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sacklunch

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sacklunch last won the day on October 10 2014

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  1. I don't doubt that it is, though I question how much of that is the PhD/ThD. I was speaking strictly about masters degrees at HDS and the fact that HDS, like all top divinity schools in the US, have relatively high acceptance rates for M* degrees. The doctoral programs do not, of course, and they mirror the low acceptance rates of other disciplines. To put it in perspective, I can't imagine any faculty member working in ancient history being more impressed with an applicant who has an MTS from HDS verses the ECS masters from ND. The latter is highly selective, the former is not. But, yes, HDS is still Harvard, so it has a 'better' ranking than ND.
  2. Well, to be fair, most admission committees won't see many applicants from Yale U, since that would mean the applicant went to Yale for college (a rather unlikely scenario, if anyone has been tracking stats at R1 schools these days [in short record low humanities majors, while non-elite schools fair much better and haven't changed much in this regard in the past decade]) or perhaps went there for some other M* degree, but I'm not sure if Yale U even offer a degree that would allow one to take advanced classes in ANE studies. Most of the applicants to the top religion (perhaps less so ANE) programs in the US come from divinity schools. My point, in part, was that because most come from divinity schools, faculty are aware of what to expect, as far as preparation goes. Regarding the MARc, yes, while the degree may allow one to take more advanced classes, opting out of intro ones, the potential problem still remains, i.e. the average advanced class is probably more akin to an advanced undergraduate course. So, e.g., if you took a Greek or Hebrew exegesis course at YDS, my guess is it would be about the same level of difficulty as an undergrad class that required 2 years of the language (so a class of juniors and seniors). The reasons for this are practical: because divinity schools don't have language prereqs, they have a lot of students who begin language study when they start their MDiv or MAR, less so MARc. But, majority wins: the courses, perhaps rightly so, are structured to allow those 'late' starting students to join. Outside of the YDS, at Yale U, things will be different; they don't have that expectation and will be full of mostly doctoral students--but don't let that scare you off! Because many of those doctoral students came from divinity schools (and recently, since they are in their first two years of coursework), their language training may be about where you are at now. The good thing about YDS, if you can take enough classes at Yale U, is that you can get a nice mix of intensity during the semester. I should also alert you, and others please speak up if you have an opinion on this, that some professors in religion prefer students with a diverse academic background, in the sense that they like people who went to more than one school. The thinking is that you will have 'proved' yourself in more than one academic environment, thereby increasing the likelihood that your polished CV is not some kind of fluke. This matters far less if you went to a known school--the assumption then is you have already been vetted, plus profs at R1's tend to know each other. They will simply email their friend and ask about you. This can work for or against you. It's hard for me to have a strong opinion about your situation, because a) I know nothing about your current school (e.g. what kind of classes can you take that you haven't) and b) I don't know enough about what you can opt out of at YDS, what classes they will have there and at Yale U when you're there.
  3. Re the original question, you need to look carefully at the course requirements for the MARc and see what you can or can't get out of. I know the MARc has exceptions, but I don't know what they are. If the program requires you to take a bunch of fluff--i.e. anything that isn't specific to ANE studies--you may consider the other offer. YDS has a good name, yes, but not really in ANE studies (note I'm not talking about Yale U, which is entirely different). I'm not saying YDS bad, far from it, just that faculty working in ANE studies tend to be much more interested in how good your language skills are, ancient and modern, field experience, specialized coursework (epigraphy, e.g.). You can get some of that at YDS, or at least via Yale U, but you may get stuck taking classes that are more introductory; even if you don't have to take X number of intro classes, you should check how many classes they will let you take outside YDS (there may not be enough classes available at YDS in your specialty for any given semester). The introductory nature of divinity courses is really the biggest problem, I think, for successful entrance into a good PhD program in any field of ancient history. They are not really designed to prepare you for this, or at least that is a very small part of what a divinity school can offer. The top ANE PhD programs, including Yale U, are not going to give a hoot, e.g., if you have a MARc from YDS, but you took a bunch of intro/unrelated classes. They would be far more impressed with someone who has an MA from a good state school who did more advanced/focused research. And honestly even if you have, on paper, 'advanced' classes from YDS or the other usual divinity suspects, certainly Duke, less so HDS and Chicago, they may be skeptical that those classes were up to the same rigor as a non-divinity school. I can say I have walked into a few 'advanced' language classes at a few big divinity schools and was surprised, at first, at the level (lack) of intensity. Faculty know this.
  4. Depends what funding package is offered at YDS. I would think long and hard about doing a PhD at a low ranked school/program these days as well.
  5. You make a good point about recruiting, but it's one that I can't fully agree with or deny, since such scenarios seem rare. How many people with an MDiv from HDS are talking to a recruiter for any kind of professional job (e.g. let's say you tried to move into some entry level accounting/finance role)? Not many is my guess. But how would I know? My best friend works in finance in San Fran, recently moved from NYC, has an MBA, that sort of thing; and having had these kinds of conversations with him and his friends in that world, I can say they are bewildered by people with M* from divinity schools. I think they would prefer to never hire someone with such a degree. But, to be fair, they are also bewildered/put at unease by people like me--secular dudes getting a PhD in religion. They mostly lump us together (can you tell I'm unhappy about that!?). But, you're right, generally speaking, that many people would simply see 'Harvard' or whatever school and regardless of the grad degree it would help you. I'm looping back again and pulling back a bit on what I said earlier. I guess, in the end, my feeling is you shouldn't waste any money on getting any M* unless you have a pretty good idea of what you want to do with it. If it's free, or very cheap (or you're rich), then yeah, go for it. Otherwise, I honestly think you will spend those 2 years in Cambridge more or less starry-eyed and full of high expectations. But, when you finish, if you don't stay in 'theological'-job-world or if you're not 'good enough' to progress in academia, I think you will be in for a reality check. These kinds of schools bank on the pipe-dream; and for some people, when they finish and they move back to Oklahoma (et sim.) because they couldn't get a good enough job to justify staying in Boston, or wherever else, it may be worth all that money to say, at some friend's BBQ, that you went to Harvard. You did it. You're that person. Or at least you get to be at the BBQ. But most days there is no BBQ. /rambling.
  6. If you go the non-academic route, then I have no doubt HDS would look better on a resume. Would it make a huge difference? I doubt it. If it didn't say "Divinity" it might, but, honestly, that label throws about every red flag possible to folks working in the professional world. Even others with grad degrees from the same top schools with divinity schools are sort of confused, if not at times alarmed/put at unease, when they meet people with a divinity degree. It feels antiquated to them, backward thinking, the odd duck in the larger, increasingly secular university culture in the US, which is especially acute at top schools. I'm not saying the divinity students/graduates are marginalized per se at these schools. They are better off than most folks, professionally speaking. But how much better off is say, person 1 with only a BA vs person 2 with a BA from the same school as person 1 + a M* from HDS? In the non-academic professional world, outside of 'theological'-jobs, I would argue not really better off at all. In fact, I am positive that certain employers would rather hire the first person, because they may think that person 2 will just not fit in with the other types of folks in a professional environment--e.g. person 2 may have inappropriate conversations at work (related to god/s, and so on). Now, I am not saying person 2 would do any of those things or even that the folks s/he works with wouldn't want to have those conversations, only that a hiring manager may assume any one of those things. This is mostly hypothetical. But I do know a few people with M* from top divinity schools, including HDS, who did not want to work in 'theological'-job-world upon graduation. They either didn't get into PhD programs or they didn't have an interest in them. So what do they do? Whatever they can. A few of them have jobs they love, a few don't. What they have in common, generally, is their M* didn't help them much professionally. And, I can recall a few of them relating experiences of unease during the hiring process because their divinity education. You may rightly be wondering why you haven't read the exact kinds of things I am typing elsewhere on this forum (or perhaps you have?). I think the answer is that most of the people on here either a) don't bother to come back and ramble on after they have already 'made it' (this forum is about getting into graduate school, more or less) or b) they are firmly entrenched in 'theological'-job-land and thus these issues are largely irrelevant for them. Okay, enough rambling. Back to the dissertation.
  7. harvah raises a good point and one that was at the back of my mind when I wrote my earlier response. That is, how much of your interest is the school's reputation? Given your interests in Catholic education, honestly, I think BC will carry much more weight than HDS post graduation. Re the difference between scholars/this forum about HDS, I should add that I think that this is largely true of the top divinity schools in the US. Folks on this forum tend to conflate, e.g., US News World Report type of rankings for undergraduate schools, with the top divinity schools. There is some connection there, however vague, but anyone who has been in the field of academic religion/religious studies knows, these divinity schools have a far higher acceptance than the undergraduate population. And, really, even when considering other non-divinity M* programs at those top schools, the divinity programs have a hilariously high acceptance rate (what other graduate degree at, say, Harvard, comes close to 50% acceptance? Not many, I would guess). The consequence of this relatively high acceptance rate means that HDS, along with YDS, DDS, PTS, Chicago Div, et al., take students without the same standard of past, academic work (and, honestly, many without the prospect of high-quality future academic work). Note I am not attempting to criticize this standard, but it is important to note its difference from basically all other graduate programs (M* and PhD alike). Over the years as a doctoral student at one of these institutions, I have seen the false sense of security in divinity students at said school; understandably, they think they have passed through the same impossibly high admission standards as other graduate students at those same institutions. Again, I am not belittling their accomplishments; it's just important to realize that scholars in the field of religion/religious studies know everything I am here typing, they know that having an M* from a top divinity school in the US doesn't mean you are necessarily better prepared than, say, someone with only a BA, or someone with an MA from a large state school. And again I feel the need to state that much of what I'm saying depends on subfield and basically all of what I'm saying is restricted to academia. Take that for what it is.
  8. I'm not convinced that the 'big H' opens doors on principle of reputation. I mean, yes, it does open certain doors, but it's important to ask which 'doors' the OP wants to pass through. My personal opinion is that HDS has a far better reputation on this forum than it does among scholars in religion/religious studies. I'm not saying it doesn't have a good reputation among scholars; it does. But I'm not sold on its reputation being all that much better than, say, BC. Much of this depends on subfield, which again gets back to the question of what the OP wants to do with the degree. If it's work in academia in a Catholic environment, then BC is probably going to be a better professional (and probably personal) decision. Even if OP has no interest in studying Catholic theology, but has an interest in some, say, historical period, but BC has more faculty of interest, you may very well be better off going to BC. You can, of course, go to HDS and take courses at BC through the BTI, but, again, you may be better off going to BC and taking courses at HDS depending on your interests.
  9. 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).
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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).
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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