The aim of the Bachelor in Religious Studies program is the achievement of two simultaneous, complementary goals. These goals are firstly, the acquiring of a significant amount of broad ranging analytical tools and skills. Thus, the graduating student is equipped with the background and skills necessary to pursue a lifetime of Talmudic study. A key to the success of this program has been the successful integration of both goals through a carefully selected sequence of courses combined with ever increasing demands on the intellectual ability and developing skills of the beginning student.
All first year courses are content orientated and are mainly offered in a structured classroom setting. Students begin to develop insight into Talmudic methodology by exposure to master teachers. A great deal of emphasis is placed upon remediation and support, often by senior students whose own skills are honed by working with younger, less experienced individuals. Care is taken to ensure that students lay a sound foundation for further scholarly work; through courses in Liturgy, Hebrew Grammar, Introduction to Chassidus and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, which are prerequisite to the programs offered in subsequent years.
By the second year, students are expected to have acquired a mastery of Hebrew grammar and to be able to cope wit the demands of the Mishnah, Jewish Liturgy, and Elementary Codes on their own. Courses such as Law and Chassidic Thought are now offered on a far more sophisticated level, tracing the development of ideas from Talmud and the Torah, as well as demanding demonstration of skills of textual analysis and original interpretation which are the hallmark of the serious Talmudic student.
The third year finds the student in an environment very closely resembling that of Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim. Classroom presentations are reduced and the centre of activity shifts to the Beis Medresh, the common study hall, where interactive group learning takes place.
During the fourth year, students generally operate at the level of the Beis Medresh of Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim, and the demands on the students are precisely those of Tomchei students. Students are required to participate in seminars and to prepare presentations of their own insights and preliminary research.
The graduating students will have acquired an extensive education in Talmud, Law, Torah and Philosophy. In addition a student will have amassed considerable background in the Hebrew, Yiddish, and Aramaic languages and in Jewish history. Moreover, he will have demonstrated the capacity to pursue independent study in these areas. Indeed, experience has shown that some will choose to go on to graduate programs in advanced Rabbinic and Talmudic study.
For those preferring a different path, students have used the Bachelor’s degree to go into other graduate courses, such as Law, Business, and Computer Science.