Middle East Studies Center

Director: Birol Yesilada

318 East Hall, 503-725-4074


The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library.

The Middle East Studies Center started in 1959 as the first federally supported undergraduate program for Arabic language and Middle East area studies in the nation. Portland State’s Middle East studies curriculum includes foreign language courses in Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish and Persian as well as area studies courses in a number of disciplines. The Middle East studies program boasts a distinguished faculty and vast library resources.

MESC works with PSU’s Contemporary Turkish Studies Program and the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies. Nationally, MESC belongs to Middle East-related organizations that expand opportunities for faculty and students.

Academic options in Middle East Studies:

  • Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies with a concentration in the Middle East.
  • Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic language & literature.
  • Certificates in Middle East Studies and Contemporary Turkish Studies complement a Bachelor of Science or Arts degree in any other PSU degree program.
  • Minors in Arabic language, Persian language, Turkish language and Judaic Studies.
  • Study of Arabic, Hebrew, Kurdish, Persian, and Turkish languages.
  • Study abroad in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

Branford Price Millar Library’s largest specialized collection is the substantial Middle East vernacular holdings, a nationally recognized resource owing its existence to the federal Foreign Language and Area Studies Acquisition Program, augmented through private donations over the years. The collection includes a number of rare books and is available to the public through local and internet online access.

Several scholarships are available to students in support of Middle East language and area studies, including: Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships, the Aspen Mitzvah Fund Scholarship, the Joseph & Takla Azar Scholarship for Arabic Studies, the Frank & Margaret Bitar Scholarship, the Elizabeth Ducey Scholarship, the Noury & Lamia al-Khaledy Scholarship for Arabic Studies, the Patricia & Gary Leiser Scholarship in Middle East Languages, and the Hanna & Wardah Sbait Scholarship for Sung Poetry and Folk Songs.

Community Outreach

The Middle East Studies Center promotes a critical understanding of the Middle East through engagement with K-12 schools and educators, local and regional community groups, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, media, businesses, and the general public. Drawing on the knowledge, expertise, and experience of the University community, MESC programming reflects the diversity of the region and provides insight into the histories, cultures, languages, religions, politics, and contemporary issues of the Middle East.