The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, founded in 1918 and officially opened in 1925, was Israel’s first university and a symbol of the cultural rebirth of the Jewish nation in its ancestral homeland. The University currently enrolls 23,000 students from diverse religions and ethnic backgrounds across seven faculties and 14 schools. In Jerusalem, it maintains three campuses: the Mount Scopus Campus for the humanities and social sciences (which is where Penn students take courses); the Edmond J. Safra Campus for exact sciences; and the Ein Karem Campus for medical sciences. The university encourages multi-disciplinary activities in Israel and overseas and serves as a bridge between academic research and its social and industrial applications.
For additional information, visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem website.
The City of Jerusalem
The capital of Israel and the country’s largest city, both in terms of population and area, the city of Jerusalem dates back to the 4th millennium BCE, making it one of the world’s oldest cities. Despite having an area of only 0.9 square kilometer (0.35 square mile), the Old City is home to sites of key religious importance, among them the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Spulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque. Because of its historical and religious importance, the city has become a melding of past and present, of ancient roots and modern innovations. In addition, this thriving metropolis is rich in art galleries and museums, theaters and concert halls, restaurants and outdoor cafes, pubs and dance clubs. The city contains the new Israeli Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem, as well as the Palestinian National Theatre.
Did you know…?
Jerusalem has 1,578 public gardens and parks, and over 2,000 archaeological sites. It also has over 70 cultural centers that teach art, music, poetry, literature, and performance to young people, as well as over 60 museums.
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 Hebrew University of Jerusalem is for College credit only.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
Language Prerequisite: Previous study of Hebrew is 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 enroll in courses at the Rothberg International School (RIS). 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, which allows students to elevate their level of Hebrew comprehension, and to improve their understanding of the language. 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 Hebrew University as one of their selected regular courses provided that they have not completed the Penn language requirement.
The RIS undergraduate study abroad program offers a wide variety of courses (taught in English) in such areas as archaeology, history, literature, philosophy, religion, communications, international relations, political science, psychology, sociology, and life sciences. It is expected of Penn students who are fluent in Hebrew to select at least some of their classes from the regular curriculum taught primarily in Hebrew.
The program also offers advanced seminars that focus on the Middle East, Israel, Jewish Studies, business and economics, or psychology. Seminars are open to students in their Junior year who have an academic background in related fields of study. The opening of a seminar is contingent upon a minimum enrollment of qualified students.
RIS also offers a special Honors Program for outstanding Juniors and Seniors with a minimum 3.7 GPA called Spring in Jerusalem. Participants are required to take a minimum of two courses from a special list of upper level classes offered in English by various departments of the Hebrew University. In these courses, Israeli and international students will study together. Spring in Jerusalem students will also participate in a separate extra-curricular package of activities. This program track ends in late June every spring.
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 information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.
Grades are reported to Penn on the Hebrew University Rothberg International School scale and then converted to Penn grades according to the following grade equivalencies:
*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 Hebrew University of Jerusalem prior to the start of each semester. More information on Hebrew University’s orientation activities can be found here.
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, which allows students to elevate their level of Hebrew comprehension, and to improve their understanding of the language. 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 Hebrew University as one of their selected regular courses. More information can be found here.
Professional internships are available each semester for full-time students, who contribute 8 hours a week to a partner organization. Internships are organized and monitored by a special coordinator at the Rothberg International School. In recent years, internship locations have included the Hadassah University Hospital, the Albright Institute of Archaeology, the Spielberg Film Archives, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies, business venture companies, nursery and elementary schools, community centers, university research institutes and many other organizations. Penn students will not receive academic credit for an internship.
The Office of Student Activities (OSA) is responsible for organizing diverse extracurricular programs specifically designed to introduce study abroad students to the Land of Israel – its people, geography, culture and politics. The many exciting events, tours and activities that complement the academic program allow you to see the country from new angles and provide you with a comprehensive, memorable Israel experience. The Madrichim, an outstanding staff of counselors, are there to help students handle day to day affairs. More information can be found here.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.
Penn students are strongly encouraged to live in on-campus dormitories at Hebrew University. Dormitory spaces are allocated on a first-come, first served basis to admitted students upon payment of a non-refundable housing deposit. On-campus housing for the spring semester is very limited. Students unable to secure on campus housing must investigate alternative housing arrangements.
The student housing complexes at Scopus Student Village are within walking distance from the University. Students are usually housed in apartments with single bedrooms. The bedrooms contain a bed, desk, chair and closet. Kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared. Internet access is available for an additional fee. Students who are Shomrei Shabbat can request to live with other observant students. While personal preferences are taken into consideration whenever possible, students should be aware that their requests cannot always be met.
While there is no meal plan, the kitchens are equipped with stove burners and refrigerators for preparing light meals and snacks. Moderately priced kosher cafeterias and snack bars, as well as small supermarkets, can be found in or near each student housing complex. Laundry facilities and post offices are also available. A selected staff of Israeli students (called madrichim), reside in the dormitories to assist students in adjusting to campus life at the Hebrew University and to ensure a full benefit of their stay.
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 Rothberg 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 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.