MA Requirements


During their first year, students will be advised by the program director, who serves at the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for the Islamic Studies Program. By the end of their first year, students must identify their faculty advisor, who will serve as their MA thesis supervisor, from among the core Islamic Studies program faculty, obtain written consent from that advisor to serve in this capacity, and convey this information to the program director and the NELC Student Affairs Officer (SAO). If a student decides to change their faculty advisor thereafter, they must identify a new faculty member from among the core Islamic Studies Program faculty and submit a formal petition explaining the rationale for the change to the Islamic Studies Program director, along with the signed consent of the new faculty advisor. Once approved, the petition will be filed with the SAO.

New students should make an advising appointment at the beginning of their first quarter with the program director. During this advising meeting, students discuss course work which will advance their future program. In each subsequent quarter, it is the student’s responsibility to discuss their plans for that quarter with the program director and obtain approval for their course plan. If a student wishes to make changes thereafter, the changes must be approved by the department chair or the program director before the student accesses the online enrollment system. Departmental policy requires the signature of the Islamic Studies program director or the NELC chair for approval of all petitions.

Student progress is reviewed annually. During the spring quarter, all students meet with the program director and provide them with a written summary of their progress toward the degree and their goals for the coming year. The program director reports to the ISP faculty advisory committee and to the NELC chair, to fulfill criteria for annual academic review of student progress. Each student will be advised in writing by the end of Spring Quarter as to whether their progress is sufficient to warrant continuation in the program.

Areas of Study

These areas of study are the same as listed under Major Fields or Subdisciplines for the doctoral degree.

Foreign Language Requirement

Terminal M.A. students are required to complete one year of Arabic (three quarters or the equivalent thereof) if they do not have equivalent proficiency upon admission to the program. Students who would like to complete introductory coursework in an Islamicate language other than Arabic must provide a full explanation for this requested exception and petition the director of the Islamic Studies Program accordingly. As specified below, advanced-level Arabic proficiency is required for admission to the Ph.D. program. Terminal M.A. students who intend to apply to the PhD program are advised to plan accordingly with respect to their Arabic language training. Such students are strongly advised to take ARA 130-“Introduction to Pre-modern Arabic Texts.”

Students who have been admitted to the M.A. program and plan to go on for the Ph.D. degree in the Islamic Studies program are strongly encouraged to achieve required levels of proficiency in their research languages early in their graduate study so that language skills will be of maximum benefit. Students should consult the doctoral language requirement under the Doctoral Degree section.

Course Requirements

A minimum of 12 courses (48 units) is required, eight (32 units) of which must be graduate seminars (200-series). Up to four courses may be upper division (100-series). In cases where students are taking upper-division courses, written approval of the Islamic Studies Program director is required. Only four units (usually one course of four credits) of a 596 course may be applied toward the minimum graduate course requirement. All courses applied toward the degree must be taken for a letter grade.

The 12 courses must be divided among three categories of courses as follows:

  • Category one: Three required courses
    ISLM ST 200 (Introduction to Islamic Studies)
    ISLM ST 151 (Islamic Thought) or ARA M106 (The Qur’an). These will be offered with cross-listed graduate sections as ISLM ST 251 and ARA CM206.
    ARA 220 (Themes In Early and Classical Islamic History). If course is not offered, students may substitute a different graduate seminar in pre-modern Islamic-world history with approval of program director.
  • Category two: Two required courses
    Two graduate-level courses (200-series), in different departments, that introduce methodological approaches in specific disciplines such as anthropology, art history, comparative literature, history, and sociology.
  • Category three: Seven required courses
    These seven courses should engage with at least two different disciplines on topics related to Islamic Studies. These include courses such as Art History 119A (Western Islamic Art); ARA 250 (Premodern Arabic Literature); HIST 200J (Historiography of the Modern Middle East); HIST 201K (Global Islam and South Asia); Iranian 200B (Classical Persian Texts); ISLM ST 201 (Arabo-Islamic Sciences); and ISLM ST M111 (Introduction to Islamic Archaeology). Students also are strongly recommended to take courses that cover at least two geographic regions. Courses should be finalized in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor.

Teaching Experience

Not Required.

Field Experience

Not Required.

Capstone Plan


Thesis Plan

Required. Students must fulfill the thesis requirement by either submitting a single paper (50-100 pages) that combines work in two or more fields of study, or by submitting three papers (each one a minimum of 25 pages) in three fields (e.g. anthropology, history, sociology, comparative literature).

These paper(s) should meet the academic standards of the Islamic Studies Program with respect to research, writing and analytical skills and technical proficiencies, including primary source translation and transliteration, as necessary/relevant to their projects. Regardless of format, the advisor and M.A. thesis committee members must indicate whether the M.A. is pass with terminal M.A.; pass with recommendation to transition to Ph.D.; or fail.

The academic progress of MA students admitted to the M.A.-Ph.D. track who wish to advance to the Islamic Studies Ph.D. program will be subject to further review by a subcommittee of the Islamic Studies Faculty Advisory Committee, which will undertake a holistic review of the student’s academic progress in the program. The subcommittee will provide a written recommendation to the full Islamic Studies FAC with respect to the student’s qualification for advancement to the Ph.D. program.

Eight academic quarters is the expected time-to-degree for full-time students with no deficiencies upon admission.


MA 8 8 16


Academic Disqualification and Appeal of Disqualification

University Policy

A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for academic disqualification from graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing academic disqualification of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.

Special Departmental or Program Policy

A recommendation for academic disqualification is formally made by the chair of the NELC department after consultation with the director of the Islamic Studies Program and the student’s primary faculty advisor. A student may appeal a recommendation for academic disqualification to the Dean of the Graduate Division.

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