HUC-UC Ethics Center Center for the Study of Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems
Graduate Program

Jewish Comparative Law and Applied Ethics Program
Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR) School of Graduate Studies and University of Cincinnati College (UC) of Law offer a unique, multi-disciplinary, opportunity for the study of Jewish and Comparative Law and Applied Ethics (JCLAE). These programs are administered by the HUC-JIR School of Graduate Studies in coordination with HUC-UC Ethics Center and UC College of Law. The JCLAE programs offer access to the outstanding resources of both HUC-JIR and UC. Students interested in these programs should read the information provided below. If they have further questions, they are encouraged to contact HUC-UC Ethics Center at 513-221-1875 ext. 3367 or by email:

Areas of Academic Concentration
Language Requirements
The M.A. Program
The Ph.D. Program
Areas of Academic Concentration

The program features four main areas of concentration:

  1. Philosophy and Ethics
  2. Law
  3. Jewish Legal Texts
  4. Comparative Law and Ethics

Students are expected to fulfill one of the academic requirements of the program by taking a minimum of twelve core courses, at least three courses in each of these main areas. The core courses are mostly designed to introduce students to the different disciplines featured in the program.

The main objectives of the graduate programs are:

  1. To expose students to the basic disciplines of Civil Law and Jewish law
  2. To allow students to identify and examine problems ethically
  3. To encourage students to develop an informed individual approach to ethical-legal problems
  4. To enable students to address socio-legal problems in the community
  5. To prepare students for future work and research in applied ethics
  6. To promote teaching and research in the areas of Jewish law and ethics

The programs expose the student to religious and secular models of ethics and to jurisprudential analysis. They offer students the opportunity to participate in a variety of courses and practica, and allow for flexibility in order to accommodate the interests of each individual student. Students are invited to participate in many of the courses offered at HUC-JIR and at UC College of Law, and may also participate in courses offered at other schools and departments of UC, and in certain courses offered at Xavier University and at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

The programs are designed to foster the interaction of students of various backgrounds, faiths, and disciplines. Some of the core courses are offered jointly and accredited both at the College-Institute and UC College of Law, and attract lay and professional participants. Some courses are accredited at the College-Institute and the Athenaeum of Ohio and/or Xavier University. The cooperation of the participating institutions creates an opportunity for open scholarly discussion and interaction amoung the students involved.

Beyond the academic focus of the programs, students are offered the opportunity to take part in a variety of social service and educational projects. The M.A. program entails one practicum requirement in ethics education and the Ph.D. program an additional one in social justice. The ethics education requirement aims to expose the student to the challenge of ethics education at all levels by teaching an ethics course or preparing an ethics curriculum, for example. The social justice requirement entails work with a community-based organization and allows students to acquire practical experience in an area of their choice. Students are invited to choose an area of interest (such as homelessness, housing, domestic violence, medical ethics, etc.) and are then placed as interns in an organization that focuses its activities in that area. Both practicum experiences are closely supervised. The practicum component of the program is designed to allow students to gain practical experience and apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom.

Language Requirements

The College-Institute affirms the principle that knowledge of Hebrew is the cornerstone of Judaic learning. Students are expected to either be proficient in Hebrew or Aramaic or participate in language courses offered at HUC-JIR and develop the ability to study traditional Jewish texts in their original languages. Newly admitted students take a brief oral examination prior to their initial registration. The purpose of this examination is to determine whether new students may be admitted immediately to full-time residency, or if they need to take part in an intensive pre-residency Hebrew program to prepare themselves for a full load of regular course work.

The M.A. Program

The program leading to the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is designed to provide graduate level competency in one of the major fields of study offered by HUC-JIR's School of Graduate Studies.

The Master of Arts degree is awarded to students who have completed 45 credits of graduate work or 36 credits plus a thesis, with an academic record of B or better. At least 12 credits of course work in the student's special field are required.

The normal duration of the M.A. program is two years. The normal course distribution is three academic semesters of 12 credits and a fourth semester of 9 credits. Students writing a thesis normally register for 3 credits of thesis during the third semester and for 6 credits of thesis during their fourth semester. Awarding of the degree requires the successful completion of not less than 24 credit hours earned in residence on the Cincinnati campus.

The Master of Arts is designed to be a terminal degree. It is not, therefore, necessarily part of a student's progress towards the Ph.D. The student who completes the M.A. program may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program, but completion of the M.A. does not necessarily affect acceptance to, or the duration of, the Ph.D. program that follows.

The Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. is awarded to students who have achieved broad general competence in the areas of Jewish and Comparative Law and Applied Ethics (JCLAE) and demonstrated mastery of a well-defined area of study.<

Competence or mastery of an area of study, in broad terms, is based on satisfying the following three requirements:

  1. Residency and course work on campus, normally of three years' duration
  2. Passing of candidacy exams
  3. Satisfactory completion of a dissertation which reflects the student's ability to apply the knowledge and methods learned and demonstrates a capacity to carry out a scholarly research project

The course of study is seen as a means of helping the student attain a level of competency sufficient for the candidacy examinations. Generally, students are required to complete 72 credits of graduate course work or their equivalent, ordinarily over a three-year period. After completing required course work and with approval of a faculty advisory committee, the student may sit for candidacy examinations, which consist of three 5-hour exams. Students who satisfactorily complete the candidacy exams are eligible to receive the Master of Philosophy degree.

The student selects two members of the faculty as his/her dissertation supervisors and submits a written dissertation proposal to the Graduate Executive Committee of the HUC-JIR School of Graduate Studies. The completed dissertation is circulated along with written reports from the faculty advisors to the entire faculty. The dissertation must be completed by April 1st in order for the student to be eligible for graduation in that year. Once the dissertation has been accepted, the student is invited to give a public dissertation lecture.