Are you interested in religious studies and ancient literature? Would you like a deeper understanding of Judaism? Degree programs related to Talmudic studies are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Most graduates pursue careers as rabbis, but others work in research or education.
The field of Talmudic studies deals primarily with the Talmud, the Jewish oral law compiled into text. It is comprised of the Mishnah (early Rabbinic legal codes) and the Gemara (commentaries and legal discussions created after the Mishnah). The Talmud is one of the earliest and most important texts within the religion of Judaism.
If you're interested in a Talmudic studies education, you have several degree options, including a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies, a Master of Arts in Talmudic Studies and a Doctor of Hebrew Studies degree. Many of these programs are available through seminary schools, which prepare students to become rabbis or other leaders within the Jewish faith. Through formal education, you can explore Talmud textual analysis. Once you have obtained Hebrew proficiency, you can embark on a thorough study of Jewish practices, referred to as Mekhinah. You can examine Rabinnical literature like Midrash, which is a collection of commentaries on the Bible.
Most graduates complete seminary requirements in order to become practicing rabbis, but others work in research, education or within other aspects of the Jewish faith. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for college professors is expected to grow by 15% between 2008-2018 (www.bls.gov). You can expect competition for tenure-track positions. But, job opportunities within community colleges may be more widely available. In May 2010, philosophy and religion postsecondary teachers earned a mean annual wage of $69,150. Similarly, foreign language and literature professors earned a mean annual wage of $66,520. That same year, clergy, such as a rabbi, earned a mean annual wage of $48,290.
A Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies degree program requires core courses in Jewish history and at least two years of study of modern Hebrew, unless you are already fluent at the time of admission. Expect to learn about a variety of disciplines, including Rabbinic texts, the Bible, art history, philosophy, archeology and political science, to name a few. You may also gain proficiency in Yiddish and Arabic. On the other hand, a Bachelor of Talmudic Law degree program would concentrate specifically on reading and translating the Talmudic texts. By the end of this program, you should be able to analyze these texts, form a unique point of view and present original ideas concerning this field.
You should complete either a degree program focused on Judaic studies or the Talmudic law before pursuing an advanced degree in this field. Comprehension of Talmudic ideologies like Tosafot, Rashi and Gemara may be required for admissions to a Master of Arts in Talmud and Rabbinics degree program. A Master of Arts in Jewish Studies with a concentration on Rabbinic History and Literature may include courses on Jewish ceremonial objects, the Dead Sea scrolls, the history of Jewish liturgy and the Haggadah (the text describing the Jewish Exodus from slavery in Egypt).
In order to be admitted to a Doctor of Hebrew Literature degree program, you often must possess general knowledge of Rabbinic literature and institutions, proficiency in the Aramaic language and an ability to translate specific texts on sight. A Doctor of Philosophy in Talmud and Rabbinics program would require additional language proficiency by the time of graduation, such as a reading knowledge of French, German, Syriac or Greek. These terminal degree programs would both require an original dissertation in order to earn the designation.