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Master of Arts (MA)

The Department offers a Master of Arts in Near Eastern and South Asian Languages & Cultures, rather than in Arabic, Hebrew, or any of its other language areas, allowing students to build across and between these languages and the discourses, histories, areas, and peoples they signify, to build language, research, and analytical skills toward PhD programs and to work effectively in the international arena.

To be awarded the NESA Masters degree, students must apply to and be admitted to the program, assemble an advising committee, complete a total of at least 30 credit hours of graduate coursework, demonstrate proficiency in a conventional research Western research language, and complete a Master's Degree examination.

If you have any questions about the requirements feel free to consult the NESA Department Handbook, the Graduate School Handbook, or ask the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Academic Program Coordinator.


MA students are expected, by the end of their first year, to identify a primary advisor from among the department’s Graduate Faculty as well as a second committee member who may be selected either from among the department’s Graduate Faculty or, with approval from the Graduate Studies Committee, from another department’s Graduate Faculty.  MA committees may have 3rd or in some circumstances 4th members, but must be comprised of a minimum of 2 members.

Coursework (30 Credit Hours)

Students are expected, in the course of 2 academic years, to complete at least 30 graduate credit hours, comprised of the following sub-requirements and in addition to any language coursework as may be required by students' advisors.

  1. One Core Seminar (1 Credit)

  2. One Elective Seminar (3 Credits)

  3. Five Departmental Courses (15 Credits)

  4. Four Additional Courses (~11 Credits)

See below for further details of what each category

If you have any questions about the coursework requirements feel free to consult the NESA Department Handbook, the Graduate School Handbook, or ask the Director of Graduate Studies, or the Academic Program Coordinator.

Students MUST take the following course

  • NELC 5101 Introduction to the Field of NELC (1 credit hour)

​(students who have already taken this course are not required to repeat it, nor may they repeat it for credit.)

Students Will Take 1 of the 6 Courses Listed:

CS 7360 Theorizing Culture
CS 7370 Theorizing Religion
HIST 7900 Colloquium in the Philosophy of History, Historiography, & the Historian’s Skills
NELC[/CLAS] 5401 Methodologies for the Study of Ancient Religions
NELC5568 Studies in Orality and Literacy
NELC[/CS] 7301 Theorizing Literature

Students Will Take 5 Courses:

graduate coursework in Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, or NELC subject course categories, including:

  • all coursework must be at 5000-level or higher, and of which
  • a minimum 6 credit hours must be at the 6000-level or higher and an additional
  • minimum 3 credit hours must be at the 8000-level

minimum 9 credit hours of additional graduate coursework to reach total of 30, from NESA or elsewhere (other OSU Departments) with the agreement of their advisor, possibly including:

  • [if writing a thesis] NELC 6999 NESA MA Thesis (3 credit hours) during their final term, or
  • students may enroll in NELC 6998 NESA MA Exams (3 credit hours) during their final term.

Modern Scholarship Research Language

Students must demonstrate reading competence in one language of modern secondary scholarship, usually French or German, by one of the following means:

  • receiving a grade of B or higher in either FRENCH 6571 French Reading for Research I or GERMAN 6101 Basic German for Graduate Students. [note: neither of these courses count toward the minimum 30 graduate credit hours coursework requirement.], or
  • passing the proficiency exam [Germanic or FRIT] offered by the relevant department, or
  • petitioning the Graduate Studies Committee to consider other evidence of competence, such as an undergraduate major or minor in the language, or
  • passing a 6000-level or higher-level course taught in the language.

Any proposed alternates to German or French must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.  Competence in English is assumed as it is the medium of instruction at OSU and does not satisfy the requirement.

If you are doing a proficiency exam with a department please reach out to the department at the beginning of the semester to confirm their requirements.

French - Please reach out to FRIT and follow the guidelines.

NOTE: They have a specific review process with dates and guidelines

German - Please reach out to Germanic and have your advisor fill out the following form found at https://germanic.osu.edu/german-reading-exam

Optional Thesis

Completion of a Master’s Thesis is NOT a requirement of the NESA MA program; the decision to produce an MA thesis should be made collaboratively by each student and their committee.

  • If a student elects to produce a thesis, the Graduate School will consider them to be pursuing the Thesis Option, which the student will specify when formally applying to graduate at the beginning of their final term in the program.
  • The student and committee may elect to conduct a formal thesis defense meeting (of approximately 2 hours, during business hours), or they may instead opt to critique and revise the draft less formally.
  • Whether a formal defense meeting is held or not, the student’s committee must formally signify their approval of the text on the Report on Final Document form to the Graduate School.
  • The thesis draft must be approved by the student’s committee before the student takes the exam.
  • Thesis Option students must also submit their document – after the submission of the Report on Final Document – for recording and publication by the University.

Exams & Graduation

For a Complete checklist of needs please refer to the Graduate School's Final Semester Procedures and Timeline.

Prior to the exam, the student should make sure to apply for graduation by the Graduate School deadline, usually this is the 3rd Friday of the semester leading to commencement.

All MA students - whether Thesis Option or Non-Thesis Optionmust complete an MA exam.

  • Exams are administered by the student’s advising committee and with content and in a form agreed between the student and the committee.
  • Exams are held during a student’s final term in the program (typically by the end of the third-to-last week of the semester).
  • The exam requirement may be satisfied in any of five ways; (students and committees are expected to determine which is most appropriate for their program and future plans):

Thesis Options:

  1. thesis and oral exams
  2. thesis, oral defense, and oral exams
  3. thesis, oral defense, written exams, and oral exams

If a student is doing a thesis, the thesis must conform to Graduate School format requirements as described in the “Document Preparation-Dissertations and Theses” section on the Graduate School website

Non-Thesis Options:

  1. written exams
  2. written exams and oral exams

Students must record their satisfaction of the exam requirement by coordinating the submission, with approval from the advising committee, of the Report on Final Examination form to the Graduate School via GRADFORMS.


Numerous avenues of possible financial assistance are available for those pursuing an MA. in the Department of Near Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures (e.g., University Graduate Fellowships, Foreign Language Area Scholarships, Graduate Teaching Associateships, Graduate Research Associateships, among others).

A prestigious funding opportunity is the University Fellowship, which carries no departmental duties. It is offered by the Graduate School of The Ohio State University. Applicants do not apply directly for the University Fellowship. Rather, the Graduate Studies Committee, which reviews applications, nominates outstanding candidates in order for them to be considered for this award by the Graduate School. If an applicant hopes for the opportunity to be nominated, the Graduate Studies Advisory Committee must have the complete application no later than December 15.

Students who are qualified may apply to be a Graduate Teaching Associate and benefit from an extensive training and mentoring system. Included in this students can apply for GTAships across campus. Past GTAships students have been awarded includes the Arts Scholars and Humanities Scholars Graduate Teaching Associate Award.

If you do get a GTAship there is a training session in August required by the Center for Literatures, Languages, and Cultures

Additional sources of funding can be found through different partners around campus. Below is a non-exhaustive list of potential sources of funding.

  1. Can investigate college level funding through ASC
  2. Lori Fireman with the Melton Center for Jewish Studies
  3. The Mershon Center for International Security Studies has several grants and scholarships
  4. CSEEES (Center for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies) FLAS for Turkish and Uzbek
  5. MESC (Middle East Studies Center)
  6. CMRS (Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies) for early modern research
  7.  Council of Graduate Students
  8.  Graduate School Research Resources
  9.  Office of International Affairs

MA Calendar

May 2023 

  • 26th: Applications to Graduate in Summer Due 

July 2023 

  • 4th: Independence Day (Offices Closed) 

  • 14th: Summer Exams and Reports Completed/Due 

  • 21st: Approved Summer Thesis/Dissertation Submitted and Accepted by Graduate School

August 2023 

  • 6th: Summer Commencement 

  • 22nd: AU Semester Starts 

  • 25th: Last day to add course online 

September 2023 

  • 1st: Last day to drop without W (1st session) 

  • 8th: Applications to Graduate in Autumn Due 

  • 15th: Last day to drop without W 

October 2023 

  • 16th: Spring Registration Begins 

  • 21st***: Presidential Nominations Deadline 

  • 27th: Last day to drop without W (2nd session) 

November 2023

  • 9th***: Graduate Fellowship Workshop 

  • 22nd: AU Exams and Reports Completed/Due 

  • 28th: Grad School Fellowship Awards system opens to receive nominations for UF/CAF/Engie-Axium 

December 2023 

  • 1st: Approved AU Thesis/Dissertation Submitted and Accepted Graduate School

  • 17th: Autumn Commencement  

January 2024

  • 8th: SP semester starts 
  • 20th***: Deadline to nominate l UF, GE, Osmer 

  • 26th: Applications to Graduate in Spring Due 

February 2024

  • 1st: Last day to drop a class without petition 

  • 10th***: GATA Award Student Application Deadline 

April 2024

  • 12th: Spring Exams and Reports Completed/Due 

  • 15th***: Fellowships must be declined or accepted 

  • 19th: Approved Spring Thesis/Dissertation Submitted and Accepted by Graduate School

May 2024

  • 5th: Spring Commencement 

  • 24th: Applications to Graduate in Summer Due 

July 2024

  • 12th: Summer Exams and Reports Completed/Due 

  • 19th: Approved Summer Thesis/Dissertation Submitted and Accepted by Graduate School

August 2024

  • 4th: Summer Commencement 

***Dates not yet confirmed

Please Note: This calendar is to be used as a guide to help you keep track of important deadlines. It is NOT a comprehensive list and should not be used in place of the OSU Graduate School resources. The Graduate School Handbook and the OSU Graduate School Calendar should be consulted for complete and accurate deadlines. 

Graduate Student Grievances

When concerns arise or persist, the graduate student ombudsperson is an impartial resource that can help graduate students explore options in resolving their concerns. Generally, graduate students should aim to address and resolve concerns within their department. Graduate students are encouraged to discuss concerns with their advisor first. If concerns remain, graduate students should then reach out to the program graduate studies chair. Further unresolved concerns should be communicated to the department chair. If the concerns cannot be resolved internally within the department, the graduate student is encouraged to contact the assistant dean for graduate studies within the College of Arts and Sciences. In situations where the student believes the issue has not been resolved within the College, they can request further review from the Graduate School.