The University of Haifa, founded in 1963 by the then mayor of Haifa, is the only liberal arts university in northern Israel. Most students study within the framework of one of six Faculties: Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Science and Science Education, Social Welfare and Health Studies, and Education. The University of Haifa is the most pluralistic institution of higher education in Israel: students from veteran cities and development towns, kibbutzim and moshavim, new immigrants, Jewish/ Muslims/ Bedouins/ Christians/ Druze, IDF officers and security personnel--all sitting together in the classroom in an atmosphere of coexistence, tolerance, and mutual respect.
For additional information, visit the University of Haifa website.
The City of Haifa
Haifa is Israel’s foremost port city for international commerce and a center of Israeli high tech industries. It is the largest city in the North and Israel’s third largest city with a population of over 270,000. Two of the most distinguishing features of this dynamic city are its physical beauty and its diverse population of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze. The city is home to the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space as well as the Haifa Museum of Art and the Tikotin museum of Japanese Art, the Middle East’s only museum dedicated exclusively to Japanese art.
Did you know…?
Elijah’s Cave is a holy site that attracts worshippers from near and far. According to tradition, Elijah came to pray here before challenging the prophets of Baal. The cave has a Torah ark and a space in the ceiling where visitors place prayer notes.
Notice to Applicants: The travel destination of this study abroad program is in a location currently on Penn’s list of Heightened Security Risk Regions. Study abroad to this location is subject to review and approval by Penn’s Committee on International Travel Risk Assessment (CITRA). Please refer to Penn’s International Travel Guidance for more information.
The program at the University of Haifa is for College credit only.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0 for regular program; 3.2 for honors program
Language Prerequisite: Previous study of Hebrew recommended, but not required.
Additional Course Pre-requisite(s): Successful completion of 1 Area Studies course in language or culture by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure is required.
Language of Instruction
Penn students who attend the University of Haifa are enrolled in the International School for one semester or an academic year. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
All students are required to attend a pre-session Ulpan unless they receive an exemption based on prior fluency. Ulpan is an intensive, immersive Hebrew Language course. Students are placed in various levels, according to their fluency, as ascertained by a placement exam prior to the start of the Ulpan. Penn students are required to continue their study of Hebrew at the appropriate level throughout the semester or year of study at Haifa as one of their selected regular courses provided that they have not completed the Penn language requirement.
The School offers a broad range of exciting courses in the fields of Hebrew & Arabic Language and Culture, Contemporary Israel and Middle East Studies, Religious & Jewish Studies, Communications, Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Peace & Conflict Studies, Law, English Language and Literature, and History. In addition, there are several special academic programs that students can choose apply to within the International School: Arabic Language, Culture & Civilization, Holocaust Studies Program, Honors Program in Peace and Conflict Studies, and Honors Program in Psychology. Students must coordinate in advance with their home school academic advisor to ensure that credit can be received from appropriate Penn departments for courses taken in these special academic programs.
All of the courses are taught in English. Not all courses are offered each semester, so please pay attention to when a course is being offered.
As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. For more on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.
Grades are reported to Penn on the University of Haifa grade scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
University of Haifa Grade
*When recording on the Penn transcript,A+ is converted to A on this Penn Abroad program.
All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the University of Haifa prior to the start of each semester. More information on the University of Haifa’s orientation activities can be found here.
The University of Haifa International School is known for its Hebrew Ulpan, the most effective language learning program in Israel. These intensive short-term sessions are offered in the winter and summer months as well as semester long programs throughout the year. More information can be found here.
Haifa's International School is very proud of its long-running volunteer program for overseas students to teach English to immigrant youth in the Haifa area. Overseas students who wish to participate are paired up with an immigrant child, usually from Ethiopia or the former Soviet Union, and meet once a week in the child's home or in a community center. If an Overseas student has a different interest or idea for a volunteer project, the staff is very happy to assist in helping the students make arrangements. More information can be found here.
Social Activity Coordinators
The Madrichim (Social Acitivity Coordinators) are all Israeli University of Haifa students. Most of them live on campus near our students and they are on call 24 hours a day. Every semester they prepare an extensive array of social and cultural programs for our students as well as coordinating the volunteer program. More information can be found here.
The International School offers a student buddy program that matches international students with local Israeli students.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.
Students are not required to live in on-campus dormitories, but it is strongly encouraged. There are two dormitory complexes that are open to overseas students:
Federman Dorms: modest apartments of three double rooms and a shared bathroom, kitchen, and living space.
Talia Dorms: spacious apartments of six single rooms, each room with its own bathroom, and a shared kitchen and living space.
About 1,000 students live in the dorms at the University of Haifa, including students of all social, economic, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. Individual dorm suites may house both Israeli and/or International students. All apartments in the dorms are single-sex.
Rooms contain a bed, desk, closet, and shelves, as well as sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. Kitchens come equipped with a refrigerator and two stove-top burners. While dishes, utensils, and other appliances are not provided, most Israeli roommates are happy to share their kitchen supplies with their overseas roommates or inexpensive supplies may be bought locally.
Dormitory complexes also include computer labs, a grocery store, self-service laundry rooms, and a moadon or "club" which includes a large-screen television and often hosts parties, movie nights, lectures, and other activities.
Information regarding accommodation can be found here.
Cost and Finance
Penn Abroad Financial Policies
Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs. Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare. Please see the program budget sheets below for more information. For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.
Financial Aid and Study Abroad
In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs. Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.
David L. Boren Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad: Supports undergraduate study abroad focusing on geographical areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to US national security. (Excludes study in US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.) These US government grants entail a service obligation.
The Haifa University International School offers various scholarships as well as financial aid to deserving candidates. More information can be found here.
MASA Israel Scholarships provide financial support to Jewish young adult who study in Israel on long-term educational programs. Masa Israel has partnered with the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency to provide this scholarship assistance to Jewish young adults. For more information, click here.
For information on the Penn Abroad application process, click here.
To open an application or learn more about the program, please click here to schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.