Undergraduate Program


Official Yale College program and course information is found in the Yale College Programs of Study, available on line at http://yalecollege.yale.edu/content/academics

Undergraduate Major in Judaic Studies

Judaic Studies enables students to develop a substantial knowledge of the history, religion, literature, languages, and culture of the Jews. Jewish society, texts, ideologies and institutions are studied in a comparative perspective in the context of the history and culture of nations among which Jews have lived and created thrughout the ages and across the continents.

The major epochs of Jewish history are the biblical period, which includes biblical literature and archeology; the classical period, which includes the literature and history of rabbinic Judaism and its antecedents; the medieval period, which includes Jewish history and literature in Christian and Islamic lands; and the early modern and modern periods, which include the history and literature of Jews and Judaism from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries and the impact of different facets of modernization.

The Judaic Studies major, especially as a double major with Economics, Political Science, English, or History, for example, offers intensive background training for those considering admission to graduate or professional schools and careers in journalism, international relations, the foreign service, publishing, the rabbinate, international law, politics, or social work. The interdisciplinary character of the program provides students with the opportunity to meet the increasingly demanding standards of admissions committees and possible employers for both a broad liberal arts background combined with an intensive preparation in the historical and religious experience of the Jewish culture in its various civilizational contexts from antiquity to contemporary times.

Students considering the double or single major in Judaic Studies should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies as soon as possible.

Requirements of the Major. The major in Judaic Studies requires thirteen term courses, including the Senior Essay course. Prerequisite (or corequisite) to the major is a year of elementary modern Hebrew (HEBR 101) or its equivalent. In addition, the major consists of a Hebrew language and literature requirement, a set of core requirements from which three term courses are chosen and two areas of concentration.

Hebrew Language & Literature. Each student majoring in Judaic Studies must attain the equivalent of the second year of modern Hebrew (HEBR 102). In addition, each student must take two term courses in which Hebrew literature in Hebrew is studied, for which HEBR 102 (but not HEBR 101) may be counted. Students who fulfill the Hebrew language requirement by passing an examination rather than by enrolling in HEBR 101, 102 must take two other term courses in which Hebrew literature in Hebrew is studied. Finally, students concentrating in Hebrew Bible may, in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, substitute two years of Biblical Hebrew to meet the language and the literature requirement.

Core Requirements. Each student must elect at least three from the following: (1) one term course in Hebrew Bible (e.g. Judaic Studies 110a); (2) one term course in rabbinic literature (e.g., Judaic Studies 246b); (3) Judaic Studies 200a, History of Jewish Culture to the Reformation; (4) Judaic Studies 201b, History of Jewish Culture, 1500 to the Present; (5) Judaic Studies 235b, Introduction to Judaism in the Ancient World: From Temple to Talmud; (6) a term survey course in Hebrew and Jewish Literature.

Areas of Concentration. Students must select two areas of concentration within each of which they choose three term courses. The standard areas of concentration are: Ancient Israel/Hebrew Bible; Judaism of Second Temple and Talmudic Times; Jewish History and Civilization of Medieval and Renaissance Times; Modern Jewish History and Civilization; Jewish/Hebrew Literature (which requires the study of literature in Hebrew). With the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, students may construct areas of concentration of their own design.

In each of the two concentration areas required for the major, students choose three term courses in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. These are expected to comprise one introductory course; one seminar taken in the Junior year, requiring a final research paper; and one course in an area outside of Judaic Studies relevant to the area of concentration, such as a course relating to the larger historical context if the concentration is in a historical period, or a course in the theory or practice of literature if the concentration is in Jewish or Hebrew literature.

Senior Requirement. Students are expected to write a one- or two-term Senior Essay (Judaic Studies 491a and 492b). If a one-term Senior Essay in one concentration area is chosen, the student is required to enroll in an additional seminar appropriate to the other concentration area. It is expected that the Senior Essay, whether one- or two-term, will emerge from one or both of the Junior seminar papers written by the student.

Study in Israel. Students majoring in Judaic Studies should be aware of the numerous opportunities for study and travel in Israel. Those interested in the various possibilities for either a summer or an extended stay in Israel should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Next: Graduate Program