Major Requirements

Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Requirements for the NELC major are described below. The Director of Undergraduate Studies,our BA Preceptors, and the NELC department staff, are available to answer questions, discuss programs of study, and support students as they make their way through the major in NELC.

NELC Major Requirements

Students are encouraged to track their progress through requirements by using our major worksheet.

Information about how to declare a major or minor can be found in the College Catalog.

Thirteen courses and a BA paper are required for a NELC major.

  1. Two or three quarters of one of the following civilization sequences:
    • NEHC 20011-20012-20013. Ancient Empires I, II, III
    • NEHC 20001-20002-20003. Ancient Near Eastern History and Society I, II, III
    • NEHC 20004-20005-20006. Ancient Near Eastern Thought and Literature I, II, III
    • NEAA 20001-20002-20003. Archaeology of the Ancient Near East I, II, III
    • NEHC 20501-20502-20503. Islamic History and Society I, II, III
    • NEHC 20601-20602-20603. Islamic Thought and Literature I, II, III
    • JWSC 12000-12001. Jewish Civilization I-II*

*Students who began taking Jewish Civilization courses prior to Autumn 2018 may continue to use the courses that previously satisfied the civilization studies requirement. See the Jewish Studies College Catalog page for details.

If a Near Eastern Civilization sequence is used to meet the College general education requirement, a second Near Eastern civilization sequence is required for the NELC major

  1. Six courses in one of the Near Eastern languages (e.g., Akkadian, Arabic, Egyptian, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish). Credit for language courses may not be granted by examination or placement.
  2. Three or four elective courses in the student’s area of specialization. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the counselor for undergraduate studies. They may consist of additional NELC language courses, an additional NELC civilization sequence, or approved courses in areas such as archaeology, art, literature in translation, history, and religion. NEHC 29999 BA Paper Preparation may be counted toward the elective requirement.

The B.A. Paper Seminar (NEHC 29800) is required of all NELC majors. It is to be taken in the Autumn Quarter of the year in which the student expects to graduate.  See the BA Paper section for more detailed information.

NELC students can receive credit towards major and minor requirements for language courses taken while studying abroad. Credit has to be approved by relevant NELC language faculty. Students should retain all syllabi, coursework, exams, etc. from study abroad language courses. Upon return to Chicago, students should complete this form, attaching all supporting materials, and submit to the NELC department administrator.


Mid East Photo
Image courtesy of Alexis Nicholson.


All courses taken to meet requirements in the major must be taken for quality grades, with the exception of the B.A. Paper Seminar (NEHC 29800), which is taken pass/fail.


Students who complete their course work and their BA papers with distinction are considered for graduation with honors. To be eligible for honors in NELC, students must have an overall GPA of 3.25 or higher, they must have a NELC GPA of 3.5 or higher, and they must have earned a grade of A on the BA paper.


The department awards the Justin Palmer Prize annually to the BA paper judged to be the most outstanding. The Director of Undergraduate Studies makes this determination in consultation with the Department Chair and faculty members. This monetary prize is made possible by a generous gift from the family of Justin Palmer, AB’04, who completed a minor in NELC.