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Undergraduate Program

Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at WashU

Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies is an academic department, unique in North America, in which Jewish Studies and Islamic Studies are integrated. It is an interdisciplinary department whose purpose is to explore the historical experience, literary, religious and cultural expression, and political and material life of the Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern civilizations. Whether you favor the study of language, literature, religion, history, or politics, you will find in our courses a way to deepen your appreciation of these complex and diverse societies and cultures. You will also be encouraged to explore the interaction of Jews and Muslims with neighboring societies and cultures in the Middle East, Europe, North Africa, and other parts of the world.

Our majors and minors have gone on to do many things after graduation. Many have entered professional schools in such fields as law, journalism, education, the rabbinate or ministry, government, and communal or social work. Others have gone on to do graduate work in either Jewish or Islamic studies or in related disciplines. Still others have combined their interest in Jewish, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies with careers in business, medicine, or scientific research. All have found the major to have been an intellectually and emotionally rewarding experience and an important component of their overall development.

We have two types of majors: JINES (Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies) and Language and Culture. The JINES major focuses on history, literature, politics, and religion. The language and culture majors focus on specific languages and cultures. All majors require language study.

For every student, our goal is to:

  • Convey an appreciation for the complexities, depth, diversity, and cultural richness of Jewish and Islamic civilizations in their historical context from antiquity to the present.
  • Explore the interaction of Jewish, Islamic, and other Near Eastern societies and cultures with neighboring peoples both within and outside the Middle East.
  • Encourage mastery of the primary languages and literatures in which Jews and Muslims have expressed their cultures.
  • Prepare students for graduate or professional studies in these or related fields.

Areas of Study

Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies

This major focuses on history, literature, politics, and religion. Students who wish to major in Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies will select one of three tracks: Comparative Jewish and Islamic Studies, Islamic Studies, or Jewish Studies.

Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Studies Information

Arabic

As majors in Arabic, students can expect to gain proficiency in the language, study the area’s literary and cultural landmarks, and gain familiarity with Near Eastern history and civilizations.

Arabic Studies Information

Hebrew

As a major in Hebrew, students can expect to gain proficiency in the language, study the area’s literary and cultural landmarks, and gain familiarity with the historical context.

Hebrew Studies Information

Hindi & Urdu

The Hindi minor allows students to gain proficiency in the language, study the area’s literary and cultural landmarks, and gain familiarity with the historical context.

Hindi & Urdu Minor Information

Prizes and Awards

We offer two undergraduate prizes. The David and Sarah Visenberg Prize for an Outstanding Thesis in Jewish Studies is awarded yearly to either an undergraduate or graduate student who has written an outstanding senior honors thesis or master’s thesis in Jewish Studies. It was established by Ziva and Professor Gerald Izenberg in memory of Ziva’s parents. Students can also earn Distinction in Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, which is awarded to graduating majors who earn a GPA of at least 3.65 in all their JIMES courses. Courses taken while on study abroad will not be taken into consideration for eligibility for distinction.

Where can a JIMES degree take you?

Career Information