UMass Amherst
Judaic and Near Eastern Studies

Degree Requirements

Judaic Studies
Program Office
744 Herter Hall
(413) 545-2550

Judaic Studies | Middle Eastern Studies

The Field

     The program in Judaic Studies seeks to cultivate an appreciation of the central role played by Jewish culture in the development of human civilization. As an interdisciplinary program, Judaic Studies exposes students to a variety of perspectives on issues of enduring importance and global concern. Students may choose from a wide selection of introductory and advanced courses in Jewish history and thought, a full program in Hebrew language and literature, and Yiddish language. Beyond the core area of instruction, the curriculum also includes courses offered by several distinguished faculty holding joint appointments in Judaic Studies.

     Students may supplement the Judaic Studies course offerings with Special Problems courses in the area of a student's particular interest arranged with adjunct Judaic Studies faculty.

     Students are also encouraged to spend one or two semesters of study at a recognized Israeli university, and may, with prior permission, apply Judaic and Hebrew credits toward their major in Judaic Studies.

The Major

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

  1. JUDAIC 101 and 102, The Jewish People I and II
  2. Three years of Hebrew. Students may take Hebrew courses in a combination of language, literature or linguistics. (However, a first-year or second-year sequence in Modern Hebrew or in Biblical Hebrew followed by its Biblical Hebrew or Modern Hebrew counterpart at the same level does not constitute an additional year in the three-year language requirement.)
  3. Six 3 or 4-credit upper-division Judaic Studies courses (at or above the 300 level), with at least three in a field of concentration, determined in consultation with the Chief Undergraduate Adviser. Areas such as Bible, literature, or a particular period of history would be appropriate. (See listings below.)
  4. The Junior Year Writing requirement: two credits of the Junior Year Writing practicum course (JUDAIC 398W), associated with an upper-level (300 or above) Judaic Studies course designated as "Writing-intensive.
  5. The major in Judaic Studies requires at least a C grade in courses taken towards the major.  No course with a Pass grade can be accepted for major credit.

An Honors option is available for qualified students.

Hebrew Language

     Students can fulfill the University language requirement with either modern or biblical Hebrew. For HEBREW course listings, see below.

Career Opportunities

     A major in Judaic Studies is suitable preparation for any preprofessional training which requires an undergraduate liberal arts education. Many of our majors have plans for a career related to Judaica or graduate study. Alumni and alumnae who have majored in Judaic Studies have gone to graduate schools such as Brandeis, Harvard, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Yeshiva University School of Social Work, and have entered fields such as Jewish communal service, social work, the arts and communications, teaching, law, and advanced graduate study.

The Minor

     The Judaic Studies or Hebrew Minor enables students to gain grounding in some particular facet of the discipline, without fulfilling the full range of major requirements.

For a Minor in Judaic Studies, the requirements are:

  1. JUDAIC 101 and 102, or their equivalent.
  2. Four additional JUDAIC courses, at or above the 300 level, with two in a field of concentration (see course listings below).

For a Minor in Hebrew, the requirements are:

        Any six courses (18 credits) in Hebrew language, literature or linguistics beyond Hebrew 120 (Elementary Modern Hebrew II). (See course listings below).


If you would like to declare a minor in either Judaic Studies or Hebrew Language, please complete the Declaration of Academic Minor Form and bring it with a transcript to the department's Main Office in 744 Herter Hall.



  1. 110, 120 Elementary Modern Hebrew I & II
    126, 246 Intensive Modern Hebrew I & II
    230, 240 Intermediate Modern Hebrew I & II

       290A, 290B Hebrew Through the Media I & II

       301, 302 Advanced Modern Hebrew I & II
       111, 121 Elementary Biblical Hebrew I & II
       231 Readings in Hebrew Bible
       312 Classical Hebrew Texts

       344, 345 Hebrew Through the Media I & II (formerly HEBREW 290A and 290B)
       351, 352 Readings in Modern Hebrew I & II
       361, 362 Modern Hebrew Literature I & II
       411 Hebrew Linguistics
       298, 398 Practica


       301 Bible and Archeology

305 Judaism and Christianity in the Ancient World

309 Music of the Jewish People

313 Transformation and the Jews

319 Representing the Holocaust

322 American Diversity

       323 Jewish Utopia/Dystopia

324 Slavery in Comparative Religious Perspective

       325 Jews, Christians & Islam in the Middle Ages

333 Jewish Philosophers of the 20th Century

335 The Jewish Experience in Europe

343 American Jewish Diversity

344 Film and Society in Israel

345 The Making of Modern Jewry

350 Jewish Law and Society

353 Sephardic Cultures & Literatures of Spanish Diaspora

354 Jewish Theater and Film

360 Biblical Tales and Legends

363 Negotiating Religion and State: Jewish Secularism and the Emergence of European Modernity

365 Antisemitism in Historical Perspective

366 Modern Israel: History, Society and Culture

367 Israel in the 20th Century: Society and Literature

373 Jewish Travelers and Travel Liars

374 Culture and Immigration in Israel

375 The Jewish Experience in America

376 Post-Holocaust Thought

383 Women, Gender, Judaism

385 Jews of Eastern Europe

390B World Jewry Since 1945

390I Popular Culture in Israel and Palestine

390K Jews in the Age of the Atlantic Slave Trade

391B Jewish-American Literature

391C The Proverb

391F Jewish Women Writers

391M History of the Holocaust (currently taught as HISTORY 387)

392C Secular Movements, Ideologies, and Identities in Modern Israel

392D Judaism, Secularism, Modernity

392F Secularization of Modern Israel

392K World Jewish Cultures

392L Jews of Muslim Lands

392M The Jewish Labor Movement in America

392N History of the Jewish Graphic Novel

393B Comic Art in North America

393C International Graphic Novel

393E Will Eisner and his Impact

394A Major Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life

394C Ritual and Belief in Judaism

395A Family and Sexuality in Judaism - will be renumbered as JUDAIC 318 in Fall 2013 - 4 credits, GenEd

397A Religion & Power in Modern Israel

397J Observing Jewish Cultures

397R Jewish Folklore

397T Study of the Talmud

397V Archaeology of Israel & Palestine (currently taught as ANTHRO 397AA)

397X Jewish Diaspora and Peoplehood: Communities, Culture, and Change

491C Freud & Interpretation

494JI Jews in Greco-Roman Antiquity (Integrative Experience Course for senior Judaic Studies majors)

497A The Writings of Elie Wiesel


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