The study of the social, political, cultural and religious history of the Jewish people is one of the most dynamic areas of modern historical research and teaching.
At the University of Maryland, our courses range chronologically from biblical to rabbinic, from medieval to modern and contemporary. Faculty specialties include the Land of Israel in late antiquity, Italy in the early modern period, the Jews of Central Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth century, and the Holocaust. Both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, students can study such issues as the relationship of Jews and non-Jews, the changing nature of Jewish identity, how Jews have functioned as a minority group in diverse cultures in the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, and how Jews have transformed Jewish culture in response to the challenges posed by the societies in which they have lived. Students can draw on the rich resources of the University’s Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies (to which Jewish history faculty also belong) and the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, which offer courses on the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, medieval and modern Jewish philosophy, Hebrew and other Jewish literatures and film, and Israeli society, culture, and politics. Rich library holdings at the university, as well as libraries, archives, and research centers in the Washington area, make the University of Maryland an exciting place to study and do research in Jewish history.
The History Department offers an M.A. and a Ph.D. in all periods of Jewish history from antiquity to the present. We are fortunate to have faculty who cover ancient, medieval/early modern, and modern Jewish History. Faculty in many fields of general history are interested in the experience of the Jews, and they provide invaluable resources to students who focus on Jewish history. In addition, other Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies faculty also frequently participate in the education of graduate students in Jewish history.
Graduate students chose a period within Jewish history as their primary focus. At the Ph.D. level, students do a “general field” either in ancient and medieval Jewish history or in late medieval/early modern and modern Jewish history. For their “special field,” students can pick a geographic, chronological, or thematic field within their general field. For example, a student in medieval/early modern and modern Jewish history might choose American Jewish history, East European Jewish history, or Jews in early modern Europe as a special field, while a student in ancient and medieval Jewish history might choose Jews in the Roman diaspora as a special field. Students have much flexibility in choosing a special field. All Ph.D. students must choose a minor field as well, generally a field within general history that corresponds to the student’s special field. Thus a student interested in American Jewish history would choose American history as a minor field and a student interested in ancient Jewish history would study ancient Mediterranean history as a minor field. The minor field is typically satisfied by taking three graduate courses, although students may elect to take a minor field examination.
For MA: No language requirement, but students interested in the Ph.D. should work on Hebrew and other necessary languages in their fields.
For Ph.D.: For admission, advanced intermediate-level proficiency in modern Hebrew. All Ph.D. students must demonstrate proficiency in modern Hebrew and one other language necessary for their fields. The advisor may require other languages as necessary.
Students satisfy the language requirements by taking departmental language exams. See section on language exams in the Ph.D. Program page.