The Department of Middle East Studies (MDES) is committed to the teaching and study of the languages, cultures, peoples, and societies throughout the Middle East region, with an emphasis on sustainability and globalization. MDES is home to an interdisciplinary major and minor in Middle East Studies, a minor in Iranian Studies, and a minor in Arabic. The department organizes lively and exciting lectures, colloquia, conferences, and film series on a broad range of topics ranging from politics and economics to history and the arts. Explore our programs below:


We offer an interdisciplinary degree that combines rigorous coursework, close mentorship with faculty, and the scholarly latitude to research and learn about the pressing problems of globalization and environmentalism.


Students can choose from three distinct minors to expand their breadth of knowledge on the peoples, cultures, and history of the region: Middle East Studies, Arabic, and Iranian Studies.


Our faculty teach Arabic and Persian, from beginning to advanced levels, in our top-ranked language training programs.

Your Major & Minor

We offer 1 major, 3 minors, and 3 languages


  • Isaura Pena is MDES’s new advisor. If you have any questions related to your academic plan and pursuits, please reach her at Isaurape@usc.edu

  • You can earn a minor in Middle East Studies while completing your G.E. requirements! Contact us at MDES@usc.edu if you are interested.


  • To receive D-Clearance on any of our courses, please contact MDES@usc.edu

  • The Language Center offers placement exams every semester. Please book your appointment here.

    Don’t miss out on learning Arabic or Persian in our top-ranked programs!

  • Each year, students travel to the following countries below, while earning units!

    Please click here for syllabi. Instructions to apply are found here. See the 3 locations below:

    Contact Peter Hilton for more information: philton@usc.edu



Our very own students, Anthony Khoury and Faatima Abdul-Aziz, won the Best Acting awards for their short film, “Empty,” at USC’s 2022 Multilingual Student Film Festival hosted by the Center for Languages and Cultures.

Department Office


3501 Trousdale Parkway, Taper Hall 256

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA 90089




Director of Undergraduate Program

Professor Ramzi Rouighi


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