- Global Careers
The Middle East Studies (MES) program offers a comprehensive approach to study of the region. It covers topics such as failing states, petrostates, political transitions, economic development, state-to-state conflict and nuclear proliferation, as well as religions, ethnicity and tribalism. Middle East Studies courses take a historical and theoretical approach to study of regional issues and topics. A few courses focus on particular countries, such as Iran and Egypt, but a majority explore broad regional or topical questions. The geographic range spans from Morocco to Iran to Turkey to Somalia.
To learn more view our latest program newsletter:
HOLISTIC. The Middle East Studies (MES) concentration is designed to integrate with the other components of a Johns Hopkins SAIS education: language, economics, and a functional minor or double concentration. We offer “bridge courses” that enable students to minor or dual concentrate in other concentrations including Conflict Management, Global Theory and History, and Energy Resources and the Environment. Students can complete proficiency in Arabic, Farsi, or Hindi/Urdu.
PROFESSIONAL. The MA degree with a concentration in Middle East Studies for many is a terminal degree, meaning that by graduation you will be prepared to enter a career in international relations and/or international economics, and specialize in the Middle East region. Students’ career choices after graduating vary considerably, with positions spanning from public sector, to international multilaterals, consulting, and program management for NGOs.
COMMUNITY. The Middle East program is, by design, a space where everyone can socially interact with everyone else. First, that means a relatively small program of 30 to 40 students. We take great pride in that our students, while very diverse in origins and sometimes divided on policy preferences, are first and foremost engaged in our intellectual community, civil and respectful of each other, focused on facts, thoughtful analysis and scholarship.
WASHINGTONIAN. Johns Hopkins SAIS' Washington location is in one of the epicenters (if not ‘the’ epicenter) of international relations and policymaking. Think-tanks, adjuncts, and countless events are all at your fingertips. The school is located in Dupont Circle, and our next door neighbors on 'think-tank row' are the Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and the Peterson Institute of International Economics.
BOLOGNESE. The Bologna center enables students to learn about the Middle East through the lens of European scholars. Its location allows students to participate in affordable study trips to the Middle East- North Africa region over winter and spring break intercessions. The Middle East Studies program has one full-time professor and one adjunct professor based in Bologna that teach and advise students in the Middle East Studies program.
SPECIALIZED. Students have the ability to subspecialize with the introduction of program tracks. Students have the option of pursuing the Core Middle East (CME) track which will create ‘Arabists’ with an in-depth focus on the Arab world and Arabic. Students may alternatively choose the Broader Middle East (BME) track, which allows candidates to have a broader regional perspective and discuss crosscutting issues like Islamist politics, and extremism.
RIGOROUS. The standards and expectations for the Middle East Studies program are set very high. As one of the best Middle East Studies programs in the nation, we enroll top students and graduate Middle East experts; this “expertise” takes thoughtful preparation. Our demanding curriculum ensures that each student we graduate is well versed in not only the “trending” current events of the region, but also their historical underpinnings.
SCHOLARLY. Students are encouraged to enroll in the Middle East Research Seminar class, a four-credit course which funds students to pursue original thesis research in the MENA region. Students work closely with the director to develop a research project and undergo rigorous qualitative and quantitative research on a topic of their choosing. Over the course of their second year, students work closely with the director to create an original work of publishable quality.
First-year students concentrating in Middle East Studies (MES) are encouraged to spend their summer break studying Arabic or Farsi somewhere in the Middle East- North Africa region and conducting research for their thesis. Traveling in the region also presents the opportunity to make contacts through local internships. Students in the program can apply for summer stipends to study language and conduct research in the region.
The MES program complements its academic courses with a series of brown bag lectures, bringing in a wide variety of Arab and Israeli scholars, politicians and journalists to discuss and debate a broad range of issues which enlighten students on Middle East issues.
The MES program has a history of running student-led trips to the region each year over winter intersession or spring break. Past trips have been sponsored and funded by the governments of the countries that students visit, and on occasion from the MES program itself.
In March of 2016, twelve MES concentrators travelled to the UAE. Read about their experiences here.
The program's student social chair coordinates events for students to get to know one another better and build stronger networks. Activities vary and have included culturally themed dinners, alumni happy hours, movie nights, and student-led presentations on research and travels in the region.
Middle East Studies Program Learning Goals and Objectives
Entering Class 2016-2017
MA students must take the equivalent of 16 non-language courses (64 credits) in order to graduate. Those students who are approved for dual degree or advanced standing may only need to take 12 (48 credits) or 14 (56 credits) courses as approved by Academic Affairs.
MA students concentrating in Middle East Studies must take at least 6 courses within this program (or the equivalent credit of a total of 6 courses/24 credits*). In some cases, a course outside of MES that requires a substantive research paper in the Arab World/Broader Middle East, may count toward an MES requirement if approved by the director. All MES students must also pass the Middle East History Exam (MEHE) within the first year of the program.
*MES offers two-credit courses. Students must combine two, two-credit courses to meet the requirement of one full course (4 credits).
Students must select one of the following Middle East Studies tracks:
Please refer to the Middle East Studies Curriculum for eligible courses that meet track requirements.
Summer Funding/Thesis Option:
Middle East Studies concentrators who receive summer funding from the MES program must produce an MA thesis that involves primary research under the supervision of the Middle East Studies faculty. The paper is written over the two-year period, with an outline and research program due in March of the first year and a working draft of the final thesis to be presented in March/April of the second year. These students must also enroll each semester as auditors in the Middle East Studies Research Seminar and for credit during their final semester. Four credits are received for completion of the "Middle East Studies Research Seminar: Thesis" in a student's final semester. For those whose final semester is fall, consult the Program Director for the due date.
Students must complete 4 courses within this program.
· Macroeconomics (prerequisite or concurrent Microeconomics)
· International Trade Theory (prerequisite Microeconomics)
· International Monetary Theory (prerequisite Macroeconomics)
Eligible students who pass the waiver exams in these subjects or who pass Micro in Pre-Term must replace those courses with alternate economics courses. Many students choose to pursue an International Economics Specialization in one of four areas of economics and therefore use electives to meet these requirements. Students may also choose to specialize in Emerging Markets.
Students must receive a 2.67 average in the 4 required economics courses or they must retake a course(s) until a 2.67 average is obtained. If any of the 4 courses are achieved by passing a waiver exam or during Pre-Term, the student must substitute an economics elective course(s) in place of the waived course(s) in order to fulfill the economics requirement above. In this case, the school will use the highest economics program elective course grade(s) to compute this average if a student is replacing one or more of the 4 required courses of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory or International Monetary Theory.
Students must complete one course from the list below.
· Statistical Methods for Business & Economics
· Econometrics (prerequisite Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
· Applied Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
· Macro Econometrics (prerequisite Econometrics)
· Risk Analysis and Modeling
· Quantitative Global Economics (prerequisite International Monetary Theory)
Students may not double-count a Quantitative Reasoning requirement as one of the four required International Economics courses and vice-versa. Eligible students who pass the statistics waiver exam or pass the statistics course in Pre-Term are still required to take an alternate Quantitative Reasoning course from the list above.
All students must pass 2 core exams and/or courses in addition to their concentration requirements. If the core courses/exams are not completed by the start of the final semester, a student must enroll for credit in the core course(s).
· American Foreign Policy Since World War II
· Comparative Politics (old name Comparative National Systems)
· Evolution of the International Systems
· Theories of International Relations
Middle East Studies MA candidates in the CME Track must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in Arabic. Students pursuing the BME or ER track may use Arabic, Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) to meet this requirement. All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school. Native Arabic, Hindi-Urdu or Persian (Farsi) speakers must pass proficiency in a second language which can include English.
Students must pass the Middle East Contemporary History Exam with a 70% or higher grades.
Middle East Studies Minor Requirements: (as of AY 16/17)
Middle East Studies Cross-listed Course Examples:
· Conflict Management
o Behavioral Sociology of Conflict (SA.860.784)
· Energy, Resources and the Environment
o Energy Markets in the Middle East and Central Asia (SA.860.761)
· Global Theory and History
o States, Revolutions and Terrorism (SA.860.781)
*Student pursuing a minor in Middle East Studies are not eligible to receive the summer language and thesis research stipends.
General Minor Requirements:
To add or change a minor, please click HERE.
The Middle East Studies Program has several fellowship opportunities that are available to incoming and continuing students.
Fouad Ajami Fellowship
This newly created fellowship will provide two graduate students with summer stipends to conduct research and/or study Arabic in the Middle East each year and was established to honor the accomplishments and legacy of the late Dr. Fouad Ajami. Dr. Ajami served as the director of Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins SAIS from 1980 to 2011 and was the recipient of a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, among many other awards of distinction. He also authored The Arab Predicament, Dream Palace of the Arabs: A Generation's Odyssey, and other landmark books that shaped the field of Middle East Studies.
Students apply for this fellowship in the spring of their first year at the school.
2015 Fouad Ajami Fellows:
Lena Abdin will study the Syrian refugee crises in Lebanon.
Geoffrey King will explore the entrepreneurship and investment landscape in the Levant and the Gulf, while studying Arabic.
Origin: A small group of Professor Fouad Ajami’s former students gathered on July 19, 2014 at the Tabard Inn Hotel in Washington to share their grief, memories, and thoughts of their beloved professor. They decided to create an endowment in his honor, and an agreement was made with Johns Hopkins SAIS to serve as the home of the Fouad Ajami Fellowship. The Fouad Ajami Fellowship will honor and continue the work of Professor Fouad Ajami by providing the next generation of government officials, practitioners of international development, journalists, and academics with the education and language tools to support positive change in the Middle East.
The Fouad Ajami Fellowship: The fellowship will support students in four important ways:
Funding Goal: Over the course of his career, Fouad Ajami raised funds to extend these opportunities to hundreds of his students. To honor his support of his students and to preserve his legacy, our goal is to raise a $1 million endowment by January 2016. A $1M endowment will provide $50,000 annually to students. The Fouad Ajami Fellowship will be announced in 2015 at a special event marking the one-year anniversary of Professor Ajami’s passing where donors will be recognized.
Giving Opportunities: There are opportunities to support the endowment of the Fouad Ajami Fellowship at Johns Hopkins SAIS at the giving levels below. Donations are 100% tax-deductible and checks should be made payable to: “Johns Hopkins University – SAIS” SAIS Development Office, Attention Ms. Kenna Barrett, 1717 Mass. Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036.
Donations may also be made securely online at https://secure.jhu.edu/form/sais. indicating the Fouad Ajami Fellowship.
To read more about the inaugural Fouad Ajami Fellows, Geoffrey King and Lena Abdin, click here.
Contact Us: This effort is organized by a group of Professor Ajami’s students and supported by his family and Johns Hopkins University. To speak with one of the organizer’s of this initiative about how you can contribute to this campaign, please contact Professor Sanam Vakil at email@example.com +447460099009 or Megan Ring at 1-415-990-2349
The Broze Family Fellowship
In May 2015, the Broze family made a gift to Johns Hopkins SAIS. The gift will be used to benefit the school as an endowed graduate student (tuition) fellowship to be held in perpetuity, with a preference for students with a Middle East Studies concentration, and bearing the name of the Broze Family Fellowship. The Broze Family established this fellowship in memory of Vincent Jay Broze ’71 and in honor of his appreciation for the school and the Middle East Studies program. Students are automatically considered for this fellowship when they apply to the MES program.
The David A. Kagan Fellowship
The David M. Kagan Fellowship Fund was created in 1986 in memory of David Kagan, a former Johns Hopkins SAIS student who passed away in 1986. The funding for this fellowship was raised by David's classmates and the Kagan family, and provides income support to Middle East Studies MA candidates studying in the Middle East between their first and second years at the school. Students applying for summer funding from Middle East Studies will automatically be considered for this fellowship. Applicants are requested to submit a proposal for a project designed to promote the cause of peace in that Region - a dream envisioned by David who said "he wasn't sure he could change the world, but at least he had to try."
Timothy C. Childs Fellowship
Mr. Child's bequeathed this gift in his will to be used to fund summer thesis and language study for the Middle East Studies program. Students pursuing thesis research in the region are automatically considered for this fellowship.
Yarmouk Middle East Studies Fellowship
This gift funds fellowships for MA students including participation in summer language exchange programs. Students pursuing thesis research in the region are automatically considered for this fellowship.
To learn more about the Middle East Studies program fellowships please contact our Program Manager, Rebecca Aman to schedule a call or campus visit.
Middle East Studies is one of the only programs at the school that offers six-week (2 credit) courses. Most of these six-week courses are country case studies, which allow students to focus in-depth on a specific country in the region and understand its unique history, politics, and current events. The six-week format allows students to gain wider access to Middle East experts in Washington and build their academic and professional network.
2015 Two Credit Course Offerings
Powers of the Middle East: Iran
Powers of the Middle East: The Gulf States
Powers of the Middle East: Egypt
Arab Political Thought
Pecastaing, Camille. France's Bloody Friday: The Asthetics of Violence in Paris. Foreign Affairs. November 2015.
Pecastaing, Camille. More than Killing Charlie Hebdo. World Affairs. January 2015.
Pecastaing, Camille. Overhyping ISIS. Hoover Institution. December 16, 2014.
Del Sarto, Raffaella. Defining Borders and People in the Borderlands: EU Policies, Israeli Prerogatives and the Palestinians. Journal of Common Market Studies. March 2014
Fouad Ajami Fellows
THE FOUAD AJAMI FELLOWSHIP
The Fouad Ajami Fellowship will provide the next generation of Middle East scholars with funds for summer Arabic language study and research. This Fellowship will honor Professor Ajami’s work by promoting the highest levels of scholarship and supporting the development of the next generation of intellectuals and practitioners.
ELIGIBILITY: Middle East Studies MA students in good standing, at both the Washington, DC and Bologna campuses, can apply for The Fouad Ajami Fellowship.
APPLICATION PROCESS: The application is the same as for the regular summer stipend, with the additional requirement of submitting their CV, and a 2-page proposal to Rebecca Aman (firstname.lastname@example.org) by April 15. Candidates for the Fouad Ajami Fellowship should indicate their desire to be considered for that distinction and make sure to emphasize the following information in their proposal:
1) Their achievements at Johns Hopkins SAIS so far (MES courses taken, grades obtained, exams passed), their level in the Arabic or regional language, and a brief statement about their professional interests following graduation from the school.
2) A brief abstract of their research project, along with a detailed description of their plans for conducting field research in the Middle East during the summer: where they plan to travel, anticipated length of stay, contacts they may have, sources they want to explore, methodology, etc. This may include plans to study Arabic or another language in the region, if any.
SELECTION PROCESS: On the basis of academic standing at the school, and of the most promising proposal for research and study in the region, the Fellowship selection committee will choose two students to be the Fouad Ajami Fellows.
AWARD: Fellowship recipients will be awarded a stipend of $5000.00. Fellows will be notified by May 15, and the award disbursed in one payment during June.
COMMITMENTS: Fouad Ajami Fellows will be required to attend and possibly deliver a presentation at the school during their second year. Fellows are also expected to submit for publication an article or essay about their research or experience studying in the Middle East.
ABOUT: The Fouad Ajami Fellowship honors the life, legacy, and vision of Professor Ajami, who passed away on June 22, 2014. It is a fellowship that has been endowed by his friends and former students to support current young scholars who embody the values and beliefs of positive change that Professor Ajami held dear.