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Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies
The Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies (JDP) at the University of California Berkeley (UCB), and the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) was established to provide an academic framework for graduate studies in the area of Jewish Studies, combining the resources of both institutions as well as creating a broad interdisciplinary approach to the field. The JDP is an autonomous program, headed by two co-chairs, one from UCB, the other from GTU. Although faculty are drawn from a variety of departments, the program sets its own entrance requirements, admits its own students, allocates fellowships, appoints Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs), sets written and oral examinations, and awards its own Ph.D. degrees. Sub-committees serve to discharge certain specific tasks (such as organizing visiting lectures), but decisions on admissions, fellowships, and any changes in rules and regulations are determined by the faculty as a whole.
Students admitted to the Joint Doctoral Program (JDP) have demonstrated the capacity for advanced graduate work in Jewish studies, either through their undergraduate studies or in prior graduate work in Jewish studies. Students must be proficient in Hebrew as well as in an additional research language.
At least two years of coursework is expected for JDP students. Normative time to advancement to Doctoral Candidacy (i.e. completion of all requirements except the dissertation) is 5 or 7 semesters (5 semesters if the student enters the JDP with a Master's degree, 7 semesters if the student enters the JDP with a Bachelor's Degree). Students may take qualifying exams any time after the second year. They must pass all exams within normative time in order to be eligible for a one year Doctoral Completion fellowship. Total time to completion is expected to be 10 or 12 semesters.
The JDP seeks to grant students full or equivalent privileges at both institutions throughout their study. JDP students must register at least two semesters at each of the cooperation institutions during the course of their program. Before registration, students in the program will be informed at which of the two institutions they are to begin residency. This decision is based on the funding for each student as established by the JDP fellowship committee, in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between UCB and the GTU. Typically, the students will register for their first year at the GTU, unless they are recipients of a UC fellowship for that year. Furthermore, all joint doctoral students will register at UCB in the semesters in which they take the Qualifying Examination, in the semester in which they file their dissertations, and in any semester in which they hold a UC fellowship or GSIship/GSRship. Conversely, students holding a GTU fellowship or teaching appointment will register at GTU while receiving the GTU funds. In the second-year review, which will take place in the third semester in which the student is in the program, he or she will declare a home campus and henceforth register at that campus, apart from the exceptions noted above.
Incoming students are required to meet with the Graduate Advisor (GA) once a semester, after advancing to candidacy, once a year. The GA advises the students about choosing a major and minor field of specialization and a theoretical discipline, language requirements, classes, and rules and procedures. The GA also monitors progress though each of the program stages, and signs required petitions (UCB specific petitions will be signed by the UCB JDP co-chair upon request from the GA). Entering students, in conjunction with the GA, will also begin forming a qualifying examination committee, according to the guidelines specified below. Students are expected to seek additional advice from other designated members of the qualifying examination committee on all their academic choices.
Major, Minor, and Theoretical Discipline
Upon entering the program, students declare one major and one minor period of specialization, as well as a theoretical discipline. The major, minor, and discipline will inform the qualifying examination and should be reflected in the student’s coursework. The student needs to acquire detailed knowledge of both primary and secondary source materials for their major period, general knowledge of both primary and secondary source materials for their minor period, and competency in using the methodological tools of the chosen discipline.
Historical Periods are:
- Hellenistic and Late Antiquity
- Medieval and Early Modern
- Modern (1700-present)
Theoretical Disciplines include:
History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Literature, Folklore, Religious Studies and Rhetoric
Other historical periods and theoretical disciplines may be approved by the GA, in consultation with the student’s qualifying examination committee.
The first stage of the doctoral program in coursework, which typically lasts four semesters. Students are required to complete twelve courses (for a total of at least 36 units) at the graduate level before moving on to the examination stage. (GTU advanced MA level classes need to be formally upgraded to Ph.D. level classes I order to count towards the requirement, the GA should be consulted before registration in such classes. Language classes and UCB undergraduate classes do not count towards this requirement). All courses at both institutions are to be taken for a letter grade, not pass/not pass. Exceptions will be allowed only in the most extraordinary circumstances, with the approval of the GA. The courses include:
- At least five courses in the major historical period.
- One course each in the three other historical periods. At least one of the eight required courses should have a significant theoretical or methodological component.
- Two courses (not in Jewish Studies) in the student’s theoretical discipline
- Two elective courses.
Foreign Language Requirements
Four language examinations, chosen in conjunction with the GA and the qualifying examination committee, must be completed prior to proceeding to the qualifying examinations and should be coordinated with the appropriate administrator at GTU (Dean’s Office) or UCB (JS Program Administrator). Examinations can be taken at either GTU or UCB; the certificates must be submitted to the GA after passing each examination, and to the UCB graduate division before taking the qualifying examinations (see below). All students must show proficiency in the following:
- Modern Hebrew
- Either biblical or post-biblical Hebrew
- A third and fourth language for primary or secondary sources, chosen in consultation with the GA and the qualifying examination committee.
The GA and the dissertation committee may require an additional language or languages, if appropriate to the student’s course of study. In the case of additional language proficiency, examinations may be required. The GA may issue a letter of exemption for a language examination upon proof of proficiency demonstrated through previous academic examination or degrees, intensive coursework involving the respective language, or for native speakers
Third Semester Review
Early in the third semester, the student will designate an advisor from among the Jewish Studies faculty, who will direct the student’s dissertation and chair her or his dissertation committee (henceforth: advisor). During the third semester, the student will meet with the GA and the advisor (and possibly other pertinent faculty) in order to review the student’s progress. Prior to the meeting, the student submits a one-page report on her/his past, current and projected progress in the program, including coursework and work toward fulfilling language requirements. During the review, the student, the GA, and the advisor will address any issues in need of attention. If the GA and the advisor have any major academic concerns, they will inform the students in writing of specific steps to be taken, and establish an appropriate timeframe to do so (typically one year). In order to remain in good standing and be eligible for continuing financial aid, the student needs fully to address the concerns of the third year review within the given timeframe. (This review fulfills GTU requirements for the Research Readiness Review).
Furthermore, the student, the advisor and the GA will revisit the student’s choice for the major and minor period of specialization and a theoretical discipline, and designate a qualifying examination committee, as specified below.
After completing the coursework and proving language proficiency, and no later than the fifth or sixth semester of study, the student should take her/his qualifying examinations. The student will take two written examinations, one in each of his/her periods of specialization, which should be scheduled within two weeks of each other. The format of the examinations is open-book, to be written in an eight-hour period. The JDP administrator will deliver the exam to the student at 9 a.m., and the completed exam is to be given to the administrator by the student no later than 5 p.m. the same day. In exceptional cases, where a particular examiner feels the student’s knowledge of the period and its material is better assessed through a closed-book examination, the closed-book format may be used, with the approval of the chair of the examination committee. In such instances, the examination proposal must reflect the closed book format of the examination. The same time constraints will obtain for the closed-book exam as for the open-book exam. Along with the final written examinations, the student will submit a research paper on a topic approved by the advisor which reflects sufficient mastery of her/his designated major field in order to proceed to the dissertation proposal and which will highlight the student’s proficiency in the theoretical discipline. The student may devote up to a semester to prepare this paper. At least one week, but no longer than two weeks after the written examination, the students will take an oral examination.
Qualifying Examination Committee
The qualifying examination committee consists of four people, including:
- at least one examiner in the major historical period (i.e. the advisor)
- at least one examiner in the minor historical period
- at least one examiner in the theoretical discipline
In rare circumstances, an examiner will fill two roles. At least one member of the committee must be from UCB and one from GTU; one examiner must be from outside the faculty of Jewish Studies and part of the UCB ladder faculty. The student will choose an examination chairperson from among this group (*not* the advisor) to solicit questions from the committee and construct the examinations.
In the last semester before completing coursework, the student’s meeting with the GA will include determining that all requirements will have been met in due time before proceeding to the examinations. (Note that the student must be registered at UCB during the semester in which she/he passes the oral examination).
Qualifying Examination: Proposal
No later than three months before the scheduled examination, the student intending to take the qualifying examination will be expected to produce an examination proposal reflection her/his periods of specialization and theoretical discipline and circulate this proposal among the members of her/his committee. The proposal will contain a brief narrative portion (1-3) pages addressing how her/his choice for the periods and the theoretical discipline prepares her/him for dissertation work, and three respective bibliographies (comprising major books and articles in the areas of focus). Students meet with each member of the qualifying examination committee soon after sending them the proposal to discuss its strengths and weaknesses, revising as necessary. Committee members are encouraged to add important texts missing from the bibliography as well as to take out less relevant materials.
Qualifying Examination: Application for the Qualifying Examination
At least three weeks before the date of the oral examination, the student should meet with the UCB Program Administrator to complete the “Application for the Qualifying Examination” form, which will be submitted to the UCB Graduate Division. This form lists the proposed subject areas of the written examinations, the proposed qualifying examination committee and the advisor, and the dates of the student’s completed language examinations. Both the Program Administrator and the student will be notified by mail when the application is accepted and approved.
Qualifying Examinations: Scheduling
The student schedules the written and oral examinations in consultation with the qualifying examination committee chair and the JDP administrator (either at UCB or at the GTU). The JDP administrator will be responsible for establishing the dates of the written and oral examinations and for distributing the examination questions to the students and the answers to the committee (according to the guidelines specified above). The JDP administrator will also remind the qualifying examination chair about the examination no less than three weeks before the written examinations. The chair then solicits each committee member to submit two examination questions for the two periods in which the student will pass written examinations. The chair constructs two written examinations for the two periods from these questions, seeking to safeguard that the questions reflect the student’s proposal, as well as seeking to avoid redundancies. The examination will consist of two questions for each of the student’s two periods. The student will choose one of two questions to write on for each of the examinations. The qualifying examination chair will forward the examination to the JDP administrator at least three days before the first scheduled written examination.
Qualifying Examinations: Procedure for Oral Examination
The oral examination is administered at least one week, but no more than two weeks after the completion of the written examinations. It should be a conversation that leads the student towards proposing his/her dissertation topic, based on the submitted disciplinary research paper as well as the written examinations.
The oral examination will commence with a committee discussion of the written exams, with the student out of the room. (Committee members are encouraged to inform the committee asap and before the oral examination itself if they strongly feel that the written exam was insufficient, and to cancel the oral examination). Once it has been determined that the student has passed the written exams, the oral examination will begin. Otherwise, the written examinations will be rescheduled.
The oral examination usually begins with a brief student presentation, recapitulating major interests and reflecting on the exams and the disciplinary paper. The committee will then have a conversation with the students about accomplished and projected research, with each examiner leading the discussion for twenty minutes. The student will then be asked to leave and the examiners will determine whether the oral exam has been passed. Oral exams frequently end with a discussion of the student’s dissertation plans.
Qualifying Examinations: Submission of Report
On passing the written and the oral examinations, all committee members sign the “Report to the Graduate Division on the Qualifying Examination.” This form is to be returned to the UCB Program Administrator for remittance to the Graduate degrees Office; a copy will be sent to the GA. (Note: Students are not allowed to submit this form themselves—it must be sent directly from the Program office).
After passing the qualifying examination, the student, in consultation with her/his advisor, designates a dissertation committee. At least one member of the committee must be from UCB and one from GTU; one examiner must be from outside the faculty of Jewish Studies and part of the UCB ladder faculty. The Student’s advisor will be the chairperson of the dissertation committee (*not* the chairperson of the exam committee). The student then submits the “Application for Candidacy in the Joint Doctoral Program (Plan B)” with all appropriate signatures, to the Graduate Degrees Office with a check for associated candidacy fees. The student and Program Administrator will be notified by mail when the application has been approved. A copy will be provided to the GA. (Note: submission of this form is time-sensitive. It determines eligibility for the “Dean’s Normative Time Fellowship”).
The student composes a dissertation proposal. The proposal includes a brief (5-10 pages) description of the dissertation project, a chapter outline and a bibliography, The student circulates this proposal among the members of the dissertation committee and, in conjunction with the dissertation advisor, convenes the dissertation committee for a forty-minute meeting in which the proposal will be discussed and formally accepted. The advisor informs the GA about the formal acceptance of the proposal. After the approval, students are also highly encouraged to present their prospectus at the next JDP meeting. Note: This meeting fulfills the GTU requirements for submitting a dissertation proposal to the doctoral council.
During the writing process, the student meets regularly with their advisor and the members of the dissertation committee. In addition, she/he meets once a year with the GA who tracks her/his progress. Once the final dissertation has been accepted by all members of the dissertation committee, it must be filed at both the GTU and UCB. (Students must be registered at UCB at the time of filing).
Graduate Advisor: Deena Aranoff firstname.lastname@example.org