Religious Studies Major, B.A.–Jewish Studies Concentration

Department of Religious Studies

Visit Program Website

125 Carolina Hall, CB# 3225

(919) 962-5666

Ruth von Bernuth, Director for Jewish Studies

Barbara Ambros, Chair

David Lambert, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Myra Quick, Student Services Manager, Registrar

The Department of Religious Studies is dedicated to the study of religions as historical and cultural phenomena. It examines the history, texts, artifacts, beliefs, values, and rituals of a variety of religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Inherently interdisciplinary in its approach, religious studies explores religions in light of related fields in the humanities and social sciences such as anthropology, classics, archaeology, sociology, philosophy, and history.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the religious studies program, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of at least three religious traditions
  • Demonstrate knowledge of influential terms, approaches, and theories in religious studies
  • Conduct research in religious studies, including interpreting primary sources, assessing scholarly literature, and constructing original arguments
  • Clearly and effectively communicate the results of research


In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
JWST 100/RELI 123Introduction to Jewish Studies3
JWST 697Capstone Course: Themes and Methodologies in Jewish Studies3
One course on the ancient period (see list below) 13
One course on the medieval or early modern period (see list below) 13
One course on the period from 1750 to the present (see list below) 13
At least three courses taught outside the Department of Religious Studies (courses are identified by a footnote in the three lists below) 19
Additional Requirements
Students must take two courses at or above the 400 level 2
Two courses on the Hebrew language from:6
Total Hours30

Although this concentration of the religious studies major is housed in the Department of Religious Studies, the director of Jewish studies is responsible for advising all students who elect the concentration in Jewish studies.

Ancient Period

CLAR/JWST/RELI 110The Archaeology of Palestine in the New Testament Period3
CLAR/JWST/RELI 512Ancient Synagogues3
JWST/RELI 103Introduction to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Literature H3
JWST/RELI 106Introduction to Early Judaism3
JWST/RELI 206Prophecy and Divination in Ancient Israel and Judah H3
JWST/RELI 211Classical Hebrew I: A Linguistic Introduction to the Hebrew Bible3
JWST/RELI 212Classical Hebrew II: A Linguistic Introduction to the Hebrew Bible3
JWST/RELI 503Exploring the Dead Sea Scrolls H3
JWST/RELI 602What Is Scripture? Formations of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Canon3
RELI 78First-Year Seminar: Reading the Bible: Now and Then3
RELI 109History and Culture of Ancient Israel H3
RELI 201Ancient Biblical Interpretation H3
RELI 608The Messiah and the Apocalypse3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Medieval or Early Modern Period

GSLL/JWST 225Popular and Pious: Early Modern Jewish Literature 13
HIST/JWST 153From the Bible to Broadway: Jewish History to Modern Times 13
HIST/JWST 308The Renaissance and the Jews 13
HIST/JWST 330Jesus and the Jews: From the Bible to the Big Screen 1, H3
HIST/JWST 4511492: The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain 13
RELI 108Classic Jewish Texts: From Bible and Dead Sea Scrolls to Kabbalah and Hassidism3
RELI 565Medieval Jews and the Bible3
RELI 566Islamic and Jewish Legal Literature3
RELI/WGST 450Sexuality in Jewish Tradition and History3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Period from 1750 to the Present

AMST 360The Jewish Writer in American Life 13
AMST/JWST 486Shalom Y'all: The Jewish Experience in the American South 13
AMST/JWST/WGST 253A Social History of Jewish Women in America 13
ASIA/HIST/PWAD 277The Conflict over Israel/Palestine 13
ASIA/JWST 60First-Year Seminar: Israeli Culture and Society: Collective Memories and Fragmented Identities 13
ASIA/JWST 436Language, Exile, and Homeland in Zionist Thought and Practice3
ASIA/JWST 357/PWAD 362The Arab-Jews: Culture, Community, and Coexistence 13
ASIA/JWST/PWAD 235Israeli Cinema: Gender, Nation, and Ethnicity 1, H3
ASIA/JWST/PWAD 425Beyond Hostilities: Israeli-Palestinian Exchanges and Partnerships in Film, Literature, and Music 13
CMPL/GSLL 270/JWST 239/RELI 239German Culture and the Jewish Question 13
ENGL/JWST 289Jewish American Literature and Culture of the 20th Century 13
FOLK/JWST 380Traditions in Transition: Jewish Folklore and Ethnography3
FOLK/JWST 481Jewish Belongings: Material Culture of the Jewish Experience 13
HEBR/JWST 305Advanced Composition and Conversation: Immigration, Ethnicities, and Religious Traditions 13
HEBR/JWST 306Advanced Composition and Conversation: Zionism and the Hebrew Language 13
HIST/JWST 485From Fiddler on the Roof to the Holocaust: East European and Soviet Jewish History 13
HIST/JWST/PWAD 262History of the Holocaust: The Destruction of the European Jews 13
JWST/PLSH 412From Communism to Capitalism: 20th- and 21st-Century Polish Literature and Culture 13
JWST/GSLL/PWAD 465Literature of Atrocity: The Gulag and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 13
JWST/RELI 107Introduction to Modern Judaism3
JWST/RELI 143Judaism in Our Time3
JWST/RELI 224Modern Jewish Thought H3
JWST/RELI 243Introduction to American Judaism3
JWST/RELI 343Religion in Modern Israel3
JWST/RELI 444Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Judaism3
JWST/SLAV 464Imagined Jews: Jewish Themes in Polish and Russian Literature 13
JWST/SLAV 469Coming to America: The Slavic Immigrant Experience in Literature 13
RELI 446Christian-Jewish Relations throughout the Ages3
RELI 501The History of the Bible in Modern Study3
SPAN 252Argentine Jewish Culture 13
SPAN 253Argentine Jewish Film 13

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in Religious Studies

Honors in Religious Studies

Students majoring in religious studies (including double majors) with a grade point average of 3.5 or above in department courses and 3.3 grade point average overall and who will have successfully completed at least one course numbered 400 or above on a topic in religious studies that is related to the proposed thesis may choose to write an honors thesis. Candidates for graduation with honors in religious studies are to be enrolled in RELI 691H in the fall and RELI 692H in the spring semester of their senior year. RELI 691H and RELI 692H count toward the major as courses fulfilling subfield requirements. Students should submit applications for the honors program to the department’s director of undergraduate studies by the end of February during their junior year. Consult the department’s director of undergraduate studies for details.

Study Abroad

Professor Jodi Magness directs archaeological excavations in Israel during the summer. Students are welcome to participate. Other courses through the Study Abroad Office can count towards the major and minor in religious studies as well.

Undergraduate Awards and Honors

The department presents three awards at the end of each academic year: the Bernard Boyd Fellowship, the Bernard Boyd Memorial Prize, and the Halperin-Schültz Undergraduate Essay Award.

The department also inducts qualified majors into the Religious Studies National Honor Society, Theta Alpha Kappa.