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Programs : Brochure

If the program location currently has a travel warning issued by the U.S. Department of State, please consult a study abroad advisor before starting your application.
  • Locations: Jerusalem, Israel
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Fall, Spring, Summer
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • Restrictions: Rice applicants only
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Program Type: Direct Enroll, Internship, Research
Program Description:

Hebrew U. dome of the rockSpring in Jerusalem holy menSpring in Jerusalem via doloro


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, founded in 1918, was Israel's first university and a symbol of the cultural rebirth of the Jewish nation in its ancestral homeland.  It was founded by such luminaries of the 20th century as Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, and Sigmund Freud, and is ranked as the top Israeli university by Israel's Council on Higher Education, as well as in world rankings.  It enrolls 22,000 students from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, including 12,000 undergraduates, 7,600 master's degree students, 2,400 doctoral candidates, and 800 at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students.  The University has seven Faculties and 14 professional and specialty schools with approximately 1,200 tenured academic faculty and 1,500 full-time administrative and technical staff.

The Rothberg International School
The Rothberg International School offers a broad selection of courses for undergraduate and graduate students and adult learners.  These courses are designed to highlight the rich history, fascinating present and challenging future of the region. Courses range from Bible to Modern Hebrew Literature, from ancient Jewish history to modern Arab nationalism.  Overseas students from over 70 different countries have been attending the Hebrew University since its earliest days.  Special programs for students from abroad have been conducted since 1955, and the School for Overseas Students was opened on Mount Scopus in October 1971.  In 1998, the School's name was changed to the Rothberg International School (RIS).  Currently, the School contains three major academic divisions: Undergraduate Studies, Graduate Studies (including six M.A. degree programs), and Hebrew Language Instruction.  Other academic departments include Summer Courses and Special Academic Programs, and the Preparatory Program (Mechina).


Visiting Rice students enroll in the RIS Undergraduate Study Abroad Program and are required to attend the pre-session Ulpan unless they are exempted by prior Hebrew language fluency. Ulpan is an intensive, immersive Hebrew Language course, which allows students to really 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. Rice 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.

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.  For more information visit the Rothberg International School website.

It is expected of Rice 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. Formal academic study is complemented with co-curricular informal activities. Academic seminars are open to students in their third (i.e., 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.

Rothberg International School together with Harvard University offers a special Spring in Jerusalem Honors Program for outstanding students with a minimum of a 3.5 GPA. 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.  

Academic Calendar
Fall semester:   early August - early January
Spring semester:   mid-January - early June


The student housing complexes on Scopus Student Village, overlooking the incredible panorama of Jerusalem, are within walking distance from the University. They offer an independent setting appropriate for overseas students. Living in University housing is an important part of the overall experience of studying abroad. RIS students have the opportunity to meet new friends from different cultures and continents - North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Europe - as well as a chance to share experiences with Israeli students.

Students from abroad accepted to long-term programs at the RIS are allocated housing provided that they make their reservations on time. The Hebrew University makes every effort to provide housing for students in its various dormitory complexes. 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.

Please note that on-campus housing for the spring semester is very limited. Dormitory spaces will be allocated on a first-come, first served basis to admitted students upon payment of non-refundable housing deposit. Alternate housing should be investigated.

Student Life

The Office of Student Activities (OSA) is responsible for organizing diverse extracurricular programs specifically designed to introduce RIS 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 RIS students handle day to day affairs.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

The Rothberg International School offers various scholarships as well as financial aid to deserving candidates.  NSEP scholarships may be used to fund study in Israel.


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. In the course of its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual center of the Jewish people since the 10th century BCE, contains a number of significant ancient Christian sites, and is considered the third-holiest city in Islam. 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 Sepulchre, 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, which for many years was the only Arab cultural center in East Jerusalem. From the hilltop of Mount Scopus, through the windows of the classrooms and dormitories of Hebrew University, the incredible panorama of Jerusalem unfolds, confirming the Talmudic statement: "Of the ten measures of beauty allotted to the world, nine were given to Jerusalem." The old walled city, a World Heritage site, has been traditionally divided into four quarters, although the names used today -- the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters -- were introduced in the early 19th century.