Persian Languages and Literature

Degree programs in Persian language and literature teach students the Farsi language, along with exploring the cultures of the Middle East and written works from the region. Keep reading to learn more about degree options in this field, as well as career opportunities for experts in Persian studies.

Is Persian Language and Literature for Me?

Career Overview

The language of Persia (today known as Iran) is spoken by millions of people across the Middle East, as well as by large Iranian populations in cities like Los Angeles. As a student of Persian language and literature, you'll have the opportunity to study this ancient form of communication (called Farsi by native speakers), while exploring the work of great poets, brilliant artisans and craftsmen. The study of Arabic will also be part of your program, due to the fact that the two languages have become intertwined in cultural and religious usage for over a thousand years.

Career Options

As an expert in Persian language and literature, you could go on to work in the arts, government and teaching. Additionally, you might find employment within Iranian expatriate communities in social or cultural center work. The U.S. government hires Persian experts to prepare personnel to serve in Iran and Afghanistan, the diplomatic corps and intelligence agencies. In addition to proof of U.S. citizenship or residency, requirements include a combination of a degree and professional experience; you may also be tested for fluency.

You could also choose to work as a freelance or staff interpreter or translator for government agencies, courts, hospitals and social service agencies. Professional requirements include an attention to detail and the ability to keep up with the vocabularies used in different fields. Graduate degrees in Persian studies can lead to teaching jobs at the college level. Although a master's degree can suffice for community college employment, a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is usually required to obtain a tenured position at a 4-college or university.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of interpretation and translation was projected to grow by 46% between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, interpreters and translators earned a median annual salary of $42,420. The BLS also predicted that the postsecondary education field would grow by 19% from 2012-2022. As of May 2013, foreign language professors earned a median annual salary of $58,620 (

How Can I Work in Persian Language and Literature?

Undergraduate Programs

You might begin by enrolling in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Persian Studies or a B.A. in Persian Language and Literature program. Requirements include several years of Persian language studies in reading, writing and translation. You'll also have the opportunity to become familiar with Iranian culture through courses in language and identity, art, media studies and cinema. Religious studies and courses in political science can help you understand the current international status of Iran. Study abroad opportunities are rare, since travel to Iran is considered unsafe for Americans.

Graduate Programs

A Master of Arts or Ph.D. program in Persian studies may open the door to additional career opportunities. Program emphasis is on mastery of the Persian language. You'll also explore important literary works and criticism techniques. For example, you may study classical lyric poetry, the place of Iranian women writers in literature and the form of literature composed while in exile.

Graduate coursework may also include topics in Islamic art, archaeology, law and philosophy. Competency in another Near Eastern or Middle Eastern language is commonly required. Other than Arabic, you could study Turkish, Aramaic or Hebrew. A key component of both master's and doctoral programs is the opportunity to conduct original research which may serve as the basis for your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation.

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