UChicago undergraduates may apply for a five-year BA/MA program that is offered in conjunction with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) and the College. Through this dual BA/MA program College students can earn a BA degree and also an MA degree in Middle Eastern Studies after only five years of study at the University of Chicago.

How it works

Students admitted to the dual BA/MA program in Middle Eastern Studies are considered to be in “concurrent residence” (in the College and in CMES) beginning in the Autumn Quarter of their fourth year at the University. In other words, during their fourth year at the University of Chicago, students are simultaneously pursuing the requirements of the BA and the MA degree. Students will complete a BA thesis and will receive their BA degree at the end of year four. In the fifth year BA/MA students are no longer in concurrent residence - they complete the MA requirements including the MA thesis, and they receive a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies.

Courses and Requirements

The dual BA/MA degree in Middle Eastern Studies requires students to take eighteen graduate courses in years four and five at the University of Chicago. Students may double count three graduate level courses taken in year four toward both their BA degree and their MA degree. Any graduate courses taken during the second or third year in the College may not be counted towards the BA/MA in Middle Eastern Studies, though they may of course be counted toward the BA degree.

During their fourth year in the College (first year of the MA program), students retain their undergraduate privilege of registering for four courses per quarter. Per the College rules, students are not allowed to take 500 units except in limited situations during their final year of registration. This means that, in year four, applicants should anticipate taking a maximum of twelve courses, organized as follows: six courses counting towards the MA program only; up to three courses counting towards both the BA and MA program; and no more than three courses counting towards the BA only. Exceptions to this rule are exceptional and should not be taken for granted when elaborating a course plan. During the second year of the MA program, students must follow MA rules, which restrict enrollment to three courses per quarter. The MA program requires a master’s thesis which must be planned, researched, and written. Students must also fulfill all the curricular requirements for their MA degree (e.g., the CMES Proseminar, advanced language study, etc.) and should consult with the CMES MA advisor about staying on track to complete these. For further information, please see the College Catalog.

Application Process and Sample Timeline

In order to apply to the joint BA/MA program, Undergraduate students must have demonstrated a record of excellence in their undergraduate career, and be sufficiently advanced in the fulfillment of their College degree requirements. By the end of their third year in the College, applicants should have a minimum GPA for their undergraduate work comparable to that required for honors in their major; have completed the College general education requirements as well as 39 courses, including some graduate-level courses; have completed at least one year (three courses) of a Middle Eastern language, and three courses related to Middle Eastern studies.

Eligible students apply for the BA/MA program in Middle Eastern Studies in their junior year. Students interested in the BA/MA program should consult with their College adviser, CMES Deputy Director for Academic Programs Paul Walker (pwalker@uchicago.edu) the NELC Director of Undergraduate Studies Hervé Reculeau (hreculeau@uchicago.edu). We ask that following documents be submitted by February 1st of the third year in the College, though we have been able to offer some flexibility with this deadline in the past. BA/MA students pay no application fee, and are not required to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE):

  • the graduate application (click here for the Humanities application, or click here for the Social Science application);
  • two letters of recommendation;
  • a writing sample (usually a term paper from a relevant class);
  • the BA/MA Worksheet, filled out and signed by the College adviser
  • a dual BA/MA Form: Top portion filled out (available from the College Office).

Sample Timeline

Year 1 – Begin coursework at the College.
Year 2 – Speak with your College adviser in Spring Quarter to discuss your progress regarding general education and major requirements and options for BA/MA study. If an MA program is aligned with your goals, speak to the NELC Director of Undergraduate Studies, and also Paul Walker at CMES to learn more.
Year 3 – Apply online to the MA program during Autumn Quarter. You may find the Humanities application here, and the Social Science application here. BA/MA students may apply for free and do not need to submit GRE scores to apply. If your major requires a thesis, talk to your department and your College Adviser about whether completing it in your third year is feasible.
Year 4 – Begin taking graduate coursework. Finish your undergraduate BA. Your adviser will be the point person for course mapping.
Year 5 – Complete your graduate coursework in the two-year MA program. Graduate with your master’s degree.

Tuition and Financial Aid

In year four of the dual BA/MA program students are able to use their College Aid towards tuition, though they are charged the graduate tuition rate, which is somewhat higher than the undergraduate tuition rate. Students should check with the College Aid Office to determine how this may impact their financial aid and tuition costs. In their fifth year (the second year of the MA program), BA/MA students are eligible for financial aid from the Social Sciences or Humanities Division, and students who maintain a 3.5 GPA or better during their first year in the MA program (year four) are likely to receive additional funding in their second year (year five), many at the full tuition level. Students in year five are also eligible to apply for Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) awards, which add a stipend. In the past year, twelve of the seventeen Master’s level students who applied for FLAS awards were able to attain this additional funding.