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Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature

A program in ancient Near Eastern languages and literature may involve studying the Bible in its original languages and pursuing courses in theology, archaeology or linguistics. Read on to learn more about degree and career options for Near Eastern scholars.

Are Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature Right For Me?

Overview of the Field

Programs in ancient Near Eastern languages and literature focus upon the cultural, linguistic and literary traditions of Egypt, the modern Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula. Completion of a program in this field can lead to a career in the Foreign Service, public administration, law or business, among other related areas. Ancient Near Eastern languages and literatures may also be of interest if you intend to pursue a religious vocation or become a college professor or university researcher. In addition to traditional brick-and-mortar schools, programs in this field of study can be found in seminaries and theology schools, where you can study the Bible in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected an average growth in employment nationwide for clergy members between 2012 and 2022. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for a clergy member was of $43,800. A bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement for entering the field; however, a master's degree or a seminary education may be needed for some positions.

According to the BLS, college and university professors in general will see a 19%, or faster-than-average, growth in employment nationwide from 2012 to 2022. In May 2013, those who specialized in area, cultural and ethnic studies earned a median annual salary of $66,770. While a master's degree in your area of study might qualify you for a position at a community college, a doctoral degree may be needed to teach at a 4-year college or university (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work In Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature?

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Earning an undergraduate degree in ancient Near Eastern languages and literature can help you acquire the background you need to pursue an entry-level position in international business or museum work. As an undergraduate, you may have the opportunity to study Hebrew civilizations, Islamic history, ancient archaeology and Egyptian art. You might also have the chance to become proficient in at least one ancient language or dialect, including Egyptian, Hebrew, Arabic or Akkadian.

Master's Degree Programs

A Master of Arts in Theology with an emphasis on ancient Near Eastern languages and literature can help you prepare for a career in ministry or as a college professor. Individual programs may allow for specializations in linguistics, literature, history or archaeology. In addition to an understanding of a Near Eastern language, graduate prerequisites might include a reading knowledge of French and German.

Doctoral Degree Programs

Doctoral programs can provide you with the advanced education you need to further a career in academia or ministry. Areas of focus are similar to what you might find in a master's degree program and can include ancient archaeology, Jewish culture, Islamic studies or Arabic literature. In general, a doctoral program can require an additional 4-7 years of study.