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Why Major in NEJS?


The Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) was founded in 1953 and has been a leader in the field since its foundation. Today, the department houses a prestigious and broad faculty that teaches in a wide range of disciplines.

Offerings in Ancient Akkadian literature, the Hebrew Bible, Christianity, Islam, Rabbinic literature, medieval Judaism, European Jewish Thought and History, Jewish Education, Sephardi and Middle Eastern Jewry, Modern Hebrew Literature, Israel, the Middle East or American Jewry, prepare majors go on to a wide range of careers including community organizing, secular and religious education, academia, political consulting, writing and entertainment, business, law and medicine.

NEJS supports three tracks, each with its own requirements: Judiac Studies, Bible and Ancient Near East, and Hebrew.  The Judaic Studies track exposes students to the multifaceted experience of the Jewish people, including its history, religion, and literature, and allows for specialization in different approaches and periods. The Bible and Ancient Near East track teaches the history, languages, literatures and cultures of the Ancient Near East, including Ancient Israel.  The Hebrew Language track is designed to enable students to become proficient in Modern Hebrew language.

Several NEJS faculty members are core members of separate majors such as Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, and the interdepartmental programs in Women's and Gender Studies and Religious Studies. The major also encompasses many courses in Early Christianity, Classical Islam and the Modern Middle East offered by its faculty members. Courses offered through other departments can also be counted toward the major.

Benefits of the Brandeis NEJS major include:

A World-Class Faculty

The NEJS major at Brandeis allows you the opportunity to study with the scholars who are the foremost experts in the world in their field. Our internationally renowned faculty has published dozens of books and hundreds of articles.

Intellectual Diversity

NEJS represents a wide variety of areas, approaches and methodologies, including literature, philology, history, sociology, law, religious studies, gender studies, Ancient Near Eastern religions and Judaism, and Islamic and Christian studies. Students can study texts in original languages including Hebrew, Arabic, Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Greek, Hittite, Akkadian and Ugaritic.

Breadth and Depth

The wide offerings of the NEJS department are unmatched by other nondenominational American institutions. NEJS offers students unparalleled exposure to the field, including broad synthetic courses and highly specialized ones that allow students to engage at the cutting edge of the field. 

Special Programs

Brandeis is one of the few universities outside of Israel that offers an extensive program in Israel Studies.

Career Support

The Office of Career Services helps to identify opportunities, design an effective resume and prepare for interviews. Graduates with B.A.s from NEJS are accepted into the finest doctoral programs, and have engaged in a variety of careers in the public and private sector.

Library Resources

Library resources include the Goldfarb Library, which has a current, nationally recognized collection of exceptional strength in most areas of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, including a large paper collection and relevant electronic databases. In addition, the Boston Library Consortium allows graduate students to use books in major libraries throughout the area. Brandeis is within easy commuting distance of some of the very best public and university libraries in the United States.

First-class training

As part of a liberal arts college, the Brandeis NEJS major emphasizes teaching and critical thinking, research and writing skills.

Dedicated Mentoring

Brandeis is a small research university with an emphasis on small classes and genuine mentorship.  Each student has the opportunity to work closely with distinguished scholars.

Senior Thesis Opportunities

Writing a thesis allows students to immerse themselves in a topic of specialized interest with the guidance of a faculty advisor. It is an ideal way to "test the waters" for graduate work.  The senior thesis provides an excellent opportunity to explore in greater depth subjects students encountered in their NEJS courses.

Internship Opportunities

Internships are supervised work experiences enabling students to think critically and sharpen skills, develop career interests and employer contacts, assess their strengths, and connect classroom theories to practice in real world settings.

Connected Institutes and Centers

Brandeis is home to a wide array of Jewish Studies centers and institutes that provide programming, promote research and scholarship, and offer opportunities for involving students in their work. These include The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, The Crown Center for Middle East Studies, The Feminist Sexual Ethics Project, Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program, The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, The Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education, The National Center for Jewish Film, The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, and The Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry.


Brandeis students partake of the rich intellectual and cultural environment of the Boston area—from a plethora of events at area universities to the array of museums and other institutions in metropolitan Boston. It facilitates cross-registration in courses offered by different institutions, and publicizes seminars, talks and other events of interest to students.