M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East

Why M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East?

  • Study in the leading master’s program in the field
  • Build a solid foundation in the languages of the Ancient Near East
  • Engage in Biblical Studies in the heart of Jerusalem.

Offered by the Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School (RIS) in conjunction with the Bible Department at the Faculty of the Humanities, the M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East focuses on contemporary Biblical Studies (Hebrew scriptures) and provides grounding in both Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian, with the option to study Modern Hebrew at the beginners through advanced levels. In addition, students acquire a sound knowledge of the history and culture of the Ancient Near East, and take courses in biblical archaeology and philology.

As a student in this rigorous program, you will receive the necessary training for further academic study at the doctoral level. Our alumni have been admitted to top doctoral programs in the field and several are now faculty members at universities and colleges around the world.

The program consists of required and elective courses taken over two academic years (four semesters in total). Each academic year runs from October – June. Biblical Hebrew and Akkadian study are required. Modern Hebrew study is optional and requires payment of an additional fee. Students may study additional languages if desired, but these courses will not count for credit towards their degree.

The program consists of 36 credits over four semesters.

2023/2024 Course Catalog

Information about the M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East starts on page 11 of the above catalog. Please note that the M.A. program is subject to change. The information provided in the catalog will help you get a sense of the structure of the program and kinds of courses offered, but changes are made from year to year.

Biblical Hebrew
Knowledge of Biblical Hebrew is necessary for biblical scholarship. You will be required to complete the advanced level of Biblical Hebrew by the end of the program.

Applicants to the M.A. program are required to take a Biblical Hebrew placement exam and should aim to place into the intermediate or advanced levels, as beginner’s Biblical Hebrew is not offered within the framework of the program. Students with little or no prior knowledge of Biblical Hebrew must enroll in the Elementary Biblical Hebrew summer course prior to the start of their M.A. program for an extra fee. The course will take place in June-July 2023.. Students who successfully complete the summer course will continue on to the intermediate level course in the first year of the M.A. program.

Both the intermediate and advanced Biblical Hebrew courses are year-long (autumn and spring semesters).

Akkadian was the lingua franca of the Ancient Near East and is required for the study of the Bible in its cultural and literary environment. You will study Akkadian for two academic years (4 semesters). You will start at the beginner’s level during the first year of the M.A. program (6 weekly hours per semester) and complete the advanced level during the second year of the program (2 weekly hours per semester). The advanced Akkadian course consists of the study and analysis of selected Akkadian inscriptions and texts.

Modern Hebrew
The study of Modern Hebrew is an optional but recommended component of the program. Modern Hebrew courses are offered from the beginner’s (Alef) through the advanced (Vav) levels during the autumn and spring semesters. Students who attain level Dalet or higher will be able to enroll in graduate courses taught in Hebrew at the Faculty of the Humanities. Modern Hebrew language courses are about 14 hours per week (depending on your Modern Hebrew level). If you have little or no knowledge of Modern Hebrew and you want to get a head start, you can enroll in the Summer Ulpan (Hebrew language training) prior to the start of the M.A. program. More information about Modern Hebrew studies can be found here.

Note: Enrollment in Modern Hebrew courses (both the Summer Ulpan and autumn/spring semester courses) is not included in the M.A. tuition and involves payment of an extra fee. In addition, Modern Hebrew courses do not count towards your degree credit requirements.

Additional Languages
You may choose to study additional ancient languages to complement your M.A. studies. These courses are offered through the Faculty of the Humanities and the language of instruction is Hebrew. Although these language courses do not count towards the 36 credits of the degree, they are highly recommended.

Seminar Papers
You will submit at least two seminar papers. Seminar papers are required in order to graduate but do not count towards the program’s credit requirements.

The M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East faculty is a highly credentialed group with extensive teaching and research experience. The head of the M.A. program, Prof. Nili Wazana, specializes in the history of the Biblical period and classical prophetic literature. Prof. Michael Segal, currently the Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, specializes in early Second Temple period literature, Qumran literature, as well as the Greek and Aramaic translations of the Bible. Prof. Baruch Schwartz specializes in priestly literature and classical prophetic literature. Other faculty members’ focuses include Ancient Near East history, and literature, and reception history.

Click here for a list of faculty members at the Bible Department of the Faculty of the Humanities.

Click here for a partial list of M.A. in the Bible & the Ancient Near East lecturers.

Click here to see what our alumni from recent years are doing academically and professionally.

The Hebrew University’s RIS offers a rich extracurricular activities program, including tours, social and cultural events, lectures, and more. We support you throughout your stay with us so that Jerusalem becomes your home away from home. Learn more about the Office of Student Life here.

Click here to view one of the OSL’s weekly emails to students with information about events taking place on campus and around Jerusalem.

Early admissions

  • Apply: November 15, 2023 – January 15, 2024
  • Application fee: $120
  • First tuition payment of $1,500 by: February 15, 2024
  • Remaining tuition payment by: March 31, 2024
  • Early admissions scholarship: $1,000 (for students who apply and pay tuition in full by the above deadlines)
  • Additional scholarship for students who pay tuition in full by February 15, 2024: $1,000 (total of $2,000 scholarship)

Regular admissions

  • Apply: January 16 – June 1, 2024
  • Application fee: $120
  • Tuition payment by: June 21, 2024

Students who pay the tuition in full by May 1, 2024, will receive a scholarship of $500.

Late admissions

  • Apply: June 2 – August 1, 2024
  • Application fee: $250

For a list of our scholarship dates and deadlines, please check our Scholarships and Financial Aid page.

Cancellation Policy
Applicants who complete their tuition payment and then decide to cancel their enrollment in the M.A. program will receive a full refund, but will be charged a withdrawal fee, as follows:

  • Cancellation by June 1, 2024: $250 withdrawal fee
  • Cancellation by August 1, 2024: $500 withdrawal fee
  • Cancellation by October 28, 2024: $750 withdrawal fee

For information about withdrawal fees after October 29, 2024, please refer to our Tuition Fees & Refunds page.

Arrive on campus by: Approximately one week before your program starts; specific dates will be sent to accepted students via email.

Program length: October, 2024 – June, 2026. Students taking the introductory course in Biblical Hebrew will start in June, 2024. Check our academic calendar for exact dates.

Fees & Refunds

For information about tuition, health insurance, and housing fees and refunds, see our Tuition Fees & Refunds page.


A number of merit and need-based scholarships are available. See our Scholarships and Financial Aid page for more information.

For tips and ideas regarding scholarships and financial planning from our current and former students, see our How Did You Finance Your Studies pamphlet.

To be eligible for acceptance, you must have the following:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education recognized by the Hebrew University
  • Minimum B average (85/100 or equivalent)
  • Demonstrated knowledge of English

In addition to your online application, you will be required to submit the following documents:

  • Academic Records: Applicants must submit transcripts and diplomas from all prior academic degrees.
  • Proof of English Proficiency: A TOEFL exam score of 80 or above, IELTS exam score of 6 or above, or Amiram exam score of 120 or above. **
  • CV and Statement of Purpose
  • Two Academic Recommendations
  • Photocopy of your Passport ID page
  • Medical Form and Disclaimer Form (the latter for US citizens only) – both forms may be downloaded from the application website.
  • A Biblical Hebrew placement test (sent to you upon submitting the application form)

Please note: students in this program must complete the advanced level of Biblical Hebrew by the end of their studies in the MA program. Students must place into either the intermediate or the advanced levels at the start of their studies. Students without a Biblical Hebrew background, or those placed into the beginners’ level, will be required to participate in an elementary Biblical Hebrew summer course (taking place in June-July 2024) prior to the start of their MA studies, for an extra fee

All documents may be uploaded to your application directly or sent to  gradiv2@savion.huji.ac.il as email attachments.

** If you have completed a degree at a university at which English is the sole language of instruction, or if you have completed a degree in English Language and Literature, you can request an exemption. You must submit documentation from your university verifying English as the language of instruction. Exemption is not automatic and is determined on a case-by-case basis.



Questions about the Curriculum
Email Prof. Nili Wazana
Academic Head of the M.A. in the Bible and Ancient Near East

Questions about Admissions, Scholarships, Housing, and Other Practical Matters
Email the Division of Graduate Studies
Call us: +972 2 588 1194

Get a a taste of our Akkadian class in the video below:

Fast Facts

Language of Instruction:


Degree Earned:

Master of Arts

Career Outlook:

Academia, religious leadership


Two years (four semesters)

Start Dates:

October (June for students taking the Elementary Biblical Hebrew course)


Bachelor’s degree in Bible Studies or relevant field

Application Deadline:

June 1, 2024


See Tuition Fees & Refunds page

Take a look at our pages for prospects, students, faculty and staff, alumni, and parents – or contact us!

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