The Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

Students admitted to the NEJS Ph.D. program are admitted to specific programs within the department. These are: Bible and Ancient Near East (BANE), Arabic and Islamic civilizations (AIC), and Jewish studies (JS). Movement from one program to the other is generally discouraged and is dependent upon a student's meeting the requirements for admission into that program and acceptance by that program's faculty. Movement from one adviser to another within a program is likewise dependent upon the consent of the new adviser.

The Residence Requirement and Program of Study
Three years of full-time residence are required at the normal rate of at least seven term courses each academic year. Students who enter with graduate credit from other recognized institutions may apply for a maximum of one year of credit (seven term courses) toward the residence requirement on the recommendation of the departmental advisor in consultation with the student's advisor.

By March 1 of the second year, a student will submit a research paper of at least twenty pages analyzing primary and secondary sources to two NEJS professors for approval. The readers are to be selected by the Graduate Advising Head in consultation with the Chair of the Department. This may be a paper written originally for a NEJS course or one based on such a paper. This paper must be approved for continuation in the graduate program.

Teaching Requirement
As part of the graduate training program in NEJS, all Ph.D. students are required to fulfill five, semester-length teaching fellow or research assignments during the first four years of their programs, serving as apprentices to faculty mentors who provide feedback to their mentees.

Students should also discuss with their advisors the desirability of taking courses at member institutions of the Boston Consortium.

Students are assigned advisers from the NEJS department in the program to which they were admitted. Students must meet with their adviser(s) regularly, and before enrolling in courses, to ensure appropriate course coherency. The programs for each graduate area may be found in the departmental office and are posted on the departmental web site.

Funding and Annual Evaluation
Scholarships and fellowships are generally renewable for four additional years, based on a favorable annual evaluation by each student's professors by May of each academic year. These evaluations will be shared with the students and will be part of the official file, along with grades. Additionally, University Dissertation Fellowships are available on a university-wide competitive basis for the final year.

Language Requirements
Students are required to demonstrate competence in primary and secondary research languages, according to the requirements of their specific programs.

Normally students in Jewish studies are required to establish competence in modern Hebrew and two secondary research languages, typically French and German.

Students in the joint PhD in NEJS and Sociology are required to establish competence in modern Hebrew and statistics.

Students in the Bible and Ancient Near East concentration (BANE) must establish competence in biblical Hebrew, Akkadian, Northwest Semitic Languages, and two secondary research languages (normally German and French); in addition, students focusing on Bible must establish competence in modern Hebrew as a research language. Depending on the program, competence in primary languages is demonstrated through doctoral exams or separate examination by advisors. Competence in secondary languages is demonstrated through examination by advisors. Additional languages may be required as necessary for research in each individual candidate's program, as determined by their field.

Students in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations normally must establish competence in Arabic and two secondary research languages, usually French and German.  Students focusing on Judaism in the Islamic world will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in Hebrew. 

Candidates are not normally admitted to the Ph.D. program in Jewish studies, including modern and American Jewish studies, until they demonstrate reading knowledge of modern Hebrew. Students who require additional work in this area should apply for the Degree of Master of Arts in NEJS.

Comprehensive Examinations
All candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to pass several comprehensive examinations. Specific requirements vary from program to program. Details may be obtained from the department office. In the semester in which students plan to take their qualifying examinations, they may sign up for reading courses with the members of the faculty who will participate in those examinations.

Dissertation Proposal
After successfully completing all qualifying examinations and language requirements, students must submit their dissertation proposal to the department faculty by the end of the third year or the beginning of the fourth year (by the beginning of the fifth year for students in the program in Bible and Ancient Near Eastern studies), after first obtaining the approval of their dissertation director and the other two members of the dissertation reading committee. Proposals should be up to six pages in length, plus bibliography. They should contain a clear articulation of the topic with rationale, a summary of current research in its area, its intended contribution to scholarship, methodology, sources, structure and table of contents, preliminary bibliography and any other relevant material. Additional information about the proposal is available in the department office.

Dissertation and Defense
The dissertation, ordinarily between 250 and 400 pages in length, must demonstrate the candidate's thorough mastery of the field and competence in pursuing independent research; it must also constitute an original contribution to knowledge. Two copies of the dissertation are to be deposited in the office of the program chair no later than March 1 of the year in which the candidate expects to earn the degree. The student must successfully defend the dissertation at a final oral examination.

For more information, go to the University Bulletin, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and select Requirements for the Degree.