Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations

The Herman E. and Lotte Schaalman Civilization Program in Jerusalem
Students listen to a tour guide while looking over the city.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Xhesika Bardhi

Application Deadline:


The Spring 2024 Jerusalem Civ program will be temporarily relocated to Rome, Italy due to uncertainty surrounding the current conflict in the Middle East. The decision was made in partnership with the faculty teaching as part of the program this year, who are confident in the transferability of curricular content, and existing partners on the ground in Rome who are ready to accommodate the group. Students have been notified of the change and have the option of withdrawing from the program with no consequences, including reimbursement for their paid administrative fees. The College plans to continue the Jerusalem program in the future.

The University of Chicago’s Spring quarter Jerusalem program provides University of Chicago students with an opportunity to study Middle Eastern Civilizations in one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

    Jerusalem brings alive the ancient and modern expressions of the three major Western religious traditions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—whose adherents have long struggled to coexist within the city’s rugged limestone walls. The three-course civilization sequence presents a historical survey of the sacred city and its topographies of monotheism. Classroom work is supplemented by weekly excursions to sites of historical interest both within Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel. Participants also take a fourth course in Modern Hebrew or Arabic language at the appropriate level.

    The Jerusalem program is operated in cooperation with the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University—Israel’s first and top-ranking university—and participants have access to the resources and activities on its Mount Scopus campus, where they live and study.

    Jerusalem program participants are housed in dormitories on the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, a five-minute walk from university classrooms and a short cab ride from the city center, with its myriad restaurants and shops. Students typically live in single rooms within five-person suites. The suites contain full kitchens, where participants can prepare their own meals. A graduate program assistant from Chicago and an Israeli university student also reside in the dorm and provide program support.

    Participants in the Jerusalem program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the civilization sequence and the Modern Hebrew or Modern Standard Arabic language course. The civilization sequence meets the College’s civilization requirement. Students who have already met this requirement may use these courses as electives. Their use, partial or total, in a program of study (major) must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the student’s respective major. The language course will normally count as an elective. Neither the Modern Hebrew nor the Modern Standard Arabic course in Jerusalem is keyed to Chicago’s Modern Hebrew or Modern Standard Arabic language sequences. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Jerusalem program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Spring tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Jerusalem program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (Students pay for a monthly phone plan, which includes a SIM card, and have the option of renting a phone if they do not bring one from home.)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Jerusalem is roughly similar to Chicago, and while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section. 

    The Jerusalem program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the civilization sequence is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take Modern Hebrew or Modern Standard Arabic campus before the program begins.

    Because of the considerable demand for the Chicago civilization programs abroad, no student may participate in more than one of these programs. Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations program and the possibility of participating, please contact Xhesika Bardhi.

    About the Program’s Benefactors and the Legacy of Rabbi Herman Schaalman:

    Marc and Gail Fenton have generously endowed the Jerusalem in Middle Eastern Civilizations program in honor of Rabbi Herman E. Schaalman and his wife Lotte Schaalman. To learn more about Rabbi Schaalman, we encourage students to view the documentary Crossing Boundaries about his life and legacy of interfaith dialogue, intercultural communication, and personal achievements.