Kurdish Language and Culture Studies

Due to regional instability, this program has been suspended until further notice. 

Xebatên Ziman û Çanda Kurdî

This ground-breaking Kurdish Language and Culture Studies (KLCS) study abroad program is an intensive two-month summer program based in Istanbul, Turkey designed to engage participants in the language and culture of the Middle East's fourth largest ethnic group: the Kurds. Istanbul is sometimes referred to as the largest "Kurdish" city in world due to the size of its Kurdish population. The UA Center for Middle Eastern Studies will run this program in partnership with institutions in Istanbul and the Kurdish Studies Association (US) and is the first-ever Kurdish-focused summer study abroad program. 

The program begins with a 4-day in-depth orientation after which students begin their coursework. The intensive 120 hours of language instruction offers a full year's worth of Kurmanji Kurdish. To facilitate language acquisition, participants are placed in homestays for the first month of the program and are also paired with local university students for one-on-one language practice. Weekly activities help students integrate culture and language learning. 

Old city walls

The 3-credit Kurdish Culture and Society course aims to engage students in current debates in Kurdish society with a focus on issues in Turkey, but also examining regional relationships with Kurds in neighboring countries. In addition to the intensive language and Kurdish studies courses, students participate in several academic excursions to regional sites. A longer midterm tour (conditions permitting) takes the students to the eastern cities of Bingöl, Diyarbakır, Doğubayazıt, Van, and Çatak (in Kurdish: Çewlig, Amed, Bazîd, Wan, and Şax). The program also includes lectures by local academics, business leaders, and politicians.
The Kurdish Language and Culture Studies program is open to undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Arizona and other universities in the US and abroad. We encourage applications from students at European universities and institutions.
Students can earn University of Arizona credit for all KLCS coursework. Classes are taught by a combination of University of Arizona and local faculty. Students will be housed with local families for the first half of the program and then in apartments or university dorms after the mid-term excursion. During excursions participants are lodged in local hotels.
Program director: Julie Ellison- Speight
Language director: Deniz Ekici



Restaurant sign in KurdishWho can apply?:
  • Students at University of Arizona
  • Students at other universities in the U.S. and from other countries
  • Undergraduate students
  • Graduate students
  • Non-students (faculty, professionals, etc). Applicants in this category: please contact program director before applying.


Courses include:

  • First-year Kurdish (Kurmanji), which includes 120 hours of instruction
  • Kurdish Culture and Society, a 3-credit seminar course
Kurdish scarvesWhat's included in program cost? (appx $7,000)
  • Program tuition
  • Housing (combination of homestays and dorms)
  • Accommodation during overnight excursions (double or triple rooms)
  • Partial board during homestays and excursions (2 meals per day)
  • Turkish mobile phone and SIM card (mobile plan not included)
  • In-country travel associated with program activities
  • 20 hours of one-on-one practice with a local language partner
What's not included?
  • Airfare to and from Turkey
  • Passport and visa costs
  • Mobile plan for phone
  • Course books and associated materials (ie dictionaries)
  • Meals in Diyarbakir that are not provided by homestay family
  • Local transportation costs to and from classes


The Center for Middle Eastern Studies does not provide scholarships for study abroad programs. However, students in the past have been able to procure funding from various sources in order to participate in these programs. Good advice on seeking funding be found at GoAbroad.


The time to learn Kurdish has come.

Cafe with studentsÊdî dema hînbûna zimanê Kurdî ye.
For questions about the program, please contact:
KLCS program director, Julie Ellison- Speight.
For questions about study abroad and the application process, contact:
Middle East Study Abroad coordinator at the UA Office of Study Abroad and Student Exchange, Hillary Vance.


Photo credits: City Walls (Amed), Christian Sinclair; Dance Line (Nisêbîn), Robert Leutheuser; Restaurant Sign (Amed), Christian Sinclair; Kurdish Scarves (Amed), Christian Sinclair; Cê Ma Cafe (Çewlig), Mehmet Kurt.

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