level of proficiency in the language chosen for study, but could be as many as four. Students who take fewer than four language courses must take more than the minimum of six non-language courses, so as to complete a full ten courses in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.

Language Study Required for the Major

To obtain the B.A. degree with a Middle Eastern and Islamic studies (MEIS) major, students must meet the College of Arts and Science (CAS) language requirement in Arabic, Hindi, Persian, Turkish, or Urdu. This means (1) studying one of these languages through at least the intermediate two level (four semesters) at NYU, (2) demonstrating the completion of approved and equivalent course work elsewhere, or (3) satisfying the CAS language requirement by taking the CAS placement exam in one of these languages.

Under exceptional circumstances, the director of undergraduate studies may exempt a student from having to fulfill the language requirement, in which case the student will be required to take ten MEIS non-language courses to complete the major. In any event, every student must always complete at least ten MEIS-approved courses to satisfy requirements for the major.

Non-Language Course Requirements for the Major

In addition to the language requirement, majors must successfully complete at least six MEIS courses distributed across distinct fields. The six MEIS courses are to be distributed as follows.

Two core courses: To ensure broad knowledge of issues in the discipline, all majors must take two “core courses” among their six non-language courses. It is recommended that students take these courses before they take seminars and topics courses. Core courses are as follows:

  • MEIS-UA 690: The Emergence of the Modern Middle East (History)
  • MEIS-UA 697: Palestine, Zionism, and Israel (History)
  • MEIS-UA 711: Literature and Society in the Middle East (Literature)
  • MEIS-UA 728: Women and Gender in Islam (Religion)
  • MEIS-UA 750: Middle East Politics (Elective)

The department may choose to designate additional courses as core courses and will announce them accordingly. Core courses must be taken at Washington Square and cannot be taken while studying away at an NYU global academic center.

One topics/seminar course: Among the six non-language courses, all majors must also take at least one advanced undergraduate seminar; MEIS often offers these under the “topics” rubric (e.g. MEIS-UA 688: Topics in Middle East History). With permission, this requirement may be fulfilled with a graduate seminar.

Distribution fields: All majors must take their six non-language courses (including the core and topics courses) in a manner that is distributed across departmental fields as follows:

  • Two courses from the MEIS history list
  • One course from the MEIS literature list
  • One course from the MEIS religion list
  • Two elective courses from the MEIS course list of the student’s choice


Students who wish to minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies must complete either:

  • four non-language courses (16 points) with a C or better, including one of the core courses listed above (the courses must be offered or cross-listed by MEIS and approved by the director of undergraduate studies or a MEIS adviser);
  • or four courses (16 points) with a C or better in Arabic, Persian, or Turkish, provided that these courses are not also used to satisfy the CAS foreign language requirement

Only the non-language minor can be used to satisfy the Expressive Culture requirement of the College Core Curriculum.

Policy on Transfer and NYU Study Away (Global) Credits (Major and Minor)

After consultation with the director of undergraduate studies, transfer students may be allowed to apply up to five transfer courses (20 points) toward the major or up to two transfer courses (8 points) toward the minor. At least half of the major and minor courses must always be completed in CAS.

NYU study away/Global courses (e.g., NYU Abu Dhabi) may be considered and treated as transfer credits, even for students matriculated in CAS. Majors and minors in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies should discuss their study away plans with the director of undergraduate studies.


MEIS majors may, with permission of the director of undergraduate studies, pursue an internship for 2 or 4 points (MEIS-UA 980, 981). The application form is available in the MEIS Office.

Honors Program

Any student majoring in the department who has spent at least two full years in residence at the College of Arts and Science, has completed at least 60 points of graded work in the College, and has both a cumulative and a major GPA of 3.65 may apply to pursue honors in the MEIS major. The requirements are:

  • Complete all major requirements (above)
  • Complete at least two graduate-level courses with a GPA of 3.0 (these courses may be used to satisfy part of the major requirements)
  • Write an honors paper of 50 to 60 double-spaced, typed pages under the supervision of an MEIS faculty member, for which up to 4 points of independent study credit may be awarded (MEIS-UA 997, 998). The subject of the honors paper and the faculty supervisor are chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.


The department offers the following awards for excellence:

  • The Rumi-Biruni Prize, for excellence in Persian studies
  • The Evliya Chelebi Prize, for excellence in Turkish studies
  • The Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Prize, presented to a graduating senior in the honors program
  • The Ibn Khaldun Prize, for excellence in Arabic studies
  • The Premchand Prize, for excellence in Hindi and Urdu studies

Minor in South Asian Studies

The minor in South Asian Studies (SAS) is housed in the Department of History. Please see the section on the SAS minor in this Bulletin.