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Major and Minor


The Hebrew Language and Literature Program of the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies offers instruction in Hebrew language and literature and in the teaching of Hebrew language. The Hebrew program is the largest in the United States, averaging 600 students per year and offering a range of 40 courses. Our program allows students to acquire an advanced level of proficiency and a strong background in Hebrew culture and literature. Courses are taught by faculty whose fields of specialization include biblical studies, post-biblical and Talmudic literature, modern Hebrew literature and culture, Hebrew language and Hebrew language education.

Undergraduate students are welcome to participate in the Hebrew program as majors, minors or to simply take individual courses, as well as to fulfill university language requirements. An undergraduate major in Hebrew will prepare students for graduate school and professions in education, business, journalism, diplomacy and other fields.

How to Become a Major

Students who wish to major in Hebrew must complete the language requirement no later than by the end of their second year at Brandeis. In addition, they must complete the following three prerequisites:

  • Any fourth-semester Hebrew course excluding, HBRW 41a. Exemptions will be granted only to those students who place out on the basis of the Hebrew placement test administered by the Hebrew program at Brandeis.
  • One course in classical Hebrew: HBRW 122a, 122b, or NEJS 10a.
  • One course in modern Hebrew literature: HBRW 123a, 123b, 143a, or 143b. Any course taken to fulfill the prerequisites may not count toward the major. Students are required to meet with the undergraduate advising heads in NEJS and Hebrew to develop a course of study in order to fulfill the program requirements and personal interests.

Requirements for the Major

The major consists of seven semester courses, which may not overlap with courses taken to fulfill the language requirement and additional prerequisites. These seven courses are to include the following:

  1. NEJS 5a (Foundational Course in Judaic Studies).
  2. Two Advanced Composition and Grammar Study. HBRW 161b (Israel Today: Advanced Conversation and Writing) and HBRW 167b (The Revival of Modern Hebrew).
  3. Two NEJS courses (in addition to those courses listed above) with at least one from each of the following categories:
    • Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew: NEJS 10a, 25a, 110b, 111b, 114a, 114b, 115a, 117b, 118b, 121b, 122b, 123b, 126a, 126b, 127b and 170a.
    • Modern Hebrew literature: NEJS 177a, 174a, 174b, 178a and 180b.
  4. At least one additional elective from the following courses: HBRW 121a, 121b, 123a, 123b, 141a, 143a or 143b, 144a, 146a, 164b, 166b, 168a, 168b, 170a or any of the NEJS courses listed above.
  5. Either HBRW 97a or b (Senior Essay) or HBRW 99a and b (Senior Thesis--a two-semester course) count toward the eight required courses; the essay or thesis must be written in Hebrew. Candidates for departmental honors must have a 3.50 GPA in Hebrew courses prior to the senior year.

Requirements for the Minor

The minor consists of a sequence of five semester courses in Hebrew, two of which may be taken at other universities. At least one of the five courses must be a writing-intensive course in Hebrew.

  1. One course in modern Hebrew literature: HBRW 123a, 123b, 143a, 143b, NEJS 174a, 174b, 177a, 178a, or 180b.
  2. One course in biblical or rabbinic Hebrew: HBRW 122a, 122b, NEJS 10a, 25a, 110b, 111b, 114b, 115a, 117b, 118b, 121b, 122b, 123b, 126a, 126b, 127b, or 170a.
  3. Three additional courses selected from the following: HBRW 41a, 44b, 49b, 121a, 121b, 123a, 123b, 141a, 143a or 143b, 144a, 146a, 161b, 164b, 166b, 167b, 168a, 168b, 170a, or any of the NEJS courses listed above.
  4. HBRW 123a, 123b, 143a, 143b, if used to fulfill the requirement for section A, cannot be counted for the requirement in section C.
  5. HBRW 123a, 123b, 143a, 143b, 146a, 161b, 164b, 166b, 167b, 170a may satisfy the writing intensive requirement. Not all of the courses are given in any one year. Please consult the Course Schedule each semester. Courses that satisfy the requirement in a particular semester are designated "wi" in the Course Schedule for that semester. Students may double count these courses for requirements in sections A-D.
  6. By department rule, a maximum of two semester course credits taken at other universities may be accepted toward the minor in Hebrew language and literature. Each course transferred from another university must have the approval of the Hebrew program in order to be accepted for credit toward the minor requirements. This rule applies to courses completed at any other institution, whether in the United States or abroad. Students are encouraged to seek advance approval from the Hebrew program advisor for all courses intended for transfer credit. For courses taken in Israeli universities, one Brandeis semester credit will be given for a three-hour-per-week one-semester course; a two-semester, two-hour-per-week course; or two two-hour, one-semester courses. Credit is not granted for Ulpan courses.

Students are encouraged to declare their interest in a Hebrew minor by the end of their junior year.