Making Aliyah as a student has always come with many advantages, including the opportunity to acclimate to Israeli culture at a young age, study in an Israeli university and build up a network of friends and professional contacts, all of which can help boost a future career upon graduating and joining the Israeli work force. One of the greatest benefits currently offered to new immigrants is tuition assistance from the Student Authority.
The Israeli government covers the full cost of tuition for an undergraduate degree (for new Olim under 27) or a graduate degree (for new Olim under 30), started within three years of making Aliyah and at recognized programs (provided one does not have this degree from abroad). This financial benefit is a tremendous incentive to study in Israel, especially considering the high cost of North American degrees. Many Israeli programs are extremely accommodating to the needs of Olim by offering extra time on exams and the ability to write papers in English.
For some students, however, the thought of learning in Hebrew can be quite daunting. Studying in a language that is not one’s mother tongue can be difficult and can add many additional challenges to an already demanding workload for a student. Luckily enough, Israel also has many programs available that are taught completely in English (most of these programs are private, and will not be fully funded by the Student Authority). Included in these are many graduate level programs. Currently, each of the major Israeli universities offers English graduate degrees, and there are new programs being started every year.
Although tuition is definitely more costly than the Hebrew programs, with prices ranging from six to thirty thousand dollars, this is still much cheaper than attending graduate school in North America. Many schools also offer financial aid, and there are also many scholarship opportunities available for new Olim. It is also common for graduate students to work while studying for their master’s degree, and many programs only have classes two to three days a week, allowing Olim to manage both school and work.
There is a wide range of options that a graduate student can choose from when it comes to picking his or her field of study. International MBAs are one of the most popular options for graduate programs taught in English. There are programs offered in The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya (IDC), Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, University of Haifa, The Technion, and Ben Gurion University. The programs range from 1 to 2 years and offer specialization in various topics.
Great options for pre-med students wishing to study in Israel are the international medical schools, with programs in Ben Gurion University, Tel Aviv University, and the Technion. These programs allow students to complete medical school in Israel and then complete their residency requirements in America. Law students can choose from international law degrees in both Hebrew University and the University of Haifa. There is also a range of master’s degrees in English Language and Literature as well as Teaching English as a Second Language. The list continues with programs in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Each program has its own specific admissions requirements and students are encouraged to be in contact directly with the universities they are applying to.
While studying in English in Israel is a unique opportunity that allows many more Olim to further their educational and professional goals in Israel, it is also important to work on developing Hebrew as a second language while in school. Many schools offer academic ulpanim and it is highly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Students who have worked on their Hebrew while pursuing their degree will have a much smoother and simpler transition into the Israeli work force after graduation.
Sharon Millendorf made Aliyah in 2004 and received her BSW from Bar Ilan University. She works in the One Aliyah department at Nefesh B’Nefesh, coordinating overseas programming and specializing in higher education.