Graduate Studies

The graduate program in Jewish Studies at Duke University is an interdisciplinary collaboration across a variety of Departments that seeks to explore all aspects of the Jewish experience. As a participant of the program, you will significantly benefit from the rich academic community at Duke, and the larger intellectual community of the Triangle. 

Duke student looking at replica of Dead Sea Scrolls
Duke student, Katie Greenstreet looks at a replica of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the museum in Qumran, ©David Blumenfeld, Duke Magazine

Degree Offerings

For more than 40 years, the Religious Studies Department has been an intellectual home to Jewish Studies.

  • Students seeking a broad and flexible introduction to the field of Jewish Studies will find the M.A. in Religious Studies, where students may concentrate their courses in Judaism (including interdisciplinary work with other departments) appealing. 
  • Students who are ready for doctoral work should consider a Ph.D. in the Graduate Program in Religion. The program includes several study tracks, including the History of Judaism and Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.
  • While the Ph.D. in Religion remains the only official graduate degree in Jewish Studies at Duke, students from other affiliated programs, particularly History and German Studies, can focus their programs Jewish studies. Students in this situation are able to design a program of study under the direction of a faculty advisor, who will continue to assist students throughout their graduate studies. Students in any department or program whose work focuses in Jewish Studies are invited to participate in Jewish Studies events and to apply for Jewish Studies funding.
Student and Professor Carol Meyers at Dome of the Rock
Graduate student Ben Gordon and Professor Carol Meyers at Dome of the Rock, ©David Blumenfeld, Duke Magazine

Breadth of Courses 

The intellectual purview of our students displays breadth and creativity, reflecting the increasingly broad engagement of Jewish Studies with departments, programs, and schools at Duke. In addition to the wealth of courses offered at Duke, you are able to enrich your graduate school experiences by taking courses at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, which is connected to Duke by a shuttle bus that runs throughout the day. Current students are engaged in research on subjects from space and identity in 16th century Yiddish literature, to priestly settlement patterns and consecrated lands in Judea; from early Jewish meal practices in Greco-Roman culture to the Jewish experience in Rome. 

In-field Training 

Graduate students have also had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the world of Jewish material culture by participating in the extensive archeological work being done by faculty at the Duke Center for Jewish Studies. In particular, students have assisted at the excavation project at the Greco-Roman city of Sepphoris in Galilee and are engaged in research on ancient Jewish art and architecture. At the same time, Duke also has noteworthy strengths in Jewish literature, from antiquity to modernity. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of the Duke program is the integration of literary and material sources as complementary sources of knowledge.