The Arabic program at Swarthmore College offers ways to respond to an increasingly globalized world. Knowledge of Arabic contributes not only to our geopolitical connectivity with Arabic-speaking countries, it also contributes to the interdisciplinary program of studies in Islamic studies and to students' work in programs in anthropology, comparative literature, history, linguistics, religion, sociology, and other fields. Study of Arabic language through the third year and study abroad are particularly recommended for students who want to develop proficiency for research or fieldwork. Interested students are urged to begin studying the language early in their academic careers, to have time to develop a useful level of language proficiency and be prepared to study in an immersive program abroad.
First-, second-, and third-year Arabic are offered every year; first-year Arabic has no prerequisites and is open to everyone except native speakers. Native or heritage speakers of Arabic should consult with the Arabic faculty for placement. Courses in literature in translation, culture, and film, when available, are also open to all students. Students of Arabic language are urged to take these courses and others related to the Arab world in Islamic studies, sociology and anthropology, history, political science, and religion to gain perspective on classical and contemporary Arabic culture.
Introductory and Intermediate Arabic are intensive courses that carry 1.5 credits per semester. Study abroad is particularly encouraged for students of Arabic; academic credit (full or partial) is generally approved for participation in programs recommended by the Arabic section. These include, but are not limited to, universities and non-university programs in Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, and Tunisia.
Courses in Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture
As a Tri-College language program, Arabic is offered at the first- and second-year level at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford Colleges. Third-year Arabic language, other advanced language courses, and introductory courses in Arabic literature and culture are offered at Swarthmore. Other courses are available at the University of Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the Philadelphia area.
Overview of Curriculum
The Arabic Program does not yet offer a regular course major or minor, honors major or minor, but coursework in Arabic can be part of a special major or a special honors major, as well as part of a major or minor in comparative literature.
Arabic is a central component of Swarthmore's Islamic Studies program, an interdisciplinary program that focuses on the diverse range of lived experiences and textual traditions of Muslims as they are articulated in various countries and regions throughout the world.
Arabic is also a valuable addition to programs in Humanities and the Social Sciences and can be part of the major in Languages and Linguistics, through the Linguistics Department.
Special Majors & Honors Special Majors
Students may arrange to do a special major or an honors special major in Arabic after consultation with Assistant Professor Khaled Al-Masri and the department chair. Work abroad will be incorporated when appropriate. Independent study or courses at Bryn Mawr or U Penn will usually be necessary for this special major. Currently this program does not offer a regular course major.
Minor in Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture
Students must complete a minimum of 5 credits in courses numbered 004 or above. Of the 5 minimum credits, 4 should be achieved in courses taught in Arabic rather than in translation. Students may take one Arabic literature course (1 credit) in translation, or a relevant course from another department, with the approval of the section. Only one course may overlap with a major or a second minor. A minimum of 3 credits should be taken at Swarthmore. Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad in a section approved program; two credits of pre-approved study abroad transfer credit may be counted toward the minor.