MA in Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

View the Master of Arts in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Graduate Handbook. For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies Suvadip Sinha.

The Master of Arts in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (MAAMES) is a two-year degree with a flexible program of study for students who desire advanced training in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures, languages, and/or language pedagogy. Placing an emphasis on the development of strong language proficiency and relevant cultural knowledge, this degree is designed for four types of learners:

  1. Those who seek to prepare for entry into a PhD program in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Plan A or B)
  2. Those who will pursue careers in government, nonprofit institutions and social work, law, journalism, or business (Plan A or B)
  3. Those in or preparing for K-12 and community college education, library and archival work, or translation and interpretation (Plan A or B)
  4. Those who would like to teach one of our department’s languages at a college or university (Plan C)

Completion of the MA degree indicates proficiency in one Asian or Middle Eastern language and knowledge of the relevant histories, literatures, and cultures of the region. Students must designate a language of concentration on their MA in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies program application form. Currently, students may select Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, or Urdu for their language of concentration.

To facilitate the wide range of student interests, career goals, and regional specializations, the MA in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies offers students a thesis option (Plan A), a non-thesis option (Plan B), and a language pedagogy option (Plan C). See details below.

The focus of Plan A and Plan B is primarily humanistic, based in the traditions of philological, literary, visual, and philosophical scholarship. The plans also encourage investigations in the interpretive social sciences—such as anthropology, history, and the sociology of class, gender, and race. See our list of course offerings.

Plan C focuses on language pedagogy and provides extensive training to teach one of our department’s languages at a postsecondary institution. It also incorporates some of the humanistic scholarship of the other two plans in its core courses.

1. MA Thesis (Plan A Students)

Plan A students must submit one research paper for evaluation, consisting of a total of at least 15,000 words. Normally these grow out of paper(s) initially written in graduate seminars, and ideally they focus on some aspect of the student’s long-term research agenda. They generally will be submitted to the committee before the end of the second year of study.

2. Final Exam (Plan B Students)

In consultation with the advisor and two other committee members (one from outside of AMES), Plan B students will prepare two bibliographies representing two fields of scholarship at the start of their final semester of study. Each bibliography should contain at least 15 book-length works or equivalent. This will move the student towards becoming an authority on these areas of learning. Examples of typical fields: post-colonial criticism, modern Arabic literature, pre-modern Chinese poetics, Japanese drama, feminist film theory, etc. Students will write 1-2 page rationales discussing the particular questions and concerns that have guided the compilation of their bibliographies and submit them together with the lists of related books and articles. Students will complete the readings in consultation with exam committee members.

3. MA Language Pedagogy (Plan C)

Plan C in Language Pedagogy educates professionals who go on to teach our department’s languages (Arabic, Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, Hmong, Japanese, and Korean) in postsecondary language programs. These languages are experiencing growth in world language education and require language teachers with expertise in culture and language combined with a background in the pedagogy of less commonly taught languages. We are currently accepting applications from students interested in training as language instructors in any of our six language programs.

MA Plan C is a coursework-only program that includes course requirements specific to training in language pedagogy in addition to graduate courses in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (AMES). Because Plan C students also take AMES graduate courses in literary, cultural, and media studies, they experience a combination of training in both cultural analysis and teaching language that stands out among MA degrees in language pedagogy.

In addition to required graduate coursework, students work closely with our Directors of Language Instruction to train as language teaching professionals. In contrast to the other MA degree plans, students in Plan C complete the following:

  1. A professional portfolio comprising at least one conceptual paper written on language pedagogy and teaching philosophy, two sample syllabi for language courses, two weeks of lesson plans and descriptions of in-class practices (including copies of in-class materials such as powerpoints, handouts, and audiovisual content), and a document outlining and reflecting on the experience of the practicum course.
  2. A year-long practicum. In this two-semester course the student completes at least 40 hours of classroom observation and five hours of teaching experience in the language of concentration.
  3. An oral interview with their MA committee on their professional portfolio and training in the practicum.

Applicants to this program should have at least an ACTFL Advanced Low level of proficiency in the language of concentration, to be assessed by the relevant Director of Language Instruction. To graduate from the program, students must show an Advanced High level.

How to apply for the MA in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

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