Graduate programs in Jewish studies are typically offered at the master's level, though a few doctoral and postgraduate certificate programs are available. Attending a graduate program in Jewish studies involves learning about the Hebrew language and religious texts. You will also need to meet specific requirements to enter these programs.
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The scope of a Jewish studies graduate program is quite broad. Students will explore Jewish history from ancient times to the Middle Ages to the Holocaust. Courses in these programs address not only Jewish history, but Jewish literature and identity, as well as Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim relations. The following are some of the courses you will commonly find.
Coursework in textual interpretation often looks at the Bible from a Jewish perspective that includes interpretation. Students learn how the Hebrew Bible was written and approved as canonical literature. This course requires students to look at midrashic interpretations performed in Qumran and Jewish Hellenistic literature. The emphasis of the course is to introduce students to primary readings and supporting scholarly works as they reflect on these passages and their interpretations.
Rabbinic Literature and Texts
Rabbinic literature and writings form an important part of the Jewish body of literature. Rabbinic texts are viewed as an interpretive lens for religious texts. Students learn about the genre of rabbinic writings and genres including the Midrash, Mishnah, and Talmud. Other genres that students may study include the Kabbalah. Secondary literature is also read that helps introduce students to this genre and provide context for these writings.
Jews and Christians
A study of Jews and Christians looks at the relationship between the two groups, though this course can focus on varying time frames. The time period studied depends on the focus of the course and can range from antiquity to the medieval and modern period. Students examine this relationship through political, social, cultural, and theological contexts. This course also acquaints students with the methodologies used to examine the dynamics of this relationship.
Biblical Hebrew coursework examines the Hebrew language from the time of the Bible. This course can advance through multiple sequences of classes that introduce students to a progressively more complex understanding of the language. Students become familiar with Biblical Hebrew grammar, verb patterns, and vocabulary.
Jews and Early Modern Europe
Courses on the Jewish presence in early modern Europe examine a number of perspectives. Students learn about the multiple developments that happened during the period, including historical, political, and cultural events. This course examines the impact of these events on Jewish communities. Coursework also involves studying the transition in living patterns from the medieval period to the modern period, including Jewish resettlement throughout Western Europe.
Admissions to a Jewish studies program may require you to demonstrate you have adequate proficiency in understanding Hebrew. In some cases, you may be asked to submit to a reading test. You will need to submit your transcripts as well. You may be asked to show on your transcripts that you maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average during your bachelor's program. You also may be asked to submit your GRE scores.
Students in a Jewish studies graduate program will explore numerous topics, including ancient Jewish history, contemporary Jewish life, Jewish interaction with other faiths and the interpretation of Jewish texts.