Arabic Literature and Language

Degree programs in Arabic literature and language include the study of the history, culture and language of the Arabic people. Read about academic and career options for Arabic language students here, as well as what you can earn in interpretation and translation, academia or travel services.

Is Arabic Literature and Language for Me?

Career Overview

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 200 million people speak Arabic worldwide, including those who live or work in Morocco, Egypt, Afghanistan and the United States ( As a student in an Arabic language program, you'll have the opportunity to develop your reading, speaking and writing abilities while becoming familiar with the culture and politics of the Arab world. You might also study the history, geography and religious beliefs associated with the region. Degree programs in Arabic studies can be found at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. If you prefer distance learning, you can enroll in online Arabic courses.

Career Options

As a graduate of an Arabic literature or language program, you could pursue a job in business, hospitality or academia. Or, you might find employment with the federal government as a language specialist, border patrol agent or intelligence specialist. While a bachelor's degree in Arabic studies may qualify you for some entry-level positions, a graduate degree may lead to advancement and additional job opportunities, including teaching at the postsecondary level.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that between 2012 and 2022, employment of interpreters and translators would increase by 46% nationwide, with a 19% growth in jobs expected for university professors and anthropologists, including linguists. However, a 12% decline in employment was projected for travel agents during the same period.

According to the BLS in May 2013, the median annual salary for interpreters and translators was $42,420, while anthropologists and foreign language and literature university professors earned $58,360 and $58,620 respectively. As of May 2013, the median annual salary for travel agents was $34,530 (

How Can I Work in Arabic Literature and Language?

Undergraduate Programs

At the bachelor's level, a major portion of your studies will focus on Arabic pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary and communication. You'll also learn about important literary works, such as the Quran, and various types of Arabic poetry. Some classes may address how social themes, such as divorce, family, gender roles and the Islamic religion, are portrayed through literature.

Master's Degree Programs

Prior to enrolling in a graduate program, you must achieve competency in the Arabic language. Areas of specialization found in a master's degree program in Arabic language and literature can include Islamic studies or linguistics. Advanced coursework might allow for the study of classical poetry, Arab novels and the place of women in the Quran. Thesis-based research may also be part of the program.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs

Doctoral programs usually require 2-3 years of coursework, a passing score on a comprehensive exam and a written dissertation. You may also be required to demonstrate fluency in at least one foreign language other than Arabic. In a doctoral program, you might assess the ties between culture and linguistics or engage in an intensive study of the Arabic language. You may also explore the portrayal of women in Arabic nations and compare classic pieces of Arabic literature.

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