Tel Aviv University


Tel Aviv University is Israel's biggest academic institution, comprised of a dynamic and diverse student body. It's faculty contains scholars and scientists that are renowned in their fields. Together, with 9 schools, 106 different departments and 90 research institutes, Tel Aviv University is a major education and research hub in Israel.


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No, I don't recommend this program

This institution has zero regard for its students' mental and physical health in the most disturbing of ways. I attended TAU for a study abroad program. While I was there I began to suffer from some health problems, which made it difficult to concentrate in class. Despite this, my teacher was extremely rude and embarrassed me in front of the whole class when she noticed I was not paying attention (even though it was clear that I looked unwell). The worst part, however, is that after a month of attending this school, I suffered a hypoglycaemic attack (and at the time I had no idea that this was what was happening) and I called the resident advisor on call. A man named Guy then came to my room (and at this point I was shaking uncontrollably and could barely stand up) and I requested that he call me an ambulance. HE THEN REFUSED AND SAID I COULD GO GRAB A CAB TO THE HOSPITAL MYSELF. I told him that I could not walk on my own and needed immediate care, and he STILL REFUSED. I then told him that if he was not going to help me he should leave, and then he stated that I was being "uncooperative" and would not help me. He then left me alone and I could not sleep at all. The next day I called again and requested to see a doctor. This man, Guy, then arrived with a "doctor" (who was dressed in ripped jeans and a tshirt and spoke no english) who simply listened to my heart beat and said I was fine. When I stated that I wanted bloodwork done to check my vitals and my blood sugar levels, the "doctor" refused. I made a comment stating that I was worried my potassium levels were low, to which he told me to "eat more bananas". I was appalled at the level of unprofessionalism and lack of care. Since they refused to provide me with any medical care or blood tests, I had to get on a plane home to leave. Nobody from the school has apologized or expressed any concern about my health or how I was treated following this incident. I am disgusted with the way I was treated and I am scared for other students at this school who may need medical care.

Brittany Payne
Yes, I recommend this program

Studying at Tel Aviv University in the Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures Masters Program was one of the best experiences of my life. This program provided a tough, but highly educational and relaxed atmosphere. Personally, I enjoyed the access we had as students to the many archaeological sites and resources that Israel has to offer. We were able to see many archaeological sites with personal tours from our professors and even directors of the sites. The hands on experience we gained after classes were also some of the best times I had in Tel Aviv. From digging at Megiddo to a month long excavation at Tel Azekah, this past year provided so much excitement and knowledge. This program will challenge you and your perception of history and archaeology. I have come away from this year with brand new eyes and a better way to interpret history.
This program has also helped to secure my future plans. Now that I have completed my masters, I plan on continuing in a PhD program in the states. I hope to become a professor and spend my summers as a field director, hopefully in Israel. It is all thanks to this program that I have that opportunity.
The best part of this year, though, were the connections and friendships I have made. My class was one of the best groups of people I have met. We bonded quickly and were able to help each other along the way. This program brings people from all walks of life together and I am happy to say I have friends from Israel, Europe, America, and even China now. We have this past year as a great memory where we studied together, laughed together, and maybe even cried together. We not only went to class together, but we went on tours together, excavations together, and hung out together outside of class. This past year was a truly remarkable time that I will never forget.

What would you improve about this program?
Communication is key and can always be improved. Especially in an International Program, I believe it would be helpful for the staff to look at other programs and how they are run in their students' home countries. There were times when we were confused as to what was happening, but overall once you are there for a few months you begin to understand the culture more and learn how to communicate your ideas and feelings better. It would be nice is there was a quicker transition however.
Yes, I recommend this program

Without a doubt, the highlight of my year studying in the International MA program was the time spent digging in the field. My summer was split between two of the most important excavations in Israel: Tel Megiddo and Tel Azekah.
Megiddo (or Armaggedon) is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the region. Occupying one of the entrances to the fertile Jezreel Valley, its prime location allowed the rulers of Megiddo to exert control over the main breadbasket of the country and the strategic north-south road from Egypt to Mesopotamia. His victory at the Battle of Megiddo in the 15th century BCE allowed Thutmose III to establish the Egyptian empire in Canaan. Several centuries later, the Israelites expanded from the hill country into the Jezreel Valley and incorporated Megiddo into a territorial kingdom. At the end of the 6th century BCE, the reformist King Josiah was killed at Megiddo by Egypt. These events all highlight the importance of Megiddo through the ages. The site is also given as the setting for the end of days in the Book of Revelation.
I was able to work in the area of the Iron Age gate complex. This “Solomonic” gate has been at the epicenter of the major debates surrounding Iron Age chronology and Biblical history. During the excavation season, we dug into the layers below the gate, allowing us to clarify its date and stratigraphic relationship with the rest of the site, and to locate earlier structures. As the flood of tourists peered under the shades at us, I felt incredible knowing I was contributing to one of the major issues in Israeli archaeology.
The best part of the time spent at Megiddo however, was the chance to work so closely with Israel Finkelstein. Prof. Finkelstein is one of the best archaeologists working in the world today. He not only revolutionized the field with his new theories and methods, but is also a kind and enthusiastic man who loves to engage with the students.
With only a week of rest between, I then headed to Azekah for four more weeks of digging. Azekah is another major site situated alongside the Valley of Elah, known as the location for the battle between David and Goliath in the Bible. Azekah offers a great opportunity to study the “border” zone between the Judahites and the Philistines. This dig also provided quality time for us to spend with Oded Lipschits, the head of the international program. Prof. Lipschits is also one of the most important archaeologists and Biblical scholars working today, and working with him outside of the classroom allowed us the chance to get to know him personally.
I was placed in Area S1 under the supervision of Alex Wrathall. Alex is one of the best and brightest young archaeologists working in Israel. Her enthusiasm added an element of fun, as everyday it seemed like digging was accompanied by constant laughter. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had doing hard manual labor. It was also a great chance to spend quality time with my classmates. While we had spent lots of time together in the classroom, I felt like our time bonding in the field is what solidified our friendships for life.
One of the best parts of choosing to study at Tel Aviv was the ability to participate in multiple digs which are on cutting edge of archaeological research. Each season, the Tel Aviv University excavations are producing new materials from the field which change our understanding of the past. I was not only studying history, I was making it.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Advertised as a Master's Degree in a year, the academic program was mediocre at best and entirely geared towards people with no experience in archaeology. Often you are taught one style of thinking, and if you do not agree with the teachers you will not be well accepted. Often this means disagreeing with what is traditionally thought by other scholars in the world. Grades and work ethic mean almost nothing; deadlines come and go, often with no penalty. The actual material taught is sometimes interesting, sometimes completely irrelevant. The teachers are nice, but often don’t have time to meet or listen to your ideas. Sometimes they may disappear for months without a word. Communication between the faculty and students is extremely poor. There is almost no variety in classes from year to year; only 2-3 options for electives are given, and only if you continue to the thesis track in the second year. Often you feel like an undergrad. The thesis is billed as taking another year, but it can rarely be finished in another two years. Located in the 9th most expensive city to live in in the entire world, it is extremely difficult to live comfortably unless you are already wealthy, or are able to work. There are no options for TA-ship or other paid academic positions, as it is illegal to work in Israel as a student while not being a citizen. Funding and scholarships are also almost nonexistent.

The benefits of the program revolve around it being an archaeological program that studies material that is literally found next door. The teachers are the ones that are publishing on the material you study. Often you hear the latest news before it is published. Several times during the semesters you are taken on tours to sites you have studied, or you go to museums that have the artifacts that you debate about in the classes. One of my favorite rooms in the department houses many pieces of ceramics that the teacher will occasionally pull off the shelf to demonstrate something to the class.

If archaeology is your hobby, this is a great program. If you are interested in biblical interpretation and research, this is a great program. If you are looking to advance your academic career in the field of archaeology, it is probably better to look elsewhere.

What would you improve about this program?
More variety of classes and teachers. Better communication between the faculty and the students. More sophisticated analysis and research for the students.
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Yes, I recommend this program

The masters program at Tel Aviv University provided me with the platform, networks, and mentors to launch an academic career in archaeology. The program finds a confident balance between ensuring students learn the details and nuances of ancient periods, and encouraging students to question and challenge ‘ historical norms’ and paradigms. The program offers unparalleled opportunities to visit the sites of biblical and historical narratives, as well as the chance to physically handle archaeological material.

Aside from the academic quality of the program, the support network associated with the program (Head of the Program, Program Director etc.) is terrific. The team at Tel Aviv University support students academically and socially, and ensure that we feel confident studying and living in Israel. Notwithstanding the academic benefits of the program, there is also so much to gain from living in Israel. The program is the perfect opportunity to explore the modern cultural melting pot that is Israel, and enhance your personal life experiences alongside your professional. Though the program is not easy, the journey and process of the International MA is well worth the challenge.


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Having graduated from the Israeli Archaeology and Ancient Eastern Cultures department, I have been involved with archaeology in Israel ever since, participating in the excavations in Tel Azekah, Masada, Megiddo and Tel Bet Yerah.

As the former Area assistant supervisor and, later, administrator of Tel Azekah excavations, I am familiar with both the scientific and administrative components of an excavation. As the administrator of the International MA Program, I am happy to put my experience into practice.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory would have to be the Masada Expedition of February 2017, during the semester break. After a long and demanding semester, it was great to see the students finally having a break to connect and socialize. I have made a lot of good memories there and I'm hoping to come back there in the future.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Archaeology has proved to be an enduring passion of mine, and as I have been with the Archaeology department of Tel Aviv University since 2009, I can honestly say working here enabled me to grow scientifically and professionally. We are a small, close-knit group, which makes for a very supportive environment. Our academic staff is a remarkable group of scholars, whose work I follow with interest

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Every story involving a student who continued their education, and successfully completed their Thesis, and, later, PhD is inspiring to me. Most of the student in our program, come from backgrounds unrelated to archaeology, but many choose to stick with it, to study it further, and pursue a career in it!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Of all the many programs offered by Tel Aviv University, I would definitely join the international MA program in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible. I have always been interested in archaeology and history, and of all the international programs this is the one that focuses on what I am passionate about.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

First, I believe, is our location! You get to study Archaeology of the Bible in the actual Land of the Bible, to explore history where it happened, which is a unique experience in and of itself. I also believe our academic staff, which includes world-renown names, such as Prof. Oded Lipschits, Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Prof. Yuval Gadot is an important part of what makes our program great.

I am very proud to be working and learning from them. Also, when I hear from students that the teachers are having with them conversations regarding their welfare and their academic achievements. Those are, for me, very proud moments.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Academically, our program has brought together representatives from several disciplines, who brought a new perspective to the field and incepted new methodologies. The royal garden in Ramat Rahel, for example, was reconstructed thanks to an innovative method of our very own Dr. Dafna Langutt. We always strive to improve and better ourselves, moving onwards and upwards!