Middle East/South Asia Studies at UC Davis

Middle East/South Asia Studies

Major and minor

The major in Middle East/South Asia Studies (MESA) offers comparative studies of the Middle East and South Asia, regions that have been integrally linked for centuries by trade, migration, exchange of scientific, mathematical, political and philosophical ideas, religion, literature and art. This region encompasses 44 countries, and the major focuses on the Arab Gulf, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, the Meghreb (North Africa), Palestine, Syria and Turkey. Students will explore the culture, history, politics and economies of these regions through courses from a variety of disciplines: anthropology, art, Asian American and English studies, classics, comparative literature, film, gender, history, music, politics and religion. Students are encouraged to take advantage of our Study Abroad program to gain first-hand experience in Egypt, India and/or Turkey.

Real World Outcomes

Graduates are well qualified to pursue careers or post-baccalaureate study in a variety of fields, as represented by the interdisciplinary nature of the Middle East/South Asia studies program. This major provides an excellent background for careers in business, government agencies and international development, teaching and translation.


The Middle East/South Asia Studies major focuses on the comparative study of these two critical regions and their historically intertwined cultures and economies. Students will receive a strong foundation in the regional languages, with at least two years required in Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi/Urdu or other regional languages. The two required Middle East/South Asia studies courses lay a comparative foundation, with remaining requirements offering coursework from a dozen different departments/programs within the College of Letters and Science.