Persian Studies Major

Program Director: Fatemeh Keshavarz, Ph.D.

The 45 credit major in Persian Studies (12 courses, excluding prerequisites, and 3 supporting courses that can be fulfilled by a double major or minor) will provide students with a solid background in linguistic, literary, and cultural aspects of the study of Persian. This study will be inclusive of the cultures of Iran, Afghanistan, Persian-speaking Central Asia, and the Persian diaspora. Students work toward competence in speaking, reading, writing, and listening, in addition to studying the evolution of Iranian and Persianate cultures in their diverse perspectives, practices, and products. They will become conversant with the contemporary political and daily life of Persian-speaking peoples, with cultural comparison implicit throughout their 4 years.

The B.A. in Persian Studies (PERS) prepares students for a range of professional opportunities, including careers in government, education, the arts, business, and communication. Many undergraduates will choose to double major or do a double degree in Persian and another subject, including arts and humanities majors, business, computer science, engineering, and journalism.

Placement in Courses

For information about the World Language Placement, go to:

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Language Ability: Students develop and improve their language ability in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in Modern Standard Persian. Students demonstrate level-appropriate oral and written skills as assessed by Oral Proficiency Interviews (OPIs) and the University of Maryland Test of Persian Proficiency Test ©. At graduation this is defined as Intermediate High to Advanced levels of proficiency across skills.
  2. Cultural Literacy: Students develop and improve their ability to function in relevant cultural, religious, and linguistic contexts and demonstrate cultural awareness through identifying and articulating cultural values and practices, similarities and differences, and successfully handling situations that require intercultural negotiation of meaning.
  3. Analytical and Argumentative Skills: Students develop and improve their abilities to analyze various texts (including written, audio, visual) representing different genres and develop and improve their abilities in critical analysis. Students hone their critical thinking and discursive skills by demonstrating the ability to distinguish between opinions and facts and advancing their own reasoned arguments delivered in written or oral format.
  4. Disciplinary Knowledge: Students demonstrate curriculum-based familiarity with key figures, texts and events within the social, cultural, and historical contexts of regions of the world where Persian has a significant linguistic or cultural presence.
  5. Academic Skills: Students are able to produce and present source-based academic texts (oral and written) in Persian and/or English, display an awareness of various purposes and audiences, and demonstrate analytical skills as described under 3 above.

All students planning to pursue the major in Persian Studies should contact the undergraduate advisor for Persian, who will be responsible for placement, oversight, and record keeping.

Course Title Credits
College Requirements
Prerequisites 1
Elementary Persian I
Elementary Persian II
Course Title Credits
Core Sequence 218
Intermediate Persian I
Intermediate Conversation
Intermediate Persian II
Intermediate Reading in Persian
Advanced Persian I
Advanced Persian II
Electives in Persian
Select six credits of 3xx or 4xx level electives of the following:6
Persian Media
Contemporary Iranian Culture
Experiential Learning
Persian Translation
Special Topics in Persian Studies
Electives in English
Select up to 12 credits of the following: 312
Modern Iran
Gender and Body in Iran
Iranian Cinema
Iranian Life in Literature and Film
Introduction to Persian Literature in Translation
Special Topics in Persian Studies
Supporting Area
Select nine 3xx or 4xx level credits in a single area of study outside Persian Studies as a complement to the major 49
Total Credits45

There are no prerequisites for students with equivalent knowledge. 


All prerequisites imply "or equivalent knowledge." In cases where a student has equivalent knowledge, required language-focus credits are replaced in consultation with undergraduate advisor. This may include courses in Arabic for those students who intend to study Persian literature in Persian, as Arabic is integral to the history of Persian Literature.


No prerequisites

Courses in Middle Eastern Studies taught in English outside the department may be substituted on prior approval of the undergraduate advisor.


The area of study outside Persian Studies should be cleared with the undergraduate advisor upon declaring a major. Double majors and minors fulfill this requirement.

Students must earn a grade of "C-" or higher in each course applied toward a major or minor in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. Additionally, an overall GPA of 2.0 in a major or minor is required for graduation.

Click here for roadmaps for graduation plans in the College of Arts and Humanities.

Additional information on developing a graduation plan can be found on the following pages:

Scholarship Opportunities for Persian Study 

Persian Language Flagship Scholarship

Persian Flagship students are eligible to receive need-based funding when it is most necessary – to support intensive domestic summer study at an approved institution (such as the University of Maryland Summer Language Institute), and for the domestic capstone year.

In order to apply for funding through the Flagship Program, students must demonstrate that they have actively pursued other scholarship opportunities. Each student has a lifetime maximum of $20,000 that they are eligible to receive from The Language Flagship Program.

Boren Awards

Boren Scholars and Fellows study a wide range of critical languages, including Persian. Boren Awards are available to students of all proficiency levels who are committed to enhancing their skills.

The Boren Fellowships offer up to $12,000 for summer intensive language study. If requested, the maximum total combined domestic and overseas award amount is $30,000. Domestic study is entirely optional but may be useful preparation for Boren Fellows whose overseas program requires that they arrive in country with strong language skills. See further guidance here.

Critical Language Scholarship

The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is a fully funded summer overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. With the goal of broadening the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries, CLS provides opportunities to a diverse range of students from across the United States at every level of language learning.

The CLS Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State.

Location: Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Requirements: One year of Persian Study before program begins, U.S. Citizenship
Deadline: November
Minimum GPA: N/A
Amount: Full cost of attendance provided.

Middlebury Institute of International Studies-Language Flagship Scholarship

The Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey has partnered with The Language Flagship to provide a guaranteed scholarship of $16,000 each year to its students. We recognize Language Flagship students and their commitment to language and cross-cultural communication as a valuable part of our campus community and global alumni network.

You may also receive additional merit and need-based scholarships depending on the strength of your application or financial situation.

How to Apply

  1. Submit your application for one of our degree programs by the next priority deadline. Please indicate that you're affiliated with Language Flagship when prompted on the online application.
  2. You may also waive your application fee at

For a Host of Other Scholarships, Please Visit: