Master's Degree in Judaic Studies

The M.A. program in Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan is a comprehensive interdisciplinary course of graduate study for students who seek a deeper knowledge of Jewish culture, history, arts and letters. The M.A. offers an opportunity to study the rich culture and historical experience of the Jewish people, and their traditions, interactions with other cultures, and impact on world civilizations. Drawing upon our faculty and library resources, the M.A. program provides a comprehensive broad, balanced advanced education in Judaic Studies while allowing students to concentrate on one of the following areas:

1) Literature and Culture

  • Comparative Jewish literatures
  • Hebrew
  • Yiddish

2) History and Social Science

  • American Jews (history, literature, and sociology)
  • Ancient, Medieval and Modern Jewish History
  • Contemporary Jewish Affairs
  • Former Soviet Union (politics, history, and culture)
  • Israel (culture and politics)

3) Classical and Modern Judaism: Law and Religion

  • Jewish Mysticism
  • Jewish Thought
  • Rabbinics
  • Biblical Studies

Program Requirements

Credits

A minimum of 30 credits are required for the Judaic Studies M.A.:

  • 13 credits in required courses from the Judaic Studies Categories
  • 6–8 credits in language courses at the 400-level or above, or credit by placement exam
  • 3 credits for the thesis or seminar paper. Students may elect to complete a 3 credit Independent Study to accompany the thesis or seminar paper
  • 8 elective credits (14 credits for students who receive language credit by placement exam)

Thesis

A thesis or substantial seminar paper of 10,000–15,000 words (40–60 pages) is required. It is recommended that students begin work on their thesis in the first semester of their second year. There will be no field work, work experience, internship, or similar requirements.

Courses

JUDAIC601: Introduction to Methods and Topics in Judaic Studies (3 credits)
This mandatory course introduces graduate students to the disciplines, texts, and methods of Jewish studies. Students read textual materials from various eras of Jewish history (from antiquity to the modern period) and current scholarly literature that illustrates critical and disciplinary approaches to these texts. Students should take this course in their first year.

A student who lacks a sufficient background in Judaic Studies, but who has an exceptionally strong academic record and GRE scores, may possibly be admitted to the program. He or she would be required to take JUDAIC505: Introduction to Jewish Civilization and Cultures.

Breadth Selections

(minimum of 10 credits)
Students are required to choose one course from each category: Literature & Culture; Jewish History and Social Science; and Classical & Modern Judaism. Students will not necessarily concentrate in a specific module. As long as they take a course from each of the three categories, they may choose any of the other courses offered. This includes courses offered by our Padnos Visiting Professor in Judaic Studies, an annual visitor for one semester, whose fields have ranged from history to film and video, Anglo-Jewish literature to Israeli politics.

It is recommended that students begin work on their thesis in the first semester of their second year. There will be no field work, work experience, internship or similar requirements.

Language Requirement

All entering students are required to demonstrate second term (1 year) proficiency in Hebrew or Yiddish and, upon graduation, fourth term (2 year) proficiency. Those who come with fourth term proficiency should take a third year language. The Rackham Graduate School will not apply credit for language courses that are at a 300-level or below toward any graduate degree. However, such language instruction will serve as an instrumental factor in continued learning at the graduate level.