Hebrew University of Jerusalem |

Excellence in English

Hebrew University of Jerusalem is home to a diverse community of topnotch faculty and students. Many native English speakers flock to the prestigious university for its numerous English-language degree programs and its welcoming atmosphere

Rebecca Kopans
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Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campus
Hebrew University's Mount Scopus campusCredit: HUJI
Rebecca Kopans
Promoted Content

After a long pandemic-induced bout of distance learning, students are once again rushing to class and socializing in the cafeterias on Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s lovely campuses. Among the nearly 26,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students, there are approximately 2,000 international students from all over the world, in addition to a large group of native English speakers who moved to Israel at various stages of life. 

English-speakers choose Hebrew University because of its academic excellence and worldwide reputation, as well as its large selection of courses and degree programs in English for all levels of students – from first-year undergraduates to graduate students, including summer programs, study abroad programs, international PhD and postdoc tracks, and short- and long-term study opportunities. Many Master’s degree programs are taught entirely in English, in such varied fields as Brain Sciences, Jewish Studies, Law, Conflict Resolution and Non-Profit Management. Students also choose Hebrew University because of the opportunity to live in Jerusalem and be part of its vibrant international student community. 

PhD student Alex GellerCredit: HUJI

World-class research

Alex Geller grew up in West Orange, New Jersey, where he attended a Jewish day school. After completing a Master's degree in Biology from Princeton, Alex felt a tug toward something different. “Something different” translated into a six-month Masa Career Israel program, during which he interned in a biology lab in Israel. That was five years ago, and he has remained in Israel ever since. 
When Prof. Asaf Levy of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food & Environment invited Alex to pursue a PhD, he eagerly accepted. Alex began his doctoral studies at the Rehovot campus in 2018 and expects to complete his degree in about a year and a half. His face lights up when he talks about his doctoral research. “I am a bio-informatician. I study bacteria and how they can be engineered for medicine,” he explains. “I mainly look for patterns in genomes. The significance of my research is threefold: ecological, agricultural and medical,” he adds.

Alex very much enjoys the atmosphere at the university. “The campus is very pastoral and has a relaxed vibe. I have a good time in the lab. There is a built-in social group and we hang out together,” he attests, noting that, “Hebrew University is the top university in Israel and there is a lot of excellent work being done here.” Alex manages well, despite the fact that he didn’t know Hebrew at all when he first arrived in Israel. “English is the lingua franca at Hebrew University. I have friends who only know English. Two of the Master’s students in my lab are from Germany and Panama.”

Dr. Yonit Hochberg, Assistant Professor at the Racah Institute of PhysicsCredit: HUJI

“This is a place that respects you”

Dr. Yonit Hochberg, a theoretical particle physicist on the faculty of Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics, is also originally from the United States. Her family moved to Jerusalem when she was a child and she works together with her husband, Dr. Eric Kuflik, who moved to Israel from the U.S. as an adult. They are both Assistant Professors and have two young children. Dr. Hochberg is a member of the prestigious Israel Young Academy of Science.

Since Dr. Hochberg and Dr. Kuflik are theoreticians, their research group works in offices rather than in a lab, on the Edmond J. Safra campus. In a nutshell, their research explores the basic building blocks of nature, with a primary focus on dark matter. “What is dark matter and how can we detect it? We propose new ideas for detecting dark matter in the lab and then convince experimentalists to test these ideas,” Dr. Hochberg explains. It is usually assumed that dark matter is very heavy, but her research group developed a paradigm that suggests that dark matter is actually 1,000 times lighter than was previously believed. These findings can have significant applications in fields such as quantum sensing. 
When the husband-and-wife team decided to move to Israel following their post-doc research at Cornell, they received double offers from several universities. They chose Hebrew University because of its “excellent research and researchers” and because Yonit has a special bond with the university. “As a child in Jerusalem, I was one of those kids who went to after-school science activities at Hebrew University. The Safra campus was a big part of my childhood,” she reveals. Returning to the campus years later as a member of the faculty “felt like coming home.”

She has not been disappointed. “This is a place that respects you. It is brimming with nice people who are curious about the world and do good science with a smile. I do the best physics when I’m happy,” Dr. Hochberg asserts enthusiastically. She is especially impressed with the students: “They are topnotch, and it is a pleasure to engage with students like that.” She is also grateful that the university has been so supportive of her research. “My sub-field didn’t exist at Hebrew University before we arrived four years ago, but we have already made a mark and our group is now known around the world,” she points out.

Marc Fein, a recent Hebrew University alumnusCredit: HUJI

Combining theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience 

Recent alumnus Marc Fein also enjoyed his Hebrew University experience, even though it mainly entailed distance learning as a result of Covid-19 regulations. Marc, 35, is from Riverdale, New York, and moved to Israel two years ago, shortly before the pandemic began. After spending the previous ten years in the field of Jewish mental health advocacy and Jewish education in North America, he was eager to find his way in Israel. 

“I wanted to take my career to the next level. It was hard looking for a job during Covid and I realized this was an opportunity to get a Master’s degree,” Marc shares. Hebrew University’s M.A. in Non-Profit Management and Leadership appealed to him for several reasons: it is a one-year program; it is taught entirely in English; the university is located in Jerusalem, where he was living; and, in his words, “Hebrew University’s reputation speaks for itself.” Moreover, since the classes were concentrated in two days a week, he was able to pursue a full-time degree without neglecting his other interests. 

Marc testifies that he got more out of the degree than he expected: “I was able to tailor the coursework to my passions and interests. For example, I could write papers about mental health advocacy or develop projects that I was able to launch. If you come with a vision, you can apply the course material to fit your own experiences and aspirations.” This is especially true since the Non-Profit Management degree, like most other Hebrew University programs, combines theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience. In fact, as part of one course, Marc developed a partnership with organizations in Canada and Florida to launch a Holocaust education initiative.  

Even though the classes were mostly via Zoom, Marc says that the program participants formed a community and classmates supported each other in different ways. “It was a really diverse group in terms of nationality, religion, age, ideology, etc. It was very cool that it was so international. We had peers from all over the world,” he points out. According to Marc, most of the professors were native English speakers and were approachable, offering feedback and guidance throughout the program. 

The day after completing his degree, Marc started working as the Director of Leadership and Career Programming at the Masa Leadership & Impact Center, Masa – the exact field he dreamed about. He has no doubt that his Hebrew University degree helped him secure this desirable position. “Who would have thought it would all work out so well?” he smiles.

For more information about opportunities to study at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, go to the website