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Department of Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures

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Discover a wealth of history and cultures

A region of layered histories and diverse cultures, the Middle East is the birthplace of major languages, religions and philosophical movements. The Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) is devoted to teaching and research of the Near and Middle East, including Central Asia, tracing contemporary manifestations, their medieval roots, and the significance of these within the history of world civilizations. We serve students seeking specific linguistic and cultural proficiencies as well as students simply interested in the histories and cultures of the regions. 

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When you major in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, you learn in-demand skills such as reporting, editing, writing, interpersonal communication and more. Some MELC majors pursue careers directly associated with Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures; others pursue fields not typically associated with MELC. Our alumni have been successful in law, medicine, government and education careers, and have pursued advanced degrees in the humanities and social sciences.

Career Paths

You can put your MELC major to use as a(n):  

  • Investment specialist
  • Interpreter
  • Translator
  • Librarian
  • International researcher
  • Social worker
  • Foreign Embassy staff
  • Media specialist
  • Museum curator
  • Finance manager
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Work one-on-one with faculty

Independent study offers you the opportunity to work directly with faculty in an area of shared interest. These studies are designed for advanced students who have either completed all available courses in a specific subject or who are completing advanced research. Faculty consider each independent study request individually. Undergraduate independent study options include Direct Readings, Undergraduate Research and Senior Essay.

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Find Yourself in Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures

Through study of the cultures and languages of the Near and Middle East, gain the knowledge and practical skills to succeed in a variety of careers.



Department of Middle Eastern Languages & Cultures Stories

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A Novel Prize for Persian Translation

The Mo Habib Translation Prize is bringing the work of Persian writers — and translators of Persian — to an English-language audience. 

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Arts & Sciences' Fab Four for 2022

Four Dean's Medalists were selected by the College of Arts & Sciences for their varied and impressive work as UW undergraduates. 

Ryan Robinson

Down to Earth, In Turkey

Ryan Robinson (BA, 2019) digs deep for archaeological research.