The program is designed to prepare students to do research and teach in Jewish studies, broadly defined as the study of the historical, philosophical, and religious experience of Jewish cultures and their dialogue with the non-Jewish world. Upon entrance students are expected to design a track of courses suited to their interests by consulting with the appropriate faculty member in the field.
The course of study can be historically based with a specific focus on Late Antiquity, Medieval, Early Modern or Modern periods or take an interdisciplinary, tradition-traversing approach to the religious formations. Another course of study can be theoretically or thematically defined and explore specific questions and/or periods. Areas of inquiry might include Jewish difference, Jewish thought and mysticism, gender and sexuality, philology, as well as the intersection between Jewish culture and the arts. This approach will involve working with at least two faculty members in the field, and more broadly in the department. It may also invite perspectives in comparative religion. Students will be expected to become conversant in theories and methods in the contemporary academy, first and foremost in religious studies, and to fulfill all the general requirements of the Ph.D. program in Religion.
Aside from courses offered in the Department of Religion on these subjects, students are encouraged take courses in Jewish Studies in other departments including MESAAS, Anthropology, History, Philosophy, Art History, and other disciplines, as well as at The Jewish Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary. In addition, doctoral candidates may take advantage of the wide range of courses accessible through the tri-state consortium at NYU, CUNY, Princeton, and Yale.