Language Coordinator:

Persian language study at Columbia University´s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies prepares students for advanced study of the culture, history, literature, and society of the Persianate world. It offers students the opportunity to learn how to connect and communicate with Iranian and Iranian-American communities. It offers a window into the culture, politics, and history of a civilization two thousand years in the making. The courses are complemented by movie nights, discussion sessions, guest lectures and take advantage of New York City´s vibrant cultural scene with outings to museums, galleries, restaurants, and concerts to further expose students to the richness of Persian culture.

For placement exam times and locations, click here.


Elementary Persian: MDES UN1710 (Fall) and UN1711 (Spring)

These introductory courses offer a proficiency based approach to the study of the Persian language. The courses focus equally on the fundamentals of reading, speaking, writing, and listening. Students will learn to initiate conversations and communicate using simple structures about their personal circumstances, family, and their studies. They will learn the differences between the three main registers of the language and appropriate usage which will serve as a basis to introduce students to Persian culture and customs. Successful completion of Elementary II fulfills the first half of the two-year language requirement.

Intermediate Persian: MDES UN1712 (Fall) and UN1713 (Spring)

These courses focus on further developing reading, speaking, listening comprehension, and writing skills with emphasis on cultural connotations and highly nuanced aspects of the language and its idioms. Students will be able to initiate and sustain conversations on topics based on a wide variety of social contexts and readings from various genres. Students will be exposed to both modern and classical prose texts and will have further opportunity to examine Persian culture and history. Successful completion of Intermediate II fulfills the two-year language requirement.

Advanced Persian: MDES GU4710 (Fall) and GU4711 (Spring)

While helping students advance their levels of oral and written expression, these courses focus on literature of the modern and medieval periods, with particular emphasis on the development of the modern novella and traditional and new forms of poetry. In addition to literature, students are introduced to a wide variety of genres from political and cultural essays and blogs to newspaper translations of the early 20th century. They will be further exposed to ta´rof in reference to a wide variety of socio-cultural contexts and be expected to use ta´rof in class conversations. Students will be exposed to popular artists and their works and satirical websites for insight into contemporary Iranian culture and politics.

Language Resources

Language Instruction


Iran (in News, Photos, and Atlases)


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