Master of Arts
The Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan offers students an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Jewish civilizations and thought. The Master of Arts (M.A.) program explores the rich culture and historical experience of the Jewish people, their unique traditions, interactions with other cultures, and impact on world civilizations. It draws on the academic excellence and expertise of faculty in many disciplines, including history; political science; Near Eastern studies; Germanic, English, Slavic, Hebrew and Yiddish languages; sociology; religious studies; and comparative literature. Resources available to our students include the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, the Martin Salinger Resource Center, and the Jewish Heritage Video Collection. The M.A. program provides an advanced, yet comprehensive and balanced curriculum in Judaic Studies while allowing students to concentrate on one of the following areas:
1) Literature and Culture
- Comparative Jewish Literatures
- Hebrew Literature
- Yiddish Literature
2) Jewish History and Social Science
- Ancient, Medieval and Modern Jewish History
- Contemporary Jewish Affairs
- American Jews (history, literature, sociology)
- Israel (culture and politics)
- Former Soviet Union (politics, history, and culture)
3) Classical and Modern Judaism: Law and Religion
- Jewish Mysticism
- Jewish Thought
- Biblical Studies
Any student with a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university may apply to the M.A. Program at the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. The following items are accepted electronically via the Rackham Graduate School online application system.
- Statement of Purpose: A concise statement on your academic background and description of how a graduate degree in Judaic Studies will help meet your career goals.
- Personal Narrative: Describe your life experiences that have motivated your decision to pursue a degree in Judaic Studies.
- Three Letters of Recommendation
- Transcript(s): from all academic programs attended; electronic versions are accepted but official transcripts must still be mailed to the Rackham Graduate School.
- GRE Scores
- Writing Sample: Please keep length below 30 pages.
Interviews will be requested only of those whose prospects for success are uncertain, and who live within a reasonable distance. No credit will be given for relevant work experience, though minimal credit might be given for coursework in advanced Judaic Studies that was done within the decade previous to application for admission.
Credits: A minimum of 30 credits are required for the Judaic Studies M.A.:
- 13 credits in required courses
- 6 – 8 credits in language courses at the 400-level or above, or credit by placement exam
- 3 credits for the thesis or seminar paper
- 8 elective credits (14 credits for students who receive language credit by placement exam)
Thesis: A thesis or substantial seminar paper of 10,000 - 15,000 words (40-60 pages) is required. It is recommended that students begin work on their thesis in the first semester of their second year. There will be no field work, work experience, internship or similar requirements.
Judaic Studies 601: Introduction to Methods and Topics in Judaic Studies (3 credits)
This mandatory course introduces graduate students to the disciplines, texts, and methods of Jewish studies. Students read textual materials from various eras of Jewish history (from antiquity to the modern period) and current scholarly literature that illustrates critical and disciplinary approaches to these texts. Students should take this course in their first year.
A student who lacks a sufficient background in Judaic Studies, but who has an exceptionally strong academic record and GRE scores, may possibly be admitted to the program. He or she would be required to take Judaic Studies 505 (Introduction to Jewish Civilization and Cultures).
Breadth Selections (minimum of 10 credits)
Students are required to choose one course from each category: Literature & Culture; Jewish History and Social Science; and Classical & Modern Judaism: Law and Religion. Students will not necessarily concentrate in a specific module. As long as they take a course from each of the three categories, they may choose any of the other courses offered. This includes courses offered by our Padnos Visiting Professor in Judaic Studies, an annual visitor for one semester, whose fields have ranged from history to film and video, Anglo-Jewish literature to Israeli politics.
All entering students are required to demonstrate second term (1 year) proficiency in Hebrew or Yiddish and, upon graduation, fourth term (2 year) proficiency. Those who come with fourth term proficiency should take a third year language. The Rackham Graduate School will not apply credit for language courses that are at a 300-level or below toward any graduate degree. However, such language instruction will serve as an instrumental factor in continued learning at the graduate level.
Graduate Certificate Program
The Graduate Certificate Program in Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan is a comprehensive course of study for Ph.D. students in LS&A departments and professional schools across campus who want to acquire an interdisciplinary grounding in their area of expertise through organized interactions with graduate students and faculty in other areas. The Graduate Certificate Program in Judaic Studies builds upon the graduate courses offered by faculty affiliated with the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies and integrates them into a coherent cluster.
Any student who has been admitted to or is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. or professional degree program at the University of Michigan is eligible for a Graduate Certificate in Judaic Studies. Students must be in good standing in order to be considered. To apply, please contact the Frankel Center Student Services / Fellow Coordinator for an application form (734-615-6097 or JudaicStudies@umich.edu). The application and other required materials should be submitted at least two terms before the anticipated graduate degree is to be received.
All applicants are required to complete steps 1-3:
1. Submit completed “Add a Degree or Certificate Program Application" to the student's current Ph.D. or professional program (must be signed by the applicant and the applicant’s current Ph.D. or professional program chair/director), for forwarding to the Frankel Center;
2. Submit "Admissions Conduct Code" (page 5 of the "Add a Degree or Certificate Program Application" to Rackham;
3. Submit completed “Add a Degree or Certificate Program Cover Sheet” and a Declaration Form, which maps out a course of study for the certificate; lists courses already taken and those to be taken; and explains how Jewish Studies will be integrated in an overall course of study, to the Frankel Center.
In addition to the above requirements, applicants who have not received funding from the Frankel Center are required to complete step 4:
4. Submit to the Frankel Center:
- Letter outlining interests in the graduate certificate program and an explanation of any background in Judaic Studies
- Current transcript demonstrating a maintained grade of at least an “A-” average at his/her graduate or professional school
- Name of a faculty reference, normally the student’s primary advisor
This program requires a minimum of fifteen-hours of coursework that will provide multidisciplinary perspectives on Judaic Studies consisting of the following:
The mandatory core introductory course, JUDAIC 601: Introduction to Methods and Topics in Jewish Studies introduces students to the various questions, texts, methodologies, and perspectives that constitute the broad field of Jewish studies. It ranges from antiquity to the modern period, reading Biblical and rabbinic texts, as well as medieval and modern ones. The focus is on interactions between Jews and others: on the ways in which Jews have understood themselves in relation to the societies in which they lived, the peoples with whom they interacted, the languages they acquired. (3 credits)
- Capstone Research Course
The mandatory capstone research course, JUDAIC 890, requires a student to carry out a culminating research project in Jewish studies that reflects an interdisciplinary perspective. The product can be a dissertation chapter, a master’s thesis, or a substantive paper, and will normally be subject to approval by the student’s Judaic Studies advisor and by the Graduate Student Advisor. As part of JUDAIC 890, the student will present the work in at least one public forum, such as a lecture or brown-bag. (3 credits)
- Breadth Requirement
Three additional graduate-level courses are required from among those offered by Frankel Center faculty affiliates. At least one of these must be in a field outside of the student’s primary department. Up to six of the fifteen credit hours may include courses that are required for the student’s graduate or professional degree.
Students will be expected to have reading knowledge of at least one Jewish language. Proficiency will be measured via testing or the completion of language instruction through the 200-level (e.g., Yiddish 202, HJCS 202). These include Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, and/or Judeo-Persian. Documentation of this status will be provided by Judaic Studies, and certified by the Judaic Studies Graduate Student Advisor. Credits earned from language instruction will not be applied to the certificate’s 15-credit requirement.
All Judaic Studies M.A. and Graduate Certificate students will work with the JS Graduate Student Advisor in planning a course of study. Once a year students will receive a report on their status and progress toward satisfactory completion of the certificate.
Sample Elective Courses (arranged by concentration)
Jewish Literature and Culture
- ENGLISH 553: 20th Century American Literature, "Jewish American Literature," 3 Credits
- ENGLISH 649: Topics in Contemporary Literature, “Literature of the Holocaust,” 3 Credits
- HJCS 543: The Bible in Jewish Tradition, 3 Credits
- HJCS 545: Medieval Jewish Literature, 3 Credits
- HJCS 571: Israeli Literature, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 401: Readings in Yiddish Texts, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 481: Jewish Modernism in Eastern & Central Europe, 3 Credits
Jewish History and Social Science
- HJCS 401: Hebrew of the Communications Media, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 480: Religion, Ethnicity, and Politics: The Jewish Case, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 591: Advanced Reading in Jewish History and Literature, 1 – 4 Credits
- JUDAIC 628: Studies in Jewish History, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 652: Jewish Political Thought and Experience, 3 Credits
Classical & Modern Judaism: Law and Religion
- HJCS 478: Jewish Mysticism, 3 Credits
- HJCS 591: Topics in Hebrew and Jewish Cultural Studies, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 478: Modern Jewish Thought, 3 Credits
- JUDAIC 517: Topics in Judaic Studies: "Thinking Law in Ancient Cultures and Religions," 3 Credits