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The Certificate in Arabic and Islamic World Studies (IWS) allows students to focus their elective and liberal arts requirements on the interdisciplinary study of the languages, cultures, religions, history, and politics of the Islamic world. It provides an excellent foundation for students anticipating international work or simply graduating into an increasingly global world. The focus of this program is the Islamic world from late antiquity to the present, across the Middle East and Africa to South and Southeast Asia to Muslim minorities in Europe and the Americas.


The Certificate in Arabic and IWS has two requirement areas: content courses and Arabic language.

Majors: Students may count up to two qualified courses in their majors toward the certificate.

Liberal Arts Curriculum and Focus Area: The certificate fulfills the Focus Area requirements of the School of Arts and Science's Liberal Arts Curriculum. Students may also count two qualified Liberal Arts courses for the certificate.

How about an example? A History major could complete the certificate in Arabic and IWS by taking the following courses: HIST 309 and HIST 308A (major courses), TRS 395 (Theology elective), TRS 398, MDIA 327, SEM 247, and ARAB 101-204 (Foreign Language requirement).

How does the certificate differ from the minor? Arabic language courses are required for the Certificate in Arabic and IWS but optional for the Minor in IWS. The Certificate usually requires twelve courses overall, the Minor only six.

What about study abroad? Catholic University offers an excellent summer abroad opportunity in the Muslim world: the Moroccan Summer Institute, where students study religion, language, and culture in Rabat, Morocco's capital, travel throughout the country, and earn 6 IWS-qualified credit hours.

Students planning to study abroad during the academic year should contact the CUAbroad office and the IWS Program Director to identify appropriate language and optional courses for the Certificate in proposed host institutions. The Department of Modern Languages can advise about additional programs abroad offering Arabic language instruction.

Which courses qualify for the IWS certificate?

  • Islam in Modernity
    • ARAB 205 - Media Arabic
    • ARAB 213 - Development and Humanitarian Interventions
    • ARAB 228 - Islam and Politics of the Modern World
    • ARAB 256 - Moroccan Society
    • HIST 308A - Napoleon to Bin Laden: The Modern Middle East
    • HIST 308B - Modern Islam
    • HIST 311B - Gunpowder Empires of Islam
    • MDIA 327 - Media and the Middle East
    • POL 329 - Israel and World Politics
    • POL 400A - U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East
    • POL 414 - The Arab-Israeli Conflict
    • SOC 210 - Science, Religion, and Society
    • SOC 343 - Religion and Mental Health
    • TRS 383/SOC 363 - Race and Religion
    • TRS 395 - Christian-Muslim Relations
    • TRS 398 - Introduction to Islam
  • Premodern Islamic World
    • ART 216 - Introduction to Crusader Art & Archaeology
    • ART 335 - Art and Architecture of the Medieval World
    • HIST 142 - The Mongol Empire
    • HIST 309 - Rise of Islam
    • HIST 309C - Muslims, Christians and Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean
    • HIST 311B - Gunpowder Empires of Islam: Ottomans, Safavids and Mughals
    • HIST 330B - The Crusades: Holy War and Jihad
    • HIST 410 - Persecution and Tolerance in the Medieval Mediterranean
    • PHIL 334 - Philosophy in the Islamic World
    • PHIL 335 - Islamic Political Philosophy
    • SEM 241-242 - Introduction to Classical Arabic (instructor permission required)
    • SEM 247 - Arabic Literature in Translation
    • TRS 290 - World Religions
    • TRS 344 - Spiritualities and Liturgies of the Eastern Churches
    • TRS 395 - Christian-Muslim Relations
    • TRS 398 - Introduction to Islam
    • TRS 398A - Introduction to the Quran
  • Plus similar courses in approved study abroad plans or from the Consortium of Washington Area Universities.
Program policies: Students must receive no lower than a C- to count course credits toward the Certificate. The six content courses must total 18 credit hours and must be drawn from no fewer than three Catholic University departments and/or schools. Placement in Arabic language courses, and “placing out” for the purposes of completing the certificate language requirement, is by examination as determined by the Department of Modern Language and Literatures. Students may substitute ARAB 205 for ARAB 204. Students completing or placing out of ARAB 204 may count one further content-focused Arabic course, such as ARAB 205, as one of their six required content courses. ARAB 130 cannot count as a content course for the purposes of completing the certificate.