The Major in Jewish Studies
The BA program in Jewish Studies provides a context in which College students may examine the texts, cultures, languages, and histories of Jews and Judaism over three millennia. The perspective is contextual, comparative, and interdisciplinary. The long and diverse history of Jews and Judaism affords unique opportunities to study modes of continuity and change, interpretation and innovation, and isolation and integration of a world historical civilization. Students are encouraged to develop appropriate skills (in texts, languages, history, and culture) for independent work.
Students who have not completed the College’s general education requirements before starting the major should do so during their first year as Jewish Studies majors. Students are required to meet with the director of undergraduate studies before declaring a major in Jewish Studies. Each student in the major will have as an adviser a faculty member who is affiliated with the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies.
The major requires twelve courses distributed according to the guidelines that follow. A full, constantly updated list of courses approved for the major and minor is available on the Greenberg Center for Jewish Studies website at ccjs.uchicago.edu.
The twelve courses required for the major typically include three quarters of Hebrew. If the student’s research project requires knowledge of a language other than Hebrew, the student may petition to substitute that language for Hebrew.
Jewish Civilization and Electives
Amulet, Oriental Institute Museum
Students in the major must take nine additional courses in Jewish Studies, for a total of twelve courses.
Jewish Civilization: Students in the major must complete either the two-quarter Jewish Civilization sequence or the “Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations” Study Abroad program.
If students take one of these sequences to satisfy the general education requirement in civilization studies, one elective in the major must come from another civilization studies sequence pertinent to the area and period of the student’s primary interest in Jewish Studies.
For students who take a sequence outside Jewish Studies to satisfy the general education requirement in civilization studies, the two-course Jewish Civilization sequence (or three-course sequence offered in Jerusalem) will count among the JWSC electives required for the major.
Other Electives: The remaining courses must come from JWSC course offerings. These elective courses should normally focus in a specific area of concentration within Jewish Studies and should be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. Students who complete the option BA thesis (as described under Optional BA Paper) may count JWSC 29900 among these courses.
Beyond the requirements for the major, students are encouraged to take at least one course in method or theory pertaining to their area of concentration in Jewish Studies, whether it is a JWSC course that can count in the major or is simply a general elective credit.
Optional BA Paper
Students who choose this option are to meet with their advisers by May 15 of their third year to determine the focus of the research project, and they are expected to begin reading and research for the BA paper during the summer before their fourth year. After further consultation, students are to continue guided readings and participate in a (formal or informal) tutorial during Autumn Quarter of their fourth year. Credit toward the major is received only for the Winter Quarter tutorial during which the BA paper is finally written and revised. The BA tutorial may count toward one of the courses related to Jewish Studies. The BA paper must be received by the primary reader by the end of fifth week of Spring Quarter. A BA paper is a requirement for consideration for honors.
This program may accept a BA paper or project used to satisfy the same requirement in another major if certain conditions are met and with the consent of the other program chair. Approval from both program chairs is required. Students should consult with the chairs by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, if neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available from the College adviser. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.
Honors are awarded to students who demonstrate excellence in their course work, as well as on the BA paper. To qualify for honors, students must register for JWSC 29900 BA Paper Preparation Course in addition to the twelve courses required in the general program of study, bringing the total number of courses required to thirteen. Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher and a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the major, and the BA paper must be judged to be at least of A- quality.
Students take all courses required for the major for quality grades.