The Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, founded in 1841, is one of the world's leading centers for the study of the Near East. Throughout its long history, the Department has maintained its strong sense of traditional humanist values, as well as its outstanding leadership role in developing and evaluating the latest techniques, perspectives, and resources for study of the Near East, from earliest times to the modern era.
The graduate and undergraduate programs of the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations emphasize reflective scholarship based on sound knowledge of the languages, civilizations, and material culture of the Near East. The Department's main faculty strengths today are in the areas of Arabic, Graeco-Arabic, and Islamic studies; Assyriology, including Sumerian and Akkadian; and Egyptology. Instruction is also offered in art and archaeology, Aramaic (including Syriac), Classical Ethiopic, Hebrew, Persian, modern and Ottoman Turkish, and Ugaritic. Interdisciplinary programs can be developed on an individual basis, in collaboration with such departments and programs as Anthropology, Classics, History, Medieval Studies, and Religious Studies. The Department maintains archaeological field projects in Egypt, in which students may be invited to participate.
The Department regularly sponsors lectures, colloquia, and presentations by scholars from around the world, as well as special events. In recent years, the Department has also organized and hosted two major international conferences, with associated exhibitions in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Sterling Memorial Library.
Under the auspices of the Department, the Yale Egyptological Institute in Egypt was founded in 2005.
The K. W. and E. K. Rosenthal Memorial Lectures in Ancient and Near Eastern Civilizations, endowed in memory of his parents by Franz Rosenthal, one of the Yale's most distinguished faculty members, feature eminent scholars in the Department's major fields of study.
The NELC Roundtable offers students an opportunity to rehearse public speaking about work in progress and receive feedback from faculty and peers in an informal atmosphere.
The Yale Arabic Colloquium (YAC) brings together each month all students and faculty at Yale whose academic work involves Arabic – including Religious Studies, Medieval Studies, Comparative Literature, and Anthropology – to discuss their work in conversation. Presenters alternate between advanced graduate students and new or visiting faculty. The Yale Arabic Poetry Group was inaugurated in 2004.
The monthly Assyriological Colloquium offers students the opportunity to hear presentations by visiting Assyriologists from the US and abroad, as well as to meet them informally.
The Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations encourages applications from highly motivated and qualified students who prefer small classes and a course of instruction built around their individual needs and interests, and who are prepared to undertake a program of study entailing more coursework than is the norm for other graduate programs in the humanities: three full years, or twenty-four term courses, before qualifying for candidacy for the doctorate. The Department aspires to train contributing scholars and teachers in its several fields. Over 80% of our alumni today are employed or professionally active in their chosen disciplines, far higher than average in American graduate education. Graduates of the Department hold important positions in colleges, universities, and museums throughout the United States and the world; many others who have followed different career paths remain productive scholars with our continuing encouragement and support. In addition to scholarly training, all students have the opportunity to receive extensive mentoring in teaching skills, the job-hunting process, and in such techniques as preparing applications for fellowships, awards, and grants. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to visit the Yale campus in order to discuss their interests with the faculty, to attend classes, and to meet the graduate student population.