Critical Discussion


Degrees Offered:

  • BA
  • Minors*: Jewish Studies, Hebrew & Israel Studies

Program Website

Degree Requirements

Sample Four Year Plan

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* = Minors are not technically a degree, but can be pursued to supplement a bachelor's degree

The Program in Jewish Studies explores Jewish culture, history, society and thought while equipping students of all backgrounds, Jewish and non-Jewish, with a fluency in a number of the disciplines offered by the college.

With internationally acclaimed faculty engaged in cutting-edge research, the program offers an innovative and contemporary curriculum designed to provide a strong cultural foundation and to connect Jewish thought and text to action and people’s lives.

My Jewish Studies degree gave me a fantastic, well-rounded liberal arts education. The critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and comprehensive reading skills [I learned] are abilities I use on a daily basis."

— Joshua Umland, '13

Majors and minors in Jewish Studies learn how to be global citizens by studying one of the world's oldest global peoples. Whether the subject is Jewish literatures, the Holocaust, mysticism, or the diaspora, students of Jewish Studies are always considering the relationship between the Jewish experience and the conditions of the world in which Jewish communities have lived.

At CU Boulder, the Program in Jewish Studies explores these facets of Jewish life from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. With a major or minor in Jewish Studies, students will develop fundamental skills in critical thinking, comparative analysis, oral and written expression and a well-rounded perspective on the diversity of the Jewish experience.

The program reflects the core goals of Colorado’s flagship university: to provide an outstanding liberal arts education, to foster critical thought and to instill a keen appreciation of humanity’s interrelatedness and diversity.

The study of Jewish culture, society, history, and religion is, by its nature, comparative. Majors and minors will have the opportunity to take courses that explore Jewish history, modern Jewish experience in a variety of countries and cultures, Jewish literature and secular Jewish societies. Courses are often cross-listed, and offered on a wide array of topics and issues including Jewish culture, the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict, the Holocaust, gender and sexuality in Judaism, Israeli literature, the history of Yiddish culture and the cultures of Israel and Palestine.

Finally, the Program in Jewish Studies is committed to helping students acquire the professional skills they need to navigate the professional world. In addition to gaining excellent critical thinking and communication skills, students have the opportunity to pursue internships with organizations that align with their career aspirations, work closely with Jewish Studies faculty on original research projects, learn about archives and conduct archival research and study abroad.

For undergraduate students who are pursuing a degree in Jewish Studies and are interested in research or scholarly work, there are a number of opportunities beyond the classroom to work with the program’s interdisciplinary faculty or on their own:

  • Jewish Studies’ Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) “Research in Jewish Studies: How, What, Why?” offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. This program equips undergraduate students with the skills to conduct high level, independent and interdisciplinary research and synthesize their findings into a successful final project. For more informaion, visit Jewish Studies' UROP website.
  • Majors have the option to seek honors in Jewish Studies, which results in the designation of cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude at graduation. Honors work involves a senior honors thesis. The department recommends that students look into this program early as it involves securing a faculty sponsor and developing an individual project.
  • The Jewish Studies program urges students to consider completing an internship during their time as majors. The internship experience brings students' academic work and professional aspirations together by placing them in a non-profit organization, educational institution, political office, medical office or school or other site for a semester of service learning. Interested students can learn more on the Jewish Studies website.
  • In addition to the internship, Jewish Studies majors are also encouraged to participate in study abroad programs to increase cultural awareness and to bring a global perspective to their studies. Most Jewish Studies majors can satisfy some area of language proficiency requirements while abroad. Thanks to the generous support of donors, the Program in Jewish Studies offers several scholarship and grant opportunities that support study abroad experiences. Through CU, students may choose from over 350 study abroad programs and may spend from a few weeks to a full academic year abroad. Language study is a prerequisite for participation in many of the programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.
  • The Program in Jewish Studies is home to several historical archival collections in the Post-Holocaust American Judaism Collections. These collections provide students with additional opportunities to engage in Jewish Studies research and work closely with CU faculty.

The Jewish Studies major provides appropriate professional training for a number of potential professions, but especially for those considering admission to graduate or professional schools and careers in education, law, medicine, public health, journalism, business, urban planning, politics, counseling, international relations and creative writing.

To help assist in preparing students for the working world, the Program in Jewish Studies offers an internship class each semester. The Internship in Jewish Studies brings together Jewish Studies and students' professional paths by placing students in a non-profit organization, educational institution, political office, medical school or other site for a semester of service learning. Interns work 7 to 10 hours per week at their internship site, then come together for a weekly class, in which students learn about leadership, work place ethics and how Jewish Studies can inform their professional lives.

Some examples of CU student internships include constituent services with Congressman Jared Polis, public health with Gift of Life Marrow Registry, interfaith organizing with Sustainable Israeli-Palestinian Projects, community and youth education with the Boulder Jewish Community center and local synagogues and an entrepreneurship internship with Boomtown Accelerator.

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They help to bridge the gap between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

According to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in Jewish Studies and 0-5 years of experience is $38,300;
  • median salary for 10-plus years of experience, $62,100.

The Program in Jewish Studies has an extensive network of alumni who are either working or have worked in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include:

  • Chelsea Miller John ('14) recently received her Juris Doctorate from CUNY School of Law and is a Staff Attorney at Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City.
  • Paul Schirmer ('16) is pursuing a master’s degree in divinity at The Shepherds Theological Seminary in Cary, North Carolina.
  • Joshua Umland ('13) is pursuing a degree in osteopathic medicine at COMP-Northwest, Western University of Health Sciences in Lebanon, Oregon.
  • Alexis Aaeng ('16) is the Director of Lifelong Learning for Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation.