Jewish Studies and Social Work

The Jewish Professional Leadership program is the umbrella for the dual-degree program through the Gershon Kekst Graduate School of JTS and Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW). This dual-degree program prepares students for professional leadership careers in the Jewish community. Students are admitted to both schools and attend them concurrently. Upon completion of the program, students receive both an MA in Jewish Studies from JTS and an MS in Social Work from Columbia.

Students participate in an integration seminar that allows them to explore the intersection of their two master’s degrees as well as other relevant issues in the Jewish community. Some examples of previous topics covered in the seminar are the role of the professional in the Jewish community, issues of diversity in the Jewish community, and community building.

Visionary faculty and Jewish communal professionals created the program more than 30 years ago with a goal still important today: to provide future Jewish communal professional leaders with the essential knowledge, skills, and experience to meet the challenge of building Jewish community in an increasingly complex world.

The curriculum at the Gershon Kekst Graduate School emphasizes an academic approach to Jewish studies. Students study Jewish history, tradition, and culture with JTS’s esteemed faculty. Through elective courses, students can take advantage of the full spectrum of study available at JTS.

Program Requirements

Students are required to take a minimum of 72 credits in total.

At JTS, a minimum of 27 credits are taken, to which 6 credits are transferred from Columbia University’s School of Social Work (CSSW). In order to fulfill the Kekst Graduate School and program requirements, a student may also need to take additional prerequisite Hebrew-language courses.

At CSSW, a minimum of 45 credits must be completed—depending on the method of concentration. Field work is an integral part of the total educational experience at CSSW, providing students opportunities to use the theoretical content learned in courses.

 JTS Course Requirements

  • Graduate-Level First Year Seminar (one course, 3 credits)
  • American Jewish Social History (one course, 3 credits)
  • Contemporary Jewish Issues (one course, 3 credits)
  • Jewish Ethics (one course, 3 credits)
  • Hebrew Bible (one course, 3 credits)
  • Classics of the Jewish Tradition (one course, 3 credits)
  • Rabbinic Texts (one course, 3 credits)
  • Liturgy (one course, 3 credits)
  • Elective course approved by the advisor (one course, 3 credits)
  • Jewish Professional Leadership Seminar (annual, noncredit)

 Additional Requirements for Graduation

The social work program at CSSW provides an integrated course of study that offers a combined approach of classroom and field instruction. Depending on their particular interests, students are admitted into one of four different method areas (listed below). Depending on the area of concentration, students must complete a minimum of 45 credits. In order to meet the requirements of any of these method areas, students must take the practice courses in the core sequence, four terms of field work, and the required background courses. Jewish Professional Leadership students are exempt from taking T660A: Human Behavior and Social Environment and the second-year field-practice core course requirements. 

  • Social Enterprise Administration: emphasizes building knowledge, skills, and values in administering programs
  • Advanced Generalist Practice and Programming: emphasizes direct practice, community practice, movement from case to cause, development of innovative and responsive social programs, and program resources
  • Policy Practice: emphasizes policy analysis and advocacy
  • Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice: emphasizes assessment, intervention, and evaluation within a field of practice

 Program Highlights


Students participate in a seminar that focuses on different aspects of their work in the Jewish community and synthesizes what they are learning at JTS and CSSW. Speakers and case presentations bring ideas, ethics, and social responsibility to life. Students participate in planning the topics and themes for the seminar.


The program can be completed in as little as two years, but may take up to three years. The length of time depends on the student’s requirements at JTS (often based on the level of Hebrew proficiency upon enrolling) and method of concentration at CSSW.


Prospective students interested in Jewish Professional Leadership must apply to both JTS and CSSW. Contact Admissions at (212) 678-8022 or to learn more.