Ottoman and Turkish Studies

Also see the Ottoman and Turkish Studies website.

The Graduate Program

Application Process

The application process for admission and financial aid for all graduate programs in Humanities is administered through the divisional Office of the Dean of Students. The Application for Admission and Financial Aid, with instructions, deadlines, and department-specific information is available online here .

Also see NELC’s site for further information.

General Program Overview

Students entering NELC with a primary focus in Ottoman and Turkish Studies must meet all of the same requirements as other Ph.D. fields within NELC. These requirements include the following (for further details about each requirement, please see the NELC rules and requirements and the Timeline). Student progress toward these requirements is periodically reviewed, especially at the end of year one and again at the end of year two before approval is given for continuation in the Ph.D.

1)      successful completion of at least 27 courses, which will normally amount to 3 years of coursework under our quarter system (Rules & Requirements §§ 2 and 6 through 12);

2)      All Ph.D. students in NELC are also required to high-pass two European language reading examinations (regularly French and German), one by the end of the first year, and the other by the end of the second year. Any other European language (i.e., Italian) to substitute French or German must be supported by the advisor and approved by the Students Affairs Committee.

3)      completion of an acceptable M.A. thesis paper (Rules & Requirements §§ 16-20) in Spring of the second year. Students who successfully complete the second-year review will receive an MA degree and be continued forward to the Ph.D. degree.

4)      completion of 5 units of teaching in the university, as language assistant, course assistant and/or lecturer, normally from year three through year five on the pattern one unit in year three, and 2 units in 
each of years 4 and 5);

5)      successful completion of comprehensive exams by the end of year 4 (rules & reqs 24-34);

6)      preparation of a dissertation proposal by the end of year 5 (Rules & Requirements §§ 35-39);

7)      successful defense of the dissertation within seven years of the successful dissertation proposal (Rules & Requirements §§ 40-48).


Modern and Ottoman Turkish

Before taking comprehensive examinations, students in the Ottoman and Turkish Studies program must reach an advanced level competency in Modern Turkish and Ottoman Turkish, and intermediate level competency (or better) in their secondary Near Eastern language (see below). A sound knowledge of grammar in Modern Turkish is essential for starting Ottoman Turkish study. One-and-a-half years of Modern Turkish (at least 5 contact hours a week during an academic year of 28-30 weeks) is required. Detailed knowledge of the Ottoman language with the ability to read, translate, and interpret texts is of primary importance for students concen­trating in the Ottoman period and planning to use Ottoman primary sources.

Research Languages

All students in the Islamic and Modern Middle Eastern fields are required to demonstrate a command of at least two Middle Eastern Languages. While Turkish and Ottoman Turkish will be their first language in Ottoman and Turkish Studies program, they would also have to declare a second Middle Eastern Language after consultation with their advisor. The languages in question may be Persian, Arabic, Uzbek, Hebrew, or Armenian and should be taken at least for two years (six quarters) and be passed with a grade of B or higher before their comprehensive examinations. Any other language to substitute the second Middle Eastern Language must be discussed with the advisor.

All Ph.D. students in NELC are also required to high-pass two European language reading examinations (regularly French and German), one by the end of the first year, and the other by the end of the second year. Any other European language to substitute French or German must be supported by the advisor and approved by the Students Affairs Committee.


Graduate students in Turkish Studies are expected to successfully complete a minimum of 27 quality courses. The students must consult with their advisor to fulfill this requirement in a way that would best serve their interests in their concentration area.

Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examinations in Ottoman and Turkish Studies consist of the four following subjects:

1) Major Field (3 hours maximum)

The major field can be Ottoman or Modern Turkish Language, Literature, or History. The student is to decide the focus of her studies after consulting with her advisor.

2) Minor Field (3 hours maximum)

See the minor examination fields below.

3) Methodology (8 hours maximum)

Assesses the student's ability to work with primary materials in Turkish and Ottoman and the secondary Near Eastern Language (usually a text or texts of a kind familiar to the student) and to utilize those materials in the production of scholarship--e.g., by being asked to prepare a translation or summary of the text, a commentary on it, and/or to write an essay on an assigned topic or topics using the text as part of the evidence. The student is given 8 hours to complete the assignment, during which he/she may consult any working aids (dictionaries, encyclopaedias, notes, etc.) that may be deemed useful.

4) Islamic History and Civilization (Oral exam; 2 hours maximum)

The Minor Examination Fields: Fields for the Major and Minor Field Examinations are to be chosen from the following list of approved fields; examinations are intended to test the student's comprehensive knowledge of the given fields. Students should select fields for their examinations in consultation with their advisor.

Islamic Art

Islamic Archaeology

Early Islamic History (ca. 500-1200 C.E.)

Middle Periods Islamic History (ca. 1000-1700 C.E.)

Modern Middle Eastern History (ca. 1500-Present)

Pre-Modern Arabic Literature

Modern Arabic Literature

Pre-Modern Persian Literature

Modern Persian Literature

Pre-Modern Hebrew Literature

Modern Hebrew Literature

Philology (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hebrew)

Linguistics (Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hebrew, or Comparative Semitics)

Islamic Philosophy

Islamic Theology

Islamic Law

Qur'anic Studies


Islamic Political Thought


With the approval of his/her advisor and the Graduate Counselor, a student may choose a minor field in the Ancient section of NELC, or outside the Department, if relevant to his or her research interests; for example, Art History; Byzantine History; Comparative Literature; Germanic Literatures; History of Religions Methodology; Linguistics; Medieval European History; Modern European History; Romance Langauges and Literatures; Slavic Languages and Literatures; Sociology of Religion; Urdu Language and Literature; generally, any relevant Humanities or Social Sciences fields.

Dissertation Proposal

After passing the Comprehensive Examinations, the student will select a dissertation advisor, and will - in consultation with the Graduate Counselor, the Chairman of the Department, and the advisor - set up a faculty committee of three or more members to supervise the dissertation. The advisor, who is the chairman of this committee, must be a faculty member of NELC. The proposal must be submitted within one year after completing the Comprehensive Examination. Once the proposal has been approved by the Department's faculty, the student shall be formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree (see the Department's Rules and Requirements, § 33).

The Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

After approval of the dissertation proposal, the student will conduct dissertation research, keeping in close touch with his or her advisor and the members of his or her dissertation committee. The finished dissertation must meet all University and Departmental requirements (see Rules and Requirements §§ 39-41) and should be submitted within seven years of the dissertation proposal and admission to candidacy for the Ph.D.

The Undergraduate Program (B.A. and Minor)

A NELC concentration will be of interest to students who are considering careers in government and foreign service, law, journalism, education, and business, among others, as well as those who anticipate graduate study in Near Eastern Studies or related fields.

Students who major in NELC learn one or more of the primary native languages as a means of access to the cultures of the ancient Near East and the modern Middle East. In consultation with the counselor for undergraduate studies, each student chooses an area of specialization and devises a program of study that provides a sound basis for graduate work in that area or for a career in museology, business, government, and other disciplines.

For Program Requirements in B.A. click here.

Students who major in other fields of study may wish to consider the NELC Minor Program. For more detailed information on Undergraduate Minor Program, please visit NELC’s relevant website.

Also see the Ottoman and Turkish Studies website.