The Duke Arabic program develops skills in speaking, reading, writing, and listening through the use of multi-media materials, innovative textbooks, and authentic texts. The program guides you from Arabic's beginning levels through its advanced upper levels, offering fourth and fifth year courses to students interested in exploring political, literary, religious, historical, archival, and media sources in their original language. The program acts as a bridge promoting oral communication, cultural comprehension, and academic study, through rigorous and thorough acquisition of written and spoken Arabic.

Placement in an Arabic language class follows the AMES department placement policy.  

The following scenarios will help you identify the appropriate placement level for your academic journey with the Arabic language. Simply review the list, then follow the suggestion provided with each scenario. Feel free to contact the director of the Arabic program if you need help or have to take a placement test.

I have studied Arabic for a number of years.
  • You must take a placement test.
I speak an Arabic dialect at home.
  • Consult with the Program Director
I was born in an Arabic speaking country and left the country after the age of 8.
  • You must take a placement test
I attended secondary school in an Arabic speaking country.
  • You must consult the program director
I am fluent in an Arabic dialect, but cannot read or write in Arabic.
  • Enroll in ARABIC 101 (Elementary Arabic) & talk to the Program Director
I am a native Arabic speaker.
  • You must talk to the Program Director
I studied Arabic in high school for some time.
  • You must take a placement test
I studied Arabic at a community mosque for some time.
  • Enroll in ARABIC 101 (Elementary Arabic) & talk to the Program Director
I spent some time doing Study Abroad in an Arabic speaking country.
  • You must take a placement test
None of the above applies to me.
  • Freshmen can enroll in any of the elementary level classes. However, if the schedule permits, we encourage freshmen to enroll in ARABIC 101—Elementary Arabic: Section 001.

Study abroad experience is a crucial component of the Duke Arabic program. Students can obtain this type of experience through some existing options (or they are welcome to look into programs sponsored by other universities and approved by Duke. The Middlebury School in Aman Jordan is a Duke approved program where students can spend a semester long studying Arabic and other subjects.

Duke in the Arab World

Duke in the Arab World is a 6-week, 2 course summer program that is based in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. It is built on a partnership between Duke University, ALIF in Fez, Qalam wa Lawh in Rabat, The University of Carthage  in Tunis, the American University in Cairo and the Arab Academy in Cairo. It provides students with intensive cultural and language immersion in these institutions.

Reflections from 2019 students on the program:



The DukeEngage in Jordan program is organized by SIT Study Abroad in collaboration with DukeEngage and is based in Amman. For their civic engagement work, students are paired individually with organizations focused on educational, environmental, economic, health, refugee, and social issues. There is no language prerequisite, but students are given survival Arabic courses and for those who are learning the language, family homestays provide an ideal setting for practice.


The DukeEngage in Lebanon program is centered around education and public health. Participants will focus on developing and delivering a SAT exam preparation course for Palestinian and Lebanese high school students. There are additional opportunities to develop basic health teaching to seniors, women, and children from Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. No language prerequisites are required, but experience with or interest in Arabic or French language is an advantage.




The Arabic program has created extensive series of cultural events that foster cultural awareness and civic engagement with the Arabic speaking world and communities beyond Duke.

  • The program organizes language table meetings on a regular basis, where speakers and student presenters are welcome.
  • Regular Arabic Halaqa dinner nights are organized by the program, featuring a variety of Middle Eastern intellectual activities and speakers and food as well. Email Ustaadh Saad El-Hadi, the coordinator if you are interested in presenting or attending (
  • Since 2007, The Arabic Program works closely with the Hebrew Program to organize a fall semester event called Arabic-Hebrew Night where students of the two programs share their learning experiences, showcase their language and cultural skills. Here is one of  the earlier events of the Arabic-Hebrew Night
  • At the end of the Spring Semester, Arabic students of all levels get to gather in an event called Duke Arabic Night where they celebrate cultures of the region and the beauty of the Arabic language. They often share and publish these videos online. Here is one of  the videos.
  • The Duke Arabic program runs a summer studies abroad where students spent 6 weeks in two of the three countries Morocco, Tunisia or Egypt. Read Brian Rusch's experience in Tunisia in 2019 entitled, The President is Dead, Long Live Democracy.
class with musical instruments
Learning Arabic Through Music

In this ISLAMiCommentary article, Marianna Jordan writes about the "Arabic Dialect through Song" class.



Dardasha students
The Dardasha Initiative

Arabic course students are involved in service-learning and community-based language learning

Arabic Language Program Coordinator

Maha Houssami

Arabic Program Faculty

Video Created by AMES Students

The first four videos are from students' class projects on a variety of socio-cultural issues:





Below is a project created by elementary Arabic students:


The following video was a student project for Arabic/Hebrew Night:


Duke Students in a tribute to the Egyptian revolution:


Video of a play (Maha Love Story) created by elementary students:


A music show by elementary students:



The Lover's Visit: