By: Avigail Greenberg  | 

Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Launches First Master’s Degree Program This Fall

YU’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies launched its first-ever master’s degree program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies this fall. 

The program focuses on the Holocaust as a stand-alone subject while placing it in the context of other genocides that have occured in the past century. Students also analyze the social, political, philosophical and theological ramifications of genocide.

Since opening in 2019, the Fish Center has held both in-person and online lectures, interviews and events, and has produced a video library to curate easily available Holocaust education content. It also features a variety of undergraduate course offerings through YU on the history, progression and media representation of the Holocaust as well as on the broader concept of genocide in the modern world. 

Holocaust survivor Emil A. Fish, after whom the center is partially named, migrated to Los Angeles in 1955, where he served as president of many major congregations and started a nonprofit to memorialize and document the Jewish heritage of his hometown Bardejov. In 2010, he was appointed to the United States Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, where he still serves.

The master’s degree consists of two required courses and six electives. After completing their first 24 credits, students choose between a capstone unit or a final thesis to complete an additional six credits of fieldwork. This 30-credit program can be completed in a year and a half and is open to students of any undergraduate major with a minimum GPA of 3.2. 

Aside from undergraduate transcripts, the program’s application requires two letters of recommendation, an interview and a personal statement on the “experiences that led you to pursue graduate education in Holocaust and Genocide Studies,” according to the center’s website

In line with changes caused by COVID-19, the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program offers enough online courses that students are able to complete their degree either in-person or remotely.

“This program fulfills a critical need to train the next generation of teachers as well as professional and lay leaders in the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies,” Fish Center Director Dr. Shay Pilnik told The Commentator. “As survivors are passing or are too frail to share their stories with us, the Fish Center was founded to both envision and guarantee the field’s future and ensure that the Holocaust’s memory won’t fade away.”

The program is designed to give students the opportunity to work in this growing academic field, be it in research, human rights advocacy or education, according to the program’s website. Career paths include employment at Holocaust museums, community centers, universities or other organizations.

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University