Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies

The program in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies (JGWS) at JTS offers students the opportunity to examine the history, literature, and culture of Jewish women and men from the perspective of gender. Course offerings focus on Jewish women’s history; rabbinic, Yiddish, and modern Hebrew literature; gender in the Bible; and other women- or gender-centered subjects. In addition, our gender-studies seminars teach students to apply a feminist approach to all the biblical and rabbinic texts they will encounter while at JTS, and to raise gender-focused questions in any of the classes they may choose to take in the course of their studies.

Students in our BA and MA programs ordinarily focus on one historical period or discipline while choosing courses from among the many areas of study taught at JTS. They will ordinarily also take complementary courses in women’s, feminist, or queer studies at neighboring institutions including Columbia University or Barnard College.

The program in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies prides itself on its commitment to combining feminist and Jewish perspectives. It encourages students to bring their creativity into their work, supports women’s scholarship, and aims to teach and promote a gendered understanding of all areas of Judaic studies. Student learning is supported by the many feminist and gender-focused activities and organizations associated with the larger nearby colleges and universities of New York City.


Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements


30 credits chosen in consultation with the program advisor, distributed as follows:

  • Six courses (18 credits) in Jewish gender and women’s studies, chosen from at least three different fields or disciplines (e.g., Jewish history, Jewish literature, Talmud and rabbinics, Midrash, ethics, Bible, education). Courses that do not have a “JGW” prefix may sometimes, with prior approval of the instructor and the advisor, be adapted for credit toward the major. 
  • Two additional courses (6 credits) in feminist, queer, or women’s studies, which may be taken at Columbia University or Barnard College, to be chosen in consultation with the advisor. Credit is not given for courses taken outside JTS when a similar course is offered at JTS.      
  • One cognate course (3 credits), to be taken at JTS in a discipline or subject directly related to the student’s chosen JGW focus, with approval of the advisor         
  • Senior/capstone seminar (3 credits, a List College course)


Master of Arts Degree Requirements


In addition to prerequisite courses and language courses required of all students in the Gershon Kekst Graduate School, 30 graduate credits are required, as follows:

  • A first-year seminar (3 credits)
  • One JGW seminar, preferably during the first year of study. This course (3 credits) may be Readings in Jewish Gender Studies or another small seminar taught by a core JGW faculty member
  • One course in feminist or queer theory (3 credits) to be taken at any of the graduate schools in the Consortium Program and chosen in consultation with the advisor
  • Four elective courses (12 credits) in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Three additional courses (9 credits) as a cognate area of concentration, selected in consultation with the advisor, from one disciplinary approach, area, or program. Courses that are cross-listed with Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies may be counted toward this cognate requirement.

Note: For cross-listed courses taken to fulfill the 12 credits of elective JGWS course, where a syllabus is not fully dedicated to a women’s or gender studies approach, students are expected to fulfill their assignments and papers by choosing gender and women’s studies themes and to submit them to the JGWS program advisor as part of the approval process.


The master’s thesis (40 to 60 pages), ordinarily on a topic in the area of the cognate concentration, is written in consultation with the program chair and advisor, and under the supervision of an approved faculty member as an advisor or co-advisor. An alternative path may be permitted for creative artists who design a project (e.g., creative writing, or visual, musical, or performance arts) and enlist an appropriate JTS faculty member as advisor. For students who intend to teach, in consultation with the program advisor and two JGW faculty members, a comprehensive examination may be individually designed and taken to fulfill the capstone requirement.