Through a comprehensive approach to the formation of character and intellect, Shalem College grants students the knowledge, wisdom, skills, and experience required to lead a Jewish and democratic state.

Shalem College is an elite undergraduate institution of higher education established in Jerusalem in 2013. We aim to prepare a core of leading Israeli citizens dedicated to lives of influence and service, and to the dual, Jewish and democratic character of their state. 

Shalem inducts students into an intellectual conversation spanning millennia and comprising the seminal ideas of the Western and Jewish traditions. Through our Core Curriculum—the only one of its kind in the Jewish state—we encourage the exploration of great philosophical, literary, theological, artistic, and scientific works; the development of critical-thinking skills and a commitment to civil discourse; and the cultivation of those habits of mind required of leaders in a liberal democracy.

Our major in philosophy and Jewish thought prepares students to wrestle with Israel’s competing Jewish and democratic identities, while our major in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies enables them to understand the Islamic tradition, the contemporary Arab world, and Israel’s place in the region. Unique among Israeli departments of Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, ours insists on fluency in Arabic, ensuring that our graduates can engage the Arabic-speaking world in an unfiltered way.

We are currently in the process of obtaining approval from Israel’s Council for Higher Education for a new, interdisciplinary major in Strategy, Diplomacy, and War, and will soon apply for a fourth major, in Economics and Policy, as well. Like our current majors, both programs will be unique to Shalem, and both are designed to address the most complex challenges facing the Jewish state.

First, ours is a four-year degree, one year more than that required for degrees at other Israeli colleges and universities. This allows for our students to cover the full range of disciplines in our Core Curriculum, even as they study their chosen major in depth.

In addition, the courses in our Core are taught in small, dynamic seminars. We require both attendance and participation, and maintain a small faculty-to-student ratio that enables real mentorship and meaningful engagement.

Shalem also features a comprehensive citizenship curriculum, including an experiential course on the major challenges in Israeli society and an accelerator for socially minded entrepreneurship. We actively encourage student initiatives for social change, several of which have become sustainable organizations and nonprofits. We also emphasize Jewish peoplehood, most notably through annual delegations to the Bay Area and Washington DC.

Shalem students are models of academic excellence and drive, who rank among the top five percent of undergraduates in the state, and include five times the national average of commanders, officers, and combat soldiers in elite units. They are secular and religious, come from every socioeconomic background and region of the country, and express the full range of ideologies and worldviews. Many have launched companies, nonprofits, and large-scale initiatives, while others have engaged in sustained volunteer work. Finally, the majority are graduates of one of Israel’s celebrated pre- and post-military leadership academies (mechinot).

Unlike Israel’s other leading institutions of higher education, for which admission is based exclusively on standardized tests and GPAs, Shalem students are admitted on the basis of their grades, their performance on an array of special entry tests, in-depth interviews, and their demonstrated commitment to citizenship and service. Our admissions process is rigorous and personalized, and we are considered among the most selective institutions of higher education in the state.

The National Union of Israeli Students’ Annual Student Satisfaction Survey—the only national ranking of Israel’s 63 institutions of higher education—ranked Shalem number one for four straight years in 14 of the survey’s 18 categories. They include quality of teaching, student-teacher relations, concern for student welfare, and learning environment.

No. Shalem is a private college, and like all other private colleges in Israel, we do not receive any government funding. Unlike other private colleges, however, we are committed to subsidizing our students’ tuition and living expenses, which allows them to devote themselves fully to both their studies and their civic commitments. We are also unique in our determination to keep our class sizes small, which we believe is the key to intellectual development and discovery. For that reason, philanthropy, and not tuition, is the lifeblood of the college.

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