Founded in 1957 by G. Douglas Young, the Institute of Holy Land Studies had as its initial purpose providing graduate-level training in Israel in the archaeological, historical, geographic, linguistic, and cultural background of the Bible from a conservative Christian perspective. The institute first offered classes in 1959; in 1967 it moved to its present location on Mt. Zion, overlooking the Hinnom Valley. Sidney DeWaal was appointed as the institute's seventh president in 1993.
Currently, the institute offers both short- and long-term programs of study on undergraduate and graduate levels. The short-term program operates primarily in January and throughout the summer. The sessions are two to three weeks long and involve extensive field trips to major archaeological sites and the study of biblical background, modern Israel, or field archaeology. The long-term program has two major facets. The institute offers two-year Master of Arts degrees in biblical history, Hebrew language, and Middle Eastern studies; students enrolled in other undergraduate or graduate programs may spend a semester or a year at the institute. Through the long-term program, students may also take courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Nondegree study on the graduate level may lead to certificates in Middle-Eastern studies or biblical exegesis.
Prominent Israeli scholars and expatriate American scholars comprise the institute's faculty. Together, the faculty provide coursework in archaeology, historical geography, modern Hebrew, history of Judaism, Middle Eastern history, biblical and ancient Near Eastern languages, and biblical studies.
The institute is loosely associated with more than one hundred graduate and undergraduate institutions in the United States and Canada. More than nine thousand students from twenty-five countries have attended the institute since 1959, most in the short-term program.
Charles E. Carter