Our Commitment to Arabic - Center for Contemporary Arab Studies | Georgetown University

Our Commitment to Arabic

Rigorous training in the Arabic language is a cornerstone of the MAAS program, which is supported by the largest and oldest Arabic language department in the country. Students are expected to enter the program having completed at least two years/levels of Arabic. The program offers MAAS sections of intermediate and advanced Arabic that meet for two hours per day, emphasizing both grammatical and conversational proficiency. MAAS students also have the unique opportunity to take content courses taught in Arabic on topics ranging from Arabic literature to politics, history, and culture of the region, as well as to attend film series and lectures in Arabic. The program’s demanding Arabic language requirement is regularly cited by students and alumni alike as a major strength of the program.



In order to graduate, all students must pass a written and oral proficiency exam in Modern Standard Arabic.  The exam is offered at the end of each semester and students must continue to enroll in Arabic classes until they pass the exam.

The written exam consists of three sections: grammar (25%), reading comprehension (50%), and writing (25%).  The oral exam is an ACTFL oral proficiency interview (OPI) administered through the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies.  The passing score for MAAS students is Advanced Mid and the exam is conducted in Modern Standard Arabic.

Students are given three attempts to pass the Arabic proficiency exam, excluding the exam taken during orientation.


The MAAS program has designated sections of Intensive Intermediate and Advanced Arabic, offered through the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies. The MAAS sections consist of one hour of grammar and one hour of conversation five days a week. Students must be able to enroll in the MAAS section of Intermediate Arabic (ARAB 111-03) upon matriculation to the program. Intermediate Arabic (ARAB 111/112) and Advanced Arabic (ARAB 215/216) are six-credit courses that students take in addition to their graduate coursework.

Once students pass the Arabic proficiency exam, they may enroll in Arabic content courses, or courses taught in Arabic, to maintain or continue to improve their Arabic skills.  Arabic content courses are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Click here for a list of Arabic content courses.

Undergraduate-level language courses (those numbered below 350) do not count toward the MAAS degree, so students must taken them in addition to the required nine graduate credits per semester.  However, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers students Language Study Scholarships to cover the cost of one undergraduate-level language course per semester, so MAAS students taking intermediate, advanced, or post-advanced courses below 350 will not pay additional tuition.  Arabic courses numbered above 350 count for graduate credit and are not eligible for a Language Study Scholarship.

Once students have passed the Arabic proficiency exam, they are permitted to take other language courses for which they may receive a Language Study Scholarship.