Near Eastern Studies

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All academic programs offered at the UM help students develop valuable transferable skills.  So why major in Near Eastern Studies? This region is the birthplace of three major world religions and of our writing system, has a rich ancient and medieval history, and has become increasingly strategically important. NES offers students an interdisciplinary approach drawing on the expertise of faculty in multiple related disciplines. Study abroad for a semester or preferably a full academic year is highly encouraged.

Whether you are interested in mastering ancient or modern languages, becoming familiar with important artistic or religious figures, or studying contemporary international issues, as a NES concentrator you will obtain a broadly based liberal arts education and develop excellent critical thinking and communication skills, which will provide a foundation for careers in government, business, law, nonprofits, education, and the arts.

Related fields include History, Anthropology, Middle Eastern and North African Studies (MENAS), Political Science, Linguistics, Philosophy, Judaic Studies, Classics, History of Art and Architecture, Archaeology, Museum Studies, and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (REES).


Language Skills

Mastering a Near Eastern language
Reading and understanding ideas
Recognizing word patterns and structures
Interpreting complex language
Understanding the historical evolution of languages
Reading for tone and attitude
Translating language / ideas
Evaluating translations and original texts

Research / Analytical Skills

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

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

Communicating in Near Eastern cultural context
Writing clearly
Editing / proofreading materials
Persuading people / groups
Presenting and debating arguments
Listening critically


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. NES students are involved in numerous religious, ethnic, and cultural organizations and participate in research with NES faculty. Other ways to further develop your skills 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.


NES concentrators develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers. Employers frequently are looking to hire workers with linguistic and cultural competence; for example, cross-cultural sensitivity may be equally useful whether employed 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 NES graduates.

Language Skills

Consular assistant
Translations specialist
Language teacher

Research / Analytical Skills

Foreign policy analyst open book icon
Lawyer open book icon
International finance analyst open book icon
Homeland security analyst
Congressional staff member
Foundation researcher
Intelligence analyst
College professor open book icon
Librarian open book icon
Archaeologist open book icon
Physician open book icon

Interpersonal / Cross-Cultural Skills

Affirmative action officer
Immigration and customs officer
Foreign Service officer
Consultant, cross-cultural relations
Export / Import sales manager
International hotel manager

Communication Skills

K-12 teacher
Textbook sales representative
Marketing specialist
Museum exhibit assistant
Museum curator open book icon
Foreign affairs journalist / writer, all media
Editor, all media
Arts reviewer
Clergy open book icon

open book icon = Further Study Required

For more career information, see O*Net at


The Department offers several programs of study covering Near Eastern languages, literatures, civilizations, linguistics, history, ancient studies, Biblical studies, Egyptology, medieval Islamic history, and Islamic studies. Languages taught include Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Armenian, Persian, and numerous ancient and medieval languages, including Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Ancient Egyptian, Coptic, and Aramaic. The prerequisite for all NES concentrations is ACABS 100 / AAPTIS 100 / HJCS 100 / HISTORY 132, Peoples of the Middle East.

We also offer two minors in Near Eastern Languages and Culture and Early Christian Studies, along with an Honors option. Many students combine the NES concentration or minor with study in another department. For more information on all concentrations, see the LSA Bulletin, the NES website, or make an appointment with a NES academic advisor.

Department of Near Eastern Studies
4111 Thayer Building
202 S. Thayer Street

Newnan Advising Center
1255 Angell Hall


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On-campus jobs (work-study and non work-study jobs) are listed at:

Maize Pages list hundreds of organizations for students to get involved in:

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