Primary Faculty

Sylvia Fishman

Doctoral Programs

Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

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The Joint Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Sociology

Program of Study
Students must complete a total of twenty-one courses. At least nine courses must be taken within the NEJS Department, and at least nine courses must be taken within the Sociology Department. In the Sociology Department, students must take four graduate seminars and four other sociology courses, PLUS Sociology 240a (Approach to Social Research Proseminar) which is taken EACH semester of coursework. In NEJS, students in their first year are required to participate in the NEJS Graduate Proseminar, a year-long, noncredit proseminar that introduces NEJS faculty and their research interests and methods required to participate in a weekly for-credit graduate Proseminar (NEJS 231a) during the fall semester and a biweekly noncredit Proseminar in the spring. Students in the Joint Degree program must complete a social science theory class, and also an appropriate course in quantitative methods. The remaining courses are open to student choice with the approval of the student's advisors.

Students are assigned advisers from the sociology department and from the NEJS department. Both advisers will work with the student to assure appropriate course coherency. An interdepartmental meeting between both advisers and the student should take place at least once a year.

Teaching Requirement
As part of the graduate training program in NEJS, all PhD 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. In addition, the department holds an orientation program for all new students and sponsors colloquia on teaching. Their faculty mentors evaluate students' teaching fellow work each semester. Students' teaching portfolios are in part drawn from these evaluations.

Residence Requirement
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 transfer credit. By rule of the Graduate School, a maximum of one year of credit may be accepted toward the residence requirement on the recommendation of the chair of the program.

Language Requirements
Students are required to establish competence in Modern Hebrew and statistics.  Language examinations will be administered by the student's advisers and the Hebrew faculty. Candidates are required to establish competence in statistics by successful completion of an appropriate Brandeis course in statistics.

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

Comprehensive Examinations and Graduate Accreditation
Before proposing and writing a doctoral dissertation, students must show competence in two areas of sociology through the Sociology graduate requirement process, pass a two-part written comprehensive examination in Jewish cultural literacy in the NEJS department, and pass an oral major field examination.

Candidates demonstrate Jewish cultural literacy in a two-part written examination, which has English and Hebrew components, and a follow-up oral examination. The Hebrew examination in primary sources is part of the cultural literacy examination. This examination gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their broad general knowledge of Jewish literature and cultures of the biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and early modern periods. The oral examination provides opportunity for further exploration following the written examination. Following the successful completion of the Jewish cultural literacy examinations, candidates demonstrate their particular field of expertise in contemporary Jewish societies through the oral major field examination.

The GAC is the sociology department equivalent to comprehensive examinations. Students elect two sociological areas of interest and, with the appropriate faculty member, create a contract delineating requirements for the completion of a portfolio in the specific area. The portfolio can include such items as completed courses, papers, independent readings, or bibliographies. Faculty advisers suggest readings, written work, or independent studies. When the GAC requirement is completed, there will be a comprehensive meeting to discuss the candidate's interests and direction in the field and the upcoming dissertation.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination
Students should confer with their Sociology adviser concerning Sociology requirements.

A dissertation proposal should be submitted to the dissertation committee soon after the comprehensive examinations and Sociology requirements are completed. The dissertation committee should consist of five members: two each from the sociology and the NEJS departments and a fifth member from outside those departments. After approval of the proposal by the dissertation committee, the proposal is submitted to the department faculties for approval. Two copies of the dissertation are to be deposited in the offices of the program chairs no later than March 1 of the year in which the candidate expects to earn the degree. The dissertation committee must approve the dissertation and the student must successfully defend the dissertation at a final oral examination.