College should be a time of discovery. Higher education allows students from all walks of life to come together and learn not only from their studies, but also from each other.
Many colleges prioritize Jewish life at their campus, and today we are diving into some of the very best schools for Jewish students.
It is more important than ever to support and celebrate Jewish communities and to provide safe education spaces for students to be free in their identity and safe in their humanity.
Thankfully, organizations like ADL and Hillel.org are working diligently to create important resources for Jewish students.
In today’s world, some of the very best colleges in the entire United States have extraordinarily active Jewish populations.
The following schools are some of the top-rated schools in the US that also happen to have great resources for Jewish students.
Possible services include on-campus Hillel, Kosher cafeterias, opportunities for study in Israel, and much more.
Schools in this particular article are in the top 10 by percentage of students who are Jewish at the time of this writing (combined undergraduate and graduate), with the data on these percentages sourced from Hillel.org.
However, this article is simply a guide and a starting point. It is important to consider what you prioritize in a school and what you want in your college experience before deciding whether to attend any college. No rankings list can be viewed as the definitive guide for you personally.
Here are 10 of the best colleges for Jewish Students in the US.
University of Connecticut, Hartford (Hartford, CT)
UConn gives Jewish students a good balance of on-campus support and community organizations to be part of. At the heart of this balance is the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life and UConn Hillel.
The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life offers students many academic opportunities and connects them to larger initiatives in the community.
ALEPH: The Institute of Jewish Ideas is a place where students can attend seminars, lectures, and cultural events. The aim is to highlight Jewish values and share them with individuals.
Closer to campus home is the UConn Hillel. Students can find information about religious services, Kosher dining, and even parking by visiting the Trachten-Zachs Hillel House.
Open to all students, this group makes sure that UConn students feel at home in their identity and on campus.
If students are looking for resources more specific to their studies, UConn offers a unique online database called Sefaria. Through this tool, students can easily access every Jewish text imaginable.
And for those that are looking to freshen up their Torah knowledge, the program allows users to download a daily Torah reading app to their browser.
UConn is home to a top division athletics program, a thriving Greek life, and an annual Spring Concert that has showcased everyone from Kendrick Lamar to 50 Cent.
Long Island University, Brooklyn (New York, NY)
LIU Brooklyn has been ranked as one of the safest campuses in New York and resides in what some would call one of the most Jewish boroughs in NYC.
Such a combination is unbeatable for students looking for a community where they can feel safe and free to be themselves.
Students might be excited to know that LIU is the alma mater to legends like Ossie Schectman, a member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the first man to score a basket in the early days of the NBA.
Those who are interested can continue this legacy by joining the Division I ranked Basketball team on campus.
If sports aren’t of interest, LIU is also home to one of the oldest pharmacy schools of its kind nationally, the historic Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy.
LIU Hillel offers students the opportunity to attend Shabbat services, celebrate holidays, and participate in community service, while the Jewish Leadership Association promotes Jewish excellence and growth in leadership.
If that wasn’t enough, ride the subway 15 minutes over to Crown Heights, and students will discover a plethora of Kosher-friendly cuisine that has critics buzzing over how exciting the food is!
Sarah Lawrence College (Bronxville, NY)
North from Brooklyn, past Manhattan, and a little east from Yonkers sits a school that Hillel.org ranks in its top 60 for the size of its Jewish population, Sarah Lawrence College.
With its famous European teaching style, rejection of the SAT, and a long list of accomplished alumni, this college offers students a safe place to celebrate their individuality.
SLC is one of five colleges and universities that is served by the Hillels of Westchester, which invites all students, regardless of faith, to join and enjoy fellowship through community service projects, social events, and religious services.
For students who wish to explore their Jewish roots more deeply, HOW has a Birthright trip program that is free and open to students of Jewish heritage from ages 18-32.
Because SLC features a mentoring education style, students have access to one-on-one instruction from brilliant scholars like Dr. Glenn Dynner, a National Jewish Book Awards finalist and winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship, and Carol Zoref, winner of the prestigious Harold U. Ribalow Award for Fiction.
Finally, if that isn’t enough, those who attend SLC will join alumni like Alice Walker, Vera Wang, J.J. Abrams, Carrie Fisher, and Barbra Walters! SLC is the perfect school experience that offers all the clout of NYC and none of the chaos of living in the city.
Barnard College (New York, NY)
Barnard is a school that has always been at the forefront of social justice.
Founded in 1889 by one of the great Jewish leaders of her time, Annie Nathan Meyer, Barnard paved the way for women to receive a college degree when next-door neighbor, Columbia University, shut them out.
Since then, this women’s college has been dedicated to fighting for civil rights and promoting academic excellence.
Obviously, Columbia now opens its doors to all people – including the students of Barnard. Because of the college’s affiliation with Columbia opens the door for students to access an Ivy League education.
In addition to their connection to Columbia, Barnard also grants access to other surrounding NY universities, including The Jewish Theological Seminary. For those looking for a challenge, students can pursue a double degree, one from JTS and one from Barnard.
Next door to the college is The Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life. They open their doors to the students of Columbia and Barnard and allow a safe space for students to explore Jewish identity in all its forms.
The center offers fantastic opportunities for Jewish students; among these opportunities are fun events like Judaism in The City, a tour of NYC and its Jewish history, or academic assistance through scholarships like the Meaningful Jewish Experience Scholarship.
Barnard’s status as one of the top 100 colleges and universities with the lowest acceptance rate may seem intimidating, but this reputation is worth taking a shot at to access its historic success and academic excellence.
Brandeis University (Waltham, MA)
At different points in its history, Brandeis University has been associated with individuals like Albert Einstein, Leonard Bernstein, and its namesake Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish man to be nominated to the Supreme Court.
Besides being amazing names to casually drop, these individuals reveal a school culture that is committed to academic excellence, social justice, and nurturing Jewish identity.
Look no further than the front page of the website to find a link to The Jewish Experience, an online news site that offers information about Jewish news globally and locally.
Students can sign up for a monthly newsletter about Jewish news on campus that will keep them abreast of important faculty, alumni, and events.
Newsletters might contain updates on research like Dr. Shula Mola’s exploration of Ethiopian-Israeli history or the LGBTQ+ activism of alumnus like Rabbi Solochek.
Home of Nobel prize winning researchers, this R-1 university offers an unparalleled experience for Jewish students who want to apply their academic passion to furthering understanding in many different areas of Jewish life.
Among its research institutions is The Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute.
Recent research projects include the American Jewish Population Project, a massive undertaking that provides some of the most in-depth socio-demographic data about Jewish individuals in America.
This university’s rich Jewish heritage, campus Hillel, and dedication to research should easily place it among students’ top picks.
Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
Turning from the chilly north to the land of the south now brings up Tulane, one of the prestigious Association of American Universities.
This R-1 university is committed to understanding the American Jewish experience and has the receipts – literally and figuratively – to prove it.
The Tulane Department of Jewish Studies received a donation of $2 million dollars in 2020 to establish the Chair of Contemporary Jewry.
This will allow for the school to bring on a full-time faculty member who is a leading expert in their field of Jewish Studies.
In addition, the Stuart and Suzanne Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience offers excellent fellowship opportunities for students, including The Kanter Fellow; this fellowship offers recipients the chance to conduct research on the Jewish experience in America.
Even further examples of Jewish support can be seen in seminars that highlight the Jewish experience in all its diversity.
Community and academics are integral to a quality academic experience; with its long list of Rhodes Scholars, Fulbright Scholars, Marshall Scholars, Goldwater Scholars, Truman Scholars, and National Science Foundation Fellows and the local Hillel, students will find these are paired well at Tulane.
Hampshire College (Amherst, MA)
Hampshire College is home to one of the few certified green buildings in the world, a revolutionary education experience that the students craft, and to the Yiddish Book Center.
In other words, Hampshire is committed to going against the grain to protect history, knowledge, and the environment, and this unique vision is what makes it one of the most appealing schools on this list.
Home to the first course on the Holocaust, Hampshire is known for its well-established Jewish Studies program. Its tradition of encouraging students to create their own academic path has led to thoughtful intersectional explorations of Jewish identity and history.
On a more personal level, students who wish to explore their Jewish identity need look no further than the Jewish Student Union.
This organization is dedicated to social justice, student life, and celebrating Jewish identity and offers students the support they need as they navigate life at Hampshire.
Among these supports is good fuel to nourish learning minds; students can join members of the JSU for meals at the on-campus Kosher kitchen as they cram for exams.
For a school that has such a wide range of topics to explore, from dance with award-winning professor Deborah Goffe, to Native American Studies with scholar Robert Caldwell, it is easy for students to craft an education that fits their values, identity, and interests.
Touro College (New York, NY)
Jewish students’ cultural, spiritual, and educational needs are at the heart of Touro College’s vision for higher education.
Established for Jewish students by Jewish leaders, Touro believes that Jewish values are universal and will benefit all students, regardless of their faith background.
Though the college is open to all, it does make a point to highlight its Jewish heritage through institutions like the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.
Since its founding, the UN has designated the Institute as a consultant, ensuring that the lessons learned through the Holocaust are not forgotten.
This sharing of understanding and information is essential to Touro, especially in areas that intersect with Jewish history and life.
In fact, it is so vital, Touro recently started its own publishing company, Touro University Press, which publishes works that have a special focus on liberal arts and sciences at the intersection of Jewish literature and history.
Students who attend Touro College will join a collection of colleges and universities that have a vision for changing the world. Education like this is enough to nurture the mind, body, and soul.
Yeshiva University (New York, NY)
The product of a former cheder, Yeshiva University’s vision for higher education is one where faith and intellect go hand-in-hand.
Students who attend Yeshiva University will find opportunities to explore Israel, have access to brilliant Roshei Yeshiva, and to the cultural wonder of NYC.
As part of the S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program, students have the opportunity to do a study abroad experience in Israel, where they will encounter a yeshivot or midrashot.
This immersive learning experience offers students a one-of-a-kind chance to learn about Jewish heritage and history and learn Hebrew first-hand.
Though the university is known for a wide array of programs, its strong rabbinic school goes above and beyond to help place students with congregations through The Morris and Gertrude Bienenfeld Department of Jewish Career Development and Placement.
And for the wives of rabbis (rebbetzin), the Center for the Jewish Future provides seminars and support networks to nurture community with and support continuing education.
Finally, because of its proud NYC heritage, the school contributes towards educating the city and tourists worldwide about Jewish history by being a supporter of the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan.
Among the items that the museum keeps are original documents and photos of Jewish immigrants coming to America.
Yeshiva University has to compete with our other NY top picks, but with its location and commitment to Jewish culture and academics, it gives the others a run for their money.
American Jewish University (Los Angeles, CA)
Way on the other side of the US, the American Jewish University has established itself as one of America’s leading Jewish educational institutions. AJU’s mission is to elevate Jewish identity and history and incorporate this into each program.
Whether students choose to go to rabbinic school or become a teacher, their Jewish identity is placed front and center.
Programs like the School for Jewish Education and Leadership demonstrate this by emphasizing teaching through the lens of Jewish identity.
This mindset can also be seen in many of the on-campus organizations and events like the J-Life Club or the annual Purim carnival hosted by the student government.
For students who don’t feel like they know enough about their Jewish heritage and roots, they can access the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program.
This intensive 18-week learning experience gives students a comprehensive overview of Jewish history, rituals, and religious texts.
Students who successfully complete the program will find themselves able to connect deeper to their Jewish identity and roots.
With too many amenities to list, AJU is a place where Jewish students can feel safe to explore their identity and heritage – even when they are out sunning on the local beaches.