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Middle Eastern Studies (MA)

Career prospects

The Middle Eastern Studies programme can open doors to you in a wide variety of industries in which the Middle East plays a prominent role, or serve as a stepping-stone to help you reach the next level of your academic education.

Acquired skills and competences

After successfully completing the Middle Eastern Studies programme you will have developed and honed a unique set of skills that will be highly relevant to a career requiring specialist language or cultural knowledge of the Middle East. Alumni careers typically include those in government, the travel industry, the diplomatic service, immigration and naturalisation, non-profit and advocacy work, think tanks, and organisations involved in development cooperation projects. This degree will also serve as strong foundation for furthering your academic education with a PhD programme.


Well over 60 per cent of Middle Eastern Studies graduates find a job within two months of completing the programme, with 84 per cent of them finding a position at academic level. Some of the positions found by our alumni include those in:

  • research
  • teaching
  • governmental and semi-governmental organisations
  • non-profit organisations
  • business services
  • banking

An academic career

Although the MA Middle Eastern Studies prepares you aptly to pursue an academic career, you may also wish to consider the more research-intensive, two-year research MA in Middle Eastern Studies. This programme is specifically designed to prepare students for an academic career. That said, many of our graduates have gone on to pursue PhDs at programmes such as Harvard, Stanford, Syracuse, and more.

Student signing his name in the University's 'zweetkamertje' (sweat room) after graduating.

A Leiden University degree

Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.

Jiayi Zhu

Graduated in Middle Eastern Studies (MA)

Jiayi Zhu

The Institution of Area Studies (LIAS) of Leiden University has a high reputation all over the world because of its well-organized curriculums, vibrant research works, knowledgeable teachers, and senior scholar standard. It was a massive challenge for a Chinese student like me who neither was familiar with European education system nor did I have any historical or political training before to keep pace with the program. With the courage of my teachers and my hardworking, I’ve finished all my required 75EC of courses and master thesis within one year and graduated in 2019, with which I could say I have a much more comprehensive understanding and constructive analysis of Turkey than one year ago.

Make a more logical course curriculum  

I am now continuing my career as a university teacher in the Turkish Language Major, where I am able to make a more logical course curriculum, give clearer related courses, and also try to do some academic researches with the readings I read, the lectures I’ve listened, and the research skill I’ve acquired during my MA in Turkish Studies.

Chantal Hamelinck

Graduated in Turkish Studies (MA Middle Eastern Studies)

Chantal Hamelinck

"After my BA degree in English literature, I wanted to learn a language that was completely different in structure from English and Dutch. After my graduation from the MA Turkish Studies at Leiden University I first did an internship at a literary agent in Istanbul. A year later I started working as Foreign Rights Manager at one of the largest publishing groups in Turkey, for which I was in touch with publishers from all over the world."

Explore a completely different language

After three wonderful years, I decided to move back to The Netherlands, where I currently work as Account Support Coordinator for Elsevier in Amsterdam. Here I continue using my Turkish, as I work with customers from Turkey. I am very grateful that the MA Turkish Studies has taught and motivated me to explore a completely different language and culture, and what I learned greatly helped me in my work experience there, as well as back here in The Netherlands.

In which sector do students find jobs?

The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA in Middle Eastern Studies 2016-2020.

  • 25 % Communication and marketing
  • 13 % Consultancy
  • 13 % Culture, sports and research
  • 13 % Financial institutions
  • 12 % Healthcare and welfare
  • 12 % Business services
  • 12 % IT

How successful are they in finding a job?

  • 44 % found a job within two months
  • 67 % found their first job at academic level

Career preparation

Find out how this programme exactly prepares you for your future career and check our career preparation activities.

The Middle Eastern Studies programme will help you make a clear difference in your chosen career. It will introduce you to the conceptual and academic approaches at play in the region, such as linguistics, history, anthropology and political science. Furthermore, developing your in-depth knowledge in the field and giving you the ability to think critically and analytically are also key goals of the programme.

Do you consider to put your knowledge into practice during your studies? Determine whether an internship could be an option for you. Start orientating your possibilities by visiting an internship information session. This way you can receive information about the internship procedure and listen to tips of former interns.
Notice that you will search for an internship yourself to find a place of your interest. Do you need some help with this or the application process? Do not hesitate to contact the Career Service. When you have found an internship, inform us. Then, the internship coordinator advises you how to proceed and provides your internship plan with feedback so it can be submitted for approval to the board of examiners.

Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.

The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities

The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.

Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!

Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network

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