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Atua

Political science program with language emphasis

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Hi all,

I'm looking for a Poli Sci PhD program that includes studying a foreign language. I'm interested in studying politics of the Middle East (not interested in Middle East Studies degree), and thus continuing my study of Arabic; I'm currently in intermediate Arabic. Of course there are options like studying on my own time, but I would prefer a curriculum that includes language study. Do any programs exist that encourage students to become fluent within their curriculum, as opposed to simply taking two years of language study (like many of the UCs in California) to clear language requirements?

Best,

Atua

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No poli sci grad program will include language study, though many have a requirement of demonstrating command of a particular language. That's because the language is seen as simply an item in your toolkit for scholarship - you either come in with it or acquire it while you are in the program, just like statistical skills. If you really want a program that includes language study (and I'm not sure what is at stake in this) you should look at area studies programs - but even there I think you'll find proficiency requirements rather than coursework requirements. There are area studies programs focused on politics and contemporary issues - perhaps you should seek some of them out.

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I agree with the above. Your best bet would be to look at schools that have good opportunity for language study (in addition to being a good match with your research) so you could pursue it in your own time.

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Also consider doctoral work in IR - SAIS and Fletcher jump out as prominent programs that require language training.

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Agree with the above. One of the big catch-22s with this field--often need to demonstrate proficiency in a second language, but you're pretty much on your own as far as finding the resources to ensure that proficiency.

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While the vast majority of programs do not include language coursework towards your required course work, you should look for schools that have pots of money lying around to encourage language training abroad. At both my stepsisters and my own university, there are rather generous in department and university wide programs that fund language acquisition during the summer. This money is designed to help you learn a language in a country that speaks the language. Despite the obvious advantages to immersion learning, this approach has an additional advantage: you can learn a language and often begin laying the ground work for actual fieldwork at the same time if you carefully select your language school destination to match your fieldwork interests. Thus these funds act as both training money and pre-dissertation grants.

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Most programs are happy to have you continue to study the language relevant to your research area and will help you get funding for that. You can take courses during the year and/or in summers. For a hard language like Arabic you'll also want to get a grant to spend a full year at one of the serious programs in an Arabic-speaking country.

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