The Middle Eastern field at University of Maryland offers instruction in the history of the region stretching from Islamic Iberia in the west through North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean basin to Iran in the east from the period of late antiquity (fourth-seventh centuries) to the present day. Permanent faculty consists of Antoine Borrut (late antique and early Islamic), Ahmet T. Karamustafa (medieval and early modern), Madeline Zilfi (early modern), and Peter Wien (modern Middle East), with special research strengths in early Islamic history, historiography and cultural memory; social and intellectual history of medieval and early modern Islamic piety; social and religious movements in urban contexts; law and legal practice; slavery and freedom; women's experience; and the role of nationalism and religion in the cultural and political transformation of modern Arab societies. In line with the focus of the Department on trans-regional and global themes and questions, the Middle East faculty offers expertise in exchanges between various regions of Europe, the Mediterranean, Iran and South Asia. More information about faculty research interests can be obtained from their individual History Department websites.

Language Requirements

There is no language requirement for admission to the MA program, although students who already have some facility in a regional language (Arabic, Persian, or Turkish) are preferred. In any case, M.A. students are expected to acquire facility at the intermediate-level or higher in at least one major Middle East Language (Arabic, Persian, or Turkish) to obtain the degree. For admission to the Ph.D. program, students must have proficiency at the advanced intermediate level in at least one major Middle Eastern language (Arabic, Persian, or Turkish). All doctoral students must acquire advanced proficiency in their chosen language either by course work or exam by the time they are admitted to candidacy. In addition, students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one European language by the time of their comprehensive exams.

Comprehensive Exams

Middle East History offers graduate students a choice of two concentrations in “General Field,” and various options in the “Special Field.”  The “General Field” is declared as either covering the pre-modern or the modern period.  The availability of special fields depends on a combination of factors including faculty expertise and student interest.  Possible special fields could be in areas such as Early Islam, History and Memory, Islamic Religious Cultures, Ottoman and Safavid Empires, Women and Gender, Reform Movements, Nationalism, Political Islam, or a geographically defined area.