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    Early 20th century ecclesiology, Marxism, social theory, critical theory, Weber, Troeltsch, political theology, theory and method in religious studies
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  1. Fuller alum here. It's very easy. Fuller's enrollment (like most seminaries and Christian colleges) is perennially down, and they've been in financial trouble for a while now. They're likely not going to turn away anyone who meets the most basic requirements for admission.
  2. Hey there, I recently finished my Ph.D. (Northwestern, 2019) in roughly your area of interest (phil of religion) and have some thoughts. First, I'm not going to tell you not to pursue this based on how bad the job market is. Other people here will. But people told me the same thing 10 years ago when I was first looking at Ph.D. programs. If you're an RS major and you've had any conversations at all with faculty mentors about grad school, I'm sure (I hope) they told you this. It's really, really, really hard out there. I don't pretend to know what it will be like 6-10 years from now, but chances are it still won't be great. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea to pursue grad school, but you must go in with eyes wide open. I applied to over 80 jobs last year while I was finishing my dissertation, preparing for defense, and then after I defended. I was really lucky to get a full time teaching job, but it literally fell out of the sky a week or so before I was going to start applying to retail jobs, and it's at a community college on the other side of the country from where my family and my wife's family are from. We're okay with this, but some people would not be. You have to weigh all of this. Go in fully aware that the chances are stacked against you for getting even a full time gig at a community college. Second, don't pay a single dime for grad school. Unless you're independently wealthy, taking out loans to attend an MA program is just a bad idea (an even worse idea for a Ph.D.) You can find well-funded MA programs and certainly any Ph.D. program that's going to position you for a job is going to have funding. That said... You're right that it's difficult to get into a PhD program straight from undergrad, but given your fields of interest, not impossible. I had two colleagues in my cohort (2012) who came straight from undergrad, one in each of the fields you're interested in. Honestly, you sound like a competitive undergraduate candidate. Depending on the program, if the fit is really good and you have a compelling project, I definitely think you have a shot. I do also think, however, that a funded MA will help you immensely in clarifying your interests and getting connected to the right people. In American Religion, I think this is especially important. Florida State has an excellent MA program with a great Ph.D. placement record and is especially strong in American Religion. Obviously places like Harvard and Yale would be well suited for either interest. The most important thing for a PhD application is "fit" which is an ambiguous, frustrating term that's really hard to quantify. Basically, the adcom has to "feel" that you would work well given the resources of the department and the broader university. Sometimes it may seem like you are an amazing fit for a particular department but you get rejected outright (I felt this way about UVA--didn't even get waitlisted) and sometimes you might be surprised by a department thinking you're a good fit (I applied to NU at the last minute and did not think I had any chance). This is one reason why attending a "well-connected" MA program where faculty know other faculty in good PhD programs is helpful because they can potentially steer you in the right direction. For MA applications, you're likely a very strong candidate at any MA program in the country. The divinity school programs are much easier to get into (typically) than a traditionally funded MA program (e.g. FSU, Miami OH, etc.) in part because a lot of students pay a lot of money to attend those programs. There's usually aid available at the higher tier programs (Chicago, Yale, Harvard, Duke, etc.) but they're not going to pay you a stipend or anything like that. At a place like FSU, you're going to get a modest stipend on top of a tuition waiver in exchange for TA work. In short, yes, you definitely need to start working on a personal statement/statement of purpose now, at least for Ph.D. applications. Hope that's helpful!
  3. @sacklunch Yep. I actually just upgraded to the newest version of Scrivener (3) because I got a new MacBook in January. Hadn't had a need for Scrivener, but since starting this new I've gone back and it's fantastic. But it works on PCs as well. @Deep Fried Angst Congrats on finishing exams! I look back at that as both the most stressful time in my program but also ultimately the most helpful. Huge foundational portions of my dissertation and even future syllabi that I've designed came from my exams. Good luck as you start the next phase!
  4. I defended my dissertation last April (2019). I used Scrivener to write my diss and then exported it to Word for my committee and when it was time to submit to ProQuest. Advantages I saw in Scrivener: - I found it really easy to keep everything organized. Some of what you can do with Scrivener I'm sure you can do with Word. But I thought the layout of Scrivener was really easy to use. You can keep a menu open on the left that lists each section/chapter of your diss. However you want to break it down. Then what shows up in the writing window is whatever chapter you have selected. So you can flip back and forth between chapters really easily, re-order them really easily (if necessary), etc. This also allows you to very quickly keep track of any stats/targets that you need to keep track of (e.g. word count targets or restrictions you set for yourself, etc.) - FOOTNOTES. Scrivener keeps your footnotes listed on the lefthand side of the window making it very easy to find the notes you're looking for. I honestly never used Endnote or any footnote tracker because everything can be done in Scrivener. As long as you import/enter your bibliographic info as you go along, Scrivener does a very good job of keeping everything organized. - Scrivener has a "cork board" feature where you can "pin" notes to yourself, reminders, etc. It's basically a separate tab like the chapters that can be pulled up just be clicking on it. I found that much easier to use than a running list of notes in a Word doc (which I still had) or even a physical board. It also has a comments feature that's much easier to use than in Word. Drawbacks: - The major issue was exporting to Word sucked. I used Turabian citation style, but Scrivener doesn't have that as an option. Chicago is obviously very close, but even then, the export didn't get the formatting exactly right. The main thing was that all the footnote numbers were superscript and not indented at all. So when I did my final export for my committee before my defense, I had to go through and fix the numbers on 400+ footnotes. It didn't take as long as it sounds it might, but it was still annoying. Had to do it again after I cleaned it up for ProQuest. I'm starting a new book project now, and I've gone right back to Scrivener.
  5. Analytic/continental is not really a meaningful distinction in Religious Studies programs. The vast majority of RS scholars doing politics/social theory/ethics/etc. engage continental philosophy as it is utilized as "theory" broadly speaking. But many folks are not reading the primary source philosophers on which theory is based. Many RS scholars have not read, for example, Foucault, Deleuze, or Agamben but instead receive these figures through others who have read them and formed their own theories related to religion, e.g. Talal Asad. Even when you do encounter people who have read these figures, their understanding of them seems to be somewhat idiosyncratic, at least with respect to how philosophy/literature/theology programs engage them.
  6. It's true that there are not many folks on this forum who are applying to or currently in Islamic studies tracks/programs. However, @Averroes MD used to post here fairly regularly, is at Harvard (I think?), and can probably answer questions if you have them.
  7. Of the programs you listed, Northwestern and (I think) Indiana regularly admit people straight from undergrad. I just graduated from Northwestern's program, and there were two people in my cohort who came in straight from undergrad. I've known plenty of others as well. That said, if you're really serious about American Religions, I would absolutely consider taking an MA first at FSU or Miami (OH) or another program with an extremely strong track record in that subfield. You'll have a much, much better shot at top AmRel Ph.D. programs with an MA. And, to clarify xypathos' point about being put in an MA program--not a lot of elite Ph.D. programs have a terminal MA to put you in. Northwestern definitely doesn't. Neither do the Ivies you listed. And schools that do, like Columbia or UChicago, will make you pay a ton of money for theirs with no promise of Ph.D. admission when you're done. I would highly recommend seeking out funded MA programs like FSU and Miami where you'll get some teaching experience and you'll work with really well-respected scholars in the field.
  8. @PonderingPerson400 I just finished my Ph.D. in religious studies and my subfields are philosophy of religion/theology/social philosophy. You can PM me if you want some more detail, but let me throw some things out to consider. First, you ought to look at the kinds of jobs that are out there. Things will almost certainly change by the time you're in my position, which, realistically, could be nearly a decade if you pursue an M* degree before your Ph.D. I took 6+ years, which was the norm for my cohort (we all defended within about two months of each other.) Still, it's helpful to see the kinds of jobs that are out there for someone with an MTS and a Ph.D. with a dissertation broadly in philosophy of religion and/or theology. This is where you want to look: https://academicjobs.wikia.org/wiki/Religious_Studies_and_Theology_2018-2019 I'd recommend anyone thinking about a Ph.D. in RS to look through this year's job opportunities. There were actually a decent number of jobs for people in phil of religion/theology both this year and last year. Here's the thing though: You'll notice how many of these jobs are at Catholic schools. That doesn't preclude non-Catholics from applying to them, but some are very clear that they want someone with an expertise in Catholic systematics/moral theology/social teaching/etc. specifically. Note also that some schools are places like Calvin College and George Fox--both evangelical schools. I only point that out to say that some of these theology/philosophy jobs require a significant amount of finesse if the school happens to be more conservative than you are. I had to spin my dissertation research, which is about the relationship between normativity and history in theology from the perspective of German philosophy of history/religion, for each of these schools I applied to. Finally, you'll note that some of these postings are looking for someone with expertise in African American theology, gender/sexuality, etc. I would strongly recommend adding an emphasis like that to your work to open up those kinds of opportunities. Second, tenure track jobs are extremely hard to come by. There is a great deal of luck and chance involved--even more so than Ph.D. admissions. If you think about it, that makes sense. If you've finished a Ph.D. program at a reputable school, chances are you are eminently qualified to take a teaching position at a university. No not everyone's research is world-changing or even good, but it was good enough to earn a Ph.D. which means it's probably pretty good. You could say that at least 90% of people coming out of top programs are more than qualified for a TT job. That's obviously not true for Ph.D. admissions, where anyone who can pay for the application can apply. People who have no business applying to Ph.D. programs do all the time. That's not true of the job market (at least not nearly to as great a degree). The vast majority of people have done the work: they've earned the degree, they've published, they're part of professional organizations in one way or another, they've won major grants, they've done 20+ drafts of all their materials, etc. I know people who are brilliant scholars who bounced around from temporary position to temporary position for 5-7 years before finally landing a tenure track job. I'm talking about people who have contributed significantly to the field, published at least one book and multiple articles, sit on editorial boards of journals and steering committees of AAR program units. Even those kinds of people can struggle to find a job. On the other side of the coin, I've known a few colleagues from my program who landed a TT job before even defending their dissertation. They're fine scholars, but nowhere near the caliber of the first group. They just happened across the right job at the right time. Because of that, if you're dead set on a Ph.D., back up options for a university teaching job are really important to begin thinking about even now. Normally, I would strongly recommend against an MDiv, simply because you have to do a lot of "fluff" that likely isn't going to be relevant to your academic work. BUT if you are already firmly committed to a denomination and could see yourself going into ministry as an alternative to a TT job, then I would actually do the MDiv. While I can't exactly say that I regret not pursuing an MDiv, I do kinda wish I had that in my back pocket right now because I think it would make me a more attractive candidate to churches and would open more options for the kinds of church jobs I could apply to. For example, I'm unlikely to land a solo pastor gig somewhere unless it's a nondenominational church that doesn't care about an MDiv. But I'm also very unlikely to be considered by a nondenominational church since they tend to be hyper conservative and somewhat anti-intellectual. They're going to look upon someone with two MAs and a PhD from a "secular" school with extreme suspicion. So the MDiv would really be helpful because a lot of more liberal denominations want to hire people who are willing to pursue ordination, which I probably can't do because I don't have an MDiv. That isn't to say that ministry is the only backup option. I've been applying to a wide range of jobs that have nothing to do with ministry. So in an ideal world, I would say doing an MTS or, perhaps better, an MA in Chicago's philosophy of religion program (or Yale's MARc) is going to give you the best leg up for getting into a Ph.D. program in religious studies to do something philosophy of religion related. Like I said, feel free to PM me if you have any follow up questions.
  9. I know a military chaplain who just finished his Ph.D. in Practical Theology at CST. I can put you in touch with him if you're interested. Send me a PM if you are.
  10. You can demonstrate your potential by talking about your research interests and plans in the Personal Statement. You don't have to be as focused as you would be for a Ph.D. application, but you can still say what interests you about Islamic studies more specifically--i.e. what aspect of Islam you want to study. Again, don't talk about why you're interested in Islamic Studies. Talk about what you want to research. If that's written well and comes across as interesting and promising to the admissions committee, they'll be much more likely to overlook the GPAs.
  11. CST is definitely moving to Oregon, but again, those institutions really only overlap in the religion department at CGU. CGU has a number of other humanities departments that don't interact with CST at all. Still if it were the case that CST's departure caused the closing of the philosophy department at CGU, the reasoning might be a bit better. Sadly, it's not. I have a good friend at CGU who just finished up his coursework. The decision is all based on the usual administrative BS about profitability, numbers, etc.
  12. FWIW, CGU has closed their philosophy department and ended the joint PhD/MA in religion/philosophy. Keller at Drew is definitely your best bet for process theology. Phillip Clayton at CST is also a process guy. It's also important to note that CST and CGU are completely different institutions even though they're technically part of the "Claremont Colleges." They have their own degree programs and faculty. That said, CST faculty are often on committees for CGU students and vice versa. The other thing I'll say is that even thought CST and Drew are quite progressive, they're still theology programs, meaning you may not find all the resources you'd need to do the Neo-Pagan end of your project. But you're also very unlikey to find a process theology person in a "traditional" religious studies program I'd imagine. There are plenty of folks who know Whitehead, but that doesn't necessarily mean they know process theology. That doesn't mean you wouldn't be able to do your project in an RS program. You don't need a process expert as you advisor necessarily (or an expert in neopaganism). You just need someone at the institution who's an expert in Whitehead/process, e.g. in the philosophy department, who could be on your committee and check your process work.
  13. I would just wait until you're ready to apply again. Telling them 2-3 years out likely isn't going to do anything for you since it's doubtful they'll remember you when it's time to apply anyway. Even if they did remember, I don't think you'd have any advantage over waiting to contact them in your application cycle.
  14. To the OP, I just want to reiterate that xypathos is correct that you're not going to get into a philosophy Ph.D program with an M* degree in theology, no matter how philosophical the degree is. Philosophy programs are notoriously protective of "philosophy-as-such," whatever that means, and so typically do not admit anyone they deem to have strayed from that path. I work in your field, broadly speaking (continental philosophy of religion), and I think you might consider taking another M* degree both to try and raise your GPA but also to demonstrate that you do philosophy if you really want to get into a philosophy program. UChicago's philosophy of religion program would give you a much, much better chance if added to your credentials. Since they have an internal petition process for MA students to be considered for the Ph.D program, it would greatly increase your chances there as well. If you're interested in other religious studies programs besides UVA, I would look into UC Santa Barbara (Tom Carlson), Syracuse, Columbia, and Stanford, although those last two admit philosophy of religion folks only very rarely. The other issue you're going to face (and I know because I faced it as well) is making your project as non-theological as you can. You've situated yourself in a somewhat difficult practical position: Too philosophical for theology programs, too theological for philosophy/RS programs. That's not necessarily a bad thing from a career perspective down the line. Not to toot my own horn, but I feel I've been able to carve out a niche for myself in the AAR and have caught some moderate attention of other scholars whom I respect and have now started to collaborate with. As far as the job market is concerned, it remains to be seen if I'll have any success, but I feel comfortable applying to positions in theology, philosophy of religion (in an RS department), and religious studies (e.g. looking for an expert in Christianity.) But to get into an RS or philosophy program, you have to sell yourself as doing something that doesn't have theology as the primary focus, even if you engage theological texts. I think completing another MA in a program like UChicago will really help you do that.
  15. It has a good reputation and placement record particularly for students in American Religion. There is a brilliant student in my program (Northwestern) a couple years behind me who went to MSU. I also know someone in anthropology at NYU who works on religion and has her MA from MSU's program. As far as "secular" MA programs in the discipline go, it's a great option.
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