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CMENAS offers an interdisciplinary Master of Arts program in Modern Middle Eastern and North African Studies(MENAS) designed to introduce students to the area and to one or more of its languages. It is intended to provide broad area and language training at the graduate level for students with either academic or professional interests. It is ideal for students with in-country experience who want to channel their experience into a more formal direction, acquire further language competence, and interact with other specialists in an interdisciplinary environment; students interested in augmenting their professional training (in business, public policy, law, etc.) with a rigorous grounding in MENA languages and regional knowledge; and students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree with a MENA focus who wish to develop their language skills and foundational knowledge in the region and chosen discipline prior to applying to a PhD program. This program is offered through the University of Michigan Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and administered by the International Institute. The annual application deadline is December 15.

The normal program of study for the MENAS MA takes two years and includes the following requirements:

  • Minimum Credit Requirement. Students must complete a minimum of 30 hours graduate level course work, distributed over three at least three fields (maximum 15 hours in one field) such as: anthropology, history, history of art, languages and literatures, political science, religion and civilization, and sociology.

  • Core Courses. MENAS 493 (Comparative Perspectives of the Middle East and North Africa) and MENA 695 (Study of the Middle East).

  • Middle Eastern History Courses. Two terms of Middle Eastern history, equivalent to History 442 (The First Millennium of the Islamic Near East) and History 443 (Modern Middle East History).  One or both terms of this requirement may be waived by the Center’s graduate advisor if comparable courses were taken at the undergraduate level. If the courses are waived, students must choose alternate approved history courses.

  • Language Proficiency. A minimum 3rd year level of a modern language of the region through either coursework or demonstrated competence. No graduate credit is given for language courses below the 400 level and thus will not count toward the 30 required hours.

  • Master’s Essay or additional credits. A research essay (thesis) equivalent to a substantial term paper, submitted for approval by two faculty members, OR, with the Center director's approval, a non-essay option of 36 hours of graduate level courses. MENAS Thesis Guidelines


MA students should meet with the CMENAS Advisor at least three times throughout the course of their degree: once at orientation, again near the end of their first year to discuss plans for the thesis and for guidance in selecting a thesis advisor, and early in their final semester to conduct a degree audit. Additional appointments can be scheduled as necessary. Schedule an advising appointment


The MA program admits students once per year for the fall term. Individuals apply online through the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Online applications will go directly to Rackham and CMENAS.  The online application opens in early September and the deadline is December 15. If you are applying for a dual degree program, you must also complete an application for the other program. Please note in both applications that you are applying for a dual degree program.

A UMID number will be issued to you by email once you complete the first five pages of the online application and advance to page 6.  Having your UMID number to include on all your application materials ensures accurate and timely processing, so we encourage you to complete pages 1-5 early in the process

The Rackham online application requires the following:

  • Statement of Purpose: A concise, well-written statement about your academic and research background, your career goals, and how Michigan's CMENAS program will help you meet your career and educational objectives.
  • Personal Statement: A concise, well-written statement about how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan. This is not an Academic Statement of Purpose, but a discussion of the personal journey that has led to your decision to seek a graduate degree in CMENAS.
  • Recommendations: Three letters of recommendation are required. These should be from academic sources if possible.  Applicants may request and track recommendations using the Rackham online application. For tips on how to manage your recommendations online, see this Rackham web page.
  • Academic writing sample in English. Maximum 20 pages.

Transcripts/Academic Records

  • All applicants are required to send to Rackham a complete set of official academic records/transcripts from undergraduate and postgraduate institutions from which you have or will receive a degree.
  • E-transcripts are preferred but paper transcripts are also acceptable.  More information on transcripts sent to Rackham can be found here; graduates of non-US institutions should also see additional instructions here
  • In addition, CMENAS encourages the submission of transcripts from other postsecondary institutions at which you have completed relevant language and area studies courses, such as study abroad programs, junior colleges, and summer sessions. Transcripts may be submitted electronically at or mailed to:

International Institute  Graduate Academic Services
ATTN: CMENAS Transcripts
Suite 300, Weiser Hall
500 Church Street
Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1042

Test Scores

  • Applicants must send GRE scores to Rackham, institutional code 1839.  Dual-degree applicants may use GMAT or LSAT scores in place of the GRE.
  • Applicants whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency or meet the criteria for an exemption. More information can be found at

For more information, contact

Financial Aid

Applicants to the MA program who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are encouraged to apply for Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships and for need-based financial aid through the Office of Financial Aid. Students are also encouraged to investigate the fellowships and grants offered by the International Institute and the Funding information provided by Rackham.

For more information, schedule an advising appointment or email