Image courtesy of Emily Hammer.

To apply to the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations PhD program, you must submit your application through the Division of the Humanities Admissions website by the application deadline for the following fall quarter, which is typically in mid-December. The application for each year opens in the fall. The application link as well as relevant deadlines can be found on the Division of the Humanities Admissions page.

Once you submit your application to the Division it will be forwarded to our department for review. 

We encourage all applicants to contact faculty members in their proposed field of study to introduce themselves, ask questions, and determine which NELC field of study most closely matches your interests. 

Admissions Decisions

All admissions decisions are sent by the Division of the Humanities admissions office through the online application system in mid-February. No decision information can be given by phone or email from the department. Unless you are contacted by the department, please direct all questions about your application to

Master of Arts Degree

Our department does not offer a stand-alone MA program. If you are interested in a MA program for study of the ancient, medieval or modern Middle East, please apply for the two-year MA program through the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the one-year Master of Arts Program in the Humanities, or the Divinity School MA. Students in these MA programs are able to take courses with NELC faculty. Although NELC students receive a Master’s degree en route to their PhD, our department does not admit graduate students interested in a terminal MA degree.

Application Requirements

  • Transcripts from all previously attended colleges and universities.
  • At least three letters of recommendation submitted by persons able to describe your academic achievements and promise.
  • statement of purpose, which should describe the intellectual issues and historical/linguistic/archaeological questions you hope to explore, as well as your skills and preparation for undertaking graduate studies at the University of Chicago.
  • writing sample of approximately 20 pages. This could be an undergraduate thesis, a research paper, or a section of an MA thesis that best demonstrates your critical thinking and scholarly writing. Please include correctly formatted footnotes and bibliographies.
  • All applicants for whom English is not a primary language may be required to submit current scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Current scores are no more than two years old at the time of application submission. A complete description of the English proficiency policy may be found at this website, and questions about the English proficiency requirement should be directed to


Additional Information & Contacts

  • The University of Chicago provides data on PhD admissions, enrollment, degree completion, and career outcomes that may be helpful to prospective students. Program data for NELC and other degree-granting units in the University is posted to the Office of the Provost's website.
  • For questions about the application or admissions process, please email:
  • For general questions about our department or graduate program, please email:
  • Specific questions about fields of study within NELC are best directed to the faculty members within each field.