MA in Islamic Studies American University in Beirut

Course details

The Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES) offers a new interdisciplinary MA degree in Islamic Studies, starting in the Fall 2014-2015. The MA program assists students in acquiring a sound grounding in various aspects of the study of Islam and the Middle East. The Center offers seminars in Islamic Studies as well as a full range of Arabic language courses for non-native speakers. CAMES is an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary unit, and the MA program draws on other departments at AUB to provide coursework and thesis advising for its students in history, Arabic literature, philosophy, politics, sociology, anthropology, and media studies. The courses, the thesis or project requirements encourage critical and independent thinking with analytic in-depth research. To complement the curriculum and promote scholarship in Islamic Studies, CAMES also sponsors visiting lectures and conferences, and holds occasional events such as film screenings and readings.


Students are required to submit a graduate application online, and to have a GPA of at least 80 or 3.0 and good recommendations to be considered for admission in a process that is competitive. A full application includes:

  • Application form
  • Two academic letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose explaining your intellectual background, what you wish to study, and with whom
  • Official copies of all post-secondary transcripts (unofficial copies can be submitted online and the official copies can be then submitted later)
  • GRE and TOEFL scores (Native English speakers and graduates of universities in which the language of instruction is English may be exempt from the TOEFL) – Applicants have options other than TOEFL to meet the English Language Proficiency Requirements, such as: IELTS, EEE, GRE (Verbal Part)
  • Application fee
  • Photocopy of the passport
  • One passport photograph
  • Updated curriculum vitae [recommended]
  • Arabic writing sample (since admission requires proof of an intermediate Arabic language
  • level)
  • English writing sample [optional]

Coursework, with a Thesis or a Project

The total number of credits is 30: 24-credits for courses, plus 6-credits Thesis, OR for the non-thesis option: 27-credits for courses, plus 3-credits Project. For the coursework, the program requires that atleast 6-credits be in the classical, 6-credits in the modern, at least 3-credits in classes based on texts, and at least 3-credits in classes based on social science methodology:

  • Required Islamic Studies Core Courses (“Sources and Methods” & “Islamic Civilizations”) 6 cr.
  • Islamic Studies Elective Courses (Qur’anic studies, Islamic thought, etc.) 9 cr.
  • Contextual Elective Courses (cross-listed with various depts. And related to Islam) 9 cr.
  • Thesis / OR / Project + Islamic Studies Elective Course 6 cr.
  • Comprehensive exam prior to thesis or project defense

Besides the two Core courses, students may take their remaining graduate courses at CAMES or in topics related to Islamic Studies at departments other than CAMES. Non-native speakers of Arabic are required to take intensive Arabic language classes, and these are not counted as part of the degree credits. The program recommends the study of a second European language other than English, and for native speakers of Arabic to also develop a reading proficiency in a second language central to literature in Islamic civilizations and cultures, or a second Semitic language, depending on the field of specialization.

About American University in Beirut

In 1862, American missionaries in Lebanon and Syria, under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, asked Dr. Daniel Bliss to withdraw from the evangelistic work of the mission in Lebanon to found a college of higher learning that would include medical training. It was felt that this college should have an American educational character, should be administered independently from the Mission, and should be maintained by its own funds. Dr. Bliss travelled to the United States in the summer of 1862 to solicit funds for this new enterprise. By August 1864 he had raised $100,000, but because of inflation during the Civil War it was decided that he should raise a sterling fund in England to start the operations of the college, leaving the dollar fund to appreciate. After collecting 4,000 in England, he travelled to Beirut in March 1866.

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