Cairo: Middle Eastern Civilizations

Photo: Sahara Sunset
Language Requirement: 
Lauren Schneider

Middle Eastern Civilizations Program Update for Winter 2018 and Winter 2019

Following the recommendation of the Middle Eastern Civilizations program faculty and the Chair of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, as convened by Dean of the College John Boyer, the location of the Winter 2018 and Winter 2019 Middle Eastern Civilizations programs has been changed. These programs will be based in Rabat, Morocco.

The College remains deeply committed to Cairo and to Egypt more broadly, and we hope to maintain Cairo as this sequence’s permanent home in future years. We continue to monitor developments in the region.

The University of Chicago’s Winter quarter civilizations program, “Middle Eastern Civilizations, Cairo” provides University of Chicago students with an opportunity to study Egyptian civilizations from pyramids to minarets, from early records to modernity. The rich history of Cairo will reveal itself to students through exposure to history, literature, and archaeology along the banks of the Nile. Participants will take a series of three civilizations courses devoted to Egypt’s evolving role in a wider regional context. As with the University’s other programs abroad, these courses will be taught by three different faculty members (in English) in intensive three-week segments. The precise topics of each year’s courses are determined by faculty interest and expertise. Students take a fourth course in Arabic language, offered at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels.  The beginning course is Egyptian colloquial Arabic. Classroom work is supplemented by excursions to sites of historical interest from pyramids to the ancient ruins of Luxor to the modern bustling capital city of Cairo.

The Cairo program is operated in partnership with Cairo University.


Cairo program students live together in shared, furnished apartments with full kitchens located in the residential neighborhood of Dokki, on the western bank of the Nile across from downtown Cairo. Dokki is centrally located and allows easy access to all parts of the city by foot, metro or taxi.

Credits and Registration

Participants in the Cairo program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and the Arabic language course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. If a student has already met this requirement, he or she may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective major. The language course will normally count as an elective, and is developed in partnership with the Arabic instruction on campus. Participants will also join in language exchanges with local Cairo University students. Course titles, units of credit and grades are placed on the College transcript.


Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee and a non-refundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the non-refundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Cairo program during the 2018-19 year are listed below:

Winter tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

Cairo program fee: $4,800


Program fee includes: Out-of-pocket expenses include:
accommodation round-trip airfare to and from the program site
instruction transportation on site
student support meals
program excursions course materials
cell phone (device only) personal entertainment and travel
  communications (including cell phone usage)
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) health insurance and upfront payments for care
  other miscellaneous expenses

Previous program participants report spending in the range of $100 to $200 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that while the cost of living in Cairo is relatively low, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section. 

Eligibility and Application

The Cairo program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.  

The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that seriousness of intellectual purpose and engagement likely to yield the most from this opportunity. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) on campus before the program begins. They can continue their study of MSA at intermediate and advanced levels.

Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record, personal statement and academic recommendation. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

Further Information

To discuss the Cairo: Middle Eastern Civilizations program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Lauren Schneider.

What you’ll see: 

Photo: The sun shines on CairoPhoto: Dean Boyer visits Cairo ’11 Civ studentsPhoto: Oasis BreakPhoto: Sahara Sunset