Matt Canepa with a group of graduate students

The UCI School of the Humanities has established a new interdisciplinary graduate Specialization in Persian/Iranian Studies, the first of its kind in the UC system. Graduate students can now earn a Ph.D. in the humanities program of their choice, while simultaneously gaining training in Persian/Iranian studies through the specialization.

UCI offers many opportunities to study and engage with Persian and Iranian studies across all time periods. The new specialization joins UCI’s existing graduate program in Ancient Iran and the Premodern Persianate World, which focuses exclusively on premodern Iran and is a complement to the specialization, while UCI’s Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture provides a space for interdisciplinary conversations, programming and engagement.

“The specialization provides students the opportunity to tailor the program to support their own research interests,” said Matthew P. Canepa, Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran, who is the founder and director of the new program. “Moreover, it will provide them with a dual credential upon graduating, which will increase their marketability when they apply for jobs.”

UCI is one of the world’s leading centers for advanced research and graduate work in Persian/Iranian studies, housing five endowed chairs in several disciplines under the umbrella of Persian studies – more than any institution in the world – with recruitment underway for a sixth chair in Zoroastrian studies.

In addition, doctoral study in Persian/Iranian studies at UCI benefits from an endowed doctoral fellowship program. In 2021, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, a donor-advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, awarded the School of the Humanities a $1.565 million grant to establish an endowment supporting doctoral fellowships in Persian/Iranian studies, reserved exclusively for students who pursue the program. Previously, in 2017, the institute provided a $2 million grant to establish the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History & Archaeology of Ancient Iran, currently held by Canepa.

"It has been extremely gratifying to see how graduate study in Persian/Iranian studies has grown and flourished in the School of the Humanities over the last four years,” Canepa said. “We now offer faculty expertise across an exceptionally wide range of time periods and disciplines, drawing bright students from around the globe. This new interdisciplinary graduate program positions UCI for further growth in a field of study that is of crucial importance for California, the U.S. and the world.”

Gifts & Grants
Graduate Students
Persian Studies