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  1. Hello all. I'm interested in pursuing Master's level work in Religious Studies, specifically Islamic Studies with a focus on modernist and postmodernist approaches to Islamic ethics, hermeneutics, and feminist thought. I have an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from a liberal arts college, 3.89 GPA, extensive coursework in the study of religion, and strong recommenders. However, I have no linguistic training in Arabic (my undergrad had no courses). UChicago's program stood out to me for its range of courses on Islam, opportunities for beginner linguistic training, and no specific regional attachment to the study of Islam (in comparison to say, a Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies program.) Based on my extensive research, there aren't many opportunities to pursue Islamic Studies in America in a program with these qualities. The M.Div and MA applications have a final deadline of August 1. Even though they say they accept applications on a rolling basis, I'm worried as it would take another several weeks for me to organize references, fix up my writing sample, and write a personal statement, at which point there may be no space. I am in a financially generous position for a variety of reasons, so I am not as worried about the aid package, although getting $0 would be concerning. Then, there is COVID on top of all of this....I do want a quality education, and getting my foot in the door at a competitive environment like UChic may be more difficult. I've heard that the school is cutthroat (I'm hoping the Islamic Studies program is less so..). On top of this, I am wondering if it is worth pursuing an M.Div versus an MA. I am interested in scholar-activism and connecting my work directly with the Muslim community, although I am not looking to pursue chaplaincy and the (Islamic equivalent) of ministerial work. Nonetheless, I have heard that UChic's MDiv program is very academic and, since it is not housed in a specific faith or Christian denomination, there is ample room to explore both one's academic and professional interests. If someone has a different perspective on this, I'd be grateful to hear it. As of now, I could see myself pursuing a PhD, but I am trying to focus on finding creative and flexible applications of my graduate work given the worldwide circumstances right now. I'm not sure if an MA or M.Div is more suited for this. Though the decision to apply rests solely with me, I'd be grateful for any quick responses to help me out!
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