Program Requirements and Information


Please note that all students are strongly advised to read the School of Graduate Studies 2014-2015 Handbook carefully with respect to the Department but also with regard to general policies, procedures, requirements, and the Code of Academic Conduct.

Academic Advisor
Upon admission to the Department all students will be assigned an Academic Advisor in a field related to the student’s stated area of interest. The role of the Advisor will be to counsel the student with regard to his/her selection of courses and language requirements, keeping in mind the student’s academic goals, program requirements, and other academic concerns.  This should occur in the early phases of his/her graduate program. Eventually, the advisor will be replaced by the Thesis Supervisor (see below), who will be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator when the thesis topic has been selected.

Master of Arts Program
The requirement for admission to this degree is a four-year B.A. in a relevant program from a recognized university with an average of at least B+ or equivalent in the final year. All applicants must have some prior background in Ancient Near Eastern and/or Islamic Middle Eastern Civilizations. In addition, applicants for admission to the Middle Eastern and Islamic programs must have adequate reading knowledge of at least one of the following languages: Arabic, Persian, and/or Turkish. Applicants for admission to the Ancient Near Eastern programs may also be required to have appropriate training in a primary source language.

Courses: The one-year M.A. program normally requires at least three full-year graduate courses, or the equivalent, selected in consultation with the Academic Advisor. The two-year M.A. program normally requires at least six full graduate courses, or the equivalent.

If a student intends to go on to the Ph.D. program, it is especially important that courses should be chosen in consultation with the Academic Advisor and Graduate Coordinator. Please read the section on course registration.

Languages of Modern Scholarship:  There are no requirements for previous training in languages of modern scholarship for admission to the Master of Arts program in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations. However, students continuing on to the Ph.D. program will be required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of two languages of modern scholarship, in addition to English, by the time of their General Examinations. Therefore, students intending to go on to the Ph.D. level are strongly encouraged to begin acquiring immediately, if they have not already done so, at least one language of modern scholarship such as French or German.

Languages of Primary Sources: Applicants for admission to the M.A degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic programs must have adequate reading knowledge of at least one of the languages of primary sources (Arabic, Persian, Turkish). Applicants to some Ancient Near Eastern programs, may be required to have previous training in a primary source language.  Students intending to go on to the Ph.D. level should continue their study of the primary source language(s) during their M.A. program.

Doctor of Philosophy Program
Before being considered for admission to the Ph.D. program, applicants shall normally have obtained an M.A. degree in a relevant program from a recognized university with at least an A- average or the equivalent in the courses taken for the M.A. program, and must also satisfy the Department of their ability to do independent research. In addition, candidates must have sufficient relevant background in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, and training in the appropriate primary source languages. The Department, at its discretion, may offer direct entry from a bachelor’s degree to the Ph.D. program to exceptionally qualified students. Program requirements for doctoral candidates, while following the general guidelines and program stages outlined below, may differ on an individual basis with regard to details. The determining factor in an individual’s program is the training (course work, languages) that is considered essential preparation for him/her to be able to carry out research in a particular area.

Residency: Candidates for the degree are required to be registered “on campus” for the period during which course work requirements are being fulfilled, and in no case for less than two academic years.

Ph.D. Program Memorandum: In consultation with the Academic Advisor, the student who intends to go on to the Ph.D. level will fill out a Program Memorandum regarding his/her intended studies. The Program Memorandum will serve as a guide for both Advisor and student to ensure the timely completion of program requirements. The Program Memorandum records the decisions about the student’s program and covers the pre-thesis components of the doctoral program. These components are listed in the order in which decisions about them are normally made.

All requirements, including the doctoral thesis, must be completed within six years of first enrolment. An extension may be possible in exceptional circumstances. Please note, however, that funding opportunities drastically diminish after year 5 of the program. A copy of the Program Memorandum should be filed with the Graduate Coordinator. The student and Advisor should keep a copy for reference as well. Changes in a student’s program may be recorded in a revised memorandum at any time. Program Memorandum forms may be obtained from the Graduate Administrator.

Course Work: The minimum requirements for the Ph.D. degree will normally be six full graduate courses, or equivalent. The candidate’s program of study, consisting of a Major (three full-year courses in an area of concentration), a First Minor (two full-year courses in an area of concentration) and Second Minor (one full-year course, or equivalent in an area of concentration) will be determined in consultation with the Department. In approved circumstances (determined by the requirements of the student’s area of study and dissertation topic) and in consultation with the Academic Advisor and Graduate Coordinator, up to three of these courses may be supplied from an M.A. program or its equivalent.

Languages of Modern Scholarship: Students in the Ph.D. program will be required to demonstrate a high level reading knowledge of two languages of modern scholarship, normally French and German, in addition to English before they proceed to the General Examinations. Students are expected to meat these requirements by passing one language exam per year in the first two years of the Ph.D. program. Therefore, students are strongly encouraged to adhere to the Timetable for fulfilling language requirements given below (see Timeline, p. 22). A language other than French or German may be substituted in some cases with the approval of the Academic Advisor and the Graduate Coordinator.

Proficiency Exams in Languages of Modern Scholarship:
The Department will administer two-hour language proficiency exams three times only during the academic year. In 2014-2015 the proficiency exams in French and German will be offered on:

Friday, October 24, 2014; Friday, January 23, 2015; & Friday, April 24, 2015

A student who fails to achieve a grade of 70% on a language proficiency exam may retake the exam no earlier than the next scheduled exam date. The two-hour exam will consist of texts which are directly related to the student’s field of interest and which the student would be expected to use in the normal course of his/her research. The student should be able to translate into good English a passage of at least 450-500 words within the two-hour period. The student should demonstrate that he/she has correctly understood the text. The exams will normally be corrected and assessed by individuals outside the Department selected for their expertise in the relevant languages.

Students may also take the proficiency exams offered by the language departments.  See the graduate bulletin board for further information.

Languages of Primary Sources: Students seeking admission to the Ph.D. program shall have already gained facility in one of the primary source languages. The Academic Advisor may deem that additional languages are required, depending on the field of thesis research.

Proficiency Exams in Primary Source Languages: A candidate for the Ph.D. degree will either take a separate minor area examination in a primary source language or be examined in it in the context of a major area examination taken as one of the General Examinations. In this examination the student shall demonstrate facility in using primary resources for research purposes.

Timetable for Language Requirements (Languages of Modern Scholarship and Primary Sources)
Candidates for the Ph.D. degree may not proceed to their General Examinations unless and until they have satisfied their language requirements. Therefore, the Department requires students in the Ph.D. stream to adhere to the timetable below:

Ph.D. Year 1       Exam: First language of modern scholarship passed by end of year 1 or                                   earlier

Ph.D. Year 2       Exam: Second language of modern scholarship passed by end of year 2 or                              earlier

Ph.D. Year 3       General Examinations, including examination in a primary source                                          language.

Ancient Near East Studies: Students generally are expected to demonstrate the ability to read French andGerman.  However, other languages, such as Latin, Arabic, and Modern Hebrew, may be substituted for one of these.

Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies: Students in this area are not normally admitted to the program unless they have already gained facility in one of the languages of research (e.g. Arabic, Persian, or Turkish). Students in this area are required to demonstrate evidence of ability to read French and German prior to taking their General Exams, and will be examined in a research language (e.g. Arabic, Persian, or Turkish) at the time of their general exams.

The configuration of the General Examinations is decided on an individual basis determined by the student’s program and proposed thesis research.

How to Organize the General Examinations
The student should discuss the configuration of his/her examinations first with his/her Advisor and then with the Graduate Coordinator.

The areas examined correspond to the major, first minor, and second minor areas of concentration. Thus the student will write at least THREE examinations. The Program Memorandum (see p. 16) form should be helpful in determining the areas to be examined.

-in certain cases the major examination may be divided into two separate examinations.
-the primary source language exam may also be given as part of the General Examinations.
-in consultation with the Advisor and the Graduate Coordinator the student should set up an examination schedule.
-the written examinations are normally scheduled every other day.
-the oral examination should follow the written examinations by a week or so and be scheduled at a time convenient to the student, the examiners, and the Graduate Coordinator, all of whom must be present.
-the Advisor should coordinate the examinations with the other examiners.

The Advisor must notify the Graduate Administrator, in writing or by email, of the examination schedule, including dates and titles of exams. The Graduate Administrator will reserve an examination room and confirm the dates with the Graduate Coordinator.

The student may wish to discuss the nature of the examination (e.g., length, closed or open book or aids allowed, anticipated number of questions, location) with the examiner in each field.

If the student passes the General Examinations, he or she will be expected to present his/her thesis proposal following the Oral General Examination.  Written copies of the proposal, even if in preliminary form, must be distributed to all examiners and to the Graduate Coordinator at least one week in advance of the Oral General Examination. Please see guidelines for thesis proposal contents below.

1. The General Examinations comprise both the written exams and the oral exam.
2. Typically the Major Exam is an eight-hour exam, which is normally spread over two days (4 hours each day), but may also be written in one day.
3. The Minor Exams are four hours long.
4. All exams must be handed in before 5 pm when the Graduate Office closes.
5. The Oral exam is based on material covered by or closely related to the written exams and is normally scheduled one week or so after the final written exam. If the student has passed his/her General Exams, the thesis proposal will also be discussed.
6. Location: The General Examinations, both written and oral, take place at The Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations in a room assigned by the Graduate Administrator.
7. Exam Questions areprovided to the student on paper, and the student writes responses directly into a file on the computer or into an exam book, if by hand.
8. Answers: At the exam’s conclusion, the administrator copies the answers to a key, if exams are written on the computer. The answers are emailed to all examiners, and a printed copy of the answers is given to the student. If written by hand, photocopies of the original are made and distributed.
9. Material Covered: The written examinations cover material based on courses the student has taken in relation to his/her Major and Minor fields (see Program Memorandum form), material relevant to the student’s intended research and in relation to reading lists that have been agreed on by the student and the members of his/her examining committee. The oral examination questions are normally based on the student’s written answers, but questions may extend to other matters contained in the reading lists agreed upon or questions not selected from the written exams.
10. Interim Grade for Written Exam:  Once the written portions are successfully completed, the oral exam proceeds as scheduled.
11. Final Grade: Following the Oral exam, professors are asked to confer and record a final letter grade on the grade sheet, as well as a pass/fail decision. A grade of CR appears on the transcript, when a student is successful. (Please see the Policies for contingencies should a student be unsuccessful.

1. Examination Papers: Please provide the General Examination questions for the
written portion of the exam to the Graduate Administrator at least one day before the date on which the exam is to be written. The questions can be submitted via email to
2. Questions: Where two professors are submitting questions for the same exam, they will need to confer about that exam and decide on the questions. Only the finally agreed-upon questions need be forwarded to the Graduate Administrator.
3. Assists: Please indicate whether the student is to be allowed assists, such as dictionaries or reference materials, during the examination.
4.  All graded exams must be returned to the Graduate Administrator.

1. Exam start time: Please check in with the Graduate Administrator prior to the exam.
2. Materials: Unless specifically advised, no materials or assists will be allowed in the examination room. The student may bring food and drink. All other personal belongings will be stored in the Graduate Administration office during the exam.
3. Writing the Exam: Please indicate in advance of the examination date if you would prefer to write the examination by hand.
4. The Exam Room: To be determined by the Graduate Administrator.
5. The Oral Exam: The Oral Examination Committee will establish the Thesis Advisory Committee in part or in whole in consultation with the student in the context of the thesis proposal discussion.

Thesis Proposal
Thesis Proposal:  Students who need to develop their proposals more thoroughly will be allowed up to two months following their examinations to complete their proposal. A draft of the proposal or preliminary proposal should be distributed to all members of the examining committee and to the Graduate Coordinator at least one week before the Oral General Examination.  No later than two months following the successful completion of the General Examinations, the candidate must submit the final written thesis proposal (10-20 max. plus bibliography) on a topic for which the Department is able to provide supervision.

Submission of the proposed topic to the Department by October 15 of Ph.D. year 3.

Presentation of thesis proposal or topic during the oral component of the General Examination. The proposal may be approved as it is at this point, or the candidate may be required to do further preparation. The final version of the proposal must be submitted no more than two months after the successful completion of the General Examinations.

Thesis Proposal Contents:
1) Title: Give the tentative title you intend to use. It should be concise and precise, i.e., it should give the reader an exact idea of your research proposal in the fewest possible words.
2)The Thesis Statement: State clearly and fully the problem that you intend to investigate.
3)Review of Previous Scholarship: Discuss the relationship of your research topic to current and previous scholarship. Others have contributed to your field historically and philosophically. What closely related problems have been solved and by whom? Who treated the problem and to what extent? Where does the unsolved portion of the problem begin? What are the principal sources? Discuss the ways in which this thesis will “constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge of the field.” (SGS Calendar)
4) Methodology: Describe in detail how you plan to investigate the problem; what methods of analysis will aid your investigation of your primary source material.
5) Proposed Table of Contents: To the extent possible, state the probable chapter headings as they will appear in your Table of Contents.
6) Bibliography: List the most important original sources and scholarly works to be consulted, including those discussed in your Review of Previous Scholarship. In composing thesis proposals, students are advised to consult with their Supervisor and potential Thesis Advisory Committee members, normally faculty members in related fields.

Upon successful completion of course work, language requirements, the General Examinations, and approval of his/her thesis proposal, the student will proceed to his/her preparation of doctoral thesis research. The thesis must embody the results of original investigation and constitute a significant contribution to knowledge in the field. It must be based on research conducted while registered for the Ph.D. program. The thesis must be successfully defended at a Final Oral Examination. For further details see the SGS Handbook.

The thesis should be as concise as possible and should be formatted according to the guidelines of the School of Graduate Studies. For further information on technical requirements please refer to the Guidelines for the Preparation of the Thesis for Microfilming and Binding. The guidelines are available on the School of Graduate Studies’ website:

Thesis research that involves the use of human subjects, for instance, in the case of informants, interview subjects, survey respondents, and other uses, must conform to University policy. Please see the Graduate Administrator for further details.

Thesis research that involves archaeological fieldwork must respect the regulations of the country involved.

The Thesis Supervisor
The Supervisor is responsible for the direction of the thesis and is the principal member of the Thesis Advisory Committee (see below). The Supervisor determines whether additional course work, languages, or other preparation is necessary in order for the student to complete the thesis successfully. The Supervisor shall call a meeting of the Thesis Advisory Committee at least once a year or more often as required.

When the Supervisor and the other members of the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee have read the thesis in its entirety and agree that the thesis is defensible and ready to go to examination, the Supervisor will notify the Graduate Coordinator of this in writing. The student will then bring copies of the completed thesis to the office of the Graduate Administrator. In addition, the student will submit an abstract of the thesis, a brief biographical sketch, and a list of scholarly publications, if any.

The Supervisor will nominate three potential external examiners to the Graduate Coordinator and, in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator, the student and the examiner selected, will set a convenient date for the examination. Students must allow at least eight to nine weeks from submission to the date of the oral defense.

The Thesis Advisory Committee
Students are required to meet with their Thesis Advisory Committee at least once a year. The composition of the Thesis Advisory Committee usually emerges as the thesis proposal develops. The Thesis Advisory Committee is composed of the Supervisor who directs the thesis and two or three other faculty members who are able to offer expert advice in fields related to the thesis topic but whose role is secondary to that of the Supervisor. Faculty from outside the Department may be invited to sit on the Committee.

The first job of the Thesis Advisory Committee is to consider the thesis proposal and, when it has been finalized, to approve the final version of the thesis proposal. The Committee should notify the Graduate Coordinator of the approval and file a copy of the final proposal with the office of the Graduate Administrator. The Thesis Advisory Committee shall meet with the candidate at least once a year to consider progress made, next steps, revisions of material, etc. A meeting at which all members are present is most desirable so that the student does not receive contradictory advice. If this is not possible, other arrangements should be made (e.g., a conference call). The meeting might begin with a brief presentation of work by the student, followed by discussion and recommendations. The results of the meeting should be summarized on the Thesis Advisory Committee Assessment form, which can be obtained from the office of the Graduate Administrator and then filed with the Graduate Coordinator.  A Thesis Advisory Committee Assessment (report) must be filed each year before May 15. The Committee reports will be used in assessing the academic standing of post-program doctoral students for funding purposes. The Assessment forms will normally replace letters of recommendation for this purpose.