Middle East Studies

Middle East Studies Program
Middle East Studies Program
Middle East Studies Program

The Middle East Studies program has a comprehensive curriculum with course topics ranging from the economies of petrostates to ethno-religious conflict.

The Middle East Studies program has a comprehensive curriculum with course topics ranging from the economies of petrostates to ethno-religious conflict.

The Middle East Studies program has a comprehensive curriculum with course topics ranging from the economies of petrostates to ethno-religious conflict.

Overview
Faculty
Program Activities
Curriculum
Minor
Fellowships
Publications
Events Calendar
Contact

Program Description

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.

Why Middle East Studies


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. SAIS Europe in Bologna, Italy 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 faculty 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 our curriculum sequences. Students have the option of pursuing the Conflict and Security sequence which includes courses focusing on intervention post-disaster, social protests, armed movements, terrorism, ethnic conflict, interstate warfare, and geopolitics. Students may alternatively choose the Energy and Emerging Markets sequence, which allows candidates to combine regional expertise in the Middle East with sought-after quantitative skills offered at SAIS, specializations in international finance and emerging markets in the region.
 
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.



 

MES Students in Saudi Arabia, 2018
Persian New Year Celebrations in Bologna, Italy
MES Graduate Picnic, 2018
MES Students conducting research in Jordan, 2018
MES Student conducting research in Lebanon, 2017
MES students playing Middle East themed Taboo at Annual MES Retreat
Mai Al-Nakib at her presentation "The Hidden Light of the Middle East", February 2015
Hassan Hassan at his presentation "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror", March 2015
MES concentrators Kimya, Sierra and Mathilde visiting the UAE Ministry of Energy (March 2016)
The Life and Work of Fouad Ajami Lecture, November 2014
SAIS Europe Students with Israeli Ambassador to Italy, Naor Gilon
Article written in Saudi newspaper about student study trip, May 2014
Middle East Studies Students at MES Alumni Happy Hour, May 2014
Middle East Studies Students at MES Alumni Happy Hour, May 2013
MES Students and Alumni at Annual MES Alumni Happy Hour, May 2014
Middle East Studies Study trip to Malaysia, Intersession 2012
Middle East Studies Study trip to Malaysia, Intersession 2012
Middle East Studies Study trip to Malaysia, Intersession 2012
Middle East Studies Students at MES Alumni Happy Hour, May 2013
Middle East Studies Study Tour to Saudi Arabia, June 2012
Middle East Studies Study Tour to Saudi Arabia, June 2012
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Faculty

Program Activities

 

Language and Thesis Research Stipends

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.

 

Middle East Studies Lecture Series

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.

 

International Study Trips

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.

 

Student Activities

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.

Curriculum

 

Middle East Studies | MA Requirements (Entering Class 2018-2019)

Learning Goals and Objectives

MA students must complete 64 credits and all degree requirements in order to graduate.

Students who are approved for a Dual Degree program or with Advanced Standing only need to complete 48 credits or 56 credits as determined by Academic Affairs, but still must fulfill all degree requirements.

Students are bound by the curriculum in place when they enter the program. Students who entered SAIS in 2017-2018 should consult the program requirements for previous years at the bottom of this page.

 

Middle East Studies Concentration

MA students concentrating in Middle East Studies must complete 20 credits of applicable coursework and a program capstone.

Middle East Studies concentrators are permitted to use one course outside of Middle East Studies on a relevant topic toward their concentration with program approval.

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.

Capstone
Students must pass the Middle East Contemporary History Exam with a 70% or higher grade.

 

International Economics Concentration

MA students must complete a concentration in International Economics (16 credits). The four required courses are:

  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics (pre-requisite or concurrent: Microeconomics)
  • International Trade Theory (pre-requisite: Microeconomics)
  • International Monetary Theory (pre-requisite: Macroeconomics)

If a student is waived from a required course(s), the student must take a replacement International Economics course(s) to fulfill the concentration requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term will have this concentration reduced to 12 credits, but still must complete the remaining required International Economics courses (or a replacement course(s) if waiver exam(s) passed).

International Economics GPA Requirement
Students must achieve an International Economics concentration GPA of at least 2.67.

In the standard case, the concentration GPA is the average of the grades in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, International Trade Theory, and International Monetary Theory.  If a student completed the non-credit Microeconomics course in Pre-Term, the concentration GPA is calculated based on the grades in the remaining required International Economics courses. If one or more of the required courses is waived, the highest grade(s) from any eligible replacement International Economics course(s) is used.

Students who do not meet the minimum International Economics concentration GPA must re-take required courses (or take additional replacement courses if any required course(s) are waived) until the minimum is achieved. The highest grade from any attempt at a required course is used in this calculation.

 

Quantitative Reasoning Requirement

MA students must fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning Requirement (4 credits). Eligible courses include:

  • Statistical Methods for Business & Economics 
  • Econometrics (pre-requisite: Statistical Methods for Business & Economics)
  • Applied Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Macro Econometrics (pre-requisite: Econometrics)
  • Risk Analysis and Modeling
  • Quantitative Global Economics (pre-requisite: International Monetary Theory)
  • Credit Markets & Credit Risk (pre-requisite: Corporate Finance)

Students may not double-count the same course toward the Quantitative Reasoning requirement and as a replacement International Economics concentration course and vice-versa.

If a student is waived from a Quantiative Reasoning course, the student must take an different course from the list above to fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Students who pass the non-credit Statistical Methods for Business & Economicscourse  in Pre-Term will have fulfilled the Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

 

Core Requirements

MA students must fulfill two Core requirements from the subjects below. Students may fulfill a Core requirement by passing a for-credit Core course or by passing a non-credit Core exam.

  • American Foreign Policy Since WWII
  • Comparative Politics
  • Evolution of the International System
  • Theories of International Relations

Students may not take a Core exam in the semester in which they plan to graduate. If Core requirements are not completed before the start of a student’s final semester, the student no longer has the option of completing the exam and must enroll in the Core course(s) for credit.

 

Language Proficiency

MA students must pass exams to demonstrate proficiency in a non-native language taught at SAIS. Students enroll in non-credit language courses to prepare for the proficiency exam.

Middle East Studies concentrators are required to demonstrate proficiency in Arabic or Persian (Farsi). Native speakers of Arabic or Persian (Farsi) must demonstrate proficiency in any other language taught at SAIS, which can include English.

All non-native English speakers are required to pass an English placement exam upon entering the school, even if not using English for proficiency, and may be required to take additional English language coursework.

 

Electives, Minor, and Specializations

Beyond the requirements, MA students may have room in their degree for electives, a minor, and/or a specialization(s).

Students may pursue an optional minor in any policy/regional area other than General International Relations.

Students may pursue an optional specialization(s) in five areas International Economics or Emerging Markets.

 

Program Requirements by Academic Year

Entering Class 2017-2018
Entering Class 2016-2017
Entering Class 2015-2016
Entering Class 2014-2015
Entering Class 2013-2014
Entering Class 2012-2013
Entering Class 2011-2012
Entering Class 2010-2011
Entering Class 2009-2010

Minor

Middle East Studies Minor Requirements:

  • 3 Middle East courses (12 credits) including:
    • 2 courses with the prefix SA.860.XXX (8 credits)
    • 1 additional Middle East Studies (or cross-listed) course (4 credits)

Student pursuing a minor in Middle East Studies are not eligible to receive the summer language and thesis research stipends.

General Minor Requirements:

  • MA students may pursue an optional minor in a policy or regional program. A student cannot pursue a minor in General IR or International Economics, but can pursue a Specialization in International Economics
  • A student can have only one minor and can declare a minor at any time prior to graduation.
  • Students do not receive bidding priority for a minor.
  • All minors require three courses. Some minors require a specific course(s) and/or language proficiency.
  • A student may use a maximum of one applicable cross-listed course (4 credits) toward both a minor AND concentration requirements. In the IR or Asia concentrations, the cross-listed course must be from the primary concentration area and not from the 2 additional required courses in the other IR or Asia areas.

To add or change a minor, please click HERE.

Fellowships

The Middle East Studies Program has several fellowship opportunities that are available to incoming and continuing students. Selected students may receive full-tuition fellowships for the first year.

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 in July of 2014 to share their memories 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:

  • Enable all interested and qualified students to study Arabic in the Middle East in the summer after their first year
  • Provide students and scholars with grants for field research in the Middle East
  • Offer need and merit-based financial aid to Middle East Studies students in the form of full or partial tuition assistance
  • Offer full or partial tuition assistance to students from the region interested in studying any concentration of their choosing in the full two-year Masters program.

 
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 – SAISSAIS 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 organizers of this initiative about how you can contribute to this campaign, please contact Professor Sanam Vakil at svakil1@jhu.edu +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.

Publications

2018

Parkinson, Sarah. eds. Janine A. Clark and Francesco Cavatorta. “Seeing Beyond the Spectacle: Research on and adjacent to Violence.”Political Science Research in the Middle East and North Africa: Methodological and Ethical Challenges. Oxford University Press. 2018.

Pecastaing, Camille. "America and Syria: Life After Hegemony." The Caravan, Hoover Instititution. 2018. 

Pecastaing, Camille. "Iraqi Democracy is Not What Bush 43 Envisioned." The Hill. 15 Mar 2018. 

Parkinson, Sarah. Gordon, Anna. "How the Houthis Became 'Shi'a.'" Middle East Research and Information Project. 27 Jan 2018.

Parkinson, Sarah. “Militant and Rebel Organization(s).” Comparative Politics 50 (2): 271-293. With Sherry Zaks. 2018.


2017

Del Sarto, Raffaella A. Israel under Siege: The Politics of Insecurity and the Rise of the Israeli Neo-Revisionist Right. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. 2017.

Del Sarto, Raffaella A. ‘Contentious Borders in the Middle East and North Africa: Context and Concepts’, International Affairs 93(4): 787-797. 2017

Del Sarto, Raffaella A., Louise Fawcett and Asli S. Okyay, eds. ‘Contentious Borders: The Middle East and North Africa post-2011’, special issue of International Affairs, 93(4) 2017. 

Parkinson, Sarah. “Through the Looking Glass: Information Security and Middle East Research.” POMEPS Studies 24: New Challenges to Public and Policy Engagement. Washington, DC, March 13, 2018.


2016

Del Sarto, Raffaella A. (2016): ‘Normative Empire Europe: The European Union, Its Borderlands and the “Arab Spring”’, Journal of Common Market Studies 54 (2): 215-232 – available here

Parkinson, Sarah. “Money Talks: Discourse, Networks, and Structure in Militant Organizations.” Perspectives on Politics 14 (4): 976-994. 2016.


2015

Del Sarto, Raffaella A. 2015 (ed.). Fragmented Borders, Interdependence and External Relations: The Israel-Palestine-European Union Triangle, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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.

Parkinson, Sarah. “Negotiating Health and Life: Syrian Refugees and the Politics of Access in Lebanon.” Social Science & Medicine 146 (December 2015): 324–31. With Orkideh Behrouzan.

Parkinson, Sarah. “Transparency in Intensive Research on Violence: Ethical Dilemmas and Unforeseen Consequences.” Qualitative and Multi-Method Research 13(1): 22-27. With Elisabeth Jean Wood. 2015.


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

Pecastaing, Camille. Overhyping ISIS. Defining Ideas: A Hoover Institution Journal. 16 Dec 2014.

Parkinson, Sarah. “Wartime sexual violence is not just a ‘weapon of war.’” POMEPS Briefing 25: Syria and the Islamic State. Washington, DC: Project on Middle East Political Science. With Kerry F. Crawford and Amelia Hoover Green. 2014.

Parkinson, Sarah. “Practical Ethics: How U.S. Law and the “War on Terror” Affect Research in the Middle East.” POMEPS Studies 8: Ethics and Research in the Middle East. Washington, DC: Project on Middle East Political Science. 2014 

Parkinson, Sarah.  “Refugee 101: Palestinians in Lebanon Teach Refugees from Syria the Ropes.” Middle East Report Online. Published April 3 2014. 


2013

Parkinson, Sarah. “Organizing Rebellion: Rethinking High-Risk Mobilization and Social Networks in War.” American Political Science Review 107 (3): 418-432. 2013.

Events

The SAIS Middle East Studies Program hosts lecture series' every year on Wednesdays at 12:30 PM. To be added to our event listserv, please e-mail SAISmes@jhu.edu. Past talks include:

Fall 2017
 
From Cooking Shows to Football Foes: Pop Culture and Politics in Turkey
Lisel Hintz, Assistant Professor of IR and European Studies at SAIS
 
Tales of a Beirut Tour Guide: The Legacy of Mohamad Chatah
Ronnie Chatah, Beirut Tour Guide, Author, and son of Mohamad Chatah
 
Politicizing Public Space Through Art
Wael Eskandar, Independent journalist and blogger based in Cairo
 
Regime Change in Riyadh: The Future of KSA, the Gulf, and the World
Jean-Francois Seznec, Professor of Middle East Studies at SAIS
 
Israel Under Siege: The Politics of Insecurity and the Rise of the Israeli Neo-Revisionist Right
Raffaella Del Sarto, Associate Professor of Middle East Studies at SAIS Europe
 
  
Spring 2018
 
Iran and Fizzling Protests
Karim Sadjadpour, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
 
H.E. Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, Director of the Government Communications Office of the State of Qatar
 
Syria Year 7: The Counterrevolution
Faysal Itani, Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
 
Iraq After the Islamic State
Hassan Hassan, Senior Fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

 
Fouad Ajami Fellowship Presentations:

Challenges on the Periphery: A Case Study of Byblos, Lebanon
Sarah Abdella-El Kallassy, 2nd year SAIS Middle East Studies student

Lebanon’s Political Economy of Corruption and the 2015-2016 Lebanese Garbage Crisis
Sebastian Gerlach, 2nd year SAIS Middle East Studies student


Contact Us


Camille Pecastaing
Academic Director & Senior Associate Professor, Middle East Studies
cape@jhu.edu
BOB Building, 6th Floor

Allison Janos
Academic Program Coordinator
ajanos2@jhu.edu
202 663 5676
BOB 628

Address & Phone

Middle East Studies
BOB Building
1717 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC
20036