Full-Time Doctoral Degree

The full-time doctoral program of The Davidson School is designed to prepare students for senior roles as researchers, academicians, and administrators in the field of Jewish education.

The information below reviews the policies and procedures by which doctoral students in the school will be guided.

Note: The Davidson School offers a part-time doctoral program. The structure of the program is the same in scope, sequence, and structure as the full-time doctoral program, however, no funding is provided by The Davidson School.

Admissions Requirements

  • Full-time and part-time candidates for the EdD program should have a minimum of three years of full-time experience working in the field of Jewish education.
  • Candidates for the full-time doctoral program should identify an area of interest and conduct a conversation with one or two professors about research interest before applying to the school. For those candidates who at this point cannot identify an area of research, an MA program might be suitable.
  • Previous graduate-level work (e.g., a master’s degree) is suggested but not required for candidates for the full-time or part-time EdD program. However, candidates should be ready to complete prerequisites. These courses will be determined by the candidate’s advisor.
  • An interview with the Admissions Committee and dean is required for all applicants to the doctoral program.


The William Davidson School accepts and reviews applications for admission and funding on a rolling basis until June 1 of each year. Applications that are not completed by June 1 will not be reviewed. It is in the applicant’s best interest to apply as early as possible as space in the class does fill up. Matriculated students are only admitted in the fall. 

An applicant for admission as a degree candidate must submit the following:

  • A completed application form, together with the $65 fee
  • An official transcript of academic records from all colleges and universities previously attended
  • Official scores of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be academic references
  • Two academic writing samples that reflect the candidate’s writing and research skills

One of the most important skills a doctoral student must have is the ability to write clearly. Please submit two writing samples that you feel represent your skills as a researcher and writer. If you have earned an academic degree in the last 10 years, please submit two academic papers written for that degree. If you have been out of school for more than 10 years, please see the list below for some examples of what you might want to submit. Please submit one item from List A and one from List B, or two from List B. Both pieces should be substantial works, directed at an adult audience, and written by you in the last 10 years.

List A:

  • Curriculum or teacher’s guide
  • Classroom report
  • Parent newsletter
  • Other field-based work

List B:

  • Published article
  • Original research paper with citations, on the topic of your choice, to be approved by the director of admissions (at least 10 pages)

Students accepted to the doctoral program must possess substantial, graduate-level knowledge in both education and Judaica. This can be demonstrated through a master’s degree or other equivalent academic work. In some cases, students may be able to make up for deficiencies in these areas through additional course work taken while enrolled in the doctoral program. An interview with the Admissions Committee and dean is required.


Students may receive generous fellowships that will cover tuition costs (excluding fees, special tuition fees, health insurance, late fees, penalties, etc.) and may also receive a generous living stipend.

A student’s fellowship and living stipend may be renewed for up two additional years after the first-year review, provided the student remains in good standing.

Occasionally, students are admitted to the traditional doctoral program on a part-time basis. These students do not receive fellowship funds and their program of study is developed in consultation with the Dean’s Office.


Fellowships for the full-time doctoral program provide the following benefits:

  • Full tuition for three years of course work
  • A living stipend for five years
  • Half of the fellowship awarded at the beginning of each semester
  • Carrying and completing a full course load (minimum 12 credits) each semester until course work is completed
  • Devoting eight hours per week to research and/or service projects designed to further graduate education


The fellowship is renewed for up to three years providing the student remains in good standing and in compliance with this agreement and the policies of The William Davidson School, and there are funds available.

JTS announces new tuition rates and fees each academic year, and students’ contributions, as well as the fellowship (if extended) are adjusted to reflect the changes.

The William Davidson School website specifies grade requirements regarding academic standing and academic probation.

Upon graduation, any student who has received fellowship monies is required to work in a Jewish educational setting for a comparable number of years.

It is the student’s responsibility to either accept or decline JTS health insurance each semester. If the health insurance is accepted, it is the student’s responsibility to pay for it. If health insurance is waived but the student is negligent in declining it, The William Davidson School is not in any way responsible for paying for it.

All student fees and fines for late registration are the responsibility of the student throughout the course of study.

All students are required to provide information about any other funding they receive for the period of this fellowship. Failure to do so may jeopardize fellowship status. The Fellowship Committee reserves the right to reduce the size of the award in cases where the fellow has received another grant.

Permission from the dean of the school is required if the student intends to seek part-time employment while holding a Davidson School fellowship. Failure to obtain such permission may jeopardize the fellowship.

Students must register as JTS students each semester until the degree is conferred. This is true even after course work is complete. Failure to register results in additional penalty fees, and may result in dismissal from the program.

In the doctoral dissertation, the student is expected to include the following acknowledgment: “This dissertation was made possible in part by funds granted by Mr. William Davidson (z”l). The statements made and the views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.”

Program Requirements 

Once students are enrolled, they receive a letter welcoming them to the program. It specifies, if needed, the course requirements (prerequisites) beyond the general requirements for the doctorate in Jewish Education. It also includes the name of the student’s program advisor. This advisor assists the student in developing a program of study that addresses the student’s research interests and doctoral-degree requirements. While the Davidson School faculty values the work experience of doctoral candidates in education and related fields, it is not the policy of the school to give course credit for such experiences.


A candidate must complete all requirements for the doctoral degree, including courses, comprehensive examination, and the submission of the dissertation no more than seven years from the date of formal admission to the program. In most cases, students take courses during the first two to three years, study for the comprehensive examination during the third or fourth year, write the proposal, and dedicate the last years to research and writing of the dissertation.

The dean regularly reviews student files to ascertain that appropriate progress is being made toward the completion of degree requirements. However, candidates engaged in the writing of the dissertation may apply in writing to the dean for an extension, which ordinarily cannot exceed two years.


As a rule, two consecutive academic years of full-time residence are required of all students in the full-time doctoral program. Full-time residence demands that advanced study, including research and service projects, be the student’s principal responsibility. Students in full-time residence may engage in outside employment only with the permission of the dean of the school.

After the first semester of residence, but no later than the beginning of the third semester, the candidate, with the assistance of the program advisor, completes a program plan that details the student’s projected course of study to satisfy requirements for the EdD degree.

This plan includes:

  • Courses at JTS, Union Theological Seminary, Teachers College, and courses transferred from other institutions.
  • Proposed research and field experiences required, taking into consideration the candidate’s professional and academic goals. Each student’s program plan must be submitted to the dean and will be reviewed by the doctoral committee and signed by the candidate, the advisor, and the dean.

Courses of Study

Hebrew Language: All entering students must take the Hebrew placement examination. In order to receive the doctoral degree, students must demonstrate a proficiency in Hebrew language equivalent to Hebrew 5303 (advanced Hebrew). Students must register for Hebrew every semester that they are in residence until this level of proficiency is attained. 

Judaica (15 credits): Students are required to take at least five advanced graduate-level courses in Judaica beyond the MA. (These do not include any prerequisite courses indicated in the student’s letter of acceptance.) 

Education (27 credits): Courses will be selected in consultation with the program advisor and dissertation advisor, and should reflect a balance among the following areas: history and philosophy of education, curriculum and instruction, and administration and supervision. 

Research Methods (12 credits): Doctoral students are expected to attain competence in understanding and conducting research through the completion of at least three semester-long courses in statistics, research methodology, and research design, to be selected in consultation with the dissertation advisor. Taking three research methods courses, students will gain an understanding of educational research and develop facility in applying research skills through enrollment in three types of courses and seminars, as well as through their involvement in research projects related to their work in The Davidson School.

Electives (9 credits)

Study at Other Institutions 

All matriculated students in The Davidson School may take courses offered through the consortium agreement with Teachers College Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. Students must receive approval from their advisor and register for these classes through JTS. 

Students may transfer credits for graduate-level courses taken at non-consortium institutions of higher learning with the permission of their academic advisor. They 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 academic degree will not be considered. No credit will be accepted for transfer from courses in which a grade lower than B was earned.

  • Students are able to transfer up to 15 appropriate, relevant graduate credits from any recognized institution of higher learning.
  • Students are able to transfer up to 27 appropriate, relevant graduate credits from schools such as Teachers College, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, and American Jewish University.


Summer Study 

JTS courses offered during Summer Sessions may be used to fulfill program requirements in Jewish studies and related fields. These classes are covered by the student’s tuition. For information and application forms, contact the Summer Sessions Office at (212) 678-8886.

First-Year Review

The candidacy of all first-year doctoral students will be reviewed during their second semester of residence. The doctoral committee and the dean will review the progress the student has made to date and assess the student’s potential to complete the degree. Occasionally a review may result in a recommendation to terminate the student’s candidacy in the program.


Comprehensive Examination

Upon completion of course work, doctoral candidates are required to take a written and oral comprehensive examination. Doctoral students taking the comprehensive examination will now use the following revised procedure and the list of readings that are appended to The Davidson School’s Handbook for Doctoral Students.


  • The exam will consist of a two-part take-home exam.
  • Students will have 10 days to complete the exam.
  • Page limits will be specified for each question.
  • The General exam will consist of three questions determined in the manner described above.
  • The Specific exam will now consist of two questions determined in the manner described above.
  • Students will work with their advisors to choose a set of 45 to 60 readings from the General List.
  • The readings are divided into 11 areas. Students must choose some readings from all areas, but the choices need not be perfectly balanced. It is the responsibility of the advisor to make sure that the student has chosen a varied-enough list.
  • In a case in which the student’s Specific list is the same as one of the categories in the General list (e.g., if a student chooses Moral Education as his or her Specific area), the student will not be responsible for that area on the General exam.


Proposal for Research and Dissertation

Upon approaching completion of all courses and comprehensive examinations, the candidate:

  • Formally selects a dissertation advisor from among the faculty members in the area of Jewish Education and requests approval from the dean.
  • With the guidance of the dissertation advisor, develops an appropriate dissertation topic and proposal.
  • Presents a preliminary version of the proposal.

When the advisor approves the written proposal, a hearing is scheduled with the dissertation committee.


The proposal is presented to the dissertation committee. Committee members must receive copies of the proposal at least two weeks before the committee hearing. After the hearing, the student will receive written notice as to whether the proposal is accepted or rejected, along with a summary of the issues that the committee suggests the student address. A copy of the letter must be filed with the dean. After the proposal has been vetted, two final copies are to be given to The Davidson School Office; one is to be kept in the student’s file, and the other is to be kept in the communal proposal bank.


Once the proposal is approved by the committee, the candidate is ready for the research and writing of the dissertation. 

The dissertation is written under the direct guidance of the candidate’s dissertation advisor and a second member of the faculty, selected by the advisor and the student with the approval of the dean. The committee will consist of at least five members. In most cases, the dissertation committee includes the same individuals who were on the proposal hearing committee, but in certain cases changes in the makeup of the final dissertation committee can be made. The dissertation committee includes two outside readers—one from another institution and one from a different area (e.g., Talmud and Rabbinics, Jewish History, etc.) at JTS. The committee will be selected by the dean, the advisor, and the student.


After approval by the advisor and the second reader, a dissertation defense is scheduled through the Office of the Dean. A student must apply for permission to defend the dissertation during the registration period of the semester in which he or she plans to defend. Copies of the approved dissertation must be submitted to the Office of The Davidson School for distribution to the members of the committee at least four weeks before the defense. 

The dissertation committee may approve the dissertation as submitted, accept it with minor or major revisions, or reject it. If major revisions are required, a subcommittee will be appointed by the dissertation committee chair, in consultation with the dean, to review the revised dissertation. Rejection of a dissertation automatically terminates the student’s participation in the program. 

After final approval by the dissertation committee or the subcommittee, the dissertation shall be prepared in final form for deposit at least six weeks before commencement. Guidelines for the preparation and deposit of doctoral dissertations are available in The Davidson School Office.


Special Registration Categories

Once students complete their course work, they must register for Special Registration Categories.


Transfer Credits

Students may transfer credits for graduate-level courses taken at non-consortium institutions of higher learning with the permission of the academic advisor. They 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 academic degree will not be considered. No credit will be accepted for transfer from courses in which a grade lower than B was earned.

  • Students are able to transfer up to 15 appropriate, relevant graduate credits from any recognized institution of higher learning.
  • Students are able to transfer up to 27 appropriate, relevant graduate credits from schools such as Teachers College, Columbia University, Union Theological Seminary, and American Jewish University.