“Are There Good Colleges in Israel?”

“Are There
Good Colleges in Israel?”

© David Burton 2023

Colleges and Universities in Israel

     In mid-May of 2023, my 15 year old granddaughter sent me an e-mail asking: “Are there good colleges in Israel?” At the time, she was attending her older brother’s college graduation at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champagne.

     I immediately texted her back that there were a number of good colleges in Israel. In what follows, I report on some of the better colleges and universities that exist in Israel.

     Israel's educational system is one of the youngest in the world. The first university there had appeared before the country itself - Technion was founded in 1912, and Israel - in 1948. In Israel, 47% of the population has a higher education. In Germany, for comparison - only 33%of the population go on to colleges or universities.
     In recent years, Israel has made education more accessible to foreign applicants. Previously, all subjects were taught in Hebrew, and only people with Jewish roots could receive medical education. Today 10% of programs are in English. Medical academies are open to foreigners who are willing to pay $27,000/year. Israeli universities offer long-term and short-term programs, online courses, and summer schools.
     The Israeli universities Technion, Hebrew University, and Tel Aviv University are among the top-200 universities worldwide. Education in English is cheaper than in the United States - an undergraduate program usually costs only $15,000 /year. Programs in Hebrew cost almost half that price. Israel also cooperates with foreign universities. For example, New York University has opened a campus in Tel Aviv. There, students learn Hebrew and Middle Eastern culture for $27,400/year.[1]

     As of August 2021, there were 10 universities and 53 colleges in Israel, which were recognized and academically supervised by the Council for Higher Education in Israel. In addition, Israel founded a university in Ariel in the West Bank. Israeli universities are considered to be of top quality, and they are inexpensive to attend. Israel's quality university education is largely responsible for spurring the country's high-tech boom and rapid economic development.
     The primary difference between a university and a college in Israel is that only a university can confer doctorate degrees, and therefore tends to be more research-oriented than the more teaching-oriented colleges.
     In addition to the Israeli colleges and universities, the following foreign colleges and universities maintain international branch campuses in Israel: Brigham Young University – the BYU Jerusalem Center; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion; Hillsong College, in conjunction with Hillsong Church Israel; NYU (which enrolls the largest number of Jewish students of any public or private university in the United States, and is ranked in the top 34 globally in all major publications of university rankings) has a campus in Tel Aviv; Touro College offers courses in Jerusalem (but a degree must be completed in New York); University of Indianapolis; and Yeshiva University.[2]

     Israel is a haven for lovers of culture, wondrous landscapes, and unique experiences. Though often underrated, this quaint Mediterranean country is a hub for learners and is actually one of the most innovative nations!
     Today’s generation of international students are into innovation and technology, and Israel provides the education and eco-system for such pursuits. Israel’s deep religious roots and forward-thinking economy make an exciting academic experience – perfect for adventurous international students.
     Israeli universities are known worldwide for academic excellence, with several institutions ranking among the highest in the world. Most of them offer programs in English as well, so international students can adjust more easily. They can pursue diverse programs at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels, as well as short-term courses. Moreover, Ph.D. researchers have the opportunity to work with experts in their fields.
     The World Economic Forum Global Competitive Index ranked Israel the third most innovative country and it became known as the “Start-Up Nation”. Those with entrepreneurial spirits will find the country an excellent training ground, especially since four Israeli universities are ranked among the top producers of entrepreneurs.
     Students can expect competitive and reasonable costs. But don’t forget various scholarships and financial grants, too. When it comes to living costs, accommodation would be the largest expense. Shared private housing is a common option in addition to university dormitories.
     Tel Aviv University (TAU) is the best university in Israel for international students, located in a city of the same name in Israel. It serves as the center of intellectual activity in the region as it comprises nine faculties, 27 schools, 128 research centers, 17 teaching hospitals, and 400 laboratories. While high-ranking in general, TAU is most regarded for Computer Science, Mathematics, Physics, Economics, and Engineering programs.
     The university is known globally for TAU International, where programs are fully taught in English to make it more accessible to a greater number of international students. In addition to regular degree programs, the school offers Semester or Year abroad and Specialized exchange agreements.
     The second-oldest Israeli university, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) manages the National Library of Israel, which has the largest collection of materials for Jewish studies. Today, HUJI comprises seven faculties and 14 schools, teaching medicine, business, law, mathematics, and sciences.
     This top university in Israel has a total of six campuses. Three of which are located in the beautiful city of Jerusalem, and Rehovot and Eilat. The main campus in Mount Scopus houses the HUJI’s Rothberg International School that guides international students in language studies and Israeli culture.
     When it comes to science and engineering, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is the leading university in Israel. It is a primary contributor to the country’s high-tech industry The university also offers degrees in allied disciplines, such as architecture, industrial management, education, and medicine. The Technion International is the department that caters to international students especially, offering English-taught courses, campus residences, and cultural trips.
     The Bar-Ilan University is a public research institution with Jewish-American roots. This top university in Israel for international students was described as a cultural link between Israel and America, and subsequently, the whole world. Today, it blends the values of Jewish heritage with the global modern technologies. The BIU is organized into eight faculties: Life, Social, and Exact Sciences, Medicine, Humanities, Engineering, Law, and Jewish Studies.
     The BIU was the first university in Israel to take steps towards internationalization. They first offered International B.A. programs that are taught in English to be more accessible to international students. Moreover, students from all over the world will enjoy the award-winning “Green Campus” in Ramat Gan, Israel.
     The University of Haifa, one of the best universities in Israel for international students, is a public university with a specialization in humanities, social sciences, law, and education. Its research focus spans the same areas, including the study of the family, the Holocaust, psychological stress, as well as information processing, environmental resources, and maritime studies. Besides these unique subjects, the university is proud to have one of the most diverse student bodies, welcoming different nationalities and faiths.
     Sitting atop Mount Carmel, the University of Haifa offers a conducive learning environment, with panoramic views of the Mediterranean and other beautiful sights. International students who like nature and the outdoors will enjoy Haifa’s own diving facility, school of marine sciences, and institute of archeology.[3]

     In what follows, I describe a number of the best colleges and universities in the State of Israel.

The University of Haifa

     My first visit to an Israeli university was in 2007 when I toured the University of Haifa. The university is located on the ridge of Mount Carmel, a to the southeast of the main sections of Haifa. From an upper floor of the main campus tower, one gets a spectacular view of Haifa, its harbor and further north, Akko and Lebanon. Our tour lasted over two hours and included the Hecht Archeological Museum, which houses an extensive number of archeological items from Israel, some of which date back more than 7,000 years.

     The University of Haifa was founded in 1963, received full academic accreditation in 1972, becoming Israel's sixth academic institution and its fourth university. The university has the largest university library in Israel. As of 2019, approximately 18,000 students were enrolled there. Among Israeli higher education institutions, the University of Haifa has the largest percentage (41%) of Arab-Israeli students.
     The university’s students study a wide variety of topics, specializing in social sciences, humanities, law and education. It also has an international school offering courses in English.
     The university is a home for students from all sectors of Israeli society - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, religious and secular students and also many students from all over the world who study in the international school.
     The University of Haifa is home to the Hecht Museum of archaeology and art, and it also hosts a large IBM research center on its campus.[4]

     Between 2007 and 2017, I made several visits to the University of Haifa and its museums.

The Technion

     During my 2007 Israel trip, I also visited the Technion - “the MIT of Israel”.

     The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology is a public research university located in Haifa, Israel. Established in 1912 under the dominion of the Ottoman Empire, the Technion is the oldest university in the country. The Technion is ranked as one of the top universities in both Israel and the Middle East, and in the world's top 100 universities in the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities.
     The university offers degrees in science and engineering, and related fields such as architecture, medicine, industrial management, and education. It has 19 academic departments, 60 research centers, and 12 affiliated teaching hospitals. Its graduates are cited for providing the skills and education behind the creation and protection of the State of Israel.
     The selection of Hebrew as the language of instruction, defeating German in the War of the Languages, was an important milestone in Hebrew's consolidation as Israel's official language. The Technion is also a major factor behind the growth of Israel's high-tech industry.
     Technion's cornerstone was laid in 1912, and studies began 12 years later in 1924. In 1923 Albert Einstein visited and planted the now-famous first palm tree, as an initiative of Nobel tradition. The first palm tree still stands today in front of the old Technion building, which is now the MadaTech museum, in the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa. Einstein founded the first Technion Society, and served as its president upon his return to Germany.
     Technion City generally refers to the 11,000-square-foot site located on the pine-covered north-eastern slopes of Mount Carmel. The campus comprises over 300 buildings.
     The Technion has two additional campuses. Its original building in midtown Haifa, in use by the Technion until the mid-1980s, now houses the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space. The Rappaport Faculty of Medicine is located in the neighborhood of Bat Galim, adjacent to Rambam Hospital, the largest medical center in Northern Israel.
     The Technion satellite campus in the Sarona neighborhood of Tel Aviv provides Technion's International MBA program, which services students from around the world and guest lecturers from universities such as London Business School, Columbia University, and INSEAD (the European Institute of Business Administration).
     The Technion International (TI) is a department in the Technion, offering courses taught entirely in English. The TI began its first year in 2009, and now offers a full BSc in Civil Engineering, BSc in Mechanical Engineering as well as various study abroad options, all taught in English. Student come from all over the globe - Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe and Israel. They live on campus and enjoy trips around Israel and activities throughout the year.[5]

Tel Aviv University

     Tel Aviv University (TAU) is a public research university in Tel Aviv, Israel. With over 30,000 students, it is the largest university in the country. Located in northwest Tel Aviv, the university is the center of teaching and research in the city, comprising 9 faculties, 17 teaching hospitals, 18 performing arts centers, 27 schools, 106 departments, 340 research centers, and 400 laboratories.
     Tel Aviv University originated in 1956 when three education units merged to form the university. The original 170-acre campus was expanded and now makes up 220 acres in Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv neighborhood.
     In 1956, three research institutes: the Tel Aviv School of Law and Economics, the Institute of Natural Sciences, and the Academic Institute of Jewish Studies joined to form Tel Aviv University. Initially operated by the Tel Aviv municipality, the university was granted autonomy in 1963.
     The university also maintains academic supervision over the Center for Technological Design in Holon, the New Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo, and the Afeka College of Engineering in Tel Aviv. Its Wise Observatory is located in Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev desert.
     The Lowy International School (formerly known as TAU International) affords thousands of students from across the globe the opportunity to study at Tel Aviv University. All Lowy International School programs are conducted in English.
     Within the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, there is a four year, English speaking Doctor of Medicine program which prepares students from North America for residencies in the United States and Canada. The program has a track record of excellent residency matches which far exceeds most international medical school.
     The Center for World University Rankings ranked Tel Aviv University 81st in the world and third in Israel in its 2016 Rankings.
     The Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2019 placed Tel Aviv University at 189th in the world. The ratings reflect an overall measure of esteem that combines data on the institutions' reputation for research and teaching.
     In 2013 QS World University Rankings ranked Tel Aviv University 196th in the world,[making it the second-highest ranked university in Israel.
     From the year 2007 until 2018, Tel Aviv university ranks as 35th in the world in Computer Science according to CSRankings, the same rank as Harvard and the second-highest ranked in Israel.
     As of 2021, it is ranked as the 191st best university in the world by THE World University Rankings.
     In 2022, PitchBook Data ranked Tel Aviv University 7th in the world in terms of number of alumni who have founded venture capital backed companies, the highest out of any University outside the United States.
     Tel Aviv University offers special programs of Jewish studies to teachers and students from the United States, France, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. The programs are in English.[6]

     I started visiting Tel Aviv University in 2011 and did so on an annual basis until my final trip to Israel in 2017. The campus of the university is just north of the Yarkon River. In 2014, There was considerable new building and major construction taking place there. The Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden is located on Klausner Street in the Ramat Aviv section of Tel Aviv, with its entrance opposite Tel Aviv University’s Gate Number 2.

Bar-Ilan University

     Bar-Ilan University (BIU) is a public research university in the Tel Aviv District city of Ramat Gan, Israel. Established in 1955, Bar Ilan is Israel's second-largest academic institution. It has about 20,000 students and 1,350 faculty members.
     Bar-Ilan's stated mission is to "blend Jewish tradition with modern technologies and scholarship and the university endeavors to . . . teach the Jewish heritage to all its students while providing [an] academic education."
     Bar-Ilan University has Jewish-American roots: It was conceived in Atlanta in a meeting of the American Mizrahi organization in 1950, When it was opened in 1955, it was described by The New York Times "as Cultural Link Between the [Israeli] Republic and America".
     BIU's student population is diverse and includes both Jewish and non-Jewish students. At least ten courses in Jewish studies are required for graduation. These are available as academic Jewish studies courses, as well as through more traditional Torah study.
     New science programs have been introduced, including a multidisciplinary brain research center and a center for nanotechnology. The university has placed archaeology as one of its priorities, and this includes excavations such as the Tell es-Safi/Gath archaeological excavations and the recently opened Bar-Ilan University/Weizmann Institute of Science joint program in Archaeological Sciences.
     Bar-Ilan's Faculty of Law made headlines in 2008 by achieving the highest average Israeli bar exam grade of 81.9 by its graduates.
     Bar-Ilan offers several special programs, including its international B.A. program, taught entirely in English, and is the first university in Israel to offer a full undergraduate program taught entirely in English. Currently students can choose between a B.A. degree in interdisciplinary social sciences, where students can choose between a macro track in economics, political sciences, and sociology, or the Micro Track in Criminology, Psychology, and Sociology, or a major in communications, with a minor in either English literature or political science. The degrees are internationally recognized and are open to students from all over the world. Many American students enrolled in regular programs of study in the university also take Jewish history classes to fulfill their Jewish studies requirements.
     In its capacity as a business school, Bar-Ilan was placed as the fourth best business school in Africa and the Middle East in the 2010 QS Global 200 Business Schools Report.[7]

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

     The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) is a public research university based in Jerusalem. Co-founded by Albert Einstein and Dr. Chaim Weizmann in July 1918, the public university officially opened in April 1925. It is the second-oldest Israeli university, having been founded 30 years before the establishment of the State of Israel but six years after the older Technion university. The HUJI has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. As of 2018, one-third of all the doctoral candidates in Israel were studying at the HUJI.
     Among its first few board of governors were Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, and Chaim Weizmann. Four of Israel's prime ministers are alumni of the university. As of 2018, 15 Nobel Prize winners were affiliated with the HUJI.
     The cornerstone for the university was laid on July 24, 1918 and seven years later, on April 1, 1925, the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus was opened.
     Mount Scopus, in the north-eastern part of Jerusalem, is home to the main campus, which contains the Faculties of Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Jerusalem School of Business Administration, Seymour Fox School of Education, Baerwald School of Social Work, Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Rothberg International School, and the Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies.
     According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the Hebrew University is the top university in Israel, overall between 101st and 150th best university in the world, between 1st and 400th in physics, between 201st and 300th in computer science, and between 51st and 75th in business/economics.
     The Hebrew University consistently ranks as Israel's best university in mathematics, and among the best worldwide. It was ranked as the 11th best institution in mathematics worldwide in 2017, 19th best in 2018, 21st best in 2019, and 25th best in 2020.[8]

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

     The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) is a public research university in Beersheba, Israel. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has five campuses: the Marcus Family Campus, Beer Sheva; the David Bergmann Campus, Beer Sheva; the David Tuviyahu Campus, Beer Sheva; the Sede Boqer Campus, and the Eilat Campus.
     Ben-Gurion University was established in 1969 as the University of the Negev with the aim of promoting the development of the Negev desert that comprises more than sixty percent of Israel. The University was later renamed after Israel's founder and first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, who believed that the future of the country lay in this region. After Ben-Gurion's death in 1973, the University was renamed Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
     BGU has been ranked 320th in the world, 70th in Asia and 4th in Israel according to the 2016 QS World University Rankings. BGU also ranked 31st overall in the ranking of young universities according to the 2016 QS "Top 50 Under 50" and the only one in Israel to date. BGU is ranked between 101st and 150th overall in computer science according to the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities in Computer Science for four consecutive years.
     The Medical School for International Health (MSIH) grew out of collaborations between the faculties at Ben-Gurion University and Columbia University. A joint global health and medical care program, it was established in 1997.
     The MSIH is a four-year, North American-style medical school that incorporates global health coursework into all four years of the medical school curriculum. It is an English-language collaboration The school enrolls more than 30 students each year. Most of the students are from the United States, with several from Canada and other countries.
     There are sixty one interdisciplinary research centers ten international programs available at Ben-Gurion University.[9]

Reichman University

     Reichman University is Israel's only private university. As such, it receives no direct government funding. It is located in Herzliya, in the Tel Aviv District. It was founded in 1994 by Uriel Reichman as the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC Herzliya), before being renamed in 2021.[10]

     The Raphael Recanati International School was established in order to allow students from abroad and Israel to benefit from the excellent academic programs at Reichman University by offering several BA and BSc programs in English. The undergraduate programs are based on six semesters. Students from abroad can earn internationally recognized BA and BSc degrees in only three years.
     Reichman University offers MA and MBA programs in Israel that are taught entirely in English. Its lecturers, who come to Reichman University with rich academic and practical experience throughout Israel and the world, have won international acclaim.[11]

     I visited the Reichman University in 2016 when it was still known as the IDC. At that time, the IDC had 8,000 students enrolled for undergraduate and graduate degrees, including 2,000 international students from 86 countries around the world.
     In 2014 IDC was ranked the most successful academic start-up institution outside of the United States, ranking 1st in Israel and 21st in the world. In the same year IDC law graduates achieved the highest passing rate at the national bar examination of all Israeli academic institutions. Moreover, IDC has been ranked first among 66 Israeli academic institutions in terms of student satisfaction for four consecutive years. In addition, IDC has been the only academic institution in the world that has won the international Jean Pictet International Humanitarian Law competition, organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in consecutive years, in 2010 and again in 2011.
     At the IDC, 75% of the students were on a Hebrew track (courses are taught in Hebrew) and the other 25% were on an English track (courses are taught in English). Tuition was $12,000 per year – very low by American standards, but high by Israeli standards. 20% of the students received scholarships.
     Many IDC students were on internships, similar to co-op programs, which provided on-the-job training and experience. The Israeli students tended to be 2, 3 or more years older than their American counterparts, because of their prior army service and/or their having taken a year off for foreign travel.

Weizmann Institute of Science

     The Weizmann Institute of Science is a public research university in Rehovot, Israel, established in 1934, 14 years before the State of Israel. It differs from other Israeli universities in that it offers postgraduate-only degrees in the natural and exact sciences.
     The Weizmann Institute of Science is a multidisciplinary research center, with around 3,800 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, Ph.D. and M.Sc. students, and scientific, technical, and administrative staff working at the institute. As of 2019, six Nobel laureates were associated with the Weizmann Institute of Science.
     It was founded in 1934 by Chaim Weizmann. Before he became President of the State of Israel in February 1949, Weizmann pursued his research in organic chemistry at its laboratories. The institute was renamed the Weizmann Institute of Science in his honor on November 2, 1949.
     The Weizmann Institute has about 2,500 students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and faculty, and awards M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, and biology, as well as several interdisciplinary programs. Full fellowships are given to all students.
     The Weizmann Institute of Science was ranked number 2, globally, for research quality by the Nature Index in 2019 and in the top 25 research institutes/universities in the world in two main categories by U-Multirank, 2019: Top Cited Publications and Patents Awarded. The institute was in 7th place in the European Research Council report in 2020 for its high rate of success in obtaining research grants. In 2018 the institute was ranked 9th, globally, (1st in Israel) by the CWTS Leiden Ranking, which is based on the proportion of a university's scientific papers published between 2012 and 2015 that made the 10% most cited in their field.[12]

     I visited the Weizmann Institute for the first time in 2011. I returned to visit the institute in 2013, 2014 and 2016.

     Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science are reported to have secretly developed Israel’s nuclear weapons. Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was "nearly obsessed" with obtaining nuclear weapons to prevent the Holocaust from recurring. He stated, "What Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Teller, the three of them are Jews, made for the United States, could also be done by scientists in Israel, for their own people." Ben-Gurion decided to recruit Jewish scientists from abroad even before the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War that established Israel's independence.

     Israel offers foreign students an excellent opportunity to combine academic excellence with the chance to experience life in an energetic, historical and extremely interesting country. Higher education in Israel provides the chance to learn from highly regarded professors at some of the best faculties in Europe, have an internship at a high-tech company, visit some historical and religious places or spend days at the beach and meet students from all around the world.
     In Israel, students can find various undergraduate programs in English. Studying in Israel is a good opportunity for students who are either considering making "Aliyah" or who just wish to spend a few years in Israel and enjoy studying at a prestigious Israeli academic intuition. In Israel you can find many programs in English: Business and Economics, Psychology, B.Sc. in Engineering or Literature and Linguistics are just a few. In addition, there are several tracks that are special to Israel such as Jewish History and Culture in which you get to go on trips to many fascinating sites that you can't find anywhere else in the world.
     Israeli academic institutions offer many graduate programs including great international medical schools that are designed to match the American curriculum, LL.M tracks and top programs in humanities and social sciences (including MBA programs) and in science. The most renowned science schools are probably Weizmann Institute and Technion (Israel's Institute of Technology). In these institutions one can study and research with some of the best professionals in their field including several Nobel Laureates.
     Israeli universities and several colleges offer semester, summer or yearly exchange programs. Such programs give students an opportunity to get a "taste" of Israeli life and academia. In addition, Israeli institutions share student exchange programs with universities from around the world.
     Israeli Universities also offer internships in various fields. these programs aim to give students from all around the world an opportunity to work in Israeli firms. Mostly, the projects incorporate theoretical studies and/or practical research with hands-on experience in an Israeli company. Many participants work in high-tech and low-tech companies. However, several programs focus mainly on social affairs, in which students get their practical experience at Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs).[13]


  1. Universities in Israel, UNIPAGE, Accessed 15 May 2023.
  2. List of Israeli universities and colleges, Wikipedia, Accessed 15 May 2023.
  3. 5 Best Universities in Israel for International Students, https://globalscholarships.com/, Accessed 21 May 2023.
  4. University of Haifa, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  5. Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  6. Tel Aviv University, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  7. Bar-Ilan University, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  8. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  9. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  10. Reichman University, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  11. Graduate Programs, www.runi.ac.il, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  12. Weizmann Institute of Science, Wikipedia, Accessed 16 May 2023.
  13. Studying in Israel - Higher Education, Universities and Colleges, https://en.study.co.il/, Accessed 17 May 2023.


  15 June 2023 {ARTICLE 579; ISRAEL_78}    
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