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Israel Study Abroad Program in Jerusalem

About The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Required GPA: 3.0 (4.0 scale)
  • Application deadlines: October 15 for spring semester (Jan-June)
    April 15 for fall semester (Sept-Jan)
    April 15 for full year (Sept-June)
  • Program advisor: Kerry Springer
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Program Snapshot

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Shalom! We're delighted that you're considering IFSA-Butler's program at the Rothberg International School, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (RIS) for your semester or year abroad. Hebrew University is one of the Middle East's most prestigious universities, and it's located on Mount Scopus in the ancient, intriguing city of Jerusalem. Few other locations can rival this program for an amazing study abroad experience.

What The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has to offer

  • Study in Israel's oldest and most prestigious university
  • Specialized programs and tracks include:
    • Hebrew language immersion program (Ulpan)
    • Arabic language immersion
    • Spring honors program
    • Art and Design program within the Bezalel Academy
    • Dance Jerusalem program within the Jerusalem Academy of Music
    • Jerusalem Sounds program within the Jerusalem Academy of Music
    • Middle East Politics and Society Study program
  • Located on historic Mount Scopus with breathtaking views of the Old City of Jerusalem, which combines ancient history with a modern, cosmopolitan outlook
  • Program based at the university's Rothberg International School, where courses are taught in English
  • A free cell phone for students
  • Intensive Hebrew courses for students
  • A secure, campus-based environment that celebrates diversity
  • Extensive resources to help international students with their academic and cultural immersion
  • Diverse extracurricular programs with tours, events and activities offered by Office of Student Activities to assist students in learning all about Israel, from the people to the culture and from the geography to the politics



Where can I view available subjects at Hebrew University
Visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Rothberg International School (RIS) online course catalog.

What is Ulpan?
All students, except those students taking the Arabic Immersion program, are required to participate in the Ulpan course, which is an intensive Hebrew language instruction course that begins before the semester starts and continues throughout the semester.

Summer Ulpan proceeds the fall semester, usually in August or September, and Winter Ulpan runs from mid-January to mid-February prior to the start of the spring semester. During the pre-semester, both programs involve 100 hours of intensive Hebrew language instruction designed for visiting and new students. There are generally special activities during the programs that complement the course. Once a semester begins, the contact hours for Ulpan reduce to eight to ten hours per week.

Students complete a placement test prior to their arrival on campus and are placed into one of six levels of Hebrew. Please note that the completion of one level during the program is equivalent to the completion of two to three semesters of Hebrew language study in the United States.

Are there any required courses?
Yes. All students, unless they are participating in the Arabic Immersion program, are required to participate in the Ulpan. This intensive Hebrew language program begins prior to the start of the semester and continues throughout the program. Ulpan is worth 5 U.S. semester credit hours.

What subjects can I study?
At the Hebrew University, Rothberg International School (RIS), students may take specialized program, such as Arabic Immersion or Dance Jerusalem, or they may take courses from the following departments: 

  • Art and Music
  • Archaeology
  • Business and Economics
  • Brain and Behavioral Sciences
  • Bible
  • Communication
  • Conflict Resolution
  • English
  • Environmental
  • Geography
  • Hebrew Language
  • History of Israel
  • Israel Society and Politics
  • Jewish Education
  • History of the Jewish People
  • Jewish Thought
  • Language (Arabic)
  • Literature
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Middle East and Islamic Studies History
  • Ancient Near East
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Religious Studies
  • Science
  • Israel Society
  • Society and Politics
  • Talmudic Literature

Visit the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Rothberg International School (RIS) online course catalog for a list of possible courses

What courses am I eligible to take?
As an IFSA-Butler student, you are entitled to enroll in undergraduate courses at Hebrew University, Rothberg International School (RIS) for which you are qualified and in which space is available. Course descriptions in the RIS online course catalog include prerequisites you must fulfill in order to enroll in each course.

What if I need to take a required course?
Please be aware that IFSA-Butler cannot guarantee that RIS will offer a particular course, or that there will be enough space in any given course. However, if you need to take a required course, please let your IFSA-Butler program advisor know so that we may inquire to the possibility of your taking the course.

Course Restrictions

All courses are offered within Hebrew University's Rothberg International School (RIS). Only students with advanced Hebrew language skills may take courses within other departments at Hebrew University. Enrollment in any course is subject to available space, as well as the satisfaction of prerequisites.

Enrollment in courses will take place once you arrive on campus.


How many courses am I able to take, and how do I determine U.S. semester credit hours?
The number of courses and credits earned depends on the student's program. Students can elect to participate in a specific program of study (please see the Programs of Study tab for more information) or do general study. Students are required to enroll in a full course load as defined by IFSA-Butler at the Hebrew University, Rothberg International School (RIS).

Each program of study has a set course load that can be found under the description of the program. At RIS a full course load for general study students consists of 15-18 U.S. semester credit hours per semester or 30-36 U.S. semester credit hours per year. Students who are not enrolled in the Arabic Immersion program are required to take the Hebrew language Ulpan, which is worth 5 U.S. semester credit hours. General Study students will continue with a Hebrew language course during the semester, which is worth 6 U.S. semester credit hours.

Since the majority of courses taught within RIS are worth 3 U.S. semester credit hours, general study students normally take three additional courses each semester in order to be enrolled in a full course load. Please see the Programs of Study tab for information regarding each program at RIS.

How many total credits will I earn?
Students who participate in the Ulpan program will earn 5 U.S. semester credit hours in addition to their semester credit hours, thus making it possible for students to earn 20-23 U.S. semester credit hours total for a semester, or 35-41 U.S. semester credit hours for the year. Students should check with their home college or university to determine how the credits will be accepted upon the completion of their study abroad experience.


What are the registration conditions?
You must take a full Hebrew University Rothberg International School (RIS) course load as determined by IFSA-Butler. Credit will be awarded on a Butler University transcript based on a typical U.S. full course load. All courses are graded on an A-F scale, and there is no provision for pass/fail or auditing courses unless pass/fail is the only method of assessment for the course. You are not allowed to register for online, distance education or hybrid courses.

You should also be aware that you may be charged additional fees by your home institution take or process additional credits. Taking less than a full course load may jeopardize your student status and result in personal academic repercussions and/or loss of financial aid.

The study preference form is not a registration form; it is a guideline to let RIS know which program you are choosing or the subjects you are interested in studying. You should discuss your course selections with your academic advisor at your home institution and have several backup choices approved. You will be officially registered for programs, but registration for specific courses will take place once you arrive on campus.


What do I need to know about exams?
Because you will not register for classes until you arrive on campus, it is not possible to know your exam schedule until after you arrive at the Hebrew University Rothberg International School (RIS). Please refer to the program calendar to review the exam period for Hebrew University. Students are not permitted to reschedule any exams, request alternate assessments or arrange to have exams proctored in the United States. If this occurs, IFSA-Butler cannot assist you in conducting an academic record appeal for the course in which you made this arrangement. You will need to complete and submit all academic work prior to departing the program.


How will my home university know what my classes were and what grades I received?
After you have returned to the U.S., your home university will receive a Butler University transcript with the credit you earned at Hebrew University. The Butler University transcript will report the equivalent U.S. semester credit hours and letter grades. We also will send an official transcript to your permanent address.

Programs of Study

Arabic Immersion Program

This program is based on the total immersion in constant and exclusive use of Arabic in its native social and cultural environment. The focus will be on Modern Standard Arabic, which is the formal language used in books, newspapers, news broadcasts and formal speeches throughout the Arab world. Students also will learn the foundations of the Palestinian dialect spoken in the Palestinian areas of the Middle East.

Participants in this program of study will receive 17 U.S. semester hours of credit based on the following structured course program:

Core course in Arabic (176 hours total for 12 U.S. semester credit hours)
Students will have classroom instruction using Al-kitaab textbooks and meet a total of 16 hours each week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday). An additional eight hours each week will be spent in tutorials, practicing and preparing lessons under the guidance of tutors. At the end of the course, students will participate in a workshop that is held in an Arabic-speaking environment, where students will interact with native speakers.

Islamic Belief and Practice (45 hours total for 3 U.S. semester credit hours)
This course helps students achieve a deep understanding of the Arabic language by familiarizing them with Islam. The course will meet for four hours each week.

Co-Curricular Activities (2 U.S. semester credits)
Each Tuesday during the semester is devoted to field trips and special activities designed to promote interaction with native Arabic speakers and to acquaint students with Arab society and culture. In addition to the field trips, students join two out of three clubs that focus on the Arab world. Previous club choices have been in such areas as Arabic Music Appreciation, Belly Dancing, the Arab World through Film and Calligraphy.

Students who choose the Arabic Immersion program are not required to participate in the Ulpan program. However, both IFSA-Butler and the Rothberg International School encourage students to consider participating in the Ulpan program in order to gain an useable command of the Hebrew language.

Students who successfully participate and complete this program will also receive a certificate of completion.

Art Jerusalem

Please Note: Art Jerusalem fall semester participants will be required to stay until the end of January in order to complete the semester. Students studying for the year must stay until the end of June.

Combine artistic training along with university study through the Art Jerusalem option. Students participate in the Ulpan program and select one of the following tracks of study:

  • Art Specialization Track: Participants take 12 U.S. semester credits of classes at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, located on the Mount Scopus campus, and three credits of classes from the Rothberg International School (RIS). This track is for advanced art students only.
  • Art Academic Track: Participants take 7-8 U.S. semester credits of classes at Bezalel, along with 7-8 credits of classes at RIS per semester. This track is for advanced art students only.
  • Art Exposure Track: Students who elect this track of study will take 3 U.S. semester credits of classes at Bezalel and 12 credits of classes at RIS.

Candidates for this either the Art Specialization or Art Academic programs are required to submit a portfolio and one additional recommendation. Please be sure to download the Art Specialization Form for detailed information and instructions for applying for either of these programs. Students in these tracks may also request to study in one of the Bezalel art departments:

  • Architecture
  • Ceramics and Glass Design
  • Fine Arts
  • Industrial Design
  • Jewelry and Fashion
  • Photography
  • Screen Based Arts
  • Visual Communications

Students who wish to explore the world of art and design without focusing on a particular area do not need to submit a portfolio and will study under the auspices of the Fine Arts department at RIS.

Dance Jerusalem

Please note: Dance Jerusalem fall semester participants will be required to stay until the end of January in order to complete the semester. Students studying for the year must stay until the end of June.

Students interested in dance have the unique opportunity to study on a joint program between the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and the Rothberg International School (RIS). Dance Jerusalem allows a student to train in the areas of Classical Ballet, Contemporary Dance (including Ohad Naharin's Gaga), Choreography, Repertoire and Improvisation. Students create, rehearse and perform works with outstanding Israeli composers and choreographers.

Participants also will participate in the Ulpan program and participate in a Dance Repertoire Workshop. Students take 9-10 U.S. semester credits at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and 6 credits at RIS each semester.

Participants in Dance Jerusalem typically do not participate in Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance performances. Because performances are scheduled in the spring semester, we recommend this option for the year or fall semester only.

Candidates for this program are required to audition. Please be sure to download the Dance Jerusalem Supplemental Form for additional application instructions.

Dynamics of the Middle East

Dynamics of the Middle East: Politics and Society (D.O.M.E.) is one of the newest programs at RIS. The program will draw from the renowned faculty of the Hebrew University in the areas of history, religious studies, sociology, political science, international relations and languages.

Students begin the semester with Ulpan and afterwards take the following curriculum:

  • Two courses in Middle East studies (4-6 credits) from the RIS online course catalog and/or the Hebrew U. English courses catalog.
  • Hebrew, Modern Standard Arabic or Colloquial Arabic (3-7 credits)
  • Electives (3-6 credits)
  • Optional Internship at a think tank, policy forum or media outlet (1 credit)
  • Optional independent study in relevant subjects

Spring Honors Program

The Spring in Jerusalem Honors Program is for students in their third or fourth year with a GPA of at least 3.5. This program allows students to study together with Israelis in advanced level courses taught in English, and it includes other program options listed below.

All students will participate in the Winter Ulpan program prior to the start of the semester (January-February) and will take two classes taught in English at Hebrew University. It is optional to continue with Ulpan for the rest of the spring semester. Honors Program participants complete their enrollment by choosing one of the following options:

  • Research Seminar: With the guidance of a Hebrew University professor, a student will become familiar with research methodology and focus on a topic of choice. Students present their research at the end of the semester, with class critiques. This course is worth 3 U.S. semester credits.
  • Hebrew University courses taught in English: Students will choose at least two classes from a predetermined list in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Business and Natural Science departments within Hebrew University. Each course will be worth 2-3 U.S. semester credits.
  • Courses at the Rothberg International School (RIS): Students may choose courses in the Undergraduate Division, or they may take designated courses in the Graduate Division that are offered for undergraduate credit (2-4 U.S. semester credits per course).
  • Language Study: Both Hebrew and Arabic language courses are available on various levels (3-7 U.S. semester credits).
  • Independent Research Project: Students have the option to conduct independent research under the supervision of a Hebrew University faculty member in lieu of one class (3 U.S. semester credits)
  • Academic Internship: Students have the unique opportunity to intern in a private company, public institution or NGO in order to experience Israeli society firsthand. Internships are supervised and monitored within the framework of an academic workshop, and are worth 1 U.S. semester credit.

The spring semester ends at the end of June, so students must plan on remaining at the university until the program end date.

Jerusalem Sounds

Please note: Jerusalem Sounds fall semester participants will be required to stay until the end of January in order to complete the semester due. Students studying for the year must stay until the end of June.

Jerusalem Sounds is a exciting program that allows a student to participate in a comprehensive music program in addition to taking classes offered at Hebrew University, Rothberg International School (RIS). Jerusalem Sounds is a joint program with the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and RIS.

Classwork consists of individual instruction, workshops and performances in small and large ensembles and classes in Jewish and Israeli music. In addition to participating in the Ulpan program, study abroad students participating in the Jerusalem Sounds study program will take the following:

  • Individual Music instruction (4 U.S. credits per semester)
  • Ensembles (4 U.S. semester credits per semester)
  • Klezmer Siminar and Workshop or The Hebrew Song: History, Poetry and Music (2 U.S. credits per semester)
  • Two courses at RIS (3 U.S. credits each per semester)

Candidates for this program are required to audition and submit two additional recommendations from music instructors. Please be sure to download the Jerusalem Sounds Recommendation Form and the Jerusalem Sounds Supplemental Form for instructions and additional application information.

Quantitative Biology

The program offers a unique hands-on guided laboratory research experience that is integrated with cutting edge courses in three sub-fields: molecular neuroscience, bioengineering and systems biology. Research projects and courses will focus on the fundamental understanding of cellular decision-making in health and disease. Research projects range from the mapping of transcriptional networks, innovative devices, high-speed three dimensional and super resolution imaging, to developmental biology and micro-environmental control of bacterial populations.

Students are required to complete the following courses, or their equivalent, at their home colleges before applying to the program:

  • Introduction to Molecular Biology
  • Introduction to Cell Biology
  • Physics: Mechanics or Electricity and Magnetism
  • Calculus
  • Computer Programming

GPA requirement: 3.2


Housing Options

What are my housing options?
Students at Hebrew University live in the Scopus Student Village, located on Mount Scopus and a short walking distance from campus. Living in the student village not only offers an independent setting but also is an important part of the study abroad experience. You will have the chance to make new friends from all over the world, as well as share experiences with Israeli students. Live in the student village includes the following features:

  • Suite-style living with single bedrooms
  • Living room, kitchen and bathroom facilities shared with two to four other students
  • All suites are air conditioned
  • Comprehensive security 24 hours a day
  • A supermarket and shopping are located nearby
  • Laundry facilities
  • Select Israeli students serve as madrichim (similar to resident assistants in the U.S.) to ensure the well-being of residents and to help them adjust to life in Jerusalem
  • Housing is within walking distance of classes at Rothberg
  • Students who observe the Jewish Sabbath or who keep Kosher may request housing with other observant residents

What is living in Jerusalem like?
Jerusalem is the ultimate blend of ancient and modern. Though history is evident everywhere in the city, the university campus and student housing are modern and full of convenient amenities. Jerusalem has countless historical sites, as well as all the entertainment, cultural and sports options of other large cities. An overland tram system makes traveling around the city safe, affordable and easy so that you can experience as much of Jerusalem as you want!


All accommodations are self-catering. No meal plans are available, though numerous student-friendly cafeterias and restaurants are available on and near campus.

Housing FAQs

Is my housing included in the program fee?
Yes. Your program fee includes accommodation at the university while Rothberg International School (RIS) classes are in session. You will be responsible for the cost of your meals.

When will I receive my housing assignment?
You will not receive your housing assignment until you arrive in Israel for orientation. Your program advisor will notify you of your housing assignment via e-mail if it is received prior to your departure.

Please keep in mind that while IFSA-Butler guarantees housing, we cannot guarantee your preferences.

Do I have to pay a housing deposit?
Yes. IFSA-Butler requires a refundable housing deposit of $300 before going abroad. We will return this deposit to you after March 1 for fall programs or September 1 for spring and year programs, less any fines, damages or outstanding debts in your name.

Can I arrange my own housing?
No. Independent housing is not possible for students on our Israel program.

Is Internet available?
Internet access is available for an additional fee. Students may arrange and pay for Internet access once they have moved into their accommodation.

Do I need to bring my own bed linen and kitchen utensils?
No. Students must supply their own bedroom linens and blankets, dishes and cooking utensils. The IFSA-Butler orientation includes a shopping excursion so that you can purchase the items you need for your housing.

Location Info

Living and Studying Abroad in Jerusalem, Israel

About Jerusalem
Population: 770,000
Location: Central Israel

City features

  • Israel's largest city and home to the Israeli national government
  • Thousands of years' worth of history are evident throughout the city and its surroundings
  • Religious sites that are sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Plenty of cultural and entertainment options, including art galleries, museums, theatres, nightlife and restaurants
  • A diverse and student-friendly environment

Do more!

  • Take advantage of organized tours of Jerusalem and trips to other areas of Israel, offered by both the university and IFSA-Butler
  • Visit the beautiful beaches and the Mediterranean views of western Israel
  • Go skiing in the mountain regions of northern Israel

Jerusalem Wiki Travel Guide
Go Visit Israel
Jerusalem Post
Sacred Destinations: Jerusalem

Dates & Fees

Program Dates

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Your program end date may change due to circumstances beyond IFSA-Butler's control. Upon arrival at your host university, be sure to verify your exam schedule and program end date. We also strongly recommend that you investigate fees and penalties associated with your airline tickets in case you need to make date or route changes.

Program housing is available only until the date listed as “Program ends” on the calendar.

Exams must be taken where and when scheduled. Under no circumstances may students request that an exam time be changed.

Program Fees

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What's included in our Israel program fees
Expense calculator

Academic Year and Fall Payments Due: July 1
Spring Payment Due:
November 15

Program Fee Bills
IFSA-Butler will send a single bill for tuition, services and housing. Any bills for tuition differentials and/or supplemental housing fees will be sent separately. Students who opt for independent housing will not be charged the housing component of the program fee.

The housing component of our program fee is based on the average cost of local student self-catering accommodation, usually a shared room in a regular dormitory, apartment or house without any extra features. Your program fee includes accommodation at the university while Rothberg International School (RIS) classes are in session.

† Housing Deposit
This program requires a housing deposit of $300. This payment is in addition to the program fee but is due on the same date. The deposit is held separately from the program fee and should be paid separately. The deposit is refunded to the student after the program, less any damages, fines or outstanding debts in the student’s name.

Personal Cost Estimates

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Expense calculator

These figures are designed to assist students with financial planning but are only estimates based on past students' experiences at the current exchange rate. They do not include any entertainment or vacation travel costs.

The above numbers are general estimates of expenses during a program abroad. We recommend taking into account your current spending habits, the cost of living in your host country and the current exchange rate. Your IFSA-Butler program advisor can be helpful as you attempt to work on a personal budget for your experience abroad.

Personal Miscellaneous: Covers general expenses of college life, including course supplies, photocopying, toiletries, snacks, personal care, etc.

All costs are in U.S. dollars.

Academic Statement and Resume

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem requires an academic statement of 300-500 words and a resume from all applicants. Your academic statement will aid the Admissions Committee in evaluating your application.

Please respond to one of the following three questions, and be sure to relate your essay to your program of study and your academic goals. Remember, respond to only one of these questions, not all three.

  1. Why do you wish to study abroad?
  2. What are the three most important things you hope to gain from your experience in Israel?
  3. Describe a recent experience, achievement or dilemma that was profoundly meaningful to you and impacted your life. Elaborate on how it affected you.

Students applying to study at Hebrew University are also asked to provide a copy of their resume. Please send both the academic statement and your resume with the other forms for this program.

Meet Your IFSA-Butler Team

IFSA-Butler has a dedicated team of staff who are here to help students prepare for their program in Israel:


A Wisconsin native, Program Advisor Kerry Springer has travelled and lived all over Asia, including studying abroad in Varanasi, teaching in Chennai, and carrying out fieldwork research in Pondicherry. Kerry holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin, as well as a master’s degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. A foreign language enthusiast, she has both strong cross-cultural communication skills and first-hand insight into foreign educational systems, homestays, and student life abroad. Kerry looks forward to drawing on her own experiences in India to help IFSA-Butler and Alliance students make the most out of their endeavors across the Middle East and Asia.


beckiStudent Accounts Coordinator Becki Niccum assists with the financial side of study abroad and processes payments and invoices. Becki can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229 ext. 3077.





Student & Parent Services Manager Donnetta Spears is available to both students and parents for travel questions and information. Donnetta has worked with IFSA-Butler since 2000, and she has traveled through parts of Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand. As the mother of 4 college students (including one who studied abroad on an IFSA-Butler program), she has a deep understanding of the ins-and-outs of study abroad from a parent perspective. Donnetta can be reached at the email link above or at 317-940-4252.


Once abroad, our students are in the capable hands of our Israel staff, including Resident Director Monica Wasserbach. Click here to read more about Monica.

rhondaUpon return from your study abroad program, Assistant Director for Academic Records Rhonda Hinkle processes your Butler University transcript and assists with any academic record appeals. Rhonda completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Evansville and received her master's degree from Bowling Green State University. Currently she is working on her Doctorate in Adult, Community and Higher Education at Ball State University. For Rhonda, study abroad not only increased her awareness of the world around her but also ignited her passion for travel and education. Rhonda can be reached at the email link above or at 800-858-0229 ext. 4259.

Get Connected

Connect with IFSA-Butler Students

If you really want to know what it's like to study abroad, connect with IFSA-Butler alumni and students who are currently abroad on an IFSA-Butler program. Check out the following:

Student Network
Student Blogs
Experiences Abroad Videos
For Students


Supervised internships are available with companies, government offices and nonprofit organizations, and for a variety of majors and academic areas of interest. Internships are worth 1 U.S. semester credit hour.

Institute for Study Abroad, Alliance For Global Education and MORE CULTURE. LESS SHOCK. are registered marks of the Institute for Study Abroad, Inc.