Judaic Studies

Concentration Requirements

Learn about the number and type of courses that must be completed to achieve a degree in Judaic Studies.

Students wishing to fulfill requirements for the Judaic Studies concentration must complete the following work:

  1. 10 courses. All students are required to take a total of 10 courses that count toward the concentration.
  2. Full year of modern Hebrew. All students must take one full year of modern Hebrew (two of the 10 required courses for the concentration) or fulfill the Hebrew requirement through examination. Usually, the Hebrew requirement is fulfilled by taking HEBR 0100 and 0200. Fulfillment of the Hebrew requirement through examination does not reduce the total number of 10 courses required for the concentration.
  3. Students choosing to continue with Hebrew language study may count up to two additional Hebrew courses (HEBR 0300, 0400, or 0500) toward fulfillment of the concentration requirements. HEBR 0600 is counted as a regular, non-language course for the purposes of fulfilling concentration requirements.

Historical and Methodological Breadth Requirement

Of the courses required for a concentration in Judaic Studies, students must fulfill both a historical and a methodological breadth requirement. These two breadth requirements ensure that the student gains a broader perspective on Judaic Studies as an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary field of study concerned with Jews and Judaism over three millennia of history.

Students primarily studying the premodern period must enroll in at least one course in the modern period, and students whose primary focus is the modern period must enroll in at least one class in the premodern period.

Examples of recent courses that focus on the modern period:
JUDS 0050H, Israel’s Wars,
JUDS 0066, The Lower East Side: Immigration and Memory,
JUDS 0902, History of the Holocaust, and
|JUDS 1753, Blacks and Jews in American History and Culture.

Examples of recent courses that focus on the premodern period:
JUDS 0670, War and Peace in the Hebrew Bible and its Environment,
JUDS 0682, How the Bible Became Holy, 
JUDS 1680, The Archeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and
JUDS 1635, Problems in Israelite History.

Examples of recent courses that fulfill both period requirements:
JUDS 0050M, Difficult Relations? Judaism and Christianity: Middle Ages to the Present,
JUDS 0060, The Bible and Moral Debate, and
JUDS 0617, Jewish Women: Between Conformity and Agency.

At least one course should offer training in a discipline different from the student’s primary disciplinary interest (e.g., a student whose main interest is Jewish history will take at least one course in Jewish thought, literature or religion).

Examples of recent courses that are historically-oriented:
JUDS 0050H, Israel’s Wars,
JUDS 0060, The Bible and Moral Debate,
JUDS 0902, History of the Holocaust, and
JUDS 1690, Prophets and Priests in Exile: Biblical Literature of the 6th Century BCE.

Examples of recent courses that are thought-oriented:
JUDS 0050K, Hope, Longing and Despair in Jewish Thought,
JUDS 0061, Foreigners, Refugees and the Ethics of Minority, and
JUDS 1614, Heidegger, the Jews, and the Crisis of Liberalism.

Examples of recent courses with a literary focus:
JUDS 0050A, Believers, Agnostics and Atheists in Contemporary Fiction and Memoirs, 
JUDS 0830, The Bible as Literature, and
JUDS 1820, Holocaust Literature.

Examples of recent courses that focus on the study of religion:
JUDS 0060, The Bible and Moral Debate,
JUDS 0682, How the Bible Became Holy, and
JUDS 1625, Problems in Israelite Religion.

Capstone Course

After consultation with the concentration adviser, each senior concentrator who is not writing a senior thesis in Judaic Studies to fulfill the capstone requirement will designate an advanced course (1000 level) in Judaic Studies as that student’s capstone course. Alternatively, seniors may choose to do an independent study with a Judaic Studies faculty member that will function as the capstone course. Within the context of the capstone course, the student will conduct independent research and write a substantial paper of 20-25 pages on a topic in Judaic Studies that displays in an appropriate way the theoretical and methodological approaches, as well as the interpretive issues, most of interest to the student, thereby engaging the student’s particular disciplinary focus/foci in a serious and substantive way. The student, in consultation with the capstone instructor, will complete the capstone form by the end of the second week of classes of the semester during which the capstone will be undertaken and submit the form to the concentration adviser for final approval. The form includes questions about the capstone course, the topic of the paper, the disciplinary approach(es) the student intends to utilize, and how the paper will fulfill the goals of the capstone. The capstone is an opportunity for students to hone their writing skills, to enhance their ability to undertake independent research, to learn more about and experience Judaic Studies as an interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary field, to make well-considered choices with regard to the topic or problem to be examined and the disciplinary approach(es) to be utilized, and to make use of language skills where appropriate.

Courses Outside of Judaic Studies

  • Subject to the approval of the concentration adviser, up to two courses outside of Judaic Studies that relate directly to the concentration may be counted toward the concentration (e.g., a course on a particular historical context, in a particular discipline, or on a relevant topic, including courses taken abroad that are approved by Brown for transfer credit).
  • Double concentrators may count up to two courses that deal with Jewish history, literature, society, culture, politics, thought or religion that they have used to complete the requirements of their other concentration toward their Judaic Studies concentration.

Senior Thesis

Each student who opts to write a senior thesis to fulfill the capstone requirement will approach a potential thesis adviser in Judaic Studies before the end of the second semester of the junior year and secure that faculty member’s agreement to advise the thesis. The thesis will be written over two semesters during the senior year and constitute two of the 10 required courses for the concentration. By the end of the second week of classes of the senior year, the student will present the concentration adviser with a succinct thesis plan approved by the thesis adviser. The second reader of each thesis will be chosen by the concentrator in consultation with the thesis adviser before the end of September of the senior year. Once the second reader has agreed to participate, the second reader will read a draft of each chapter of the thesis and provide feedback after it has been approved by the thesis adviser. In no case will the second reader be invited to participate after the thesis has been completed.

Study Abroad

Study Abroad or Elsewhere in the US: Students who study at other institutions, either in the United States or abroad, may apply up to two topical courses (non-language study) toward completion of the concentration requirements as long as Brown approves the courses for transfer credit. These approved courses will count as the two courses taken outside Judaic Studies. Students who study in Israel are required to enroll in a one month Summer/Winter Ulpan (a Hebrew language and cultural immersion course) prior to the beginning of the semester as well as a Hebrew language course during their semester in Israel. Students will receive one transfer credit toward the concentration for both of these language courses combined. Students whose level of proficiency allows them to enroll in a university course conducted in Hebrew are exempt from the Ulpan requirement.

Additional Information

Learn more about the requirements, process, and timeline of an Judaic Studies honors thesis.
Our courses cover a wide range of topics related to the study of Jews and Judaism in the disciplines of history, philosophy, religious studies, literary studies, and archaeology. View upcoming undergraduate courses.