Master's Program in Jewish Studies

Columbia University is pleased to announce a new home for its Master’s Program in Jewish Studies at the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies (IIJS). This interdisciplinary program offers students the opportunity to create a specialized program of study that leads to an enriched understanding of the breadth and depth of Jewish studies, and to prepare for careers as scholars or as professionals in a variety of fields in the professional world, the field of education, and the nonprofit sector.  

Over decades of teaching and research, Columbia University's stellar faculty has created one of the most distinguished and longest-standing traditions in the academic study of Jewish literature, religion, history, and thought. Participating students will have the opportunity to learn from these professors in a variety of pedagogical and curricular formats, and to take advantage of the countless cultural opportunities, museums, collections and libraries in New York City that provide the chance for further study and hands on experience. We welcome applicants committed to academic excellence,  and hope you will consider joining our growing cohort. The program welcomes both full- and part-time students, but is not currently intended for night study.

For more information, see below. You may also contact with any additional questions.

For more information on the joint Bachelor's and Master's program, click here.

For general admissions information, click here.

Degree Requirements:

Jewish Studies students must complete 36 credit points, including the thesis, to graduate. Of the 36 points, 30 must be at the graduate level (4000 or higher). Specific degree requirements are:

  • Two courses in Jewish or Middle Eastern history
  • Two courses in Judaica taken from the Religion department or The Jewish Theological Seminary
  • One graduate seminar in a topic related to Jewish Studies
  • Six elective courses in topics related to Jewish Studies
  • Final master’s thesis completed in the final term and registered under RSRH G4990 Research Seminar or JWST G4999 Supervised Individual Research

There is no language requirement for the Jewish Studies M.A. degree. Students may take up to six credit points of language courses at the 3000 level or higher in Hebrew or Yiddish.

Please be advised that courses taken as P/F (pass/fail) as well as courses taken for R credit CANNOT count towards the degree requirements. A total of 2 RUs (residence units) must be completed before a student is eligible to graduate with an MA degree.

Students are encouraged to print the Jewish Studies Checklist. and use it to track their own degree progress and select appropriate courses each term in consultation with the Assistant Director and/or Academic Advisor.

Good Academic Standing:

In order to continue pursuing the degree, all students must remain in good academic standing. Good standing includes maintaining course grades at or above a B grade. Good standing also includes timely submission of all course related work. In order to maintain good standing, any student wishing to take an INC (incomplete) for any course may do so only with the approval of the program’s Academic Advisor.

Admissions Information: 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose and three letters of recommendation. The statement of academic purpose allows the university to evaluate your ability to succeed academically and the reasons you wish to undertake the degree. It should describe briefly your academic and/or professional background (relevant coursework, professional experience or other activity pertaining to your academic interests); indicate your plans for graduate study at Columbia; and explain clearly the relation of your studies to your plans after completing the M.A.

The writing sample should be 10-15 pages long, preferably a paper that you have written for a course pertaining to the general field of Jewish Studies. Alternatively, you may provide a focused essay written in an academic style that examines an article, book, exhibit or event relevant to your field of interest.

If you have recently received an academic degree or have recent academic experience, letters of recommendation from faculty are preferred. If you have not been enrolled in an academic program in recent years, professional recommendations are acceptable.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the TOEFL or IELTS exams. For more information, refer to the Information for International Students page.

Office of Admissions Mailing Address

Please note: only applicants who are admitted should send materials (i.e., official transcripts) by mail to the Office of Admissions. Unofficial transcripts and other supplemental application materials should be uploaded through the online application system.

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
107 Low Memorial Library
535 West 116th Street, MC 4303
Columbia University
New York, NY 10027

To apply for the Master's Degree in Jewish Studies, click here.

For more on the Academic Policies and Procedures of the M.A. in Jewish Studies, click here.

Deadline for Spring Admission: 

November 3, 2017

Deadline for Fall Admission: 

March 16, 2018

Resume Requirement: 


Writing Sample: 


Writing Sample Number of Pages: 


GRE General: 


Degree Programs: 

Full Time/Part Time

How to Apply:

See GSAS admissions


FLAS Fellowships are available for students entering in the fall. If you are applying for the FLAS Fellowship you must submit your admission application, including the FLAS essay by the fellowship application.


The Academic Advisor assists students in course registration, requirements, and completion of the degree.

Students are encouraged to approach faculty members for informal discussions about their studies. Faculty members are excellent resources, but students should be aware faculty are not necessarily familiar with the policies and regulations of the Jewish Studies degree.

For any questions, please email Yitzhak Lewis at (office hours: Tues/Thurs, 2 - 3pm, in 410 Knox Hall - no appointment necessary). 

Course Lists

Pre-approved Course Lists are listed among the Academic Policies page.

Thesis Topics

For information regarding the thesis, see the Thesis Policies. Previous Jewish Studies theses are available for students to read in the IIJS office. Past titles include:

  • When Theodicy Fails
  • On the Question of Maimonides and Creation
  • The Impact of Television on Jewish Identity: A Perspective
  • ETS HAIM: Tradition and Innovation in Jewish Education
  • Jewish Rights in Colonial America
  • Imagining Eve
  • Rome and the Bar Kokhba Rebellion…What the Coins Reveal