Jewish Ethics and Public Health

In this new track of the Jewish Professional Leadership Program at JTS, students earn dual degrees through both the Gershon Kekst Graduate School of JTS and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. This dual-degree program prepares students for professional leadership roles in the effective delivery and ethical evaluation of public health services within the Jewish community and beyond. Students must apply and be admitted to both schools. Upon completion of the program, students receive both an MA in Jewish Ethics from JTS and an MPH from Columbia University.

The curriculum of the Gershon Kekst Graduate School emphasizes an academic approach to Jewish Studies. Anchored in this approach, the MA in Jewish Ethics trains students in the traditional, historical, and methodological approaches to Jewish ethics through intensive text-based learning. The curriculum of the Mailman School offers a multidisciplinary approach to public health and a focus on social determinants of health across the life course . Integrating these courses of study provides graduates with the tools to identify moral issues in public health and apply Jewish ethical perspectives to them.

Program Requirements

Students are required to take a minimum of 60 credits in total.

For the MA at JTS, a minimum of 33 credits are needed, of which 9 credits are transferred from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Depending on previous exposure to Jewish studies, a student may also need to take additional prerequisite Jewish studies and Hebrew-language courses. In addition, all students are expected to participate in Jewish Professional Leadership programming.

For the MPH at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, a minimum of 42 credits are needed, to which 6 credits are transferred from the Kekst Graduate School.

JTS Course Requirements

  1. Introduction (3 credits):
    • Ethics in Jewish Tradition and Community
  2. Theory of Jewish Ethics (3 credits)
  3. Reading Jewish Texts for Ethics (9 credits)
    • One course in Hebrew Bible
    • One course in Rabbinic Text Study
    • Elective Text Course (for example, Codes, Responsa, Kabbalah, Jewish Literature)
  4. Applied Jewish Ethics (6 credits)
    • Examples given:
      • Jewish Biomedical Ethics
      • Jewish Business Ethics
      • Jewish Ecological Ethics
  5. Master’s Thesis or Elective chosen in consultation with advisor (3 credits)

 (Prerequisites: Intermediate Hebrew & Classics of the Jewish Tradition)

Length of Study

The program can be completed in two to three years. The exact length of time depends on the student’s requirements at JTS (often based on the level of Hebrew proficiency upon enrolling). 


Prospective students interested in Jewish Professional Leadership must apply to both JTS and the Mailman School of Public Health. Contact JTS Admissions at (212) 678-8022 or to learn more.