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Undergraduate Students

Though the Institute serves the entire university community, the College is at its heart. Providing Columbia and Barnard undergraduates with a variety of opportunities to learn about Jewish studies and Israel – in all their complexity and diversity – Supporting our students is a central mission of the Institute. We are proud to be teaching and training the next generation of students in the field, from expansive course offerings in the classroom to programs both on campus and abroad. From our Undergraduate Israel Fellowship to guest lecturers presenting on a wide range of topics, our students are engaged with the study of the diversity of Jewish experience and the totality of Israeli history, literature, culture, and geopolitics.

Special Concentration in Jewish Studies

The special concentration in Jewish studies is designed for students who wish to gain a broad-based knowledge of Jewish studies. It enables undergraduates to acquire a background in the most important aspects of Jewish culture, religion, civilization, and history in an interdisciplinary setting. 

For a special concentration in Jewish studies, students are required to complete a minimum of 21 points. Within these points, at least one course must be taken from three of the focus areas listed below. Credits for language courses may constitute at most 10 points, and one year of Hebrew or Yiddish language is strongly recommended. A minimum of 18 points must be taken in residence or as part of an approved study abroad program (unless equivalent courses are not offered within the College, as determined by the faculty advisor). 

Focus Areas:

  1. Bible and Rabbinics/Ancient Judaism

  2. Medieval Judaism

  3. Modern Judaism

  4. Israeli Society

  5. Gender and Judaism

  6. Jewish History and Culture

  7. Jewish Literature

  8. Jewish Language

For more information about the special concentration, including sample courses please see the
IIJS Undergraduate Special Concentration Information Packet

Online Resources:

**Please note, the same course cannot be counted towards both a major and a concentration.** For more information on the special concentration in Jewish studies, please contact Dana Kresel at

BA/MA in Jewish Studies      

The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies offers a joint BA/MA option for Columbia and Barnard students. This program allows qualified students to begin earning credits towards a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies while they are still undergraduates, making it possible to complete the BA and MA degrees in as little as five years.

How does it work?

Students in the BA/MA program can take graduate-level courses in Jewish Studies starting in their senior year. They may complete up to 15 credits’ towards the Master’s Degree (usually by taking four or five seminars or other eligible classes). This is almost half of the 36 credits required, making it possible to complete the Master’s Degree in as little as one additional year, depending on the courses chosen.

How to apply?

Students may apply for the BA/MA program in the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. A GPA of 3.0 or higher is required to apply. Students must complete the full application for the M.A. Program in Jewish Studies, including letters of recommendation and GRE scores. Information about the application and the M.A. Program can be found here.

Who is it for?

The M.A. in Jewish Studies is designed for students interested in deepening their knowledge of Jewish history, religion, literature, and Israel. Students considering careers in Jewish-related fields, such as teaching, administration, librarianship, journalism, and writing, are especially encouraged to apply.

For further information about the program, or if you are interested in applying, please contact Dana Kresel at