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TCNJ Israel Program at Ben-Gurion Univ of the Negev

TCNJ maintains a partnership with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, to provide students with a wide variety of academic opportunities in one of the world’s most fascinating settings.  TCNJ students will take courses in the Ginsburg-Ingerman Overseas Student Program (OSP), where all courses (except those in Hebrew and Arabic) are offered in English, using US credit measurements).

About BGU: Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was created to fulfill a unique nation-building mandate: to develop the Negev, its land and its people. It is Israel’s fastest growing institution and gaining an international reputation for its innovative research, its dynamic student body and its modern campus.

Today, Ben-Gurion University is a major center for teaching and research, with over 18,000 students enrolled in the faculties of Engineering Sciences, Health Sciences, Natural Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of Management and the Kreitman School of Advanced Graduate Studies. International students are offered the chance to experience first hand why BGU is known to be the number one choice university for Israeli undergraduates. TCNJ students will have the chance to experience the real Israel, and enjoy a semester living like a real Israeli student.

BGU is located in the historic city of Beer Sheva – the capital of the Negev region. The Negev itself is part of an awe-inspiring desert that stretches from Egypt through the southern part of Israel to Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Negev, accounting for 60% of Israel’s land mass, equaling an area of 12,000 square kilometers, encompasses all the landforms that make up a desert: desert flats, sand dunes, desert pavements, cliff faces that stretch for dozens of kilometers, and deep canyons. The Negev provides a worthy challenge to those seeking adventure; the combination of clear blue skies and beautiful yellow sand offers an array of opportunities for exploration.

In Fall 2012 TCNJ hosted BGU anthropologist Dr. Aref Abu Rabi’a, who taught a course on traditional medicine in the Middle East.  (Dr. Abu Rabi’a story is a fascinating one – read more about it in his chapter in a recent anthology about anthropology and cosmopolitanism.)  In Spring 2013 we are hosting BGU’s Kobi Kabalek, a historian in the BGU Overseas Students Program, and he will teach a course on the Holocaust and film.

Check out this video, celebrating 40 years of Ben-Gurion University – the video features Dr. Paula Kabalo, a popular professor of Israel Studies, talk about her teaching and research in the Ben-Gurion Institute archives at BGU.

Academics:  Most TCNJ students will earn at least 5 TCNJ units (= 20 US credits) in the TCNJ Israel Program at BGU. The OSP Academic Program page serves as the gateway to more information about available course offerings.  The program is divided into two sections: a six-week intensive Hebrew language course (“Ulpan”), and the regular semester.

Ulpan – students will earn 2 TCNJ units (= 8 credits) of Hebrew language at the beginning of the program over the first six weeks. Six levels of Hebrew – from absolute beginners up through advanced speakers of the language – are available.  Most students beginning their Hebrew students at BGU will earn the equivalent of Hebrew 101 and Hebrew 102 during the intensive, but rewarding Ulpan part of the program.  There are 120 hours of instruction in this part of the program = 2 TCNJ units of academic credit.

Starting in Fall 2012, there will be an Arabic Ulpan session!  Please stop by the Center for Global Engagement for more information.

Regular semester – students will take an additional Hebrew course (equivalent to Hebrew 103 and completing all language requirements in any TCNJ School) plus coursework in all subject areas available in the OSP.  Courses on offer include research opportunities that may be arranged through consultation with BGU’s North American office.  (Students interested in research options should contact the TCNJ Center for Global Engagement for more information.)  Students will earn at least 3 TCNJ units (= 12 US credits) in the regular semester and have the option to take more.  Here is a listing of available classes at BGU.

Please note: Students interested in completing coursework toward the Holocaust and Genocide Studies minor at TCNJ should definitely consider a semester at BGU!  Every semester there is at least one course that would help students fulfill their minor requirements.

(Students with advanced language skills in Hebrew may take regular BGU courses with other Hebrew-speaking students.  The academic calendar for these courses, though, will be different from the OSP calendar.)

For program dates, please consult the OSP Academic Calendar.  (“Spring” is usually January through early June, while “Fall” is late July through December.  Dates for 2013-2014 are noted below.)

Housing: TCNJ students live in convenient on-campus apartments with Israeli and international students as suitemates.  Single and double rooms share common living, kitchen, and bath areas in the suite.  This allows students the opportunity to foster lasting friendships with other Israeli BGU students. The apartments are centrally located, a few minutes from the center of campus. Homestays are also available.

In the housing complex there is a little supermarket, a cafe/pub, a laundromat, and a hairdresser, plus there is a music room, a weekly disco club, a lounge with a television and VCR where movies are shown each week and a computer room that is open all night. Across the road from the apartments is the university sports center. All apartments are equipped with private phone lines, although phone service must be arranged individually and most students purchase cell phones upon arrival.

There is no inclusive meal plan during the year or semester for BGU’s Overseas Student Program. Kitchenware and cooking equipment as well as eating utensils are not provided, but can be purchased at reasonable prices in order that students may cook in their apartments. Often Israeli roommates already have furnished the apartments with these items. Students can dine in any of the on-campus cafeterias (all of which are kosher) where meals are served at reasonable prices. Plus, there are a lot of restaurants in walking distance from the dormitories, where students can have their choice of ‘authentic’ Israeli restaurants, and enjoy superb food, while engaging in lively conversation with the locals. This is a great way to learn about the country and people, as well as a good way to improve your Hebrew.

Student Life: The OSP’s Student Life link offers a comprehensive look at what life is like on the BGU campus – most TCNJ students will see similarities to US campus life: clubs, organizations, sports, dining halls, a small bookstore, and other familiar features. Students who enjoy working with TCNJ’s Bonner Center will find BGU to their liking – there are many, many opportunities to volunteer in Be’er-Sheva, and the OSP will help TCNJ students find these opportunities during their time in Israel.

Here is a video from the Kehilat Beerot community in Beer-Sheva providing a visual overview of the city! 

Program Dates:

Fall 2013 – July 29 to December 26

Spring 2014 – January 1 to June 15

Program Costs – 2012-2013 (we will receive an update from BGU shortly for Fall 2013)

Fall 2012 and Spring 2013: $10,600, including tuition for 5+ TCNJ units, housing, program excursions, and program support – See the TCNJ Cost Sheet for the Israel Program for information about additional expenses not charged by the program.  Please note, the price for the program has not changed since Spring 2011.)

Scholarships are available from the OSP.  (There are also scholarships available through MASA Israel.)

Questions?  Feel free to contact the Center for Global Engagement,, 111 Green Hall, 609-771-2596.

Applying to TCNJ to participate in the TCNJ Israel Program

Scholarship information for students studying abroad in Israel