The Ph.D. in Judaic and Cognate Studies is designed for those who love to learn. Through this program, you will develop crucial skills for a life of scholarship and teaching. The Ph.D. Program is the highest academic degree offered by HUC-JIR, awarded to students who have demonstrated mastery of subject matter in an area of study created from the following fields: Hebrew Bible, History of Biblical Interpretation, Jewish and Christian Studies in The Greco-Roman Period, Rabbinic Literature, Jewish Thought, or The American Jewish Experience.
The Ph.D. learning outcomes in all concentrations of the Pines School of Graduate Studies insure that students awarded the Ph.D. will have the ability to:
HISTORY OF BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION: The focus of the PhD program in the History of Biblical Interpretation is the history of the Hebrew Bible's reception as displayed in interpretive and supplemental literary, philosophical, and historiographic works. Both terms, interpretive and supplemental, are understood in the broadest possible manner, so as to include inner-biblical exegesis; intertextual influences and links in both canonical and non-canonical works; the appropriation and interpretation of biblical texts in Hellenistic sources and in the literatures of Jewish sectarian movements, rabbinic literature (including the use of biblical verses in rabbinic homilies, poetry/piyyut, liturgy and midrash, etc.), and early Christian literature. The study of the early versions—Greek, Aramaic, and Latin—may constitute an area of concentration, as may biblical interpretation in the Hellenistic period more generally, and early Christian interpretation. Translation theory, as relevant to the early versions, may also be studied. Medieval Judaism and Christianity saw the rise of genres that exhibit the reception of biblical literature by philosophers and commentators, poets and mystics. The trajectory of the History of Biblical Interpretation may carry into early modern and even contemporary times, based on the interest of candidates and faculty. Theory of interpretation (hermeneutics), historiography and the study of antiquity, as well as comparative Christian and Jewish biblical interpretation may also be studied. The program is above all designed to develop research skills on the basis of the study of both theory and method as relevant to a candidate's field.
Core language requirements are determined on the basis of a candidate’s area of concentration, but all students will achieve a high level of competence in Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew, modern Hebrew for exposure to contemporary scholarship, and familiarity with Aramaic. Other areas of concentration may require Greek, Aramaic, Latin, or early European languages.
JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN STUDIES IN THE GRECO-ROMAN PERIOD: The focus of the Ph.D. program in Jewish Studies in the Greco-Roman Period is to train students to become proficient in reading and interpreting biblical, extra-biblical, and Hellenistic texts and related primary source materials. It is expected that students develop sound skills to conduct scholarly research, ultimately making significant contributions in their field of study. Students are required to take core courses in Hebrew Bible, courses in the Greek versions, and other Jewish and Christian texts of the Greco-Roman period, as well as courses in the history of the Greco-Roman Period. Language core requirements include: advanced Biblical Hebrew, Rabbinic Hebrew, Greek, and Modern Hebrew for scholarship. As part of their coursework, students can choose from among a variety of elective text and history courses dealing with the Greco-Roman world and sub-areas of study to support their major field. These include, but are not limited to, Bible, apocrypha/deutercanonica, Hellenistic Jewish literature, history of the Jews in the Greco-Roman world, Latin, New Testament and patristic literature, and rabbinic literature.
RABBINIC LITERATURE: The focus of the Ph.D. program in Rabbinic Literature is to train students to become proficient in reading and interpreting various genres of rabbinic texts and related primary source materials against the background of their cultural contexts. It is expected that students develop sound skills to conduct scholarly research, ultimately making significant contributions in their field of study. Students are required to take core courses in Hebrew Bible, rabbinic literature, and Jewish history. Language core requirements include: advanced Biblical Hebrew, Rabbinic Hebrew, Aramaic, and Modern Hebrew for scholarship. Developing approaches for critically analyzing modern scholarship and formulating methods for text analysis is emphasized. As part of their coursework, students can choose from among a variety of elective text courses in their major area of concentration: tannaitic, midrashic, talmudic and post-talmudic literature and history courses that contextualize the culture of these Jewish writings. Sub-areas that support the major field of study include, but are not limited to, responsa, commentaries, codes, liturgy and ritual, Jewish law and ethics, Hellenistic Jewish literature, history of the Jews in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
JEWISH THOUGHT: The focus of the Ph.D. program in Jewish Thought is to train students to become proficient in reading and interpreting various genres of primary source material relating to Jewish thought, philosophy, and theology. It is expected that students develop sound skills to conduct scholarly research, ultimately making significant contributions in their field of study, while developing approaches for critically analyzing modern scholarship and formulating methods of text analysis. Students are required to take core courses in Jewish thought, rabbinics, and Jewish history. Language core requirements are determined based on the field of specification. However, Hebrew (biblical, rabbinic, and modern) is required for all fields of research. As part of their coursework, students can choose from among a variety of elective text courses in their area of concentration: medieval and modern Jewish philosophy and theology, political philosophy and theology, Zionist ideology, Jewish mysticism and Hassidism, rabbinic theology, and philosophy of halakhah. Sub-areas that support the major field of study include, but are not limited to, Jewish biblical interpretation, interpretation of rabbinic literature, and modern Jewish history.
MODERN JEWISH HISTORY AND CULTURE (including The American Jewish Experience): A New Joint Ph.D. Program with the Department of History at the University of Cincinnati: The aim of the Ph.D. concentration in Modern Jewish History and Culture is to train students to become proficient in reading and interpreting various genres of primary source material and secondary scholarship relating to the history and culture of the modern Jewish experience. It is expected that students will develop sound skills to conduct scholarly research, ultimately making significant contributions in their field of study. Students are required to take core courses in modern Jewish history, American Jewish history, broader Jewish studies, and historical methodologies as well as research seminars. Modern Hebrew is a core language requirement; other foreign languages (such as Yiddish, German, French, etc.) are also required to read primary sources. Developing skills to critique modern scholarship and formulate methods for text analysis is emphasized. The concentration also emphasizes the ability to read and consider traditional Jewish sources and internal strands of Jewish history and thought as well as wider historical contexts within which Jewish history has unfolded. As part of the doctoral coursework, students may choose from among a variety of elective courses at both at HUC-JIR and UC. In addition to completing a rigorous course of study in Modern Jewish History and Culture, students must successfully pass a series of qualifying exams (general and area of specialization) and produce an approved doctoral dissertation. The resources of the world-renowned Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives constitute an incomparably rich collection of documentary evidence on the American Jewish experience, which graduate students can utilize for their course research and dissertation. Sub-areas that support the major field of study include, but are not limited to: the American Jewish experience in the 19th and 20th centuries, American Zionism, the history of American Reform Judaism, Zionist and Israeli history, Jewish intellectual history, Holocaust studies.
If you are considering an academic career or simply wish to enrich your sphere of knowledge, a Masters in Jewish Studies is a great way to begin. This two-year residential program is individually tailored to your academic needs and interests. We offer flexible programs with a broad range of study and world-class academic resources to a diverse student body:
Gain competence in Hebrew of all periods, skills for reading seminal texts in historical context, and knowledge in areas of Jewish Studies related to the core disciplines of history, literature, law, philosophy, and religion. You may design your program to attain a graduate level of competency either broadly, in a variety of subject areas within Jewish Studies, or in one of the following major subject areas:
In addition to focusing on academic subject areas within the field of Jewish Studies, students in the M.A. degree program may also choose from among special courses and exciting experiences to supplement and enhance their program:
For admission and program requirements, click here.
If you are a rabbi ordained at HUC-JIR (or at another accredited Jewish seminary) seeking to further your intellectual journey, consider this flexible, part-time non-residential doctoral program. Focusing on three subject areas, you’ll expand your knowledge while satisfying your love of learning in a program designed for independent study.
For admission and program requirements, click here.