Ultra-Orthodox women pursuing higher education: motivations and challenges

Nurit Novis Deutsch, Osnat Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Highly religious students from fundamentalist or sectarian religious communities face unique challenges in pursuing higher education, directly bearing on their educational opportunities. This study reports findings on ultra-Orthodox Jewish female students in Israel, a group which only recently began pursuing higher education. Using a mixed-methods design, we surveyed 469 students and conducted in-depth interviews with 61 additional students in order to explore their motivations, concerns and challenges in pursuing higher education. The interviews elicited narratives of a ‘Heroine’s Journey’ format, indicating that for many of these women, entering college is perceived as a transformative series of trials. Challenges and management techniques were identified, primarily concerning value and worldview conflicts. A k-means cluster analysis of the survey revealed five distinct profiles of students (practical, driven, anxious, self-realizers and conventional) with differential demographic characteristics. We analyze these results as reflecting ‘multiple traditionalities’ and discuss their implications for supporting highly religious students in higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1519-1538
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Society for Research into Higher Education.


  • Values
  • academic acculturation
  • gender
  • motivation for learning
  • multicultural backgrounds
  • religious students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Ultra-Orthodox women pursuing higher education: motivations and challenges'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this