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Ancient Near East/Hebrew Bible

The HB/ANE track is designed to immerse students in the critical, academic study of the Hebrew Bible in its ancient Near Eastern context. Students read the entire Hebrew Bible in four semesters, and they learn another ancient Semitic language to an intermediate level. They are prepared for the field of biblical studies via two years of seminars in which they are expected to write and respond as scholars in the field. 

All students in HB/ANE must develop a second field as well, with an eye toward the kinds of positions that exist for Hebrew Bible specialists in these times. Second fields that have so far been selected include religious studies, New Testament, gender studies, linguistics, and the politics/war/strategy of the Ancient Near East. 

  1. Earned a master's degree in the field or have an extensive background in the study of the Hebrew Bible; and
  2. Three years of Biblical Hebrew (or equivalent); and 2) Knowledge of Biblical Aramaic or experience with a second Semitic language.

Core Degree

  • a minimum of 30 hours of MELC courses;
  • 9 hours of language seminars; 
  • at least 3 hours of comprehensive exams;
  • •reading knowledge of French or German;
  • mastery in a Middle Eastern language;
  • at least 6 credit hours of dissertation coursework
  1. HEB 380C The Bible in Hebrew I-IV (12 hours);
  2. RS 383M Theory and Method in the Study of Religion (3 hours);
  3. MEL 383 Critical Problems in Hebrew Bible (3 hours);
  4. MEL 383 Topical Seminar in Hebrew Bible;
  5. MEL 383 Comparative Semitic Grammar OR MEL 383 Historical Hebrew Grammar (3 hours);
  6. Minor field (12 hours);
  7. Semester hours dedicated to preparing students for comprehensive exams: at least 6 hours;
  8. Four semesters of approved Near Eastern Language work: either four semesters of an ANE language other than Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic, or two semesters of each of two ANE languages other than Biblical Hebrew and Biblical Aramaic;
  1. High-intermediate reading knowledge of German tested no later than the beginning of the second year;
  2. An exam in Hebrew and Aramaic of the Bible, testing how well a student can translate and analyze biblical passages without aids. The exam must be taken before the student can proceed to comprehensive exams and is normally taken at the end of the second year. The exam will consist of the translation of several passages taken from anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, analysis of grammatical forms, and the vocalization of a selection of unpointed classical Hebrew.
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Comprehensive Exams

Comprehensive exams are taken between the third and fourth years of study or between the   fourth and fifth years of study, depending on the student’s background. There will be three exams. One exam tests a student’s knowledge of the secondary literature of the field. It will be based on a long list of questions handed out ahead of time, but the exam itself will be a sit-down exam, written in a 3-hour period. Two other comprehensive exams test research and analytical skills and will be take-home exams written within a 28-day period. One of these exams will ordinarily test some aspect of an area the student is considering for a dissertation topic; the other will be a commentary on a passage chosen specifically for the student. Within ten days of the submission of the completed written exams, an oral exam is held in which the student defends before her/his committee the research, analyses, and arguments presented in the exam essays. The oral exam also includes a discussion of the student’s future professional development.

Admission to candidacy

Upon passing the comprehensive exams, the student will prepare a dissertation proposal and establish a dissertation committee. In order for the student to advance to candidacy and enroll in dissertation hours, the student’s supervisor, graduate advisor, and graduate dean must approve the program of work (establishing that the student has met all requirements), the dissertation proposal, and the dissertation committee. 


Once admitted to candidacy, students may register for dissertation  hours. Students must complete one semester of MEL x99R and at least one semester of MEL x99W in the semester in which they defend their dissertation and apply to graduate. Dissertation courses are graded on the CR/NC basis.

We encourage prospective students to read our Graduate Admissions FAQ, as many general questions are answered on our website.