Middle Eastern and North African Studies

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All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills. Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS) is concerned with the region from the western coast of Morocco and the southern borders of the Sahara to the eastern end of Afghanistan and Islamic Central Asia. The MENAS concentration is an interdisciplinary program designed to give students a broad background including language, history, and culture to help students understand the development and current issues of this strategically important region.

As a MENAS concentrator, you will develop the ability to understand cultural differences and cultural development. Through language training and study, you will also develop excellent analytical and communication skills.

Related fields include Near Eastern Studies, History, Anthropology, Political Science, Philosophy, Judaic Studies, History of Art, Ancient Civilizations and Museum Studies, as well as Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies.


Language Skills

Reading and understanding ideas
Recognizing word patterns and structures
Interpreting complex language
Reading for tone and attitude
Translating language / ideas
Evaluating translations and original texts

Research / Analytical Skills

Asking questions
Generating and developing ideas
Compiling and organizing information
Examining evidence
Evaluating theories
Solving problems
Making decisions

Interpersonal / Cross-Cultural Skills

Understanding and accepting other cultures and beliefs
Developing sensitivity to other viewpoints
Appreciating continuity and change within a historical perspective
Clarifying others’ thoughts and ideas

Communication Skills

Writing clearly
Editing / proofreading materials
Persuading people / groups
Presenting and debating arguments
Listening critically
Evaluating ideas


Employers seek out individuals who can demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills, initiative, and a strong work ethic. Student organizations and campus employment offer valuable opportunities to add to the skills you are developing in your classes. Other options include off-campus employment or volunteering in the community. Study abroad experiences are particularly helpful to improve language proficiency and gain intercultural skills. Finally, a summer internship may be the best way of all to test out a career field and develop marketable skills.


MENAS concentrators develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers. For example, cross-cultural sensitivity may be equally useful whether working as a foreign-service officer, an international hotel manager, or a journalist.

Many concentrators go on to graduate or professional school. The list below is a sample of careers undertaken by MENAS graduates.

Language Skills

United Nations interpreter
Consular assistant
Translations specialist
Foreign affairs journalist

Research / Analytical Skills

State Department analyst open book icon
International finance analyst open book icon
Immigration inspector
Congressional staff member
Foundation researcher
Intelligence agent
College professor open book icon
Librarian open book icon
Archaeological Assistant
Historian open book icon

Interpersonal / Cross-Cultural Skills

Affirmative action officer
Foreign service officer
Consultant, cross-cultural relations
Travel agent
Export import sales manager
International hotel manager

Communication Skills

K-12 teacher
Textbook sales representative
Advertising copywriter
Museum exhibit assistant
Museum curator open book icon
Journalist / writer, all media
Editor, all media
Arts reviewer

open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at http://online.onetcenter.org/


Curriculum requirements include 2 years of Arabic, Armenian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, or Uzbek and at least 24 additional credits in upper level courses. We also offer fifteen-credit minors in MENAS and Islamic Studies.

For more information, see the LSA bulletin, the MENAS website, or make an appointment with a MENAS academic advisor.

Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies
International Institute, Suite 3603
1080 S. University Avenue

Newnan Advising Center
1255 Angell Hall


To begin exploring opportunities for overseas study and work, go to:  http://lsa.umich.edu/cgis/ or http://globalportal.umich.edu/study.php

To begin connecting to professionals in fields that interest you, create your own LinkedIn account: 

To identify internships or job opportunities, visit Handshake: https://careercenter.umich.edu/article/handshake

On-campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at: https://studentemployment.umich.edu/JobX_Home.aspx

Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:  http://studentorgs.umich.edu/maize

The Career Center
3200 Student Activities Building

The Career Guide series was developed by the University of Michigan Career Center, Division of Student Affairs, in cooperation with the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. ©2011 Regents of the University of Michigan