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Are you a graduate student with a strong interest in the Berber people and languages? Have you considered pursuing an advanced degree through which you can advance your knowledge of the Berber region and its people and gain valuable Berber language skills? If so, you may be a perfect candidate for the Master of Arts degree program in Berber Studies. To help you become a bit more familiar with this course of study, below we will describe some of the specifics with regard to the Master of Arts degree program in Berber Studies, including a course description, a sample of the topics and information you’ll encounter while earning this degree and the eligibility requirements for admission into the program.
Master of Arts Degree in Berber Studies: Course Description
The Master of Arts Degree in Berber Studies is a graduate level program open to most students who possess at least an undergraduate degree. The program, which typically spans eighteen months to two years in duration for full-time students, is designed for students who want to increase their knowledge of the Berber people and region, and advance their language skills, either for personal enhancement or to further their professional prospects. Students will study the area of North Africa west of the Nile Valley, the area in which the indigenous ethnic group known as the Berbers is concentrated. They will also learn specifics of the Berber language, along with all of the local varieties of it, which together form the Berber branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family.
Master of Arts Degree in Berber Studies: Course Content
The course content for the Master of Arts degree in Berber Studies focuses mainly on the Berber people and society and the various languages spoken in this region. As mentioned briefly above, the Berbers are the indigenous ethnic group of North Africa, concentrated west of the Nile Valley, and can be found from the Atlantic Sea to the Siwa oasis in Egypt, as well as from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. For centuries they have spoken the Berber language—a language that has several varieties and dialects, although today, many varieties of Maghrebi colloquial Arabic are now spoken by a large portion of Berbers, in addition to the Berber language itself.
Students in the Master of Arts Degree program in Berber Studies will concentrate their studies on the various regions in which the Berber-speaking peoples have lived throughout history, but mostly on the areas they inhabit today. By far, the highest concentration of Berbers is in the countries of Algeria and Morocco, although there are smaller Berber-speaking populations scattered throughout the countries of Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, Mali and Niger, along with large migrant communities nestled throughout Europe.
From a linguistic standpoint, students will learn that Berber is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic family of languages—a language that can be traced to ancient times. While there are dozens of varieties of the Berber language, the main focus of the program is placed on the standard variety called Tamazight. This push to unite all the varieties into a single standard language was borne from an ongoing movement designed to promote a more defined Berber identity. The name Tamazight, originally the native self-name of the Berber varieties of the Atlas and Rif regions, is being increasingly used for this “Standard Berber,” and even for Berber as a whole.
Berber Studies: Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for admission into the Master of Arts Degree program in Berber Studies students must possess at least a bachelor’s degree in the same or similar field, with a 2.5 grade point average or better in all required coursework. A minimum of three letters of recommendation are also required, as is a personal interview with program faculty at certain institutions. Depending on past academic performance, some students may also be required to take and pass an entrance exam prior to being considered for admission.