Master of Arts Program
The MA is designed to prepare students from diverse backgrounds to become Jewish educators. Students design their course of study by choosing one of two areas of concentration: Day School Teaching or Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings. The program accommodates full- and part-time students and online learners. All students admitted to the MA program enroll in a core curriculum that provides a solid grounding in Judaica and education.
The Davidson School accepts and reviews applications for admission and merit fellowships on a rolling basis. The priority application and fellowship deadline is March 1 of each year. It is in the applicant's best interest to apply as early as possible because space in the class fills up—and funding, though merit-based, is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Full-time matriculated students are only accepted in the fall. For more information about admission deadlines and fellowships, please consult the Admissions page.
An applicant for admission as a degree candidate must submit the following:
The Davidson School accepts and reviews nonmatriculation applications on a rolling basis until the beginning of each semester. It is in the applicant's best interest to apply as early as possible so that there is space remaining in courses. View the Academic Calendar 2013–2014.
Matriculated students have a priority in course registration over nonmatriculated students.
An applicant must submit the following:
The MA curriculum is designed to provide all students with a strong foundation in Judaica and education, in addition to fostering religious development and personal growth. Unless indicated, all courses are assigned three academic credits.
In order to meet graduation requirements, a student must earn a minimum of 46 credits above any course work needed to complete the Hebrew requirement and the prerequisites in Judaic Studies listed below. Requirements differ depending on the student's area of concentration. View the MA course grid (PDF).
In the first year, each MA Davidson School student is assigned a program advisor with whom the student will make decisions regarding course work, internships, and practicum placements appropriate to his or her future career goals. The different areas of the curriculum are listed below.
Upon completion of his/her studies at JTS, the student is expected to work in a Jewish educational setting for one year for each year awarded a fellowship, for a maximum of three years.
Full-time students at The Davidson School take 12 credits or more per semester. Part-time students take minimum of 6 credits per semester.
1. Foundational Courses in Jewish Education
The following courses in Judaic studies are prerequisites and do not count toward MA credit:
If a student has previously taken a comparable course for credit at an accredited college or university, the student can request to be exempted from any or all of these courses by consulting with the dean of The Davidson School or his/her advisor.
2. Hebrew Requirements
All entering students are required to take the Hebrew placement examination administered by the Hebrew Language faculty.
In order to receive their degree, students who choose the Day School Teaching concentration must demonstrate proficiency in Hebrew (speaking, reading, and writing) equivalent to the level of HEB 5301: Advanced Hebrew I. In addition, they need to take HEB 5117: Hebrew Fluency. Students concentrating in Day School Teaching are encouraged to participate in Ivriyon during one of its summer sessions.
In order to receive their degree, students who choose the Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings concentration must demonstrate proficiency equivalent to the level of HEB 5203: Intermediate Hebrew II.
3. Judaica (15 credits)
All students are required to take:
Students in the Day School Teaching concentration are required to take the following course or an equivalent as one of their electives:
Students in the other concentration may take any Judaica electives, and are not required to take Talmud electives.
4. Education (19 credits)
All students are required to enroll in the following four courses:
In addition, students in the Day School Teaching concentration and Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings concentration must take two education electives at the 5000 level (taking doctoral level courses [8000 level] requires permission of the Dean's Office).
Students are required to complete a two-semester practicum consisting of one and a half days (in the case of the Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings concentration) or two days (in the case of the Day School Teaching concentration) of fieldwork experience per week. The practicum takes place within the student's area of concentration. Practicum placements are arranged only by the faculty practicum coordinators.
Students are required to successfully complete the following courses before enrolling in the practicum of their choice.
The Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings concentration has additional courses that must be taken prior to or concurrently with the practicum, as detailed below.
6. Areas of Concentration
Students are required to choose one of the following two areas of concentration:
Day School Teaching (12 credits)
This concentration prepares students for day-school teaching positions. Students are required to take two of the following three classes:
Students are encouraged to participate in Ivriyon during one of the summers they are in residency. For more information consult the main page for Ivriyon.
During the second or third year of the program, students participate in a yearlong student-teaching placement and weekly seminar (EDU 5312–5313). This practicum, designed in collaboration with participating day schools in the metropolitan area, consists of 16 hours of fieldwork per week throughout the academic year. In conjunction with the student-teaching placement, a student is assigned a mentor and a supervisor.
Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings (12 credits)
The concentration prepares Davidson School students to become outstanding educational leaders who will serve a changing American Jewish community in the 21st century. Students in the Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings concentration make the transition from expert learners to novice professionals in a collegial setting that supports the development of relationships, exposes them to practice in the field through internships, and provides mentoring with outstanding practitioners. This concentration builds a vibrant community of practice that supports individual and collective growth, and creates an emerging cadre of reflective Jewish educational leaders.
In addition to the education courses listed above, students on the Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Congregational Settings concentration are required to enroll in:
During the second or third year of the program, students participate in a yearlong field placement and weekly seminar (EDU 5513–5514). This practicum, designed with participating organizations in the metropolitan area, consists of 12 hours of fieldwork per week throughout the academic year.
The following courses must be completed prior to the practicum:
The following courses must be completed prior to or concurrent with the practicum:
7. Graduation with Honors
In order to graduate with honors, students must fulfill the following requirements*:
*Please note that Online MA students are not eligible to complete honors thesis projects.
B (Pass with Distinction)
A (Pass with Distinction and Honor)
8. Building a Community of Educators
Big Tent Learning Minyan
Every Wednesday morning, first-year Davidson School students* assemble to learn and pray together. Prayer is one of the primary activities of Jewish engagement, and we as emerging Jewish educators need to know how to pray and transmit the traditional liturgy. In addition, we need to know what a prayer means, its history, and relevance. The Davidson School is unique in that it is comprised of students from across the spectrum of denominational affiliation. We have the opportunity to pray from multiple siddurim in order to experience the traditions and liturgies from different perspectives, and our prayer space is egalitarian. Although we will explore different modalities of prayer such as meditation and movement, our learning minyan is designed to provide students with an understanding of the rudimentary structure and flow of the Shaharit liturgy. The goal of the learning minyan is for students to become proficient in prayers as both participants and prayer leaders.
*Minyan attendance is required for all first-year, full-time education students.
Mifgash means meeting, and all full-time, first-year students are required to attend the weekly Mifgash. Mifgash takes place every Wednesday from 8:30 to 10:10 a.m., following the Davidson School Big Tent Minyan.
The Wednesday morning Mifgash sessions begin with a school tefillah at 7:45 a.m., and continue with breakfast and conversations about professional goals and aspirations at 8:30 a.m. The First-Year Mifgash series is an opportunity for the first-year students to meet as a cohort in a weekly forum for community building and reflection on what it means to be an emerging Jewish educator.
In the first semester, the focus of Mifgash is on building community, preparation for the Vision and Voices of Israel seminar, and getting comfortable in New York City. The second semester focus is on identity as a Jewish educator. Additionally, during the first semester, students focus on crafting a personal mission statement as they review their pasts in order to determine their futures as Jewish educators.
Participants in the Mifgash are awarded practicum credit hours during the year that they are enrolled in their field placement (in any of the three tracks) equivalent to the number of hours they participate in the Mifgash.
For more information about the Mifgash, contact Rabbi Jonathan Lipnick.
9. Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar
One of the greatest challenges to contemporary world Jewry is the question of the place of Israel in Diaspora Jewish identity. The Davidson School recognizes that in order to enable its students to truly grapple with the complex issues at the heart of this challenge, Israel and Zionism must be a central component in students' experiences throughout the MA program.
To that end, every first-year Davidson School student is required to spend a portion of his or her first winter-semester break in Israel. The Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar is an educational experience in Israel in which our students are confronted with the questions about Israel with which every contemporary Jewish educator must engage.
Next year's Vision and Voices of Israel Seminar begins on January 4, 2015, and ends on January 14, 2015.
The seminar has three themes woven through it:
In addition to these three themes, an underlying goal of the seminar is to build the Davidson School student community. Students and faculty work together to become a reflective, learning group of colleagues and friends, sharing wisdom, ideas, practices, hopes, and dreams with each other. The seminar requires participants to create, teach, and work together.
The seminar is based in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and in the southern and northern parts of Israel. During orientation and the fall semester, students receive more information about the program. The cost of the trip is underwritten in its entirety by The Davidson School; students pay for a few lunches and dinners during free time.
The Visions and Voices of Israel Seminar is a required part of the Davidson School curriculum for full-time students. If there are extreme extenuating circumstances that would make attendance on the trip a true hardship, students can apply to the associate dean of The Davidson School for an exemption. Students should be aware, though, that The Davidson School views the seminar attendance with utmost importance, and will only grant exemptions in exceptional circumstances.
MA in Jewish Education and MA in an Area of Jewish Studies
Davidson School students may, after their first semester of study, apply to The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary for an MA in any field of Jewish studies. (However, Davidson School students must have completed Hebrew 5203 by the time they matriculate into The Graduate School.)
A student may apply 9 credits of Judaica from a Davidson School transcript toward The Graduate School's credit requirements, subject to the approval of The Graduate School academic advisor. Likewise, students enrolled in The Graduate School (upon completion of all Graduate School prerequisites and Hebrew requirements) may apply for the MA in Jewish Education through The Davidson School, and count 9 credits of subject-area Judaica from the Graduate School transcript toward the Davidson School MA.
MA in Jewish Education and Rabbinic Ordination
In order to receive the MA in Jewish Education, rabbinical students take 18 non-duplicative education credits and complete a practicum:
Students who would like to be in the Day School Teaching concentration need to take an additional curriculum-design course instead of EDU 5559.
Students are required to complete a two-semester practicum consisting of either one and a half days (in the case of the Educational Leadership in Synagogue and Communal Settings concentration) or two days (in the case of the Day School Teaching concentration) of fieldwork experience per week. The practicum takes place within each student's area of concentration. Practicum placements are arranged only by the faculty practicum coordinators. Students receive a stipend during the two semesters of practicum.
The courses required prior to the practicum are EDU 5031: Pedagogic Skills (a requirement of The Rabbinical School), EDU 5127, and EDU 5158.
EDU 5559 and EDU 5609: Leading and Managing Jewish Nonprofit Organizations (a requirement of The Rabbinical School) can be taken concurrently with the practicum.
MA in Jewish Education and Cantorial Investiture
Cantorial students who apply for the MA in Jewish Education will be required to pass Hebrew requirements according to their concentration selection in addition to their Hebrew requirements for the H. L. Miller Cantorial School and College of Jewish Music. In order to receive the MA in Jewish Education, cantorial students must take the following 19 education credits:
Students are required to complete a two-semester practicum consisting of either one and a half days (in the case of the Educational Leadership in Synagogues and Communal Settings concentrations) or two days (in the case of the Day School Teaching concentration) of fieldwork experience per week. The practicum takes place within the student's area of concentration. Practicum placements are arranged only by the faculty practicum coordinators.
The courses required prior to or concurrent with registration for the practicum are listed above.
Additional MA Program Opportunities
Graduates of List College entering the Davidson School MA Program
Graduates of List College and American Jewish University in Los Angeles, California, are permitted to apply 3 credits of graduate-level education course work and 9 credits of graduate-level Judaica courses from the BA transcript toward the MA in Jewish Education. Each student must meet with the dean of each school and the area advisor to determine exactly what combination of elective and major credits toward the BA will be accepted for the MA, and what additional course work will be required.
Part-Time MA Students
Part-time students cover the same 46 credits of comprehensive curriculum as their full-time colleagues. Designation as a part-time student is granted upon admission, and students must take 6 credits (two courses) each semester. In rare cases, students may change status from full-time to part-time and vice versa with the permission of the Dean's Office.
Online Master's Degree
Participants in the online program cover the same 46 credits of comprehensive curriculum as their colleagues who study at our New York City campus, but take the majority of their courses via the Internet. Students are accepted into the school with an Online MA designation and are also designated as part-time students. In rare instances, in-house students may change their status to become Online MA students with the permission of the Dean's Office. In addition to online work, students take a minimum of four courses at our New York City campus. These courses may be completed over two or more intensive one-month summer sessions or during the academic year.
JTS does not offer Hebrew language online and therefore Online Learning students must take Hebrew in their home communities (either at accredited universities or with private tutors) until they reach the required Hebrew proficiency level. Students may also choose to take Hebrew onsite at JTS over the summer.
Onling Learning students receive the same generous fellowships as onsite students.
If an Online MA student is unable to take courses in a given semester because he or she has taken all the classes offered, he or she should register for continuous registration instead of registering for a leave of absence.
A student who wishes to transfer credit for graduate-level courses taken at other institutions of higher learning must submit an official transcript with complete course descriptions to the Davidson School Admissions Office, which will consult with the appropriate area of the faculty. Credits counted toward another degree will not be considered. The maximum number of credits accepted for transfer is nine (9). No credit will be accepted for transfer from courses in which a grade lower than B was earned.
All Davidson School students are eligible to take courses at Teachers College with the approval of their advisors.
Instructions for Registering at Teachers College
Register to all Teachers College (TC) courses through the JTS Office of the Registrar.
Searching for Classes:
1. Go to the Course Search Page at Teachers College.
2. Use the advanced search feature to find courses you want to take in the Course Schedule.
3. When you have decided on course(s):
4. Fill out the JTS Consortium Registration Form.
Please use a separate form for each course you are planning to take.
You need to receive approval from your advisor and Teachers College instructor.
5. Email the TC professor to introduce yourself and ask for his/her approval to take the course. He/she must send you an email approving your participation in the course, which you should forward to the JTS Office of the Registrar.
6. You should also ask for your advisor's approval to take the course and send the approval email to the Office of the Registrar.
7. The Office of the Registrar will then enroll you in the course.
After You Are Enrolled:
Once you are enrolled in TC classes, you need to follow the instructions for non–TC students to access your course content.
Courses offered during the Summer Sessions may be used to fulfill program requirements. Summer school is also open to graduate students in Jewish studies and related fields from other academic institutions. For information and application forms, contact the Summer Sessions Office at (212) 678-8886. The Davidson School's MA fellowships do not cover summer school.
Regular attendance is expected. Instructors shall have the right to stipulate attendance requirements and penalties that may be incurred as a result of failure to comply with these requirements, provided that students are informed within the first two weeks of the semester.
The grading system is as follows: A, excellent; B, good; C, fair; D, poor; F, fail. No credit will be given for grades of C- or lower.
Once a grade has been received in the Office of the Registrar, it may be changed by the course instructor only upon written application from the instructor to the dean of the school. The dean's approval is required.
Full-time graduate students are permitted to take one course per year with a grade of Pass/Fail, with the permission of the area or program advisor.
The grade R signifies that the student has attended classes and completed all course work except for the final exam and/or paper. Students must notify the Office of the Registrar, in writing, by the date stipulated in the Academic Calendar of their intention to audit. Failure to do so will mean that the course is being taken for credit. No credit will be given for courses taken for the grade R; such courses will not count toward fulfilling the requirements for the degree. Students cannot audit online courses.
With the permission of their advisor, students may withdraw from a course by the date listed in the Academic Calendar. Students are responsible for tuition payment for courses withdrawn past the deadline. The letter W will appear on the transcript in such cases. Students who discontinue attendance in a course and who fail to withdraw formally within the designated period will receive the appropriate alternate letter grade. Fellowship money does not cover these courses.
The Davidson School's Academic Probation Policy
An MA student who receives in any one semester two grades of B- or lower, or one grade of D (or below), will be placed on probation the following semester. To be restored to good standing, the student will be enrolled in the same amount of courses he or she took during the previous semester, not to exceed 12 credits for a full-time student, and not to exceed 6 credits for a part-time student.
The student may neither receive a grade lower than B- nor take an Incomplete during the probation semester. Failure to meet this standard will constitute grounds for dismissal.
No student will be permitted more than one semester of probation toward the degree, and a student whose grades put him or her on a second probation will be withdrawn from the school.
A student who earns two (2) grades of C- or below in one semester will be withdrawn from The Davidson School immediately, even after the first semester of studies.
The student will have the right to appeal in accordance with the Student Disciplinary Procedures, available in the Office of the Registrar.
The permanent transcript of a student will list each semester of academic probation.
A student who, for compelling reasons, finds it necessary to postpone the submission of required course work may petition for the grade of Incomplete (INC). The student must obtain a Request for Incomplete Form from the Office of the Registrar. This form must contain all information requested, including a description of the work to be completed and the due date, which must be before the beginning of the next semester during the fall semester. In the spring semester, outstanding coursework must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by no later than six weeks from the end of the spring final examination period.
A student can request for permission for an incomplete for only one (1) course per semester and cannot request an incomplete while they still have an unfinished Incomplete.
All outstanding course work must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the date specified in the Academic Calendar. Generally, this date is six weeks from the end of the final examination period.
The Office of the Registrar shall record that work has been submitted and provide a written receipt to the student for the work received. The Office of the Registrar will transmit the completed work to the instructor. No work should be sent or given directly to the instructor by the student. The student is advised to retain a copy of all work submitted to the Office of the Registrar.
The grade of INC shall remain on the student's transcript until a grade has been submitted by the instructor.
If a student fails to submit the outstanding work to the Office of the Registrar by the specified due date, the grade of INC will be converted to the alternate letter grade previously submitted by the instructor. This alternate grade reflects the instructor's assessment of a student's performance, taking into account the fact that work is missing. Students should be aware that the missing work may have been counted as an F (or 0) in the computation of the final grade for the course.
In special circumstances, the dean has the authority to grant an extension for the submission of overdue work as long as it is agreeable to the instructor. This extension must be sent in writing by the dean to the Office of the Registrar.
Students may not request an INC for any course during the semester of their graduation.
Absence from Final Examinations
A student who, because of illness or personal emergency, cannot be present for a scheduled final examination must inform the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible to indicate the reasons for the absence. The Office of the Registrar will inform the instructor and the dean of the student's absence. The student must arrange with the instructor for a makeup examination if the student cannot be present for the regularly scheduled makeup examination day. The instructor will inform the Office of the Registrar of the arrangement and provide the office with the exam so that it can be given to the student.
Students may not request Incompletes in advance for an in-class final examination. The student must take the makeup examination as soon as possible, but no later than the date indicated in the Academic Calendar governing the completion of outstanding work.
Leave of Absence
Students who, for compelling reasons, are unable to take courses or continue with appropriate academic progress in a particular semester may request a leave of absence from the dean and must register for a leave of absence each semester until they resume their studies.
MA students may generally not be granted a leave of absence for more than one semester; doctoral students, for not more than two semesters. During the period of leave, a student may not take an examination, written or oral; be advised by the academic advisor; or submit any part of an essay or dissertation required for the completion of a degree.