UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR PROGRAMS IN NEAR EASTERN STUDIES
Near Eastern Studies Major Programs
The Department of Near Eastern Studies offers three undergraduate majors. After choosing one of the three undergraduate majors, students then choose one of the emphases listed under the major headings. (Please click on each of the emphases listed below to view the course requirements for the major).
For questions regarding the undergraduate program and classes, please contact:
Rania Shah, Undergraduate Student Services Adviser
Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (L&S Major Code 588)
- Emphasis in a modern language: Arabic, Hebrew, or Persian
- Emphasis in an ancient language: Egyptology
Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art and Archaeology (L&S Major Code 5C2)
- Emphasis in Ancient Near Eastern Art and Archaeology
- Emphasis in Egyptian Art and Archaeology
Near Eastern Civilizations (L&S Major Code 5C1)
- Emphasis in Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations
- Emphasis in Islamic Civilization
*NES 10 (Introduction to the Near East) is required for all majors in the Department and must be taken for a letter grade.
Near Eastern Studies Minor Programs
For students who are majoring in other subjects, but who have a strong interest in one of the modern languages or ancient history of the Near East, the Department offers programs leading to a minor in the following areas:
Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Civilizations
Please review L&S Guidelines for Minors. The L&S Completion of a Minor Form must be submitted for approval to the Undergraduate Faculty Adviser one semester before graduation. If you are interested in pursuing a Near Eastern Studies minor program, please meet with the Undergraduate Assistant.
Declaring the Major
Major Requirements General Guidelines
- Students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 in both lower and upper-division courses used to fulfill the major requirements. For information regarding residence and unit requirements, please see the L&S College Requirements.
- All courses that are used to meet lower and upper-division major requirements must be at least 3 units and must be taken for a letter grade.
- No more than one upper-division course may be used simultaneously to fulfill a major and minor requirement, except for minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
Major Declaration Process
Students are recommended to declare a major as soon as they are eligible. For a major in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, students are advised to begin the study of this major in their freshmen year to allow for sufficient time to complete the major requirements. Please see the below steps to declare a major:
1. Review Major Course Requirements for each of the Near Eastern Studies majors as listed above in the major programs or in the Berkeley Academic Guide.
2. Meet with the Undergraduate Assistant to discuss the Near Eastern Studies major requirements and to begin the application process to declare the major.
3. Submit an L&S Major Declaration Form and a program plan for approval to the appropriate Undergraduate Faculty Adviser.
Double Major Application
- Please review the L&S Double Major requirements. If you are declaring a double major, please submit a Double Major Application Form to both major departments and attend a required 30-minute meeting with an L&S Adviser.
- No more than two upper division courses may be used in common to fulfill requirements for both majors.
Other L&S Forms & Petitions
Please visit the College of Letters & Science to obtain additional forms and petitions.
With the consent of the student’s major faculty adviser, a student in any of the Near Eastern Studies majors, who holds an overall GPA of 3.3 or higher in all coursework taken at the University, and a GPA of 3.51 or higher in courses completed in the major, may apply for admission to the honors program. The honors program provides students with an opportunity to research and write a thesis in the area of their major specialization. Successful completion of a thesis rewards a student to graduate with a distinction of honors in the major.
Students must maintain the required GPA in the major in order to remain eligible for the honors program. Students should begin the Honors Application process the semester before their senior year and receive the approval of two faculty members to serve on their Thesis Committee. The Thesis Committee should consist of a Near Eastern Studies faculty member to serve as the Thesis Supervisor and a second member of the NES Faculty who will agree to read and evaluate the thesis.
Timeline for the NES Honors application process:
- Submit a 1-page thesis proposal and a completed NES Honors Thesis Application Form in the first semester of the student’s senior year. The Thesis Supervisor and the Undergraduate Faculty Major Adviser must approve the proposal and application. Please contact the NES Undergraduate Assistant to obtain the NES Honors Thesis Application.
- If the proposal is approved, the student will need to enroll in NES 199 (Independent Study) in the fall semester of their senior year in order to receive credit for research and writing of the thesis. The application for NES 199 is available with the Undergraduate Assistant. The Thesis Supervisor will serve as the approving faculty for the Independent Study.
- With the consent of the Thesis Supervisor, the student will then enroll in the Senior Honors course (NE STUD H195) in the spring semester of their senior year.
- The honors thesis must be no less than 20 double-spaced, typewritten pages (not including bibliography and supplemental materials).
- A draft of the honors thesis will be read and evaluated by the student’s Thesis Committee no later than Monday of the 13th week of the semester in which NE STUD H195 is taken.
- The final honors thesis must be read and evaluated by the Thesis Committee members by Monday of the 15th week and deemed to be at least B+ quality in order to qualify the candidate for graduation with a degree of honors. The assignment of degree distinctions of “high honor” and “highest honors” is at the discretion of the Thesis Committee.
Resources for Undergraduates
Getting Ready for Graduate School
Step by Step: is an undergraduate resource group to enrich the student’s academic experience and to prepare students for graduate school.
Apprenticeship at the Hearst Museum
The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) provides an opportunity for Berkeley undergraduates to work with faculty members on innovative research projects. Students meet regularly with faculty for research mentoring and may earn 1 unit of academic credit for each 3 hours of research work (limited to 4 units per term). The program is designed to stimulate awareness of advanced research and interest in graduate study. Students are not paid for their participation. For more information on the apprenticeship opportunities, please contact the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.
Berkeley Archeological Research Facility
Every semester, the Archeological Research Facility hosts a set of archeological lectures and events which are open to the public.
Brown Bag Talks & Lectures
The Near Eastern Studies department holds monthly brown bag talks, which feature faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars, to discuss their research work in the area of Near Eastern Studies. Please visit the events page on the NES website for more information.
Center for Middle Eastern Studies
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) promotes the interdisciplinary study of the Middle East at the University of California, Berkeley, and beyond, raising public awareness of the region’s diverse peoples and cultures and their connection to wider global contexts. Please visit the CMES website for list of lectures and events each semester.
Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships
The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships (OURS) is UC Berkeley’s hub for undergraduate research and prestigious scholarships.
Berkeley Study Abroad offers opportunity for students to earn university course credit while studying abroad. Courses can be taken in the areas of language, cultural, and historical studies and may apply towards completing major requirements.
Please find below a list of scholarship opportunities to fund study abroad and national academic programs. A full list of scholarships can be found here.
Haas Scholars Program
Each year the Haas Scholars Program selects twenty highly qualified, academically talented undergraduates who have financial need to form a supportive intellectual community during their final year at UC-Berkeley. Haas Scholars receive close mentoring from members of the UC-Berkeley faculty, and attend seminars and workshops to assist them in the research and writing process, and to provide them an opportunity to present their work at a professional conference. Students may receive up to $12,600 each in financial support.
Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Awards
FLAS awards enable students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents to acquire a high level of competence in one or more foreign languages. Fellowships (up to $15,000) for the full academic year or summer programs are awarded to students studying a modern foreign language in the US or abroad, with priority given to students in the humanities, social sciences, and professional fields.
Undergraduate Merit Scholarship
The Institute of International Studies offers scholarships of up to $2,000 each to support undergraduate research in any area of international studies. Scholarship recipients may be eligible for additional prizes upon presentation of their research work.
Stevens Scholar Program
The Stevens Scholar Program supports research and travel by undergraduate students who demonstrate a high level of distinction in Middle Eastern Studies. Scholarships up to $5,000 are available to assist students with travel expenses and to support student’s research interest on Middle East related topics or overseas study of Middle Eastern languages.
Sultan Program in Arab Studies
Scholarships up to $1,200 are available to undergraduates working on projects and theses related to Arab Studies. Scholarships may be used to support research or conference travel, overseas or domestic summer Arabic language study, and/or internships.