Graduate Comprehensive Exam Information

Doctoral Comprehensive Exams

Doctoral students must pass two comprehensive field examinations.

HJS Doctoral Students: Students obtaining their degree from HJS alone (i.e. students who are not enrolled in a joint program) must pass examinations in a major field and a minor field.  The exam is typically taken shortly after course work has been completed. Students should consult the Hebrew and Judaic Studies PhD Handbook (section 2.3) for more specific information about comp exams.

Joint HJS-History Doctoral Students: Students enrolled in a joint doctoral program with another department take an HJS major field examination only. Students in the joint History program are required to sit for a one-day History Qualifying Exam in May of their second year.  These students should consult the History PhD Handbook for more information on policies related to History Qualifying Exams.

Master's Comprehensive Exams

The comprehensive exam is designed to provide students with an opportunity to develop and demonstrate their breadth of knowledge in Jewish history.  You may prepare for the exam individually or with a group of fellow students.  Students may take the exam whenever they wish throughout the course of the program; however, we do suggest you allow yourself at least one school year (two terms) to prepare.

Taking Your Exam:

  • The exam will be administered by the Hebrew and Judaic Studies Department.  You should contact the Department Assistant (gsas.hebrewjudaic@nyu.edu) well in advance of your desired exam date to make an appointment.
  • Exams can only be taken on Fridays starting between 9:00 am and 2:00 pm.
  • Themes should be submitted to your adviser at least two weeks before the exam.
  • If you plan on taking your exams in the semester that you are graduating, it must be taken at least two weeks before the graduation deadline to allow sufficient time for your grade to be processed.  
  • The exam is a closed-book, three-hour exam, taken on a department computer.
  • Students should bring their bibliography with them to the exam in order to make citations.

 

Master's in Hebrew and Judaic Studies

Dual Degree MA in Education and Jewish Studies

Dual Degree MA/MPA in Hebrew in Judaic Studies

Master's in Hebrew and Judaic Studies (specific requirements)

(Also applies to the Dual Degree LIU Program and the concentration in Museum Studies)

Hebrew and Judaic Studies MA students are required to complete either a comprehensive examination in Jewish history OR an examination in a specific field of study.  In both cases, the exam is based upon a bibliography developed jointly by the faculty supervisor of the exam and the student.

The general exam in Jewish history is administered by either the DGS or a designated member of the faculty.

The field specific exam is administered by an appropriate member of the HJS faculty designated by the DGS.  Students may choose to take their field exam in any of the following areas:

  • Hebrew Bible / Ancient Near East

  • Second Temple History and Literature

  • Rabbinics

  • Early Jewish Mystical Literature

  • Later Jewish Mystical Literature

  • Medieval Jewish History

  • Medieval Jewish Philosophy

  • Modern Jewish Thought

  • Modern Jewish History

  • Modern Hebrew Literature

  • History, Politics, and Society of Modern Israel

If you would like to take your exam in a field not state above it must first be approved by the DGS.

Students should contact the DGS to set up an advisement session as soon as they are ready to start preparing for the comp exam.  In preparation for the exam, students are permitted to use up to three Hebrew and Judaic Studies independent study credits.  We strongly urge you to use these independent study credits during the semester in which you plan to take comps.  You will receive a grade for the independent study once you have completed the exam.

Dual Degree MA in Education and Jewish Studies (specific requirements)

Click Here for the Dual MA com exam reading list. (We recommend starting with Zachor, as it provides a useful frame for thinking about history and memory, and then working through the rest of the list chronologically)

Before beginning to read, you should select 7-10 themes, and you will trace their evolution throughout Jewish history.  Here is a list of themes that have been used in the past:

  • Communal organizations and institutions (what are the institutions, what role did they play, how did the Jewish community organize itself)

  • Authority and leadership - Sources of authority/Jewish leadership

  • God/belief/theology/role of religion from a sociological perspective

  • Women (what place do women have, if any, in these books/histories)

  • Relationships between Jews and non-Jews

  • Identity/Prejudicial violence against Jews. (What were the different kinds of prejudices against Jews and how did anti-Semitism evolve)

  • Social justice - Thought and practice about vulnerable/needy populations

  • Jewish connection to the land of Israel, idea of homeland and statehood

If you have other ideas for themes, please share them with Prof. Chazan before you begin to ensure they will be feasible.  You may find it useful to create one document for each theme; when you come across relevant information in your reading, you can plug it into the appropriate document.  The overall idea is to be able to discuss how the themes changed over time and to support your arguments with examples from each era.

Based on your themes, you will receive four exam questions - two in the first section and two in the second section.  You must write one question from each section; you may not write both questions from the same section.  Here is an example of a question:

 

Like all groups, the Jews have aroused the animosity of their neighbors.  Has this animosity—over the past century called anti-Semitism—differed from the broad contours of historic inter-group animosities?  What are the salient features of this anti-Jewish animosity?  How have Jews attempted to react to this animosity?  What are the contrastive positive images of Jews that have developed over the ages?

 

In preparation for the exam, students are permitted to use up to three Hebrew and Judaic Studies independent study credits.  We strongly urge you to use these independent study credits during the semester in which you plan to take comps.  You will receive a grade for the independent study once you have completed the exam.  We are aware that students occasionally must use an independent study at an earlier point in their academic careers in order to fill holes in their schedules (if they have fewer than 12 credits in a given semester) - if this applies to you, please email gsas.hebrewjudaic@nyu.edu so that we are able to track this and discuss with you how this will work.

Dual Degree MA/MPA in Hebrew in Judaic Studies (specific requirements)

Click Here for the Dual MA com exam reading list. (We recommend starting with Zachor, as it provides a useful frame for thinking about history and memory, and then working through the rest of the list chronologically)

Before beginning to read, you should select 7-10 themes, and you will trace their evolution throughout Jewish history.  Here is a list of themes that have been used in the past:

  • Communal organizations and institutions (what are the institutions, what role did they play, how did the Jewish community organize itself)

  • Authority and leadership - Sources of authority/Jewish leadership

  • God/belief/theology/role of religion from a sociological perspective

  • Women (what place do women have, if any, in these books/histories)

  • Relationships between Jews and non-Jews

  • Identity/Prejudicial violence against Jews. (What were the different kinds of prejudices against Jews and how did anti-Semitism evolve)

  • Social justice - Thought and practice about vulnerable/needy populations

  • Jewish connection to the land of Israel, idea of homeland and statehood

If you have other ideas for themes, please share them with Professor Chazan before you begin to ensure they will be feasible.  You may find it useful to create one document for each theme; when you come across relevant information in your reading, you can plug it into the appropriate document. The overall idea is to be able to discuss how the themes changed over time and to support your arguments with examples from each era.

Based on your themes, you will receive four exam questions - two in the first section and two in the second section.  You must write one question from each section; you may not write both questions from the same section.  Here is an example of a question:

 

Like all groups, the Jews have aroused the animosity of their neighbors.  Has this animosity—over the past century called anti-Semitism—differed from the broad contours of historic inter-group animosities?  What are the salient features of this anti-Jewish animosity?  How have Jews attempted to react to this animosity?  What are the contrastive positive images of Jews that have developed over the ages?

 

In preparation for the exam, students are permitted to use up to three Hebrew and Judaic Studies independent study credits.  We strongly urge you to use these independent study credits during the semester in which you plan to take comps.  You will receive a grade for the independent study once you have completed the exam.  We are aware that students occasionally must use an independent study at an earlier point in their academic careers in order to fill holes in their schedules (if they have fewer than 12 credits in a given semester) - if this applies to you, please email gsas.hebrewjudaic@nyu.edu so that we are able to track this and discuss with you how this will work.