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Middle East Studies

Elliott School of International Affairs

Master of Arts (M.A.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus

Program Overview

The Middle East is one of the world’s most important and challenging regions, where conflict seems chronic but peace elusive, resources are abundant but sustainable development difficult, and where the roots of major religions and global terrorism can be found. There are few issues in international affairs that do not involve the Middle East.

The Master of Arts curriculum includes a range of courses covering the history, politics, economics, international relations, and cultures of the societies and nations of the Middle East. In consultation with the program director, each student will develop a program of study that combines a broad overview of the region through a set of core courses, along with a more specialized field based on the student's specific academic and career interests. In addition, completion of the M.A. in Middle East Studies requires demonstrated oral and reading proficiency in a language of the Middle East region.

The MA. program in Middle East Studies is supported by the Elliott School’s Institute for Middle East Studies.  Its Director is Professor Marc Lynch, a prominent scholar whose blog is featured on ForeignPolicy.com, and its core faculty includes both established leaders in their fields such as Nathan Brown (Political Science) and Dina Khoury (History), and outstanding junior faculty spanning a wide range of academic disciplines. The Institute’s programming is enhanced by a million dollar gift from the Amir of Kuwait and by a partnership with the Middle East Policy Forum, run by former Ambassador Edward “Skip” Gnehm.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadline:

Fall – February 1 (To be considered for fellowship support, applications must be submitted by January 15.)

Standardized test scores:

GRE general test (institutional code 5246).

Recommendations required: 

Three (3) letters of recommendation, preferably from professors. Applicants who have been out of school for several years may send recommendations from supervisors or employers.

Prior academic records:

Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript.  Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended should be uploaded to your online application.  Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.

If academic records are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided.  The English translations alone should be uploaded into the online application.  Official transcripts and certified English translations will be required of applicants who are offered admission.

Statement of purpose:

In an essay of approximately 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study at the Elliott School of International Affairs. As part of your statement of purpose, describe your academic and research interests, career objectives, and how a degree from the Elliott School will enable you to achieve your goals. Please be specific.

Additional requirements:

A resumé or curriculum vitae should be included with the application. A background in a modern Middle Eastern foreign language is recommended, as students must prove proficiency prior to graduation.

International applicants only:

Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.

PLEASE NOTE that Elliott School programs require the following minimum English language test scores for admission:

  • Academic IETLS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.5; or
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based, or 100 on Internet-based

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Office of Graduate Admissions
 The Elliott School of International Affairs
 The George Washington University
 1957 E Street, NW, Suite 301
 Washington, DC 20052

Contact for questions:
 esiagrad@gwu.edu ~ 202.994.7050 ~ 202.994.9537 (fax)
 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday