Old Main, room 311
Fax: 651-696-6498

Office Hours
September 1-May 31
Weekdays 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
June 1-August 31
Tuesdays 8 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Jump to information about living in Arabic House

The modern dialects of Arabic are spoken by more than 280 million people, making Arabic one of the five most widely spoken languages in the twenty-first century. Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of 26 states in central Asia, western Asia, and northern Africa, that is, in the southeast Mediterranean region. Literary, philosophical and scientific work in the Arab world was composed in Classical Arabic for centuries, and it has also been the liturgical language of Islam since its inception in the seventh century.

Macalester regularly offers five semesters of instruction in Modern Standard Arabic. When coordinated well with study abroad, students can thus complete three full years of study.

What is Modern Standard?

The Macalester Classics department offers courses in Modern Standard Arabic, the international and literary form of the language that is closely related to Classical Arabic. In the Arabian Peninsula of the seventh century, Classical Arabic was used by Muhammad to deliver his revelations in the Qur’an, and the language spread largely with Islam into Asia, Africa and beyond. In different areas, different forms of colloquial Arabic have developed over time. These spoken dialects differ in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary from each other, and from Classical or Standard, which is still used in most forms of literature, news reporting, academics, international relations, political speeches and sermons. Colloquial Arabic is used interpersonally, in movies and in some popular fiction. This phenomenon of diglossia -- of actively using two versions of a language -- is explored in some classes, but the greatest student exposure to a colloquial Arabic is during their study abroad experience.

How Can I Use My Arabic Toward a Major or Minor?

Arabic language courses may be used to create a major at Macalester in two ways -- either through a Classical Languages major in Classics, or through the declaration of an Individually Designed Interdepartmental major.

Major in Classical Languages

A major in Classics with an emphasis in Classical Languages (Arabic) consists of at least ten courses and a study away experience. Courses must include:
a) two to three courses which provide a comprehensive introduction to the ancient Mediterranean world (see discussion of survey courses below)
b) six to seven courses involving classical languages and literatures in the original language (Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, or Latin) and involve at least one class at the advanced level.
c) 490 Senior Seminar.
Students must also take a course that includes a major research project prior to the Senior Seminar. If none of the intermediate or advanced language courses provide this, a student must also take 301: Research Forum.

Minor in Classical Languages

A Classics minor with an emphasis in Classical Languages consists of five courses to include:
a) one comprehensive survey
b) four other courses from the Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, and/or Latin offerings of the department, including at least one at the intermediate level.

Survey Courses

Classics courses which count automatically as survey courses are 121 Greek World; 122 Roman World; 127 Women, Gender & Sexuality in Ancient Greece & Rome; 129 Greek Myths; and 145 Pagans, Christians & Jews. On consultation with your adviser we may also accept courses such as Classics/Religion 135 Rome and India, Classics/History 194 Early Arabic Literature and History, Religion 100 Introduction to Islam, Religion 120 Hebrew Bible, Classics 194/History 294 Constantine to Charlemagne, History 294 Medieval Islam, or Religion 200 Qur’an.

Study Away

For study away, we strongly recommend a program in the modern Middle East. Classics majors have studied for a semester in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Israel, Turkey and other countries. The department also runs a summer archaeological project in Israel and initiated an occasional January program comparing ancient and modern Alexandria and Rome in 2011.

II. IDIM (Individually Designed Interdepartmental Major)

An individually designed interdepartmental major (IDIM), reflecting a disciplined area of inquiry crossing departmental lines, may be designed and submitted for approval to the Educational Policy and Governance Committee acting on behalf of the faculty. The provision for an IDIM—as one of the ways in which a student may satisfy the graduation requirement of a major—is to accommodate students with special educational goals which may be achieved within the College's overall curriculum but not through any of the existing majors set forth in detail in the college catalog. To take advantage of this provision, students are expected to design their program of study in advance of doing the bulk of the course work for it.

Students seeking an individually-designed interdepartmental major (IDIM) must present, not later than the beginning of the registration period for the first semester of their junior year, a completed proposal, signed by the student and three faculty members, to the IDIM Subcommittee of the Educational Policy and Governance Committee for consideration. In consultation with three faculty members of the student's choosing, the student must design a program of courses of study which crosses departmental lines and, in doing so, represents a disciplined area of inquiry not conveniently possible within the provisions of any of the existing majors in the College's curriculum. The proposal must include the following:

1) A list of courses to be taken to complete the IDIM. This list must include a minimum of forty-four semester credits (11 courses) from a maximum of three departments, and may include up to twenty-four additional semester credits in courses (for a maximum of sixty-eight semester credits) from any relevant department. There must be evidence of progression in the proposed courses (such as sequenced language courses).

2) Letters of support from the three faculty members who comprise the student's IDIM committee (a coordinator and two sponsors). These committee members must be from departments that offer courses listed on the student's proposal. Two letters of recommendation must be from faculty members who have had the student in class, who may or may not be members of the student's IDIM committee.

3) A carefully prepared written rationale. In this rationale the student is expected to describe the focus and cohesiveness of all the courses of study included in the IDIM and to indicate how this program of study meets the student's particular educational goals. The IDIM committee will also designate the appropriate means for the completion of the senior capstone requirement within the IDIM. The committee will meet with the student at least once every semester to discuss the student's progress towards completion of the IDIM.

No proposal for an IDIM will be accepted by the Subcommittee after a student has validated his or her registration for the first semester of the junior year.

Disciplines to consider might include Middle Eastern Studies, Arabic Studies, Islamic Studies, Semitic Languages and Cultures, and the like. Departments with whom you might work include Classics, Religious Studies, Political Science, History, Sociology, French and Francophone Studies, International Studies, and others.”

What fellowships and scholarships are available?

Classics students have enjoyed success in obtaining funding for summer research projects and field work, as well as graduate school, further language training, and other opportunities. Information and links are provided below, but the most important resources for discovering what might work for you are your adviser and other professors.

View specific fellowships

Arabic House

(Application period for 2016-2017 housing is now closed. Application period for 2017-18 ends March 1, 2017)

Arabic House Application for Residence

Living in Arabic House is a great way to extend your Arabic language learning. Three Arabic language students live in Arabic House, along with a student who is a native speaker. Arabic House is located at 176 Vernon, steps away from Macalester’s academic buildings, but feels like living in a neighborhood. The house has four private bedrooms, and the furnished shared-space includes a kitchen, living and dining area, two bathrooms, and in-house laundry.

Students who live in Arabic House participate in preparing and sharing a common meal each week and make a conscientious effort to speak Arabic at all times while in the Arabic House. All Residents play active roles in organizing a cultural activity at least twice per semester. All residents are responsible for housekeeping chores.

Students who are interested in living at Arabic House must apply during Residential Life’s language house application period, using the Application for Residence in the Macalester College Arabic House.

Criteria used in the selection of residents

  • Motivation for living in the House.
  • Willingness to comply with the goals of the House as expressed in the application.
  • Enrollment in an Arabic course during the residency.
  • Must have completed at least elementary Arabic before start of residency, with preference for those who have had intermediate Arabic.