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.

Duke Arabic Placement Exam Procedure 

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

These guidelines are to help you choose an Arabic language course that matches your proficiency. Please note that self-placement is probationary until the last day of drop and add. If you have studied Arabic prior to Duke or abroad as an undergraduate, you must take a placement test. 

The following scenarios will help you place yourself in an appropriate Arabic course at Duke and begin your journey with the Arabic language. 


I have no experience with Modern Standard Arabic… 

  • Enroll in any of the Elementary Arabic courses (ARABIC 101); freshmen are recommended to enroll in ARABIC 101 – Elementary Arabic: Section 001 if their schedule permits.  


I have some experience with Arabic… 

  • Fill out the Arabic Department Placement Exams survey through Qualtrics 

  • Read the detailed course descriptions of the Arabic courses offered at Duke below 

  • In the form, specify a time to complete a 1-hour online asynchronous placement exam; this exam will assess reading and writing skills in Arabic and does not require any preparation.  

  • After receiving the results of your placement exam, expect an email from the instructor teaching the course you placed in. Then, you can register for that course.  

Placement Exam Details 

  • The placement exam will be administered online through Canvas.  

  • Please be sure to take the exam in a quiet place and have headphones on hand to use for listening exercises. 

  • Be prepared to type in Arabic during the exam; if you are unsure of how to add the keyboard, you can follow these instructions.  

  • Placement exams are open for 2 weeks before course selection every semester and throughout the drop-add period. Placement exams for incoming freshmen will occur during the 2 weeks before freshmen course selection in July. 

  • Taking an exam earlier in the period increases the likelihood of receiving a timely response from Arabic faculty before course registration. 

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 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. Visit the Arabic-Hebrew Night website to see previous celebrations.
  • 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.
class with musical instruments
Dardasha students

Arabic Language Program Coordinator

Maha Houssami

Arabic Program Faculty

Video Created by AMES Students

With the support of Duke's Office of Service Learning, advanced Arabic students (Spring 2023) created the following two videos highlighting social justice themes from a variety of angles.

"Comics and Conflict Resolution"

The theme for our final project was "Comics and Conflict Resolution." Our group chose to focus on the issue of migrant workers' rights in the Gulf, specifically sharing the stories of workers who built the stadium for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Through our video, we hope to raise awareness about this issue and suggest solutions to solve this problem while also providing cultural context for viewers.


These 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: