Gap Year Programs in Israel
Starting Your Academic Life with an Adventure
Gap and freshman year programs are one-year tracks in Israeli universities, studied entirely in English. The Studies could be in dozens of academic fields in science and engineering, humanities and social sciences. At the end of the year you can transfer to a university or college of your choice that will recognize the credit points you earned in Israel.
Israeli universities have collaboration agreements with hundreds of schools all around the world, mainly in Northern America and the EU, but also in Australia and New Zealand, China, India and Singapore as well as other countries. You can see the long lists of collaborations on each of the Israeli universities' websites.
The programs include many extracurricular activities such as field trips around Israel, volunteer work, joint projects with Israeli students and parties. The aim of the gap year is to provide students with a genuine experience of life in Israel, so it offers much more than merely academic tracks.
As mentioned, you can find gap and freshman year programs in all sorts of fields: psychology, literature, engineering, computer science, environmental studies, history and more. All students are required to take Hebrew courses (Ulpan) that suits their level. Students may also take Arabic courses in addition to or instead of their Hebrew studies.
There are many programs, such as "BBYO Gap Year", "Yachad", "Masa", "Livnot U'Lehibanot", that offer special gap and freshman year tracks for Jewish students from all around the world. The differences between the tracks lie in their extracurricular activities and locations – such as working in a Kibbutz vs. volunteering in impoverished neighborhoods in urban areas, or their focus on Jewish life.
What's the difference between Gap Years and Exchange Programs?
Usually, participants of student exchange programs
are in their third or fourth year, while gap programs are for freshmen. In addition, the costs of exchange programs are included in the students tuition fees to their home schools, whereas in gap programs students will pay directly to the Israeli universities and not to their colleges back home.
What happens at the end of the year?
If students have completed all their courses successfully they may (and mostly do) continue their academic studies in colleges at their home countries. Students may continue their studies in Israel (depending on their academic merit), but keep in mind that there are only limited number of fields that offer an entire undergraduate program in English
. Another possibility is to continue your studies in Hebrew; students who wish to do so will have to pass a Hebrew proficiency test.
Do note that the admission processes to your college and to gap years are completely separated; being accepted to one does not mean that you are automatically accepted to the other. Acceptance to Israeli universities is based on your high school GPA and standardized test scores (such as the SAT):
|Field of Study
|Liberal Arts and Humanities
||3.0 or above
Above 1100 (1600 scale)
High GPA can grant exemption from SAT.
||3.3 at least
||At least 1200
|Science, Mathematics and Engineering
||3.6 or higher + high scores in math and science classes
||1280 or above
In case you were already accepted to a college and wish to ensure that it recognizes the courses you completed in Israel, the best way is simply to ask the college or the Israeli university you wish to attend.
The costs for a gap year including tuition, housing and Hebrew courses
are usually a little over US$20,000. As tuition fees are about $11,000 - $13,000 per year, housing expenses are between $2,500 and $5,500, and Hebrew Courses cost $1,100 - $2,200. Additional expenses such as transportation and food should also be considered.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
– offers gap tracks in various subjects including computer science, Jewish studies
, history, archeology and engineering. Many choose the Hebrew University due to its high academic standards as well as its location, in short driving distance from many cultural, religious and historical sites.
Tel Aviv University – offers freshman programs in many fields, for instance: business, philosophy, computer science and environmental studies. TAU is another popular choice among international students who look forward to visit Tel Aviv's beaches and parties as well as attending the university's excellent academic programs.
Bar Ilan University (Ramar Gan) - offers many courses especially in social sciences and communications. It has many courses and activities that focus on Jewish life, thought and identity. In addition to their elected courses, students may also take courses in Aggada (Jewish tales), Halacha (Jewish law system), Rabbinic literature and Bible studies.
Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Be'er-Sheva)
– is very popular among its Israeli and international students due to its lively campus life. International students may elect courses in Jewish studies and Israel studies
, political science, arts and literature, Arabic and anthropology. Its latest track for English speakers is "Ecology and Sustainable Development" which includes seminars in the desert research center.
University of Haifa
– offers tracks in business and economics, psychology, peace and conflict studies, contemporary Israel and Middle Eastern studies
as well as many other programs. HU is one of the most multi-cultural academic institutions in Israel as student population made up of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Bedouins and Druze.
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology (Haifa) - offers the freshman year of engineering track. The program is dedicated to introductory courses in engineering and science. Technion is one of the best schools in Israel and enjoys an international reputation for its outstanding faculties.
The College of Management Academic Studies (Rishon Le'Zion) – offers tracks in law, business, design, psychology and Media studies. The college is 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv. It takes pride in the various tracks it offers, as law students may take classes in design, and business students could take courses in psychology.