Course of Study

An overview of the required and elective courses in our rabbinical program.

Student smiling at HUC in Jerusalem

The curriculum in our rabbinical school begins with the Year-In-Israel, where you will live and learn in Jerusalem, and is followed by four years stateside, in New York or Los Angeles, where you will prepare to become a rabbi for the 21st century. You will take core courses in liturgy, bible, Hebrew language, Rabbinics, Jewish Thought, and Jewish History. In your fourth and fifth years you will be able to choose from a range of electives in all areas of Judaica and rabbinical professional development, ranging from “Intermarriage & the Changing American Jewish Community” to Mussar. Your capstone project will enable you to explore a topic in depth working closely with a member of our esteemed faculty.


The Year-In-Israel program is an expectation for first-year rabbinical students. Students accepted to the Rabbinical School who have significant experience living in Israel, can demonstrate a sufficiently high level of Hebrew fluency, and have requisite background in advanced Jewish Studies may request consideration for an exemption.


  • An understanding of the Hebrew language, both as it is found in traditional Jewish sources and in modern usage.
  • The acquisition of basic text skills that will be used throughout the five-year program and in the rabbinate.
  • An encounter with Israel that leaves students informed, enthused, and energized about the significance and challenges of Jewish statehood and peoplehood.
  • The encouragement of self-awareness as future Jewish professionals.

Year in Israel Course of Study


  • Modern Hebrew Ulpan
  • Cantillation of the Torah

Fall 2022

  • Beit Midrash: Introduction to Torah Text and Commentaries
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Biblical Grammar
  • Introduction to Jewish History OR Topics in Jewish History
  • Israel Seminar
  • Liturgy
  • Worship Lab and Tefillah
  • Beit Midrash – Contemporary American and Israeli Jewish Thinkers (with Israel Rabbinic Program)
  • Rabbinic Workshop


  • Modern Hebrew
  • Biblical Grammar
  • The Jew in the Contemporary Jewish World OR HIS 5004: The Arab Israel Conflict
  • Israel Seminar
  • Liturgy
  • Worship Lab and Tefillah
  • Rabbinic Workshop
  • Beit Midrash – Contemporary American and Israeli Jewish Thinkers (with Israel Rabbinic Program)
  • Beit Midrash: Introduction to Mishna and Gemara

Stateside Campuses

Ladies looking at parchment


The curriculum of the Rabbinical School educates rabbis on the diverse challenges of the 21st-century rabbinate.  Students prepare to become rabbis and leaders in a variety of settings, including congregations, Hillel foundations, schools, communal organizations, and pastoral settings.

The curriculum of the Rabbinical School:

  • Promotes the acquisition of skills and competence in the study of Jewish texts, history, thought, language and literature.
  • Promotes professional development through coursework and fieldwork.
  • Promotes the spiritual and religious growth of each student through worship experiences, discussion of core issues in Jewish thought and life, and mentoring.

Years Two and Three

The Core Curriculum consists of foundational courses that examine the language and literature of a variety of disciplines, different critical approaches to those disciplines, and the acquisition of professional skills through classroom learning. These courses are generally taken during the second and third years of the rabbinic program.

Judaica Component: Students take courses in Bible, Hebrew language and literature, history, philosophy, and rabbinics.  These courses provide students with a strong grounding in Jewish texts and traditions.

Professional Development Component: These courses cover basic skills and issues that are core to the contemporary rabbinate, including Homiletics and Speech, Education, Pastoral Counseling, and training in worship and life cycle officiation.

Students take courses in a variety of subject areas, including:

  • Hebrew Bible: Torah, Prophets, Writings, and Medieval Commentaries
  • Hebrew Language and Literature
  • Jewish History
  • Jewish Thought
  • Liturgy
  • Rabbinics: Mishnah, Midrash, Talmud, and Medieval Codes
  • Practical Rabbinics: Homiletics & Speech, Pastoral Counseling, Life Cycle, Education, & Worship

Students who have taken coursework in Jewish Studies are encouraged to speak with the Director of the Rabbinical School about transfer credits for graduate studies and advanced placement for undergraduate studies.

Years Four and Five: Post-MAHL Course of Study

In the fourth and fifth years of Rabbinical School, most courses are electives; these offerings vary from campus to campus.  Each campus may have a few required courses and/or distribution requirements.

Electives are offered in all areas of Judaica and in Professional Development.  Students on all of the stateside campuses have opportunities to take courses offered on other HUC-JIR campuses through our e-classrooms and distance learning programs.  Students may also pursue Independent Study with faculty members.


You may choose among electives offered on your home campus and cross-campus courses. Recent elective offerings include:

  • Teaching Bible to Adults
  • Holocaust in History and Memory
  • Liberal Zionism & its Future
  • Creating Meaningful Worship
  • Evolution of Reform Prayer Books
  • Song of Songs: Gender and History of Interpretation
  • Intermarriage & the Changing American Jewish Community
  • Illness and Healing in Jewish Literature
  • Jewish Law and Medicine
  • Prayer in the Talmud
  • Zohar
  • Faith and Suffering in the Book of Job
  • Jews in the Modern Middle East
  • Pirkei Avot
  • Mussar

Capstone Project

The rabbinical thesis or capstone project enables a student to explore a topic of interest to him/her and to culminate his/her rabbinical education by creating an in-depth piece of work that can be the basis of ongoing study, teaching, and research in his/her professional work. It enables students to hone their research and writing skills. The thesis also affords students an opportunity to work closely with faculty members on a project of their choosing.

The rabbinical thesis may be:

  1. A treatment of primary sources (in Hebrew or another language) that analyzes issues within the sources as well as the wider significance of those issues for their own or other time periods.
  2. A synthesis of secondary sources that reflects a debate on common issues between scholars of the same or different generation (i.e., two scholars’ views on the nature of the soul) or which reflects the significance of those sources in contemporary debate (i.e., gender issues).
  3. An analysis of a significant issue through the lens of Jewish texts and traditions.

The text immersion is an alternative to the thesis.  It enables the student to immerse him/herself in the study of a selected body of classical texts that can be the basis of ongoing study, teaching, and research in his/her professional work.  It enables students to hone research and writing skills, albeit on a smaller scale than the thesis, and to work closely with faculty members on a project of their choosing.

Students opting for a text immersion choose a text or texts in consultation with a faculty adviser.  Texts should be in Hebrew or related languages and may be from any period.  Assessment of a text immersion project usually involves a combination of oral examination and writing.