Persian has been taught at Penn since 1949, and our program continues to engage students in the language and culture of the Persian-speaking world. The program offers courses at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels, as well as for heritage speakers. Based in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Persian Program works in collaboration with the university’s Middle East Center and the Penn Language Center.
An Indo-European language influenced by Semitic languages, Persian (also known as Farsi, Dari, or Tajiki) is spoken by over 100 million people, not only in Iran, but also in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and has been in use for over a millennium. In addition to being a historical lingua franca in much of the Middle East and South Asia, and an important language in Islamic studies, today Persian is a critical world language. Proficiency in Persian is the key to unlocking access not only to an emerging market, but also to a cultural treasure trove of literature, cinema, and much more.