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sacklunch

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sacklunch last won the day on October 10 2014

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  1. It's difficult to speak in generalities here, but NELC programs are usually more focused on highly technical and material aspects of ancient cultures: e.g. inscriptions (epigraphy), papyrology, archaeology, etc. I'm not saying these areas are alien to religious studies programs, but that they are not common in the larger scheme. Religion/religious studies as a discipline is simply broader and for this reason my guess is that a religion/religious studies PhD is more marketable, but you should check me on that, as I have never seen any statistic. NELC programs are few and far between and really only exist at top schools, so it's a bit unfair to compare the 'average' religion/religious studies PhD, since you cannot rule out if academic prestige plays a major role (studies show it indeed does); ideally, you would want to look at PhDs from one school in both departments, the best being Harvard and Chicago (esp. because there is overlap in students' research between NELC and religion/religious studies/classics).
  2. Some kind of combined ("interdisciplinary") PhD program in classics and religion--but like the good ol' days when such distinctions were nonsense. The program would be either in NYC or Berkeley (NYC now, Berkeley in the 60-70s), with a 60k+ stipend (today's money), and, most importantly, you could get funding, should you want it, for up to 10 years. That's about the time one needs, I think, to lock down a specialty. After the degree, I want a professorship without undergraduate teaching responsibilities. I would work only with graduate students and at a school with a very large--mostly unpublished--papyri collection, which would lead to years of productive research, publications, and hair-pulling, side-by-side.
  3. Re 'confessional statement', many academics in religious studies departments are worried that certain incoming students may have active interests in 'theology'. Their worry doesn't really stem from any personal distaste for theology, though it may, but it's more to do with the kinds of scholarship they do and the kind of training they are able to offer. To recall one anecdote, I remember in my phone interview with UVA's religious studies department (PhD), I was straight up asked by one scholar if I had confessional interests (I do not); the scholar then proceeded to say that such interests are not suitable to their program. This struck me, at the time, as somewhat odd, given that I was then an MA student in a religious studies department! But, in hindsight, I can certainly understand why I was asked that question. Re half applicants not being serious contenders, I would say that varies greatly by subfield. In subfields like theology and biblical studies, this is probably true. But in something like Asian religions, Jewish studies, or even American religions, I doubt it's anywhere near that high.
  4. I have no idea. But honestly, I doubt they have looked at them. They have far more immediate concerns, both scholarly and personal this time of year. I'm sure you're fine. Again, though, Carol is the best person to ask.
  5. I'm in the GPR. Email Carol and just ask about your late letter. I have no idea if they will accept it, but my guess is they will. I think the way it works is, as a first round, the faculty associated with each track receive the applications associated with their track. They make their picks, meet, and then department politics takes over: e.g. one track got two people last year so only one this year, and so on. NT has been notoriously bloated in the GPR and the track's 'special treatment' is fully recognized. They also probably get more applications than any other track (I've never checked the stats on this).
  6. Well, it's a bit more complicated, I think. From the perspective of other (emerging) subfields, they are not really 'lowering' the bar, just changing it. They are, in some way, 'lowering' the bar for the number of years one needs to study x or y before one can be successful at getting into a good doctoral program. But it's a more fundamental shift of how people, scholars, perceive a discipline, and the disagreement usually stems from whether that shift is appropriate or not. To take an 'extreme' example: is it 'appropriate' to accept doctoral students in NT without any ancient language training? Most traditionalists would say no and on the assumption that NT scholarship is this or that, but always with an ancient language text of the NT as the base text of that discipline. But what about someone interested in studying, say, how Americans read the NT (in English) or how Japanese speakers do so, and so on. Many of the traditionalists would say, no, the latter belong in other subfields of religion/religious studies or in other disciplines entirely (English, linguistics, etc.). These kinds of debates happened long ago for many disciplines/departments in the humanities, at least in the US. The reason, I think, why they are so slow going in religion and especially subfields of biblical studies is because of the relative number of students in them compared with other subfields of religion, historic reasons/inheritance of tradition at US schools, and the 'energy' surrounding them (not to even speak of the money!). I count myself as one such 'traditionalist', so I lament this shift in some way. But, regarding the field of biblical studies, it has been bloated for so many decades (centuries...), it is time, I think, to put those resources to other use.
  7. Good to hear it's not all in my head. Even though I probably count as one of those traditionalists (at least for most hiring committees), I welcome these changes.
  8. I will chime in here and just note that successful applicants in NT and related fields over the past 6 years or so (since I've been in a doctoral program, at Duke) seem to have changed quite a bit. There are certain prerequisites that remain essential, mostly languages, but honestly in NT this is less and less of an issue, I think. A smattering of NT Greek (a very small subset of koine, I should note) can be enough, if you have other non-traditional interests that align with faculty interests. For better or worse, as many fields in the humanities become more interdisciplinary (among other trends), the old requirements are giving way to new ones, ones that better align with the interests of young(ish) faculty hires. Now, this shift will certainly help certain people applying to RS departments who have those 'non-traditional' interests; but the Grad cafe is, so far as I can tell, populated by far more 'traditionalists', e.g. certain subfields of biblical studies (philologically oriented ones). This trend, if I am seeing things at all clearly (others at my stage or beyond please chime in to correct me), will also hurt the traditionalists once they graduate and are on the market for a professorship, since universities are hiring less and less scholars doing traditional research (though they are hiring less overall, too!). Hopefully I'm wrong. Anyways, to anyone undergoing doctoral admissions this season, I hope you're hanging in there. It will all be okay, eventually. You are more than your application.
  9. Yes, it's fine to ask them about 'improving chances,' but frame it differently: just ask them what, to their mind, makes a competitive applicant; this way you don't convey any sense that you think to have an advantage just because you are speaking with said person. For what's it's worth, I don't think these kinds of conversations are worth much, besides getting an idea of a) is that person able to take a student the cycle you are applying and b) does said person still study/research the things you think they do (some folks change their research interests radically, and their online/publication data has not yet caught up). Also, talk to said person's current/recent grad students about the program/what makes a competitive applicant (i.e. look at their backgrounds); this is a far better idea of what you will be up against when you apply than whatever guarded advice said adviser is willing to give up to you.
  10. FYI the attached flyer is 'unavailable.' Also, anticipating potential confusing, this is a notice that UNC-CH is now offering a specific Hebrew Bible-track PhD. Correct? At first, I thought this was a fellowship for visiting graduate students or postdocs.
  11. sacklunch

    Post M.Div - MTS

    Some good recs above. Funding aside, your best option would be an MA in Classics et sim., given your area of interest. I assume that is out of the question, since most folks in your situation don't have the level of Greek and especially Latin required to enroll in those programs. If you do though, Tufts has a well-respected MA in Classics and I believe it has good-ish funding? BC used to have an MA in Greek (classical), which may allow you to come in without any/much Latin (no clue on funding). An MTS after the MDiv is not so out of the ordinary, as you note, but just make sure the MTS allows you to opt out of most/all of the fluff (e.g. you don't need to be taking required, intro to bible). Languages are of course the biggest hurdle for PhD entry in your field (and thus my rec for a Classics MA); so again, make sure the MTS program will allow you to take (many) language courses. As others said, don't waste your time with the ThM (zero funding and only a year).
  12. I don't think Duke requires a Hebrew exam for NT track; check the GPR handbook or ask someone in your subfield/adviser. You might check the course list or check with Melvin Peters to see if the class 'rapid reading in Biblical Hebrew' is offered sometime in the next year or two. I'm at Duke (GPR PhD), so feel free to PM me, though I'm not in the NT track.
  13. It's possible, though as pathos said, not likely. That said, if anyone has a chance at doing so, it's applicants working in "modern" subfields, i.e. you. The reason it is rare for many of us, is because we have the problem of studying enough languages, which is not much of a problem, in comparison, for those doing research in modern, esp. American (i.e. English-language) history/religion. For better or worse, many applicants for doctoral work in religion have a divinity M* degree, because honestly most of them have 'faith' commitments. For worse, this has resulted in the expectation that all applicants should also have at least one M* degree, divinity or otherwise, because so many applicants have them (even if one wants to pursue a doctoral degree not requiring specialized, language training). This is unfortunate, since I think most divinity degrees, even at the 'top' schools, are essentially post-baccs. My rant aside, I suggest looking into, beyond religion PhDs, history departments et sim. Spend a lot of time looking at the backgrounds of current doctoral students at the schools of interest. What kind of degrees do most of them have? That will be a far better measure than the anecdotes given here.
  14. sacklunch

    Questions to ask

    Re above, while I completely agree, this may be off-putting to the professor. But you should ask current graduate students at said school about this. Again, we should hope that all advisers would care about the mental well-being of their students, but the reality, at least from my experience, is that most academics have never had to think much about it and I suspect that some even think it is completely outside their role as adviser/mentor. If that is a deal breaker for you, then fair enough, many others will happily--or unhappily as the case may be--pretend as if their advisers have no bearing on their mental health. Again, speak to the graduate students. They/we are easy to read.
  15. I can't offer anything terribly specific, but you might check into schools that have joint programs between MDiv and e.g. MSW, like the Duke and UNC Chapel Hill program. I recall them being around four years, but that may open the right kind of doors.
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