Undergraduate Programs

What is Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures?

Undergraduate students in the Department of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC) investigate major linguistic, literary and cultural aspects of a region whose ideas, technological innovations, religions and cultures have influenced human activity on a global scale. The field reaches across time, straining geographical definition, starting with prehistoric archaeological research, continuing to the study of ancient and medieval civilizations, and extending to examinations of modern culture. While MELC focuses on the Near and Middle East, Central Eurasia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa, our curriculum and research also includes communities from these areas who have made homes around the world.

MELC serves a broad spectrum of undergraduates. Some acquire specific linguistic and cultural proficiency while others are more generally interested in the histories and cultures of the region. The linguistic, analytical, communication, and cultural skills gained in our programs prepare alumni for successful careers in a variety of fields such as public service, education, law, business and entrepreneurship, and medicine.

Why study Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures?

  • Profound understanding: MELC offers uniquely strong programs in Near Eastern languages, which combined with its interdisciplinary approach--drawing on archaeology, history, literature, and more--provides a rare, immersive experience with the Near and Middle East.
  • A perfect pairing: Thanks to resources from the Jackson School of International Studies, students can gain an uncommonly strong grounding in the region’s history and current events to kick-start their careers in the public or private sector.
  • Community connections: Department ties to local Persian, Turkish, Jewish, Arab, and Central Asian groups create opportunities for students to understand and help with the issues facing these communities today.
  • Personalized education: Diverse course offerings and flexible major requirements create opportunities to customize your education to your interests.
  • Empowering scholarship: Our faculty encourage students to be active researchers and scholars in the field through programs like MELC Digital, FLAS fellowships, in-field archeological projects, and student-driven independent study.

What programs do we offer for undergraduates?

How do you major in MELC?

MELC is an open major, which means that UW students in good academic standing may declare this major at any time and that the major has no prerequisites. To declare the major, students must contact Humanities Academic Services.

To learn more about applying to the university as an incoming student, please see information for first-year students, transfers, and international students.

How do you meet with a MELC adviser?

Undergraduate advising for MELC is provided through Humanities Academic Services.