Graduate Grants and Assistantships

The King Fahd Center supports graduate study for students at the MA and PhD levels working in academic disciplines with a Center faculty specialist in Middle East/Islamic Studies through competitive MEST Graduate Assistantships in a limited number of departments and programs within the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.  The Center also supports summer language study and research focusing on the Middle East, North Africa and Islamic Studies conducted within the United States or abroad through competitive grants.  Conference travel grants for students participating in an approved regional, national or international conference are also available on a competitive basis.

Deadlines and requirements subject to change without prior notice.  Please address any questions about deadlines and the application process to Renato Despain, Program and Outreach Manager for the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at or 479-575-4373.

Deadline: February 1

The King Fahd Center funds a limited number of graduate assistantships across a number of affiliated departments and programs.  Students at the Master’s and Doctoral level working with a Center-affiliated faculty specialist in Middle East and/or Islamic Studies are eligible to be considered for funding with the nomination of their primary departments.  MEST GAs are responsible to their primary academic department in terms of academic progress and work assignments, but will coordinate with and be evaluated by MEST on an annual basis.

Stipends and Work Assignments

Each MEST Graduate Assistantship is a 9-month, 50% appointed position and offers a stipend of $11,600 for students at the Master’s level, or $12,600 at the Doctoral level.  Stipends will be dispersed in 8 monthly installments from September to the following April; half-installments will be received during the months of August and May.  The King Fahd Center will not cover fees, taxes, or any other expenses, including University of Arkansas student fees.  Additionally, the cost of a maximum of 15 graduate credit hours per semester (Fall and Spring) may be waived.  Undergraduate credit hours (for example, introductory language studies courses) may also be waived with approval.

Language study is a key component of Middle East Studies. Graduate Assistants funded by the King Fahd Center are expected to pursue fluency in Arabic (or another language related to their research agenda as approved by their advisor) commensurate with their course of study and to show sustained progress. Native speakers will be exempt from this requirement, but must satisfy appropriate foreign language requirements as stipulated by their academic department.

The Graduate School defines a 50% assignment as the equivalent of 20 hours per week.  Graduate Assistants will be expected to work from the Monday before classes begin to the 15th of December, May or August, depending on the semester of appointment, except when the University is closed.  King Fahd Center funded graduate assistants will be assigned research and/or teaching in keeping with the specific needs and procedures of their home department, and with the advisement of the King Fahd Center.

Applying for a MEST Graduate Assistantship

New Applicants:

All students must be accepted by the University of Arkansas Graduate School and the department or program of their choice prior to being eligible for a MEST Graduate Assistantship.

Incoming students may not apply directly to the King Fahd Center.  Nominations are made by MEST Affiliated departments/programs and forwarded to the King Fahd Center by the consideration deadline, along with the following materials:

  • A copy of the student’s application to the department/program and Graduate School (including recommendation letters, TOEFL/GRE/etc. scores, transcripts and writing samples)
  • A letter of recommendation/endorsement from the student’s prospective advisor

Departments should also include a list of all student nominations ranked in order of preference.

Renewing Applicants:

MEST Graduate Assistantships must be renewed on a yearly basis.  Applications for renewal will be considered alongside new applicants and will share the same deadline.

In order to maintain a MEST Graduate Assistantship, the student is required to maintain a 3.5 GPA and continue making satisfactory progress toward his or her degree.  MEST Graduate Assistants must also maintain a presence on campus, and apprise the King Fahd Center of any extended travel, national or international.  In such cases as the awarding of external funding, research fellowships, long-term research conducted abroad, etc., MEST Graduate Assistantships may be deferred at the discretion of the Director.

The King Fahd Center may fund up to 4 semesters of Graduate Assistantships towards the MA/MS degree and up to 8 semesters toward the PhD degree.  Students in the MFA Creative Writing & Translation Program may receive 2 additional semesters of funding, for a total of 6 semesters.

Renewal Applications must include:

  • A formal letter requesting renewal, addressed to the MEST Funding Committee
  • A detailed and formal letter of recommendation from the student’s primary academic department in which the student’s progress is evaluated, and in which any concerns raised by departmental or King Fahd Center committees are addressed
  • A completed Graduate Progress Report for the previous calendar year

 All items must be received by the application/renewal deadline.

Deadline: February 1

The King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas offers funding for graduate students working on a relevant geo-cultural topic under the supervision of a MEST faculty member. Awards may be applied toward travel funds to support research and/or language study in the United States or abroad. All graduate student with relevant research are eligible to apply for a Summer Research Grant, not only those students currently funded by the King Fahd Center. Award amounts are variable and dependent upon available funds.

In order to qualify for funds, students must register their travel plans with the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange; no funds may be dispersed without approval to travel. Students who are traveling to destinations on the State Department Travel Warning list may be required to file a Petition for Exception to Overseas Travel Policy.

Complete applications must include: 

  • A 2-3 page research proposal indicating the nature of the project, relevance to academic program, and anticipated outcome
  • Any relevant letters of invitation or affiliation with an academic/research institution, or application to and (if possible) acceptance into an academic program
  • A proposed budget with attached justification outlining expected expenses including air travel, tuition/fees, lodging, any special anticipated research expenses
  • Indication of support from any other source
  • A formal recommendation letter from the applicant’s MEST faculty advisor

Grant awardees are required to submit a 3-5 page summary report of research conducted and 5-10 good quality photos taken over the course of the trip within 30 days of research completion, or be considered ineligible for future funding.

Download the application:  PDF | Word

Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and should be submitted at least 6 weeks prior to the conference date

The King Fahd Center supports the professional development of graduate students by providing a limited number of competitive conference travel grants to students who are presenting papers at academic conferences on topics related to the Middle East and North Africa. Any graduate student funded by the King Fahd Center and/or working on a relevant geo-cultural topic under the supervision of a MEST faculty member may apply for travel funds to support participation (presentation of a paper/poster or participation in a workshop/round-table) at an academic conference.

Proposals will be judged on merit and the amount of support will be determined by available funds. These grants may be used toward travel and other expenses associated with participation in a professional meeting.

Full-time graduate students must also apply for conference travel support from the Graduate School prior to applying for MEST funding.  Travel to conferences outside of the United States are subject to approval by the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange; students must register their travel plans in order to be eligible for funds.

All applications must include a statement of purpose indicating conference name, location and the nature of participation along with a letter of invitation indicating that the applicant has been selected to participate. In addition, a travel budget and justification must be included, along with indication of any other financial support, and a letter of support from a MEST faculty member.

Download the application:  PDF | Word