Jewish Studies Minor

An undergraduate student wishing to pursue a minor in Jewish Studies at Penn may choose among four options, each of which concentrates upon a different intellectual approach to Jewish civilization in its various aspects.

As of March 2020, anyone interested in declaring a major or minor should please email 

Interdisciplinary Minor

The interdisciplinary minor allows students to study Jewish history, literature, religion, and culture in a program that integrates these different dimensions of Jewish civilization from the various disciplinary perspectives of Jewish Studies. The minor consists of 7 c.u.s as following:

  • Two courses in Jewish history, which normally will include at least two semesters of either JWST 1600; JWST 1610; or JWST 1710.
  • Two courses in Jewish literature, from at least two different historical periods.
  • Two courses in Jewish religion or culture
  • One elective.

Please note: Transfer credits (including all study abroad courses) are limited to 2 c.u.s for the Interdisciplinary minor.

New Policy on Credits from Yeshivot

All students matriculating in or after September 2008 should be aware that yeshiva study will not be considered for credit within the interdisciplinary major or minor in Jewish Studies. This policy extends to all other non-accredited study programs. Only courses taken at accredited colleges and universities may be considered for credit. For detailed information on credit away and transfer credit, see: /transfer.htm

Note: Courses that satisfy the Writing Requirement cannot be used to satisfy requirements in the Jewish Studies Major or Minor.

Jewish History Concentration though the Department of History

The Jewish history minor within the History department focuses upon the historical dimensions of Jewish experience and the evolution of Jewish life in the context of the different cultures in which Jews have lived. The history minor requires 6 courses, 3 of which must be taken in Jewish history to complete the concentration in Jewish history:

  • One semester of the three-semester Jewish history survey which treat the ancient (HIST 1600), medieval (HIST 1610), and modern periods (HIST 1710) respectively.
  • 1 seminar in Jewish history
  • 1 elective

Hebrew and Judaica Concentration though the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

The Hebrew/Judaica Concentration in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations focuses upon the study of Hebrew language and literature as a window for understanding Jewish culture and its historical experience through the literary analysis of texts and artifacts. The NELC minor normally consists of 8 c.u.s, but students who have passed Hebrew proficiency when they entered Penn may apply to have the minor reduced to 6 c.u.s.

  • Four c.u.s of Modern or Biblical Hebrew language.
  • At least four electives, two of which must be in the study of Hebrew texts in the original language from two different historical periods (Biblical; Rabbinic or Medieval; Modern).
  • Minors who have passed Hebrew proficiency upon entering Penn must take three c.u.s of Hebrew text-courses, one from each of the three historical periods.

Judaism Concentration through the Department of Religious Studies

The Judaism Concentration in the Religious Studies Department focuses on the study of Judaism within the context of other world religions and offers students the opportunity to explore the construction of Jewish religion in its different cultural settings.

The Judaism minor consists of six courses, two of which can be transferred from other departments or programs (in addition to all courses normally cross-listed with Religious Studies).

  • RELS 0020, Religions of the West
  • At least one introductory-level course in Judaism (see #2 above).
  • At least one semester of the Jewish History sequence (see #3 above).
  • At least one other course on other world religions (see #4 above)
  • Two electives.Of the above courses, at least one must be in each of the General Distribution sectors in which Religious Studies Courses are taught (eg. History and Tradition, Society, Arts and Letters). Although language courses will not be counted for the major, students are encouraged to attain proficiency in a Jewish language (normally Hebrew or Yiddish).

Students interested in pursuing a Judaism concentration within the Religious Studies department should contact its undergrad chair for more information and review the department's undergraduate program at: