In-Depth Look: Barnard's Double Degree with JTS
So you’re interested in the Double Degree program with Barnard College of Columbia University and the Albert A. List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America? It’s a mouth full, I know, and I love that. I think having a long, complex program title is the perfect way to name an equally complex, wonderful, and unique program. However, every time someone attempts to say the full name, they run out of breath, so we just call it the Double Degree program for short.
If the name is any indication, the program can be a little difficult to understand at first. As a result, Double Degree students (like myself) have gotten really good at explaining what the program is and why we do it. So with the help of Double Degrees, both past and present, I’m here to answer these questions, along with some other commonly asked questions, and help you learn some more about the program.
“So what exactly is this program?”
The Double Degree program is a a partnership between Barnard and the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) that enables students to study and pursue a major at each school. Students in the program are enrolled at both colleges simultaneously and graduate with two bachelor’s degrees, one from Barnard and one from JTS.
“College can be challenging earning one degree, how are you going to earn two at once?”
The Double Degree program is rigorous. I’m not trying to scare you, but I’m being honest. While the average college student takes about 4-5 classes a semester, Double Degree students take about 5-6 classes a semester while juggling life at two schools and two majors. This sounds daunting, but really it’s more manageable than you think. One of the best parts of the Double Degree program is the huge amount of support you get!
“So are you studying to be a rabbi?”
Personally, I am not. There are many people in the program who wish to become rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators, and there are many people who want to become lawyers, doctors, and teachers. You’ll find students in the Double Degree program studying basically everything. Interested in being pre-med or pre-law? There are students who do that. Thinking about majoring in math or computer science? Double Degrees are studying in those areas as well. There are students studying biology and Talmud, history and Jewish ethics, economics and Jewish gender and women’s studies. Pretty much anything you want to major in, you can.
“This all sounds cool, but why do the program?”
“It's a cliché, but we like to say it's the best of both worlds. I had an incredible secular education, and was able to be in a Jewish environment at the same time.” - Barnard-JTS '13
“I chose the Double Degree program because I knew I needed a rigorous education, and that education would be incomplete without Jewish studies. JTS is one of the most important Jewish institutions in the world and Barnard is the best women's institution in the world. What more could I want?” – Barnard-JTS '20
“It was high time for me to become even more involved and fluent in Jewish life and history. I also was excited to explore NYC. I loved being able to go between the schools each day and think about the connections between my classes.” - Barnard-JTS '14
“Originally, I wanted to go to Barnard because it is a liberal arts college focused on creating women leaders. I also realized that I really love studying Jewish texts and wanted to continue that at the college level...I like to think of the Double Degree program as a series of concentric circles with many different communities that Double Degree are students of. The smallest is the Double Degree community and the largest is Columbia, with Barnard and the whole JTS community in the middle. No other school can provide that kind of system and it makes the program special.” – Barnard-JTS '19
“Finding your place in college can be tough. Discovering the wonder of the Double Degree community made me feel at home. These were, and still are, my people.” – Barnard-JTS '16
“I love having discussions and taking courses with people who are as passionate about Jewish studies as I am, but have various opinions which make conversations so intriguing. I never would have had these opportunities to delve this far into my Judaism without JTS. I also have the Barnard community which is unique and special within itself. I am empowered each and every day to be around amazing women with such determination to achieve their goals and aspirations.” – Barnard-JTS '20
I sincerely hope that if you are the slightest bit interested in the Double Degree program, you take time to do more research and find out if this program is right for you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!
Best of luck on your college search!