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:

  • Seven courses (21 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, gender, queer, or women’s studies, to be taken at Columbia University or Barnard College, chosen in consultation with the advisor. Credit is not given for courses taken outside JTS when a similar course is offered at JTS.
  • Senior/capstone seminar (3 credits, a List College course)

Master of Arts Degree Requirements


In addition to language courses required of all students in the Gershon Kekst Graduate School, 30 graduate credits (5000 level and above) are required:

  • Classics of the Jewish Tradition (MDS 5102 )
  • One course in feminist or queer theory (3 credits) to be taken at any of the graduate schools in the New York Theological Consortium Program and chosen in consultation with the advisor.
  • Five elective courses (15 credits) in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies at JTS.
  • Three additional courses (9 credits) as a cognate area of concentration, selected in consultation with the advisor, from one disciplinary approach, area, or on a theme.  This requirement is met in part by Bible 5011 and RLC 5025 for students who have not been exempted.

Notes: A course that does not have a JGW cross-listing may, under certain circumstances, be taken to fulfill elective JGWS courses when the teacher considers it possible to adapt the materials and/or assessments, and with approval, in advance, of the Program Chair.


The master’s thesis (40 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.