Applying to Graduate Jewish Studies

Applications and further information may be obtained from the relevant disciplinary graduate groups or from the Jewish Studies Program, 711 Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305. Telephone: (215) 898-6654; FAX: (215) 573-6026; Email:

For more Graduate School information and an online application form, click here.

Each program is based in the department appropriate to its own disciplinary focus, and students apply to the appropriate department rather than the Jewish Studies Program. (Technically, the programs are based in graduate groups, which consist of departments augmented by pertinent faculty from other departments. For simplicity, however, the term "department" is used below.)

Full graduate programs are offered in the following fields:

  • The Hebrew Bible, with emphasis on textual, exegetical, archaeological and comparative ancient Near Eastern studies as well as the classical commentators, based in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. For the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, click here.
  • Judaism in the Greco-Roman world, especially in its Greek linguistic settings (including relevant "early Christian" materials) but also taking account of the Dead Sea Scrolls and related Semitic materials, based in the Religious Studies Department. Faculty: Reed. For the Department of Religious Studies, click here.
  • Rabbinic literature and thought, especially midrash and its literary features, based in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. For the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, click here.
  • Jewish history, particularly early modern and modern intellectual and social history, including American Jewish history, based in the Department of History. For the Department of History, click here.

In addition, courses are offered in these areas:

  • Biblical archaeology. 
  • Jewish Folklore. Faculty: Ben Amos
  • Sociology of the Jews. 
  • Israel studies. Faculty: Lustick, Gold
  • Hebrew language and literature. Faculty: Gold, Benatov, Miari
  • Yiddish language and literature. Faculty: Hellerstein
  • American Jewish literature. Faculty: Hellerstein, Gold
  • Holocaust literature. Faculty: Filreis, Zelizer

Courses are also offered in these ancillary fields:

  • Ancient Near Eastern languages and literatures (Akkadian, Sumerian, Ugaritic, Phoenician, Aramaic, and Egyptian)
  • Arabic language and literature
  • Islam
  • Christianity
  • Comparative religions

The contributing departments and programs, in addition to those named above, include Folklore and Folklife, Sociology, Anthropology, Germanic Languages and Literatures, Political Science, and Comparative Literature.

Students in each program are encouraged to take courses in other departments as well, and to create interdisciplinary programs where appropriate. Areas of special interdisciplinary strength include the History of Biblical Interpretation from the Ancient Period to the Modern and Jewish Intellectual History.

The departmental base of each program means that students are fully integrated within their home departments and study their fields within a larger setting: the Hebrew Bible is studied within the context of the ancient Near East and Biblical archaeology as well as the classic Hebrew commentaries; Early Judaism within the context of late antiquity and early Christianity, with a disciplinary focus on comparative religion and methodology; Rabbinic literature is studied in the context of late antique culture and classical Christianity, and with a focus on its literary and hermeneutic qualities; and Jewish history is studied within the larger historical context of the civilizations in which Jews have lived and with which they have interacted.

Students should request admission to the department representing their major disciplinary interest, seeking advice and direction from faculty members participating in the Jewish Studies Program (they are listed, by field, elsewhere on this website [see the link below]). If you have questions, please feel free to contact a faculty member in your planned area of study. If you are uncertain which department would best suit your interests, contact the Jewish Studies Program office for advice. For the Jewish Studies Certificate through the Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.) Program, see the College of Liberal and Professional Studies.

Notwithstanding their different departmental bases, graduate students in the various areas of Jewish Studies have many interests in common, which they share through lively student lunches and seminars and an active Jewish Studies graduate student organization.