Application Instructions - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Application Instructions

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STEP ONE: Preliminary Consultation with an Admissions Counselor

As part of the application process to the HUC-JIR Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, we require that you to speak with a professional in the Office of Recruitment and Admissions. This informal, preliminary consultation is a way for us to get to know you better and make sure you are taking the right steps in preparation, and for you to ask your questions and for be sure that this is the right time for you to apply. Use this link to quickly schedule a time to speak with a member of our team as soon as someone is available.

STEP TWO: Open an Application HERE.

STEP THREE: The Application 

Please submit all elements of the application by the deadline: January 4, 2021

A Personal Statement

In no more than six double-spaced, typed and numbered pages, please discuss your intellectual, religious and spiritual development as well as the life experiences that have led you to make this decision. Why have you chosen to become a cantor? In sharing your story, please try to reflect on at least one of the following:

  • The evolution of your current Jewish practice
  • Your relationship with Israel—the People, the land and the State
  • Your conception of and relationship with the Divine
  • The role of Peoplehood and community in Jewish life today

Two Short Essays

Please respond to both of the following essay prompts separately. Limit both responses to the two prompts to a total of six double-spaced, typed pages.

  1. Reflect on a selection of Torah, Tanakh, Jewish prayer, text or teaching that has inspired you or challenged you. You may include classical or contemporary commentary that has been helpful to you in understanding the text.
  2. Describe a challenge that faces the Jewish community through your own experience of that challenge and offer some of the ways you’ve tried to understand that challenge and address its resolution.

A Resume

Please include a resume that focuses on your academic and professional accomplishments, awards, honors, publications and any significant leadership positions in which you have served.

Four Letters of Recommendation 

  • Two Academic References: College professors or instructors with whom you have engaged in serious academic study should write the academic references. If you have been out of college more than five years you may obtain academic references from adult or informal education instructors. Academic references should be able to speak to your growth and contributions in the classroom, your progress through the class material and what intellectual challenges you faced, whether successfully or not.
  • One Judaic Reference: HUC-JIR encourages you to submit a Judaic reference from a cantor (if one has already not been submitted in another category). A strong cantorial reference will speak to the qualities and gifts a candidate brings to the cantorate. While you should choose a cantor who knows you best, an HUC graduate may have a unique perspective on our program.
  • One Professional Reference: In addition, please request a professional reference from a supervisor of your work, paid or volunteer, preferably in a Jewish setting. More important than setting, however, this person should be able to speak to your work, your leadership within the organization, your ability to respond to feedback and critique and how you work with others.


Please request transcripts at least four weeks before the application deadline to allow time for them to be sent to HUC-JIR. Transcripts need to be received in order to schedule an interview. Please provide us with one copy of an official transcript from all of the following: 

  • The college from which you graduated as well as any other colleges you attended. (This includes any school at which you took a college-level course for transfer credit.)
  • Any graduate schools where you have been enrolled, as well as schools where you have taken graduate-level classes.
  • Any “Year Abroad” programs or other foreign study. (If grades from international programs are recorded on your college transcript you do not need to submit a separate transcript.)
Have your schools mail the transcripts directly to:
(If electronic:
Office of Recruitment and Admissions
Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
3101 Clifton Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45220
For international applicants: year-by-year records from colleges and universities attended are required. The record must indicate the number of hours per week devoted to each course, grades received for each course, and degrees awarded, with dates the degrees were conferred. This information must be provided in English. If this information is not available in English, it is the applicant’s responsibility to have it professionally translated and certified before it is sent to HUC-JIR. If grades are not determined on a 4.0 scale system please include guidelines in English from the school that explain the grading system.

Submit GRE Scores

Graduate Record Examination (GRE): All applicants with English proficiency are required to take the GRE General Test. When registering for the GRE, please use the school code number 1291, which directs the results to the Office of Admissions and Recruitment on the HUC-JIR Cincinnati campus. For GRE information, please see

NOTE: We recommend that the test be taken at least four weeks before the application is due to allow time for the scores to be sent to HUC-JIR. Scores need to be received in order to schedule an interview. GRE scores are only valid for five years. Candidates with a prior degree from HUC-JIR, Ph.D. or Masters degree (post-Bachelor) from an accredited institution may be exempt from submitting a current GRE score. Please email with a request to exempt from this requirement.

Submit TOEFL Scores

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): International applicants for whom English is not the first language must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in approximately 100 centers outside the United States. See the information available at: Please note that the TOEFL exam is not a substitute for the GRE.  The TOEFL school code for HUC-JIR is 1291.

Please note that the TOEFL exam is not a substitute for the GRE.  The TOEFL school code for HUC-JIR is 1291.