The Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University is an interdisciplinary program serving the students of SDSU as well as the greater San Diego Community. We offer a major in Modern Jewish Studies and a minor in Jewish Studies and are dedicated to teaching a broad range of topics related to Jewish history, religion and culture from the biblical through the modern period.

Modern Jewish Studies Major

With the B.A. Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences
(Major Code: 15102) (SIMS Code: 114102)

Modern Jewish studies is a multidisciplinary major which provides an understanding of Jewish civilizations as the result of the interactions of Jewish culture, history, politics, and religion with other civilizations in societies where Jews have been the dominant majority population (the first two Jewish commonwealths and the modern state of Israel) and in those of the diaspora Jewish communities where Jews have been a minority group.

Students will be expected to obtain proficiency in Hebrew. They will develop an understanding of the major events in Jewish history starting with the biblical period through the centuries of diaspora to the Holocaust and the creation of the modern state of Israel. Students will be exposed to main Jewish beliefs, ideas, and traditions which have arisen in these different historical contexts. They will also become familiar with Jewish visual and literary expressions of culture. It is hoped that the study of Jewish civilizations will foster an awareness of how the Jewish experience reflects the universal dynamic of how ethnic, religious, or racial minorities interact with majority societies (i.e., discrimination and persecution, acculturation, integration, syncretism, and resistance to assimilation).

Those completing the major will be prepared for careers or further graduate training in the foreign service, overseas business, education, social services, multimedia productions, visual and literary arts, advocacy organizations, museum work, and the ministry.

All College of Arts and Letters majors are urged to consult with their department adviser as soon as possible. Students must receive major advising in the first semester they declare Modern Jewish Studies as their major and must do so no later than the first semester of their junior year.

Professor Drew Thomases ([email protected]) is the adviser for this major.

The modern Jewish studies major is an impacted program. To be admitted to the modern Jewish studies major, students must meet the following criteria:

  1. Complete preparation for the major;
  2. Complete a minimum of 60 transferable semester units;
  3. Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.
Preparation for the Major

Jewish Studies 130 [or Humanities 130] and either Religious Studies 100 or 101 or 103. (6 units)

Language Requirement

Hebrew 101, 102, 200, and 201.


A minimum of 27 upper division units.

History Area (12 units)
  • History 436. Modern Jewish History in Feature Films (3)
  • History 440. The Holocaust and Western Civilization (3)
  • History 474. The Middle East Since 1500 (3)
  • History 488. Modern Jewish History (3)
  • History 527. The Holocaust in Feature Films (3)
  • History 574. Arab-Israeli Relations, Past and Present (3)
Religion, Culture, and Thought Area (12 units)
  • English 526. Topics in Literature of the United States: Jewish American Literature (3)
  • Religious Studies 301. Hebrew Bible (3)
  • Religious Studies 320. Judaism (3)
  • Religious Studies 330. Abrahamic Faiths: Shared Stories (3) Religious Studies 373. Women and the Bible (3)
  • Religious Studies 405 [or Humanities 405]. Faith and Hope (3) Religious Studies 581. Major Theme: Jewish and Christian Origins (3)
  • Russian 435. Russian and East European Jewish Culture (3)
Electives (3 units)
  • Jewish Studies 495. Jewish Studies Internship (3) Cr/NC
  • Jewish Studies 496. Topics in Jewish Studies (1-3) (May be repeated with new content)
  • Hebrew 496. Topics in Hebraic Studies (1-4) (May be repeated with new content) (Maximum credit eight units)
  • Hebrew 499. Special Study (1-3) (Maximum credit six units)

For further information, see the SDSU Catalog.

Jewish Studies Minor

(SIMS Code: 114103)

The Jewish studies minor provides a balanced interdisciplinary study of Jewish contributions to world culture and history. It serves the needs of students who plan to (1) specialize in disciplines in which an understanding of Jewish contributions is essential, or (2) follow careers in teaching, community service, foreign service, or the ministry. Students seeking a minor in Jewish studies may want to consider combining it with a major in Social Science with an emphasis in Islamic and Arabic Studies. Many courses relevant to this major are available in anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, and sociology.

Professor Drew Thomases ([email protected]) is the adviser for this minor.

The minor consists of a minimum of 19-20 units to include seven to eight units selected from Jewish Studies 130 [or Humanities 130] or Religious Studies 100, 101, or 103; and Hebrew 101, 102, 200, or 201; and 12 upper division units selected from Jewish Studies 495, 496; Hebrew 496; History 436, 440, 488, 527, 574; Religious Studies 301, 320, 330, 581; and other relevant courses may be counted as part of the 12 upper division units taken with the approval of the adviser for Jewish Studies.

For further information, see the SDSU Catalog.

Degree Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Jewish studies major should emerge with the following knowledge and skills:

  1. Describe Jewish literature, history, and religious belief
  2. Identify and interpret major events, figures, and topics in Jewish history and culture.
  3. Analyze Jewish cultural sources, including literary texts, films, and music within a broader, cross-cultural context.
  4. Formulate and articulate their thoughts and insights clearly and cogently in both oral and written communications.
  5. Comprehend and express themselves in the Hebrew language at a basic level of comprehension and proficiency.
  6. Analyze and contextualize and Jewish literature, history, and thought from the biblical through the modern period.

Download the course matrix