Istanbul: Middle Eastern Civilizations

View of Istanbul at sunset from the roof of the Valide Han

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Xhesika Bardhi

Application Deadline:


The University of Chicago’s Spring quarter Istanbul program provides University of Chicago students with an opportunity to study Middle Eastern Civilizations in one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

    Known throughout history as Byzantium, Nova Roma, Constantinople, Konstantiniye, and Istanbul, the city is a rich mix of eastern and western cultures straddling two continents. The three-course sequence presents a historical survey of this crossroads of civilization from the ancient period to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Classroom work is supplemented by weekly excursions to sites of historical interest in and around Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey. Participants also take a fourth course in beginning, intermediate, or advanced Turkish, spoken by over 80 million people worldwide.

    Istanbul program participants will be housed in furnished, shared student residences within a short commute from the classroom location. Housing is a short bus or tram ride away from the old city and its many historical sites such as the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace.

    Participants in the Istanbul 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 Turkish language course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement 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. The Turkish language course in Istanbul is not keyed to Chicago’s Turkish language sequences. 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 nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Istanbul program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Istanbul program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $100 to $150 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 though the cost of living in Istanbul is lower than Chicago and it is possible to live frugally, 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.

    The Istanbul 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 and disciplinary 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 they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take Turkish on campus before the program begins.

    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 and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Istanbul program and the possibility of participating, please contact Xhesika Bardhi.