Ilana Horwitz

Sociologist of Religion and Education, Tulane University of Louisiana
Chapter Member: New Orleans SSN
Areas of Expertise:

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About Ilana

Horwitz's research focuses on how people’s religious upbringing, race, ethnicity, social class, and gender shape their life course, especially their educational experiences. Overarching themes in Horwitz's writings include how people develop social ties through religious communities, how religion shapes academic achievement in K-12 and in higher education, how issues of race, class, and religion play out on college campuses, and why abortion bans harm educational prospects for lower income Americans. Horwitz runs a PhD student mentorship program through Brandeis University, and has served on the boards of different education organizations.

In the News

Guest on The Education Exchange, March 14, 2022.
Opinion: "God, Grades, and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success," Ilana Horwitz, Heterodox, February 2, 2022.
Quoted by Scott Jaschik in "God, Grades & Graduation," Inside Higher Ed, January 31, 2022.
Quoted by Naomi Schaefer Riley in "God, Grades, and Graduation," The Wall Street Journal, January 24, 2022.
Quoted by in "As We Live Longer, How Should Life Change? There Is a Blueprint.," The New York Times, November 23, 2021.
Opinion: "Is Social Distancing Unraveling the Bonds That Keep Society Together?," Ilana Horwitz, The Conversation, October 6, 2021.
Opinion: "Abortion Bans Could Deepen the College Drop-Out Crisis," Ilana Horwitz (with Natalie Milan and Kaylee Matheny), Contexts, September 8, 2021.
Opinion: "Why Ph.D. Students Should Think Like Entrepreneurs," Ilana Horwitz, Inside Higher Ed, July 8, 2021.
Opinion: "Are Universities Contributing to Religious Polarization?," Ilana Horwitz, Higher Ed, May 18, 2021.
Opinion: "Orthodox Jews May Not Like Trump, but They’re Voting for Him," Ilana Horwitz (with Laurence Kotler-Berkowitz), Religion News Service, November 2, 2020.
Opinion: "Talking About Religion," Ilana Horwitz (with Thomas Ehrlich), The Stanford Daily, April 13, 2020.


"From Bat Mitzvah to the Bar: Religious Habitus, Self-Concept, and Women’s Educational Outcomes" (with Ilana Horwitz, Kaylee T. Matheny, and Krystal Laryea). American Sociological Review 87, no. 2 (2022).

Demonstrates and explains why girls raised by Jewish parents are 23% more likely to graduate college.

"From Bat Mitzvah to the Bar: Religious Habitus, Self-Concept, and Women’s Educational Outcomes" (with Kaylee T. Matheny, Krystal Laryea, and Landon Schnabel). American Sociological Review 87 (Forthcoming).

Discusses how girls with a Jewish upbringing are more likely to graduate college and also attend more selective colleges than do girls with a non-Jewish upbringing, even after controlling for social origins during adolescence. Mentions religious subculture is a key factor in this educational stratification. Explores that paths to self-concept congruence help explain why educational outcomes vary by religion in gendered ways.

"Review of Religious Resarch" Standford University (2020).

Synthesizes literature on how adolescents’ religious commitment and background are associated with their short- and long-term academic outcomes.

"Foregrounding the Family: An Ethnography of How Families Make Decisions About Hebrew School. Contemporary Jewry" Contemporary Jewry (2019).

Shows the internal and external struggles that family members experience as they negotiate their Jewish commitments, and the potential unintended consequences that might arise from such negotiations.

"Not a Family Matter: The Effects of Religiosity on Academic Outcomes Based on Evidence From Siblings" Social Science Research 88 (2020): 88–89.

Suggests that adolescents’ religious commitments influence their schooling in both the short and long term and should be more actively included and theorized as important drivers of educational and economic stratification.

"Ties in Tough Times: How Social Capital Helps Lower-Income Jewish Parents Weather the Economic Hardship of COVID-19" (with Sasha Lascar ). Contemporary Jewry 41 (2021): 161–183.

Helps lower-income Jewish parents in the Greater Philadelphia area weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Shows how parents with strong social ties in the Jewish community were able to connect to people and institutions of power, such as rabbis and Jewish organizations, who provided valuable material resources while families sheltered in place.

"God, Grades, and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success" (Oxford Press, 2022).

Draws on 10 years of survey data with over 3,000 teenagers and over 200 interviews, GGG shows that intensely religious teens receive more education, but often at lower quality colleges. Atheists also do well, though for different reasons.