A doctorate in Hebrew Letters is not that common in the United States although some schools are offering the degree program. This degree is mostly limited to students who are granted the title of Rabbi.

Apart from its exclusivity to Jewish people, most Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree programs also requires a campus setting for the whole duration of the course. However, aspiring students can take the program part-time without being expected to attend the classes on campus in some institutions. Another school also offers the course through long-distance learning giving the students the freedom to participate in the courses according to their schedules. This encourages students to expand their knowledge and satisfy their love of learning in a program designed for independent study.

So far, no schools are offering the course entirely online yet. Other doctorate degrees on Hebrew studies can be found online though, like the Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies and Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature.

Ultimately, a Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree is not for everyone. Most students who follow this path have been ordained as Rabbi or in-service Jewish professionals. If you are one of them and quite interested in being educators and communal service workers, then taking your education a step further will help you prepare for that future. 

What is a Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree?

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Explicitly designed for in-service Jewish professionals, a Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree is an essential step for those who want to seek career enhancement, career change, and personal edification. The latter is vital as this degree primarily targets rabbis who wish to expand their knowledge and acquire additional skills that can help them contribute more fully to Jewish society.

An unconventional degree, this program encourages the individualized process of learning from each student. While there is a demand for academic excellence, skill-based knowledge is just as necessary. Critical thinking is just as important.

Students undertake this program to demonstrate their skills in conceptualizing and analyzing key ideas, practices, and issues. There are also courses tackling classical and modern Jewish literature. This includes Talmud, Midrash, Biblical, and Talmudic commentaries, codes, and Hasidic works. Their knowledge of Jewish literature is integral in tracing the historical, conceptual, and analytical issues, ideas, and practices in Jewish society and contemporary Jewish life.

What are the requirements for a Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree?

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Usually, a Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree program only admits ordained rabbis or those who earned a master’s degree in Hebrew Letters from an academically accredited Jewish institution. Some schools require a master of art in Hebrew letters and a two-year residency necessary for ordination.

Most schools offering Jewish studies programs grant it on a quarter-term system. This flexible setup allows for asynchronous registration and start-dates. Instead of granting the credit in semester hours, the schools require quarter-hour credits.

To earn the degree, the program often requires three components, namely a course of study, a set of oral examinations, and oral dissertation. Sometimes, students are required to take up one major field and two minor fields with emphasis on research. These fields may vary, including Bible and Related Literature, Jewish Liturgy and Worship, Talmud and Rabbinic Literature, Jewish Thought, Jewish History, among many others.

Some schools may ask for an applied, practical project grounded in Jewish sources and addressing current, setting-based issues. It is something that students can complete offsite, albeit under the advisement of the faculty. The program is expected to be completed within seven years.

What career paths do graduates in Doctor of Hebrew Letters usually take?

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Most Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree holders work as rabbis. Being a spiritual leader with the Jewish faith, rabbis are employed in synagogues, schools, hospitals, and even in the military. Rabbis provide spiritual guidance and chaplaincy for Jewish people. A rabbi usually designs worship services and offer spiritual teaching from the Torah.

They offer guidance and advice to the members of their congregation. Their duties also extend to officiating weddings, funerals, and other traditional Jewish events. Jewish leaders are also expected to take part in community outreach programs.


What salary range can I expect with my Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree?

doctor of hebrew letters salary

Rabbis have a median salary of $90,217. Their wages can range from $44,000 to $152,000, excluding bonuses of anywhere between $500 to $20,000. Most Rabbis who choose to serve in Israel have state-paid salaries and other compensations that can let them lead a comfortable life all year round.

What schools offer online and traditional Doctor of Hebrew Letters programs?

Some educational institutions offer the Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree program in the country. Some of them include Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania and Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership located in Chicago, Illinois. Other schools are in Israel itself and other

The latter offers the program in both on-campus and online format, along with Master of Arts in Jewish Studies and Doctor of Science in Jewish Studies. The academic standards and requirements for both settings are the same. They only differ in the delivery method.

For those devoted to Jewish knowledge and skills, earning a Doctor of Hebrew Letters can equip degree holders with advanced understanding and experience that are valuable to their career path. Rabbis are essential members of Jewish society and being one requires a lot of skills and experience. A Doctor of Hebrew Letters degree can enhance and advance a rabbi’s career outlook.

If you are considering this degree program, then it is vital for you to learn all about the stringent requirements and comply with them to be admitted in institutions offering the degree program. Bear in mind that this program can benefit in-service Jewish professionals the most, primarily the rabbis.

However, if you only wish to concentrate on Hebrew literature, there are available doctorate programs in the U.S. that you can explore.