Essaouira, Morocco; photo courtesy of Tom Paradise

Why study the Middle East and North Africa?

The Middle East Studies (MEST) Program at the University of Arkansas offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree as part of a combined major with other approved academic programs. Students interested in the Middle East and North Africa and desiring to maximize their potential for academic, business, professional, or government careers related to the area, may earn a Major in Middle East Studies with a required primary major in an approved area such as anthropology, economics, world languages, geography, history, journalism, or political science. MEST majors often opt for a Minor in Arabic offered through the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Many of our students go on to graduate work in area studies programs and related professional employment in public and private spheres.  Check out the accomplishments of our alumni in our Annual Reports and our Newsletters.

A degree in Middle East Studies:

  • provides our students with the tools to improve their perception and understanding of the Middle East and North Africa while encouraging them to make new connections between these cultures, nations, peoples, and places.
  • encourages independent and interdisciplinary thinking in our challenging and changing world.  It will enable students to develop opinions, attitudes, values, and beliefs, based on their own evaluations of arguments and evidence, acquired through faculty interaction, independent study, fieldtrips, internships, colloquia, visiting presentations, and through active participation in our MEST learning community.
  • prepares students to meet the challenges of an expanding, diverse, technological, and complex global society. Students will gain knowledge, and learn skills and abilities that will promote success in the many careers available to them as they pursue their work as scholars of Middle East Studies, and as citizens of the world.
  • offers a foundation for graduate work leading to academic careers or professional degrees in a variety of fields, and prepares students for careers in government and NGOs, international business, communications, teaching and translation, and more.

Ready to get started?

It's easy!  To add a major or minor in Middle East Studies:

  • Visit the MEST Office in Old Main 202 or notify your advisor
  • Make an appointment with Renato Despain, MEST Program Manager, to go over program requirements and your progress toward them
  • Request to be added to the MEST Undergraduate Email List to receive updates on special MEST programming, funding opportunities, and other program updates

We look forward to hearing from you!