Why study Persian?

Overview of Persian at Georgetown

As the second most spoken language in West Asia and the Middle East, Persian is a widespread language that is spoken in nations with impactful economies and important foreign policy implications. Spoken by more than 110 million people, Persian is a widespread language of significant historical importance. For over a millennium, basic structures for classical and contemporary Persian have not changed. Students of Persian could feasibly speak to a native Persian speaker and read the poetry of Rumi. Persian is easier to learn than other Middle Eastern languages due to its simple grammar without many exceptions or rules. Also, Persian is homogenous in the different countries where it’s spoken with minimal regional differences.

As one of the world’s first civilizations with a 5000-year history and a once great empire that stretched across Europe, North Africa and Asia, Persian greatly influenced  literature, poetry, and government. 

Modern day Iran is constantly discussed in geopolitics. Understanding  the history and language of a country leads to more insight into the people and government of that country, which in turn leads to more informed foreign policy proposals. As a country situated between the Caucasus and Persian Gulf, home to a variety of dialects since Persian was the lingua franca that spread to many parts of Central, West and South Asia as well as Indo-Germanic languages.

The Benefits of Georgetown’s Persian Studies Program

Joining the Persian Studies Program resembles finding a family on campus who will teach you vocabulary and what color is ideal for a cup of tea. The Program immerses students in a full cultural experience with theoretical studies combined with conversation hours, holiday celebrations, and office hours oftentimes accompanied with music and food.

Co-curricular Activities

Through student-led events, students enjoy drinking tea, practicing their Persian, and playing the card game hokm or backgammon at the monthly Persian Corner accompanied with traditional breakfasts and lunch, both of which could include fresh bread (naan) and cheese (panir). There are also many opportunities to celebrate Persian influence at Persian Poetry Week or when welcoming the Persian new year, Nowruz. Each spring, students from the Persian Studies Program set up the traditional haft seen table in the ICC to share sweet treats and the symbolism behind each item on the table with peers. There are also end-of-the-semester breakfasts or lunch for students to celebrate their success throughout the semester, but also enjoy Persian food.


The Persian Studies Program’s own alumni network hosts a community of students from a variety of specialties such as linguistics, foreign policy, mathematics, history, art and business. Alumni have benefitted from additional work and career opportunities through studying in the Persian Studies Program. You can read more about our alumni.

Study Abroad

Learn more about opportunities to study abroad.

Jalinous Lecture Series

The Jalinous Lecture Series supports events featuring various scholars, historians, artists, directors and experts on Persian through regular lectures for students and the Georgetown community at large. View the full list and watch past events.