Area of Focus
  • Humanities
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Humanities
  • History

Program Overview

Jewish Studies at UC Santa Cruz is an intellectually compelling, interdisciplinary program that makes it possible for students to achieve an extraordinary depth and breadth of learning about Jewish history and culture. From the social history of ancient Israel to the comparative study of modern Jewish cultures, our courses range across three millennia and five continents, with particular emphasis on the dynamic histories of Jews in the world's great cities. We also offer courses in Hebrew and Yiddish, modern Jewish history, the history of Zionism, the Hebrew Bible, an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Holocaust, Middle Eastern and North African Jewish history, Latin American Jewish history, the history of Jewish radicalism, anti-Semitism and the American legal system, along with the history of Israel. UC Santa Cruz is one of the very few campuses in California where undergraduates have the opportunity to major in Jewish Studies

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Learning Experience

Students have the opportunity to participate in the UCSC Center for Jewish Studies Summer Fellowship with with Digital Heritage Mapping. Fellows use digital mapping and database technologies to virtually preserve and ensure untrammeled access to endangered Jewish heritage sites across North Africa and the Middle East. Fellows are based in either Santa Cruz or New York City and receive a sizable stipend.

Students also contribute to UC Santa Cruz's venerable magazine Leviathan, the longest-running college newspaper devoted to reporting and commentary on Jewish subjects.

Jewish Studies students participate in a lively series of special events throughout the academic year. Every lecture by a distinguished visiting scholar, and every conference on a particular aspect of Jewish history or culture, is tied to a specific Jewish Studies course. There is a genuine community of learning, a partnership between professors and students as they explore the most exciting new trends in the field of Jewish Studies.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

High school students planning to major or minor in Jewish Studies at UC Santa Cruz need no special preparation other than the high school courses necessary for UC admission. Some background courses in history and Hebrew language are helpful but not essential.


Transfer Requirements

Transfer students are enthusiastically encouraged to major or minor in Jewish Studies at UCSC! Requirements may be completed within two years, even if you haven’t completed any preparatory Jewish Studies coursework prior to transferring. Some background in history and in literary analysis and interpretation is desirable, but not essential. Preparatory work in art history, philosophy, or politics, depending on the student’s interests, may also be useful. This is a non-screening major.

While it is not a condition of admission, students from California Community Colleges are advised to complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UCSC.


Learning Outcomes

Jewish History and Culture

Identify and interpret major events, figures, and topics in Jewish history and culture.


Demonstrate knowledge of the Holocaust as a historical phenomenon.

Develop an understanding of the cultural dimensions of the Holocaust through an analysis of literature, films, art, and/or music.

Jewish Languages

Develop competency in Hebrew or Yiddish.

Critical Analysis

Distinguish between primary and secondary sources.

Evaluate competing interpretations and multiple narratives of the past.

Analyze Jewish cultural sources, including literary texts, films, and music within a broader, cross-cultural context.

Effective Communication

Present clear and compelling arguments and effectively communicate interpretations in written essays and/or other media.

Student with books

Internships and Career Opportunities

In addition to knowledge of history, geography, language, and culture, Jewish Studies majors develop many skills valued by employers, including: critical thinking, research, writing, problem solving, communication, and interpersonal skills. Depending on their interests, values, and experience, students who major in Jewish Studies may find employment in a variety of fields and sectors, including education, media/communications, community/social services, entrepreneurship, research, arts/design, consulting, marketing, sales, healthcare services, law, human resources, information technology, and finance.

Program Contact



apartment Humanities 1, room 201
phone (831) 459-3701