Jewish Studies

Program Category: MA Programs
Program Director: Isabelle Levy
Assistant Director: Julie Feldman
Email Address: [email protected]
Degree Programs: Full-Time/Part-Time: Free-Standing MA

The MA in Jewish Studies is primarily concerned with the study of Jewish culture and religion in the diaspora and in Israel as well as with the position of Israel in the world historically and today. Departments in which students take courses include History; Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; and Religion.  Students may also take courses at the Jewish Theological Seminary. The program concludes with a thesis on a limited topic within the student's area of concentration.

Students in the program are encouraged to make use of the resources of Columbia's Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies. The institute brings together faculty and students in several disciplines and departments whose academic interests primarily concern the study of Jewish civilization or the state of Israel in its historical and contemporary dimensions. It also encourages research and publication in all branches of Jewish history culture and institutions in Hebrew, Yiddish, and other Jewish languages and literatures, and in the history of Jewish philosophy and religion.

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, and two letters of recommendation. The statement of academic purpose allows the university to evaluate your ability to succeed academically and the reasons you wish to undertake the degree. It should describe briefly your academic and/or professional background (relevant coursework, professional experience, or other activity pertaining to your academic interests); indicate your plans for graduate study at Columbia; and explain clearly the relation of your studies to your plans after completing the MA.

The writing sample should be 10-15 pages long, preferably a paper that you have written for a course pertaining to the general field of Jewish studies. Alternatively, you may provide a focused essay written in an academic style that examines an article, book, exhibit, or event relevant to your field of interest.

If you have recently received an academic degree or have recent academic experience, letters of recommendation from faculty are preferred. If you have not been enrolled in an academic program in recent years, professional recommendations are acceptable.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the TOEFL or IELTS exams. For more information, refer to the Information for International Students page.


FLAS Fellowships are available for students entering in the fall. If you are applying for the FLAS Fellowship, you must submit your admission application, including the FLAS essay by the fellowship application.