Master of Arts in Ancient Judaism

The four-semester Master programme "Ancient Judaism" is a joint offer of the universities of Bern and Zurich. It focuses on the scientific study of Judaism during the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and early medieval periods. The interfaculty orientation makes it possible to attend courses in various fields of the humanities.

Master Antikes Judentum
Basic information
Degree: Master of Arts (M A) in Antikes Judentum, Universität Zürich und Universität Bern
Number of credits: 120 ECTS credits
Degree programs:
  • Mono 120 ECTS credits
  • Major 90 ECTS credits
Combination possibilities: several
Duration: 4 semesters
Languages: 70 % German / 30 % English
Beginning studies: Fall or spring semester

The specialized Master’s Degree programme "Ancient Judaism" serves the scientific study of the history, literature and religion of Judaism from the Persian to the early medieval period. It thus covers the time of the Second Temple up to and including the rabbinic era (6th century BCE-10th century CE). The degree programme is aimed at students with a Bachelor's degree from a field related to the Master's degree, such as classical studies, Jewish studies, religious studies or theology (including inter-religious studies at the University of Bern). Based on the knowledge acquired in the Bachelor's degree programme and possibly already in a previous Master's degree programme, the degree programme also aims at a comprehensive training in the field of ancient Judaism as well as a deepening of previously acquired knowledge.

In close cooperation with the lecturers, the students develop a comprehensive picture of the expression of ancient Judaism in terms of its historical, cultural and social characteristics. At the same time, ancient Judaism should always be understood as a part of the ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures as a whole and be classified in the corresponding contexts. The degree course provides differentiated knowledge of the methodology of scientific interpretation of the corresponding (literary and material) sources. In contrast to Old Testament scholarship, the degree programme does not focus on the study of the Hebrew Bible, but naturally includes it as the basic text of ancient Judaism.

The programme includes the study of subject-relevant offers from the courses according to the course catalog of the University of Bern (Faculty of Theology, Faculty of Humanities and Philosophy) and the University of Zurich (Faculty of Theology, Faculty of Philosophy) as well as other partner institutions.

Included are 6 (mono) or 5 (main study) compulsory modules as well as a selection area that can be filled with elective modules.

Major (90 ECTS credits)

The main course is structured like the Mono Course. However, the Learning Contract for studying at another academic institution (30 ECTS credits) has been dropped.

The Master of Ancient Judaism consists of the following six compulsory modules:

  • Introduction to the History of Ancient Judaism I (10 ECTS credits)
  • Introduction to the History of Ancient Judaism II (10 ECTS credits)
  • Introduction to the Literature of Ancient Judaism I (10 ECTS credits)
  • Introduction to the Literature of Ancient Judaism II (10 ECTS credits)
  • Methodology of interpretation (8 ECTS credits)
  • Learning Contract for studying at another academic institution (30 ECTS credits)
  • Elective area (12 ECTS credits)
  • Master Thesis (30 ECTS credits)

The plan is to spend one semester at another academic institution. If it is not possible for individual students to study at another academic institution with offerings on ancient Judaism, a learning contract for self-study will be completed for the corresponding number of CP. The Learning Contract is approved by the Study Commission.

For detailed information, we ask you to always consult the regulations.

The Master program in Ancient Judaism can be completed as a single-subject (mono) Master with 120 ECTS credits, or with a major (90 ECTS credits) and a minor (30 ECTS credits).

Any subject taught in a sufficient scope at the University of Bern can be chosen as a minor.

Major ECTS
Minor ECTS
90 30 
Minors you may choose

Travel Costs

Travel Costs

Parts of the travel costs from Bern to Zurich or Zurich to Bern can be reimbursed thanks to the generous support of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities SIG as long as funds are available.


Contact at the University of Zurich

Individual academic requirements

The following requirements apply for admission to the specialized master's degree program in Ancient Judaism (mono or major): 

a) Bachelor's degree (or higher degree) from a recognized Swiss or foreign university in one of the following disciplines: 
  • History
  • Jewish Studies
  • Classics
  • Science of Religion
  • Semitic Studies
  • Theology
  • Religious Studies
  • Other corresponding or higher degree recognized by the Faculties of Theology in both Bern and Zurich.
b) Degrees in subjects other than those listed under a): An admission decision will be made after the student's records have been reviewed based on individual achievement. Additional academic attainments may be required. These can either be admission requirements which must be fulfilled in order to complete the master's degree program or admission requirements which must be fulfilled before admission to the master's degree program. The ECTS credits will be listed separately in the diploma supplement as extracurricular attainments.
c) An interview in which you describe your previous education, your understanding of relevant historical and philological topics, and your motivation and goals. Interview duration: 30 minutes.

The bachelor's degree may not be more than 15 years old. Exceptions are possible where justified.

Language requirements

Knowledge of Hebrew and Greek at upper secondary school-leaving level or evidence of having passed the official university examination in Hebrew or Greek. 

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.

Current UniBE students

Apply for a change to the M A in Antikes Judentum, Universität Zürich und Universität Bern, by self-service as part of the re-registration for the next semester.
Renewal of semester registration → Self-service
Recognition of academic achievements
Procedure and timing of the renewal of semester registration

Application with a Swiss degree

Online application
Steps from application to registration

Application with an international degree

Online application
CHECKLIST - Documents for your application / Important information
Steps from application to registration

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office.


The Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Bern offers the opportunity to contribute to research by writing a doctoral thesis.

Professional Prospects

Like every study programme in the humanities, this programme does not focus on a specific profession, but teaches a variety of methods and skills that can be applied in different professional fields (e.g. science, media, education, diplomacy, culture, dialogue of religions).

More information