Languages & Electives

Over the course of the program students must complete 18 credits worth of languages and electives. In fulfillment of this requirement, students may select from the following:

  • Students may complete up to 18 Credits of relevant elective courses:

For mother-tongue Arabic speakers: minimum of 4 credits of classical Arabic or 8 credits of another regional language that will demonstrably support the student’s ministry.

For non-mother tongue Arabic speakers: minimum of 8 credits of Arabic or another regional language that will demonstrably support the student’s ministry.

The balance of the 18 credits may be acquired by taking approved courses in Bible, theology and/or missiology from an approved graduate-level institution. [Pre-approval is required for all elective courses.][1]

  • Up to 8 credits may be acquired by completing extra work on the Final Module Projects [a maximum of 2 extra credits per module].
  • Qualified students may earn up to 18 Credits with the completion of a Major Paper on Arabic Literature and Culture.
  • Up to 8 credits may be acquired by attending IMES’s annual Middle East Consultation and completing relevant coursework [4 credits per Middle East Consultation].
  • Student may earn up to 4 credits of pre-approved Cross-Cultural Work in Context.[2] For more information about this option, refer to IMES’s Middle East Immersion program.
  • Students may complete an approved Directed Study on a topic relevant to Arabic Literature or the MENA context [4-8 credits] under the direction of an IMES faculty member.

Language Study Guidelines

Before starting language instruction, accepted students should contact the IMES office in order to obtain a language learning contract to be signed by the student, his or her instructor, and a member of the MRel Leadership team. All language study takes place during the student’s own time (not during the two week residency times in Lebanon) and is the responsibility of the student to organize.

For a student to earn credit:

  • Language Learning Contracts must be submitted at the start of each module.
  • A Report of Progress signed by the student’s language instructor is required of each student at the end of each module.

The number of hours spent in language instruction (both formal and personal study) is to be reported on in the progress report. Therefore, it is imperative for the student and instructor to keep a log. For non-Arabic speakers, Arabic is likely be the language of choice. Other options, however, include Syriac, Coptic, Persian, Turkish, Armenian, Amharic, Ethiopic, Patristic or Cypriot Greek or some other mutually agreed upon language of the Muslim or Eastern Christian world that will demonstrably further the students’ academic and professional goals, helping them to be more effective in their vocational context.[3]

Students should bear in mind that language study costs on average between $8 and $20 per hour of structured instruction. This remuneration is left to the discretion of the student and his or her instructor or learning institution. Generally about half of the language learning hours will be structured with a tutor or in a classroom. The remaining may be fulfilled through personal study, intentional conversation, use of audio-visual materials, etc.

Transfer Credit and Advanced Standing 

In fulfillment of the 18 Credit Languages and Electives requirement, students having completed relevant master’s-level theological studies earned prior to admission to the MRel in MENA Studies program may potentially (upon approval) be eligible to receive transfer credits or Advanced Standing upon enrollment in the program.

  • Students having earned master’s level credit at other approved theological institutions may petition to transfer up to 10 credits (for non-native Arabic speakers) or up to 14 credits (for native Arabic speakers) of relevant, non-linguistic coursework.
  • Students having completed a previous theological degree at the master’s level or higher may petition to enter the MRel in MENA Studies program with Advanced Standing, in lieu of up to credits 10 credits (for non-native Arabic speakers) or up to 14 credits (for native Arabic speakers) of non-linguistic elective coursework.
  • 2nd to 3rd year M.Div. students of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, Lebanon, may transfer up to 18 credits of relevant coursework to the MRel in MENA Studies program. ABTS students who wish to transfer must satisfy all standard MRel entry requirements.
  • ABTS graduates with an earned M.Div. degree are eligible to enter the MRel in MENA Studies program with Advanced Standing, in lieu of up to 18 credits of elective coursework. ABTS students who wish to enter the program with Advanced Standing must satisfy all standard MRel entry requirements.

A Note Concerning the Language of Major Assignments

Written assignments of at least 2 of the 4 modules, in addition to the Final Project, must be written in Arabic for mother-tongue Arabic speaking students.

[1] If you are unsure as to whether a course qualifies, please contact: If a student wishes to take a non-theological course relevant to the MENA context they must demonstrably prove how it supports them in their Final Project.

[2] Cross-Cultural Work in Context must be experienced in a cultural context distinct from the vocational context which served as the basis for the student’s admission to the MRel in MENA Studies Program (i.e. those non-Lebanese students living and working in Lebanon cannot use their current work in Lebanon to fulfill this requirement).

[3] If the student will be in Lebanon during pre and post-residential portions of the program, a list of suggested language learning locations is available at the IMES office or contact