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Columbia University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :12 May 
International :12 May 

MA Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

 Course Level
Masters / PG
Full Time

2 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

54360 USD
54360 USD

Application fee

International 105 USD
National 105 USD
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
GRE (avg)315

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About this course

The free-standing Master's Program is designed for students who need more preparation before applying to a Ph.D. program, who want to take courses in a range of subjects before deciding on a discipline for the Ph.D., or who want graduate-level training as preparation for a career beyond the university. Those who complete the degree often go on to enter Ph.D. programs, although many pursue other kinds of professional careers. Students from the free-standing M.A. program are sometimes accepted into the MESAAS Ph.D. program, but they must apply in the same way as non-MESAAS applicants. Students usually complete the free-standing M.A. in a year and a half, although some complete it within a year and others extend it over two years. The department also considers applications part-time study in this program. For more information, click on the link on the right.

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Eligibility Criteria

The Admissions Committee looks for applicants with a compelling background and strong grades.

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Course Modules

Courses: Thirty (30) points of courses at or above the 4000 level, taken for a letter grade, including MDES GR5000 (Theory and Methods 1), MDES GR5001 (Theory and Methods 2), and MDES GR6008 (MESAAS Research Colloquium). Students in the stand-alone MA program must include MDES GR5004 (Approaches to Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies), which can replace either GR5000 or GR5001.

Language: Proficiency in one MESAAS language, demonstrated by successfully completing a two-semester course at the intermediate (second-year) level or higher with a grade of at least a B, or by passing an equivalent examination.

Residence Units: Completion of two full residence units is required for granting the MA degree.

M.A. thesis: To be submitted no later than the twelfth week of the student's third semester and defended before two faculty readers (the advisor and one additional) before the end of the third semester (in the case of Ph.D. students). Students in the freestanding MA program may take an additional semester, if their academic goals warrant it. Students must submit an application to the department for the oral defense of their Master's thesis one month prior to scheduling the defense. In addition, students must fill out an application for the MA degree with the Registrar at the beginning of the term in which the MA will be defended.

There are no grades for the M.A. thesis. Students are awarded either a “pass” or a “fail” on the strength of the written work and an oral defense. For students in the Ph.D. program, a pass may be awarded either with or without permission to continue to the M.Phil. A truly exceptional MA thesis, one considered to be of publishable quality, may be recommended for “distinction”. A digital copy of the thesis is to be deposited in the department.

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How to Apply

Application Process

All prospective students must apply using the online application. Printed applications are not available.

You must specify in your application the department, doctoral program subcommittee, or free-standing master’s degree program in which you wish to study. If required, you must indicate the sub-field of study and the term for which you are applying. A complete application includes:

  • transcripts of all previous post-secondary education
  • a statement of academic purpose
  • a curriculum vitae or résumé
  • three letters of recommendation from academic sources
  • GRE scores and, if applicable, results of the TOEFL or IELTS examination to fulfill the English Proficiency Requirement
  • a sample of scholarly writing, if required by the department or program
  • payment of the application fee

Check further details on University website