First-- HAPPY NEW YEAR! Woo hoo!
I have a rather strange situation.
I am currently working on my master's degree in theology with a focus in world religions. I would like to do a Ph.D. in the sociology of religion. I will not finish my master's degree until May of 2013, but I am thinking of starting the Ph.D. application process at the end of 2012. I am thinking of doing this because I don't want to wait a year before entering my next program. Ideally, I'd like to get accepted to a Ph.D. program in the Spring of 2013, finish my master's degree in May 2013 and begin my Ph.D. program in September 2013.
My gut says that it won't matter because there will be applicants who don't have Masters degrees... The bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement-- so it won't matter if I've finished my master's degree, eh?
Now for a curveball: I'm worried about the timing of my applications because my undergrad gpa is very low. I dropped out at 20 yrs old with a 2.10... I transferred to another school a few years later and finished with a 2.98... The average cumulative gpa for the two programs will be around 2.50... (I suffered with severe clinical depression associated with a chronic, disfiguring disease that I still have, but I sought help for my depression at the age of 26 and have developed tools the tools I need to be successful. I'll be hammering that home in my personal statement when I apply.)
My grad school gpa has been consistently around 3.50 (not stellar, but better than 2.10), so I think I'll need to show what I've done in my adult years because it's far better than my performance in undergrad.
Do you think it'll matter if I apply to a Ph.D. program prior to finishing the graduate degree given the obvious weight my new grades will carry in the application cycle?
I understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to answer questions like these with any certainty, but I figured it might be somewhat helpful to open the topic for discussion among people who may know a little about how review committees may think.
Thanks, and happy new year again.