Jewish Studies

Manuscript detail. Courtesy of the W.L. Gross Family Collection.


Jewish Studies at UC Santa Cruz is an intellectually compelling, interdisciplinary program that offers students a broad range of courses in Jewish culture, especially its literature, art, and history, as well as its ethics, folk practices, and philosophy. 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, courses on Jewish intellectual history and Jewish mysticism, the history of Zionism, an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the Holocaust, courses in Middle Eastern and North African Jewish history and culture, and a variety of courses on Jewish music, including the music of modern Israel and music in the lands of Islam. UCSC is one of the very few campuses in California where undergraduates have the opportunity to major in Jewish Studies.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.
  • Minor

Study and Research Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to participate in the UCSC Center for Jewish Studies Summer Fellowship at Diarna. Diarna 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. Based in either Santa Cruz or New York City, fellows research and document Jewish heritage sites in a variety of locations throughout the Middle East and North Africa 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.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

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.

Information for Transfers

Transfer students can readily finish all of the Jewish Studies major requirements within two years, even if they haven’t completed any preparatory coursework prior to transferring. Some background in history and in literary analysis and interpretation is desirable, but not essential. Since this is an interdisciplinary major, preparatory work in art history, philosophy, or politics, depending on the student’s interests, may also be useful.

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 UC Santa Cruz.


  • Business
  • Communications
  • Foreign service
  • Historic preservation
  • Historical research
  • International relations
  • International trade
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Museum management
  • Public administration
  • Publishing
  • Teaching
  • Theology
  • Writing

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.


Jewish Studies students are encouraged to expand their horizons in interdisciplinary and international settings by taking advantage of the UC Education Abroad Program (EAP) and other international programs. UC Santa Cruz consistently leads the University of California in the number of students it sends each summer to Israel on Birthright tours, and Santa Cruz Hillel consistently offers three or four fascinating Israel-related programs during each quarter of the academic year.


The Center for Jewish Studies host special events throughout the academic year that conceptually redraw the boundaries of Jewish Studies. Every lecture by a distinguished visiting scholar, and every conference on a particular aspect of Jewish history or culture, is tied to the undergraduate curriculum. 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.

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Assistant professor of history and Jewish Studies Alma Rachel Heckman has been appointed as the Neufeld-Levin Holocaust Endowed Chair.

UC Santa Cruz has established an endowed chair to honor the accomplishments of Distinguished Emeritus Professor Murray Baumgarten, whose interdisciplinary vision of Jewish Studies has guided the program at UCSC for nearly three decades.

Department Website

General Catalog Information

More Information

The Jewish Studies program is administered by the History Department.

University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064