Degree Options for Spouses

When I decided to marry my Marine, I thought I was giving up on my career goal of getting a Masters degree in Jewish Education. This is a fairly new degree, and it is only offered at a few schools-none of which are near a Marine base.

It wasn’t until after the wedding, with some helpful advice from my friends at JESNA (Jewish Education Service of North America) and the resources on their website, that I found the best solution: the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies distance learning program. In this program I found the flexibility that I needed in a school whose reputation I could trust.

Since I began my degree program at Spertus, I have noticed that many schools are jumping on the distance learning bandwagon. They are beginning to cater to a new kind of student who cannot relocate to their campus. Whether it is their family or their full time job that they cannot leave, many individuals are seeking unconventional means to get their education. I think numerous colleges are starting to get the hint. This is of course great news for military spouses who thought they had to give up their education for their service member. This is one sacrifice we no longer have to make.

So what is “distance learning” At Spertus, the “course packages” contain audio/video tapes, reading materials, a course curriculum, and assignments which are all sent by mail. I correspond with my professors by phone, mail, or email whenever I need their help, and I have a year to complete each course. This really works for me because I can pause and rewind lectures as I need to, and I can sit on my comfy couch in my pajamas while I learn! Another aspect of the Spertus distance program is the week-long seminar at the Spertus center in Chicago twice a year. These seminars are a great way to meet and interact with the professors and my fellow students, and to get a real “classroom” experience.

All in all, the Spertus Institute’s distance learning program has given me exactly what I thought I had to sacrifice for my marriage. I can work on my degree no matter where or how many times we relocate (they currently have students as far away as Japan) and I can interact and learn from other Jewish educators pursuing this degree. And because I have a year to complete each course, I can continue to gain valuable teaching experiences while I work towards completing my Masters.

For a list of Jewish degree programs, visit JESNA’s 2004 Guide to Academic Programs in Formal and Informal Jewish Education. You may have to look into each school’s website to find out which schools offer distance programs. The two distance learning programs that I know about are the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago and the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

One comment

  • lisa lipschutz

    kol ha-kavod for keeping up your jewish education and career opportunities. i’m a stay-at-home mom physician with a husband in iraq. if anyone has any questions about pursuing a medical career, email me. i wouldn’t recommend it if you have children and a spouse deployed, but i could envision training if you’re childless.