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Tollelege

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  1. From personal experience, I can confirm what others are saying regarding the sufficiency of a MDiv degree, even from an evangelical school. I attended a very small evangelical divinity school where only a few students per year tend to pursue graduate studies. However, in the last three years, we have had students placed in PhD programs at Duke, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Marquette, Baylor, Saint Louis, and Toronto. None of those students earned more than a MDiv degree. This is not to say they lacked preparation on things such as languages (which are crucial). Our MDiv program required a minimum of two years of biblical Greek and two years of Hebrew and all of the more academically inclined students I know also elected to take Latin during their time at the school. The point is, having a MDiv from an evangelical school is not an insurmountable obstacle to being accepted at a reputable school. That being said, I agree with Kuriakos that the decision on whether you should do more preparation is relative to many factors. You have not mentioned what school you went to, but if you think that it has a negative reputation among the schools you're applying to or if you think none of your professors have personal connections with professors at these schools (a negative sign), then you may want to consider diversifying your credentials by attending a more well-known school. Furthermore, MDiv programs vary wildly in their curricular structures, so it is almost impossible to say how sufficient your coursework has been. Languages are incredibly important and, while a knowledge of biblical Greek and Hebrew are essential, you may want to consider adding classical Greek, Latin, Coptic, Aramaic, etc.--whatever seems most relevant to your area of research. Modern research languages are certainly a plus, but I would place greater emphasis on ancient languages (especially if you want to do biblical studies). At the end of the day, however, one of the most crucial aspects of getting into a PhD program is, as newenglandshawn mentioned, your "fit" in the program. Know the interests of the professors at various schools you're applying to; survey the most recent dissertation topics in the department to get an idea of what students there are interested in; talk to current students about the program and its emphases. Doing this kind of research will help you to know whether you would be a good fit and enable you to make that case in your statement of intent. Of course, there are other important factors that are totally beyond your control, such as inter-departmental politics, which professor(s) is in need of students, whether the department perceives a need for greater diversity among its graduate students, when certain professors might be taking sabbaticals, etc. I hope this helps. Best of luck in your applications!
  2. I apologize for misconstruing your comment, Joseph45. I admit that PTS and Duke are amenable to evangelical students and include faculty who are well-liked in some evangelical circles, and I meant to indicate by my punctuation ("such as PTS or Duke, or Yale, Notre Dame, HDS, etc") that the latter three were additions to the two schools that you recommended. Furthermore, if I implied that schools other than the evangelical seminaries mentioned by the poster are unconcerned with ministerial formation, then I miscommunicated. Of course many of the students at PTS and Duke, as well as Yale, Candler, HDS, etc, are preparing for lives of church ministry and some of them will even work in evangelical churches (I even know some HDS and YDS students of who worship and minister in evangelical churches). The point is that many evangelical churches would still be suspicious of PTS and Duke and would more quickly hire a TEDS grad than someone from one of these schools, a fact that is even more often the case with churches that refer to themselves by the nondescript-yet-sociologically-descriptive-evangelical nomenclature "non-denominational". If the poster's leadership recommended TEDS, Biola, Wheaton, Westminster, etc., does it not seem reasonable that this same leadership, which may very well be representative of his/her ecclesial circles, would be more reticent to hire a college pastor from PTS or Duke? To deny that any such suspicion (justified or not) would exist indicates a lack of awareness of conservative evangelical circles. I, for one, simply think that the poster would do well to listen to his/her own church leaders and to attend a school similar to the ones recommended by them.
  3. From these criteria, I think that the schools you mentioned all sound like they could work well. If you are committed to working in a non-denominational church, then it would probably be prudent not to attend one of the Southern Baptist seminaries. You may also want to avoid the two Westminster schools, since the education you receive there would undoubtedly be couched in the particular doctrinal disputes and theological grammar of confessional American Presbyterianism and may sound rather foreign to your own non-denominational context. My advice would be to consider the more broadly evangelical schools you listed, especially TEDS, Gordon-Conwell, and Fuller. To that list, you may also want to add Regent College in Vancouver and Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham. It seems clear enough that you are interested in being trained for ministry and not for academic research. If that is the case, I think that you should be less concerned about attending any specific school (since you could find a good education and ministerial training in a variety of schools), and more on some other, practical concerns. Being a college pastor will not pay well, so you should avoid going to any school that will require you to go into significant financial debt. Think about other questions, such as: where would you prefer living for the next several years? Will you want to attend school full-time or will you want to attend part-time (some schools, such as Beeson Divinity, do not allow part-time study)? As to what you should study, I would recommend getting an M.Div. degree. It may seem arduously long for a master's degree, but it is the one designed for those who wish to pursue pastoral ministry as a vocation. The more focused MA and MTS degrees are generally intended for students who wish to pursue academic study in a certain field and they have no practical ministry courses built into their curricula. There is some truth in what other commenters have implied regarding the lack of academic rigor and respectability in conservative evangelical schools, but you need to understand the criteria that most of us (who are interested in the academic study of religion/theology) are using when we make such evaluations. Few evangelical seminaries would train you in critical analysis of primary religious texts (at least, outside the Bible), would provide opportunities for language training other than biblical Greek and Hebrew, or would assign you any reading by important thinkers in religious theory (e.g., Weber, Durkheim, Eliade, Geertz, Girard) or major figures in contemporary philosophy and theology (of course, some seminaries would be better at this than others). This is not to say that evangelical schools are monolithic, as Theophilos has already pointed out, but that the conversations that take place at many of these evangelical schools are disagreements among evangelicals, not serious and critical engagement with non-evangelical scholarship. This does not mean that the workload for such schools is fluffy compared to other schools, but it does mean that the same scholarly preparation and rigor in engaging academic conversations is not taking place. As to the criterion of respectability, it is also true that none of the above mentioned schools would be considered prestigious by any competitive PhD program. If you wanted to go on for further academic work, I would recommend that you take Joseph45's recommendation and look at schools such as PTS or Duke, or Yale, Notre Dame, HDS, etc. Students from evangelical seminaries are occasionally accepted into top tier doctoral programs, but this is very rare and is undoubtedly the exception that proves the norm. I disagree, however, that this means that the evangelical seminaries are therefore somehow not respectable. Respectability is a subjective category and is conferred differently by different communities. If you want to work in evangelical churches such as the one you belong to now, then a degree from TEDS or Gordon-Conwell will be more respectable than a degree from one of the more prestigious schools (even the more conservative PTS and Duke), which will likely be viewed with suspicion. All this to say, you may be asking the wrong people for advice. Gradcafe is an excellent resource for people who are interested in getting graduate degrees for the purpose of academic study, but a bunch of aspiring scholars may not be the best people to consult regarding which evangelical seminary to attend in order to prepare for college pastoral ministry.
  4. I went from a small liberal arts college to an evangelical divinity school to the PhD at BC in early/medieval historical theology. From my own experience I would like to say that it is quite possible to move into a competitive, well-funded program from a non top-tier M* program. On the other hand, when I was sharing this bit of encouragement with an applicant recently I realized that this is the exception to the rule in our area, in which the other current doctoral students' M* degrees are as follows: 3 Harvard, 3 Duke, 1 Princeton, and 1 Notre Dame. We did have one other student accepted last year who had done his M* at a Greek Orthodox seminary, but this was his second M* degree. I don't say this to be discouraging. I do think that "fit" in a program, along with other aspects of your application, matters a great deal and that we all have enough cumulative anecdotal experience to affirm that you can move from a less-than-prestigious M* program into a competitive doctoral program. But it is also very helpful to be realistic. Such inspiring stories are abnormal and if you look at where accepted students at places such as Yale, Harvard, Duke, Notre Dame and Chicago did their M* degree(s), the vast majority earned their degrees at Yale, Harvard, Duke, Notre Dame and Chicago. Whether you agree with such preferential treatment or not, this is simply the reality of how things are during a time of incredible competition in higher education. So, go for it, but do it with your eyes wide open and do it with a plan B.
  5. When discussing the competitiveness of any program, it is important to keep in mind that these programs are divided into subfields, so that competition may differ depending on where one wishes to specialize. For instance, while Duke may receive an enormous amount of applications in the subfield of New Testament, it would hardly receive the same attention from students interested in medieval history/theology. As another illustration from my own department, in the past season applications for subfields ranged from ca. 70 with an acceptance of 3 (4%) to a total of 3 applicants, of whom 2 were accepted (66%). While this is admittedly rather extreme, those interested in the competition they will face when applying should not that this can vary wildly among areas within any department. This does not change the general notions of the prestige of a school, which, as perique69 so charitably has pointed out, can be very important when it comes to securing a teaching position. At the same time, there are many factors beyond the prestige attached to one's name that a search committee will take into consideration, especially if members of the committee have an awareness of one's subfield and which programs are particularly strong in that specialization.
  6. Just to be clear, the new MA program in Philosophy and Theology is NOT offered by the BC School of Theology and Ministry. I only mention this because you spoke of the MTS program, which comes through the STM. The MA program will be offered jointly by the philosophy and theology departments at Boston College, which are technically separate from the STM (although you can still take classes at the STM, of course).
  7. Wafer, This may or may not interest you (depending on how exclusively you want to focus in on the philosophy side of things), but Boston College has just announced that they are offering a join MA in theology and philosophy run jointly by both departments. BC has great strengths if you are interested in medieval philosophy and theology, the history of philosophy, continental philosophy and its dialogue with theology, as well as philosophy of religion. While few of the professors would be interested in apologetics per se, there a few exceptions, such as Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. If you came to BC, you would also have access to the resources of the other institutions in the BTI, including Harvard Divinity, Boston University, and Gordon Conwell. Just a thought. I am a doctoral student in the theology department and have some familiarity with the professors involved. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a private message.
  8. seroteamavi, I am a current Ph.D. student in early Christianity at Boston College. Regarding your question, the answer is no; you do not apply through the STM but through the theology department. PM me if you have any questions.
  9. Broadly speaking, I would agree with jdmhotness. I did my M* at a Protestant divinity school and am now doing a Ph.D. in patristic/medieval theology at BC, an era of history that Catholic schools (especially Notre Dame and BC) seem to be particularly strong in. This may not be the case should you have a different historical period in mind (e.g., nineteenth-century American history or theology in the Protestant Reformation). To your question concerning history as opposed to theology, I wouldn't worry about this too much. The likelihood is that you will either pursue an MTS (such as at ND, BC, Duke, HDS, etc.), or an MA of some sort (cf. Yale, Chicago). These programs should include a core curriculum of both historical and theological courses and, through your experience of those courses and conversations with your teachers, you will be able to decide which you would like to emphasize. You will have "room to maneuver" in either area, but it may not be necessary to make that choice quite yet (most people have a change in interest during their M* studies anyway). The more important question is, what aspect of history/historical theology/theology are you interested in? Which school would be able to support you better with that emphasis? Also, practical questions such as funding, placement record (I assume you have some sort of academic telos in mind) and, yes, even geography, should play an important role. My advice is to apply to a variety and then make the decision once you have offers before you. All the best during this time of discernment and application.
  10. I received my acceptance letter and funding for Boston College today, as well. I am still waiting to hear on the Duke Th.D., but having one offer with a stipend is a huge relief and a cause for celebration.
  11. Thank you all for your input. I have considered the S.T.M./Th.M. option, but am hesitant for two reasons. First, I have been luckily able to avoid student debt thus far and don't like the idea of having to pay for such a degree. As 11Q13 said, they are typically unfunded. And, second, my education to this point has been heavily centered on the theology/history side of things and what I feel that I really need is more language study, ancient philosophy, and Classics (something I don't think would be focused on if I were to pursue a S.T.M./Th.M. at a school like Yale or Duke). Westcott, thank you for your emphasis on research experience. There has been a dearth of any real substantive research in my master's degree (I chose not to do a thesis), so that would certainly be something to keep in mind if I do end up taking the M.A. route. At the end of the day, I will probably apply for both. I have professors who are strongly encouraging me to go ahead for the Ph.D. One who did his doctorate in a program I am applying for told me he doesn't know why I would want to do another master's (though I think he is overestimating my preparation). 11Q13, you brought up an interesting point that I have thought about before. You said that adding a second master's such as an M.A. could possibly throw up a red flag to doctoral admissions committees who may question why I felt the need to do something like that. Have any of you heard of whether doing an M.A. after an M.Div. may in any way negatively affect one's application for a doctoral program? Thanks again for your suggestions. If you don't mind me asking, jdmhotness, what M.A. programs are you applying to? Your needs some almost identical to mine and I would love to know what you've found out there.
  12. Dear Gradcafe Community, This is my first post as a newly registered member of gradcafe. I have followed several threads here and found helpful advice, so I thought I would try my own question. I am going into the final year of my M.Div. program, hoping to continue on to a Ph.D. in patristics. But I have a dilemma. I am not sure whether I would be a very viable candidate for a top-tier Ph.D. program and am wondering what to do. I say this for a couple reasons. First, my languages need some work. I have about four years of Greek between undergrad and divinity school, but it is almost exclusively in Koine. I will have one year of Latin, but will need to work on that. And, I have yet to learn French or German. Furthermore, I have almost no background in classical studies/ancient philosophy (excepting my own independent study). And finally, both of my degrees are from evangelical institutions. On the upside, I have extensive coursework in the history of Christian thought and have taken several graduate seminars on patristic figures in particular. I also have strong LOR's from profs with good connections to some of the schools I am applying to. With all of this in mind, should I go ahead and apply for competitive Ph.D. programs in early Christian history/theology or should I take a couple years to do a funded M.A. that will allow me to work on my languages and fill the lacuna of classical studies/philosophy background? Furthermore, if I do apply to doctoral programs and am rejected, will this negatively affect my chances if I apply after having completed an M.A. to the same programs? I apologize for the length of this, but wanted you to have the specifics. To make this already lengthy question even more tedious, here are my stats: B.A. from Christian liberal arts college (3.94 GPA) M.Div. from evangelical divinity school (3.97 GPA) GRE: 730V/760Q 5.0 Greek (NT) 4 years Biblical Hebrew 2 years Latin 1 year Spanish 2 years
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