Language of Instruction:
Master of Arts
Academia, religious leadership
Two years (four semesters)
June (Elementary Biblical Hebrew, optional), August (Summer Ulpan, optional), or October (degree program); check the academic calendar
Bachelor’s degree in Bible studies or relevant field.
April 29, 2021; late applications reviewed on a case-by-case basis, until September 12, 2021.
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 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 and 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 beginner’s 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 around the world.
The program consists of required and elective courses taken over two academic years (four semesters in total). 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.
Information about the M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East starts on page 13 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 we offer, but changes are made from year to year.
Biblical Hebrew Requirement
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 who do not have prior knowledge of Biblical Hebrew may enroll in the intensive elementary-level Biblical Hebrew summer course prior to the first year of their program. 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-level 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.
The study of Modern Hebrew is an optional but highly 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 select from among the graduate courses taught in Hebrew at the Faculty of Humanities. Modern Hebrew language courses are 10 hours per week. Each level can be completed in one semester, with the exception of level Alef, which may take two sessions to complete. 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.
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.
You may choose to study additional ancient languages to complement your M.A. studies. These courses are offered through the Faculty of 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.
At least two of the papers you submit for your courses will be counted as seminar papers. Seminar papers are required in order to graduate but do not count towards the program’s credit requirements.
As a student in the program, you are not required to write a thesis.
Optional Extended Thesis Year
If you wish to write a thesis, you may do so by enrolling at the Hebrew University for an additional year (or more) as a special research student of the Faculty of the Humanities. All of the M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East program requirements must be completed before the Faculty of the Humanities will admit special research students for the coming year.
You must select an academic department through which to continue your studies and find a thesis advisor.
You should obtain up-to-date information from the department you select concerning the conditions and prerequisites for writing a thesis. You may be required to take additional courses in preparation for drafting your thesis during the extended year, as per the policy of your host department. During your extended year, you will be required to complete all levels of Modern Hebrew (through Level Vav).
For information about admission procedures for special research students, please contact the Division of Graduate Studies.
+ Faculty & Research
The M.A. in the Bible and the Ancient Near East faculty is a highly credentialed group with vast 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 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. A list of faculty members at the Bible Department of the Faculty of the Humanities can be viewed here.
Graduates of the M.A.in the Bible and the Ancient Near East have been admitted to top doctoral programs at institutions such as the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, Hebrew University, Bar Ilan University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). Graduates have gone on to secure teaching positions at institutions including the University of Cambridge (teaching Biblical Hebrew), Brandeis University (teaching the Ancient Near East), Yale Divinity School (teaching Bible studies), the University of Pennsylvania (teaching the Hebrew Bible), and Shanghai International Studies University (teaching Ancient Near East).
Click here to see what our alumni from recent years have been doing.
+ Student Life
Extracurricular Activities & Student Support
We offer a rich extracurricular activities program which includes tours, cultural and social events, lectures and more. We support you throughout your stay with us so that Jerusalem becomes your home away from home. Learn more about student life.
+ Dates & Deadlines
- Early admissions: November 22, 2020 – January 5, 2021
- Regular admissions: January 6 – April 29, 2021
- Late applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, until September 12, 2021.
Applicants will receive an email from the Graduate Office with a student number, personal code, and link to upload the required supplementary documents within about 3 days of applying to a program.
Applicants will receive an admission decision within about 3 weeks of applying to a program and submitting all of the required supplementary documents. Admissions decisions are sent via email.
Early Admissions Tuition Payment and Scholarship
- A $1,000 scholarship will be awarded to students who apply to the program by January 5, 2021, are accepted, pay $1,500 towards their tuition by February 5, 2021, and pay the remainder of their tuition by April 7, 2021.
- An additional $250 scholarship will be awarded to students who apply to the program by January 5, 2021, are accepted, and pay their tuition in full by February 5, 2021 (total scholarship amount of $1,250).
- All students must pay $1,500 towards their tuition by May 13, 2021, and must pay the remainder of their tuition by June 10, 2021.
Regular Admissions Tuition Payment and Scholarship
- A $200scholarship will be awarded to students who apply to the program by April 29, 2021, are accepted, and pay tuition in full by May 13, 2021.
All students must pay $1,500 towards their tuition by May 13, 2021, and must pay the remainder of their tuition by June 10, 2021.
Applicants who complete their tuition payment and then decide to cancel their enrollment in the program before October 10, 2021 will receive a full refund, but will be charged a $500 withdrawal fee. Applicants who are forced to cancel their enrollment in the program due to COVID will receive a full refund and will not be charged a withdrawal fee.
Arrive on campus by: Approximately one week before your program starts; specific dates will be sent to accepted students via email.
Summer Ulpan (optional intensive Hebrew language course): August-September, 2021; check the academic calendar for exact dates.
Program length: Two years (four semesters); October, 2021 – June, 2023; check the academic calendar for exact dates. Students who wish to prolong their studies may enroll as M.A. Extended Year Students for an additional fee.
+ Costs & Scholarships
For financial information, see Tuition & Fees for Graduate Students.
Students enrolled in M.A. programs are eligible to receive health insurance for the duration of their program at no extra cost. Students who will be arriving early or departing late may purchase extended health insurance. See Health and Safety for more information.
The Summer Ulpan (an intensive Modern Hebrew course) is optional. Tuition for international students is US$ 2,455. Tuition for Israeli citizens is NIS 7,770. Housing is available for the Summer Ulpan for an additional fee of US$ 1,470. See Summer Ulpan Programs for more information.
Fees & Refunds
For a complete explanation of fees and refunds, see Tuition & Fees for Graduate Students.
A limited number of scholarships, based on merit or demonstrated need, are available. See Scholarships and Financial Aid for more information.
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, Amir exam score of 220 or above, or Amiram exam score of 120 or above.*
- A CV and Statement of Purpose
- Two Academic Recommendations
- Photocopy of your Passport ID page
- A Medical Form and Disclaimer Form (US citizens only)- both forms may be downloaded from the application website.
All documents may be uploaded to your application directly or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for Accepted Students page.
Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants to M.A. Programs page.
We’re happy you’ve chosen to apply to Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School. See our application guidelines or apply online now.
Questions about the Curriculum
Email Prof. Nili Wazana
Academic Head of the M.A. in the Bible and Ancient Near East
Questions about Admission, Housing, and Other Practical Matters
Email the Division of Graduate Studies
Call us: +972 2 588 3184