A globe with the continent of Africa at the center

The mission of the Department of African Cultural Studies is to research and teach the languages and expressive cultures of Africa and Africans around the world. Our faculty specialize in literature, music, film, critical applied linguistics, drama, diaspora studies, and new media.

In support of this mission, the certificate in Arabic offers students the opportunity to develop proficiency in Arabic, thereby complementing their major(s) in other areas across the university. The certificate fosters a thorough understanding of one of the most widely spoken languages (official language of over 20 countries) throughout northern Africa and the Middle East with a focus on Arabic language skills, advanced language courses in Arabic, and courses on the literature and culture of the region. 

The certificate also strengthens the applications of students who intend to pursue careers or graduate study in areas of the world where Arabic proficiency is useful.

How to Get in

Declaring the Certificate

Declaring the Arabic Language and Culture certificate is as easy as meeting with the advisor. Find the African Cultural Studies advisor on Starfish.


The Arabic Language and Culture certificate requires 14 credits. Students must complete through the fourth unit (semester) of Arabic language.  Students may earn the remaining credits with courses on culture, literature, and/or additional language study.

Language through fourth semester

AFRICAN 323 Third Semester Arabic4
or AFRICAN 341 Third Semester Summer Arabic
AFRICAN 324 Fourth Semester Arabic4
or AFRICAN 342 Fourth Semester Summer Arabic


AFRICAN 100 Introduction to African Cultural Expression3
AFRICAN 201 Introduction to African Literature3
AFRICAN 212 Introduction to African Popular Culture3
AFRICAN 231 Introduction to Arabic Literary Culture3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER  233 Global HipHop and Social Justice3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey4
AFRICAN/​INTL ST  302 Arabic Literature and Cinema3
AFRICAN 325 Colloquial Arabic2
AFRICAN 326 Colloquial Arabic2
AFRICAN 329 Fifth Semester Arabic3
AFRICAN 330 Sixth Semester Arabic3
AFRICAN 343 Fifth Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN 344 Sixth Semester Summer Arabic4
AFRICAN/​ASIAN/​RELIG ST  370 Islam: Religion and Culture3-4
AFRICAN 412 Contemporary African Fiction3-4
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER  413 Contemporary African and Caribbean Drama3-4
AFRICAN/​RELIG ST  414 Islam in Africa and the Diaspora3
AFRICAN/​COM ARTS/​L I S  444 Technology and Development in Africa and Beyond3
AFRICAN 445 Advanced Readings in Arabic Texts3
AFRICAN 500 Language and Society in Africa3-4
ART HIST 305 History of Islamic Art and Architecture3
ART HIST/​RELIG ST  373 Great Cities of Islam3
ART HIST 510 Proseminar in Islamic Art and Architecture3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  206 The Qur'an: Religious Scripture & Literature3
ASIAN/​RELIG ST  444 Introduction to Sufism (Islamic Mysticism)3
CLASSICS/​HISTORY  110 The Ancient Mediterranean4
CLASSICS 308 Sex and Violence in the Ancient Near East3
CLASSICS 321 The Egyptians: History, Society, and Literature3
CLASSICS/​HISTORY/​RELIG ST  517 Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean3
ENVIR ST/​HIST SCI/​RELIG ST  356 Islam, Science & Technology, and the Environment3-4
FRENCH 285 Rebellious Women3-4
GEN&WS/​POLI SCI  435 Politics of Gender and Women's Rights in the Middle East3
HISTORY 139 Introduction to the Modern Middle East3-4
HISTORY/​RELIG ST  205 The Making of the Islamic World: The Middle East, 500-15003-4
HISTORY/​MEDIEVAL/​RELIG ST  309 The Crusades: Christianity and Islam3-4
INTL ST 266 Introduction to the Middle East3
POLI SCI 320 Governments and Politics of the Middle East and North Africa3-4
POLI SCI 323 Islam and World Politics3-4
POLI SCI 370 Islam and Politics3-4
POLI SCI 529 Arab-Israeli Conflict3-4

Residence and Quality of Work

  •  At least 7 credits must be completed in residence.
  • Minimum 2.000 GPA on all certificate courses.

Certificate Completion Requirement

This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate intermediate to advanced level proficiency in Modern Standard Arabic.
  2. Compare and critique cultural, historical, and/or political realities in regions where Arabic language is influential to demonstrate intercultural competence and ethical reasoning.
  3. Develop skills and abilities necessary to work in diverse career fields where Arabic language, cultural competence, and experience with international issues are sought after.


Please visit the African Cultural Studies website for a complete list of faculty, instructional, and academic staff.

Resources and Scholarships

One of the most valuable resources for students interested in language study is the Language Institute and its website, Languages at UW–Madison.

Learn more about scholarships and other opportunities for funded language study.