The department offers courses in Near Eastern languages, most of which are taught on a regular cycle. The offerings cover the ancient Near Eastern languages and the languages of the early Christian Near East. Students interested primarily in the ancient world are encouraged to study the later languages and literatures as well, and students of the later period may choose to study the older languages.

Students on the Ph.D. level generally continue from an M.A. degree in the department and progress in their primary languages. It is possible, however, to enter the program at the doctoral level. Competence in both French and German must be demonstrated. The coursework ordinarily is completed in one year after the M.A., and the student then takes another set of comprehensive examinations and prepares a dissertation. Examinations and dissertation follow the coursework, thus allowing the student to complete a doctorate in two or three years.

In the ancient Near Eastern program, students continue work on biblical texts and add familiarity with other languages, ancient and later. Occasionally students in the ancient program teach elementary biblical Hebrew.