From history to political science, sociology to music and the arts, Jewish Studies is a vibrant, interdisciplinary program that allows you to explore Jewish civilization from a variety of perspectives. We encourage all students to consider a Jewish Studies major or certificate, regardless of your background or previous study.

As a student in Jewish Studies, you will study the intellectual and cultural values of Jews, their religious beliefs and practices, languages, literary creativity, and participation in the larger societies in which they live. You will sharpen your ability to think critically, read closely, and write effectively. And while learning how Jews have lived, survived, and sometimes flourished, you will gain a deeper comprehension of their rich, varied culture and the world they inhabit.

Since Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary field, many students simultaneously pursue majors or certificates in other departments, including Art, Education, Geography, History, Music, Political Science, Religious Studies, and Sociology. Given the broad history and geography of the Jewish experience, Jewish Studies also pairs well with programs like African Studies, Classical and Near Eastern Studies, European Studies, German/Nordic/Slavic Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. For the same reason, many of Jewish Studies courses fulfill General Education requirements, including Humanities and Literature, Ethnic Studies, Foreign Language, and Communications Part B. To sample the variety of Jewish Studies offerings, check out our current and recent courses.

Building on a strong foundation in the humanities and social sciences, you may go on to pursue a variety of career paths, such as education, library and information sciences, finance and international trade, journalism and mass media, social work, and the nonprofit sector. Our graduates are also well prepared to apply for law school, graduate school, or rabbinical studies.

Questions? Contact the undergraduate advisor.

Enrollment Guidance

Students with prior language study or experience as a speaker of Modern Hebrew should contact the Undergraduate Advisor in the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies for enrollment guidance.

Declaring the Major

Prospective majors in Jewish Studies should make an appointment with the undergraduate advisor (undergrad-adviser@cjs.wisc.edu) to discuss requirements and courses.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Complete the University General Education Requirements for Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A) and Quantitative Reasoning B (QR-B) coursework.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language.
L&S Breadth
  • 12 credits of Humanities, which must include 6 credits of literature; and
  • 12 credits of Social Science; and
  • 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include one 3+ credit Biological Science course and one 3+ credit Physical Science course.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work Complete at least 60 credits at the intermediate or advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience
  • 30 credits in residence, overall; and
  • 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work
  • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
  • 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

The Jewish Studies major requires 10 courses, totaling at least 29 credits, in 5 areas: 1) one Gateway Course; 2) two courses in Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts; 3) two courses in History and Social Science; 4) four courses in Modern Hebrew; and 5) the Core Seminar. Each course may count toward only one required area.

Gateway Course

Complete one Gateway Course.

Gateway Course (complete one):
Jewish Law, Business, and Ethics
Introduction to Judaism

Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts

Complete two courses in Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts, at least one of which must fulfill the Jewish Diaspora requirement, 

Jewish Diaspora (complete at least one course):
Yiddish Literature and Culture in Europe
Food in Rabbinic Judaism
Yiddish Literature and Culture in America
Modern Jewish Literature
The American Jewish Life of DNA
Jewish Humor
Jewish Philosophy from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century
German-Jewish Culture Since the 18th Century
Jewish Literatures in Diaspora
Literature of Jewish Identity in America
Complete any additional Diaspora course from the list above, or any of the following:
Introduction to Biblical Literature (in English)
Elementary Topics in Jewish Literature
Elementary Topics in Jewish Philosophy and the Arts
Bascom Course
Introduction to Hebrew Literature
Introduction to Hebrew Literature
Classical Rabbinic Literature in Translation
Prophets of the Bible
King David in History and Tradition
Jewish Literature of the Greco-Roman Period
Jerusalem, Holy City of Conflict and Desire
Israeli Fiction in Translation
Topics in Modern Hebrew / Israeli Literature and Culture I
Topics in Modern Hebrew / Israeli Literature and Culture II
Intermediate Topics in Jewish Literature
Intermediate Topics in Jewish Philosophy and the Arts
Moral Philosophy and the Holocaust
Biblical Texts, Poetry
Biblical Texts, Poetry
Advanced Topics in Jewish Literature
Advanced Topics in Jewish Philosophy and the Arts

History and Social Science

Complete two courses in History and Social Science, at least one of which must fulfill the Jews in America requirement. 

Jews in America (complete at least one course):
Jews and American Pop. Culture
The American Jewish Experience: From Shtetl to Suburb
The American Jewish Life of DNA
Complete any additional Jews in America course from the list above, or any of the following:
Introduction to Modern Jewish History
Elementary Topics in Jewish History
Elementary Topics in Jewish Studies: Social Sciences
Introduction to Biblical Archaeology
Food in Rabbinic Judaism
The Holocaust
Modern Jewish Thought
Intermediate Topics in Jewish History
Intermediate Topics in Jewish Studies: Social Sciences
Biblical Archaeology
Anti-Semitism in European Culture, 1700-1945
Advanced Topics in Jewish History

Modern Hebrew

Complete four courses in Modern Hebrew at appropriate level.

First Semester Hebrew
Second Semester Hebrew
Third Semester Hebrew
Fourth Semester Hebrew
Introduction to Hebrew Literature
Introduction to Hebrew Literature
Topics in Modern Hebrew / Israeli Literature and Culture I
Topics in Modern Hebrew / Israeli Literature and Culture II

Core Seminar

Complete the Core Seminar.

What Is Jewish Studies?


With prior consent of the undergraduate advisor in Jewish studies and the relevant instructor, students may use one Directed Study course (JEWISH 699) to satisfy a requirement for the major.

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all JEWISH courses and all courses accepted in the major
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence. Upper-level work includes all Intermediate or Advanced level courses in the Jewish Studies major.
  • 15 credits in JEWISH, taken on campus

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Major in consultation with the Jewish Studies undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Jewish Studies Major: Requirements

To earn Honors in the Major students must satisfy both the requirements for the major and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.500 GPA for all JEWISH courses, and all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete at least two courses, taken for Honors, in the major, with grades of B or better in each
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis, a piece of original research composition, in JEWISH 681 and JEWISH 682, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Proficiency in reading, writing, understanding, and conversing in Hebrew or another approved Jewish language, attained through four semesters of study
  2. Ability to read Jewish texts closely and to write original, coherent, and compelling arguments that push beyond summary to analysis
  3. Knowledge of Jewish civilization, culture, and society in both the past and the present
  4. Development, pursuit, and presentation of original research in Jewish studies culminating in a substantive academic paper that utilizes and cites appropriate sources
  5. Appreciation for diverse worldviews and value systems, including an understanding of interactions between Jews and non-Jews within the context of minority-majority relationships in Wisconsin, in the United States, and across the globe

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
JEWISH/​LEGAL ST/​RELIG ST  203 or 2113Quantitative Reasoning B3
Communication A3Communications B3
Quantitative Reasoning A3Science Breadth3
Elective (Elementary level)3Elective (Elementary level)3
 16 16
Second Year
JEWISH/​HISTORY  219 (meets Ethnic Studies; Jews in America [History/Social Science])4Biological Science Breadth3
Physical Science Breadth3-4JEWISH/​PHILOS  442 (meets Literature/Philosophy/Arts)3
Elective (Intermediate level)3Electives (Intermediate level)6
 14 16
Third Year
JEWISH/​HISTORY  310 (meets History/Social Science)4JEWISH 3503
Science Breadth3JEWISH 416 (meets Literature/Philosophy/Arts)3
Social Science Breadth (if needed)3Intermediate/Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if B.S.)3
Electives (Intermediate or Advanced level)6Social Science Breadth (if needed)3
 Elective (Intermediate or Advanced level)3
 16 15
Fourth Year
Intermediate/Advanced COMP SCI, MATH, or STAT (if B.S.)3Electives (Intermediate or Advanced level)12
Electives (Intermediate or Advanced level)12 
 15 12
Total Credits 120

Like other liberal arts majors, a degree in Jewish Studies can prepare one for a variety of career paths. Graduates in Jewish Studies have followed a variety of different career paths, including law, medicine, education, finance, social work, and the nonprofit sector. Jewish Studies students are also well prepared to apply for graduate studies in fields such as law, education, business, and social work, as well as prime candidates for rabbinical or cantorial school, theological studies, and advanced levels of Jewish Studies.  For more information, please reach out to academic advising.

The Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies encourages our majors to begin working on their career exploration and preparation soon after arriving on campus. We partner with SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science. L&S graduates are in high demand by employers and graduate programs. It is important to us that our students are career ready at the time of graduation, and we are committed to your success.

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.

Chaim Perelman Professor of Rhetoric and Culture and Nancy Hoefs Professor of English and Jewish Studies

Frances and Laurence Weinstein Assistant Professor of History

Adjunct Professor of Biblical Archaeology

Professor of Music Education

Sewell-Bascom Professor of Sociology

Professor of Sociology

Professor of English

Professor of Classical Hebrew Language and Biblical Literature

Alfred L. Shoemaker, J. William Frey, and Don Yoder Professor of Germanic Linguistics

George L. Mosse Professor of American Jewish History

William H. Hay II Professor & Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities

Lecturer in Sociology

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Professor of Video/Performance/Installation, Art Department

Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism and Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies

Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Israel Studies and Professor of Political Science

Lecturer of Hebrew

Assistant Professor in German, Nordic, & Slavic and Jewish Studies

Professor of Political Science and International Studies

Professor of Musicology

Professor of Cello

Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and German, Nordic, and Slavic

Lipton Assistant Professor of Jewish Literature and Thought