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Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization

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Discover ‘the cradle of civilization.’

A region of layered histories and diverse cultures, the Near East is the birthplace of major languages, religions and philosophical movements. The Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization (NELC) is devoted to teaching and research of the Near and Middle East, including Central Asia, tracing contemporary manifestations, their medieval roots, and the significance of these within the history of world civilizations. We serve students seeking specific linguistic and cultural proficiencies as well as students simply interested in the histories and cultures of the regions. 

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When you major in Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, you learn in-demand skills such as reporting, editing, writing, interpersonal communication and more. Some NELC majors pursue careers directly associated with Near Eastern Languages and Civilization; others pursue fields not typically associated with NELC. Our alumni have been successful in law, medicine, government and education careers, and have pursued advanced degrees in the humanities and social sciences.

Career Paths

You can put your NELC major to use as a(n):  

  • Investment specialist
  • Interpreter
  • Translator
  • Librarian
  • International researcher
  • Social worker
  • Foreign Embassy staff
  • Media specialist
  • Museum curator
  • Finance manager
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Work one-on-one with faculty

Independent study offers you the opportunity to work directly with faculty in an area of shared interest. These studies are designed for advanced students who have either completed all available courses in a specific subject or who are completing advanced research. Faculty consider each independent study request individually. Undergraduate independent study options include Direct Readings, Undergraduate Research and Senior Essay.

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Find Yourself in Near Eastern Languages & Civilization

Through study of the cultures and languages of the Near and Middle East, gain the knowledge and practical skills to succeed in a variety of careers.



Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilization Stories

Ryan Robinson

Down to Earth, In Turkey

Ryan Robinson (BA, 2019) digs deep for archaeological research.

Students working on Svoboda diaries project.

A Teen's Diary Launches UW Publishing House

Faculty and students are digitizing historically valuable texts through Newbook Digital Texts.

Ge'ez Revisited

Despite its historical importance, the classical language Ge’ez is taught at just three universities in the Western world — including the UW.