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Semester in Jerusalem

A Wheaton College faculty-led fall semester program where a cohort of students study and engage with ancient biblical and modern Middle East narratives.

The program is:

  • Inter-disciplinary—students can earn thematic tags and apply elective credits to various majors and minors.
  • Experiential—the courses include on-site field studies and excursions. 
  • Cross cultural—students experience meaningful interaction with local individuals and communities.
  • Formative—the program provides foundational learning, experience, and application that can help shape a student's vision of love, service, and peace. 

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Students will reside and study at Jerusalem University College in Jerusalem, the cradle of ancient civilizations and one of the most vibrant cultural and religious communities in the world. Nestled atop Mount Zion, the original campus building (formerly the Bishop Gobat Boys’ School) was constructed in 1853 where the southeastern section of the ancient first century wall of Jerusalem once stood—some stones of which form the façade of the college’s main building today. Immediate neighbors of JUC include the Roman Catholic Dormition Abbey and Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox seminary, as well as the traditional sites of the tomb of King David and upper room of the Last Supper and Pentecost Spirit outpouring (the Cenacle). A cemetery adjacent to the campus is the resting place of the mortal remains of a number of prominent individuals from the 19th and early 20 centuries, including the archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, the architect Conrad Schick, and Horatio Spafford, writer of the hymn "It Is Well with My Soul."

After completing their studies at JUC, students will debrief in Greece, where they will trace and study Paul's journey and cross cultural interactions there, providing a template to help inform and integrate their engagement across cultures in Israel and calibrate their reentry and interactions in the West.

Living Arrangements

With the exception of hotels and other accommodations during overnight excursions, students live in dorm rooms both at Jerusalem University College and the Hellenic Scripture Union in Kifissia, Greece.

Requirements and Prerequisites

Students must be undergraduates in good academic and judicial standing and have at least a 3.0 GPA to participate. All program participants must complete GEL 231: Orientation to Study Abroad (2 hrs.) offered during B quad of Spring semester 2020. It is recommended (but not required) that students complete either BITH 211: OT Literature and Interpretation or BITH 213: NT Literature and Interpretation prior to the program.


Students earn 16 credit hours, with most of the courses carrying CATC thematic core tags and accepted for major or minor elective credit by various academic departments. Courses are taught at Jerusalem University College by a wide array of noted professors from local educational institutions such as Hebrew University, Bar-Ilan University, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Bethlehem Bible College, and Bethlehem University. Students also take a one credit practicum and two credit integrative course, both overseen and taught by the Wheaton College professor in residence.

Students complete the following required courses:

  • Physical Settings of the Bible (4 hrs.) HP
  • Introduction to Modern Middle East (3 hrs.) GP, SI
  • Journeys across Cultures (2 hrs.) 
  • Practicum: Engaging Modern Middle East Narratives (1 hr.)

Students choose two electives from the following courses:*

  • Archaeology of Jerusalem I (3 hrs.) 
  • History of Ancient Israel (3 hrs.) 
  • History of Christian Church in the East (3 hrs.) 
  • History of the Holy Land from the Rise of Islam to 1948 (3 hrs.)                               
  • Iconographic Art in Judaism and Early Christianity (3 hrs.) VPAV
  • Intertestamental Literature (3 hrs.) LE
  • Modern Standard Arabic I (3 hrs.)
  • Palestinian Society and Politics (3 hrs.)
  • Readings in Biblical Hebrew Narrative* (3 hrs.) LE

* HEBR 102 is a pre-requisite for this course.

Major/Minor Elective Credits for Courses 

  • Physical Settings of the Bible: ARCH, BITH, GEOL
  • Introduction to Modern Middle East: ANTH, IR/PACS
  • Journeys Across Cultures: BITH
  • Archaeology of Jerusalem I: ARCH, BITH 
  • History of Ancient Israel: ARCH, BITH 
  • History of Christian Church in the East: BITH, HIST* 
  • History of the Holy Land from the Rise of Islam to 1948: IR, HIST* 
  • Iconographic Art in Judaism and Early Christianity: ART 
  • Intertestamental Literature: BITH 
  • Palestinian Society and Politics: ANTH, IR/PACS 
  • Readings in Biblical Hebrew Narrative: BITH, CL

Physical Settings, Archaeology of Jerusalem I, and History of Ancient Israel taken together can count toward fulfillingthe 6 hour elective block in the Archaeology major plus either ARCH 345, 365, or 366. Journeys across Cultures, History of the Church in the East, Intertestamental Literature, or Readings in Biblical Hebrew Narrative can count toward the 6-hour advanced interdisciplinary concentration in Biblical Studies option in the Archaeology major.

BITH majors/minors may earn 8 elective credits, 10 with department permission

IR majors/minors and those completing the PACS Certificate Program may earn 6 elective credits by taking Intro to Modern Middle East and Palestinian Society and Politics. In addition, History of the Holy Land can fulfill the history elective requirement for the IR major.

with department permission

Anticipated Fall Semester Dates*  

August 29 – December 18, 2020 (*Contingent on sufficient program enrollment)


Program costs are equivalent to a full-time on-campus semester at Wheaton (full tuition; double/triple dorm room; full board-18 AYCE meal plan) and cover program tuition, room and board, academic excursions, and transportation within the program (surface and air). This does not cover passport or visa fees, airfare to Tel Aviv and return from the program, vaccinations, textbooks, and other personal expenses. Financial aid is available for the program on the same basis as that of an on-campus semester.

Program Director

Dr. Chris Vlachos, Visiting Associate Lecturer in Biblical and Theological Studies

Dr. Chris VlachosI am delighted to be serving as the Program Director for the Semester in Israel program, having served five years as director of Wheaton in the Holy Lands and trip leader of the program in 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

I became a Christian in 1973 while a student at the University of Idaho. After a time of work and study at L’Abri Fellowship in Huemoz, Switzerland, I returned to school to earn a B.A. in biblical studies at Trinity College (Deerfield) and an M.A. in New Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

I went on to serve on the mission field in Utah for twenty five years, most of that time pastoring a church and serving as an instructor at Salt Lake Theological Seminary. After retiring from the pastorate and seminary, I earned a Ph.D. in Biblical Theology in 2006 (Pauline studies) from Wheaton College where I have since taught New Testament courses. Many of these courses are pertinent to study abroad in the biblical lands, including New Testament Literature and Interpretation, Acts and the Journeys of Paul, Prison Epistles of Paul, and Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. 

I am thrilled to accompany a cohort of Wheaton students to Jerusalem as they learn to read the Land, study the text, live the Book, and engage cultures, both ancient and modern.

Learn More

If you have questions or would like to know more about the Semester in Jerusalem program, contact us at Semester.in.Jerusalem@wheaton.edu

How to Apply

To apply, visit GoGlobal, Wheaton College's registration system for off-campus study and international travel, research, and internships.

The application deadline for Fall 2020 is December 1, 2019. Contact Dr. Chris Vlachos, Program Director, if the application deadline has passed, but you are interested in applying. Those applying after the application deadline will be put on a waitlist.