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About marXian

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  • Location
    United States
  • Interests
    Early 20th century ecclesiology, Marxism, social theory, critical theory, Weber, Troeltsch, political theology, theory and method in religious studies
  • Application Season
    Not Applicable
  • Program
    Religious Studies

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  1. 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.
  2. @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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. One option between a D.Min and a Ph.D in theology would be a Ph.D in practical theology. I know someone currently working as a full time pastor who is also pursuing a Ph.D in practical theology at one of the Scottish unis (Aberdeen or Edinburgh). He's only had to visit campus a few times during the couple years he's been working on it. The problem with a D.Min is that it's a professional degree, not a research degree. Yes, D.Mins do some kind of research project for their dissertation, but the focus is on ministry as a practice; therefore, they tend not to be very theoretical. A Ph.D in practical theology is the more academically rigorous version of the D.Min in a lot of respects, e.g. engaging difficult theologians (Barth, etc.) in their work, whereas a D.Min might engage Eugene Peterson or Rick Warren or some such person. (No disrespect to either.) D.Mins do get college level teaching jobs--but they're mostly at small bible colleges and conservative Christian SLACs where the person usually did their undergraduate degree. It's just a completely different world from the rest of academia. There's very little chance that more well-respected institutions would hire a D.Min even as an adjunct, let alone in a tenure track position.
  11. Your second point needs a modification. The programs are shorter not necessarily for the reasons you state but mostly because there is no coursework and no qualifying/comprehensive exams in these programs. You're just researching and writing the dissertation. The lack of coursework/exams is also one of the primary reasons it's difficult to get a tenure track job in the U.S. from a U.K. program. U.S. departments don't trust that U.K. programs produce thoroughly trained scholars who are prepared to teach a wide range of undergraduate and/or graduate courses. Courses/exams don't guarantee that, but they make it more likely. That's not to say there aren't great scholars with U.K. Ph.Ds--but they've had to prove themselves through publishing. One more thing: The lack of oversight and support, arguably, makes the dissertation process actually a bit longer than it would be in a U.S. institution, where someone writing a dissertation in theology/philosophy of religion, usually takes ~18-24 months start to finish for the dissertation give or take 6 months. A diss requiring substantial archival research or field work could take a bit longer, but I think about 24 months is probably the average in religious studies.
  12. I think xypathos is exactly right. A lot of folks have this vision of Ph.D work that they're going to have a really close working relationship with their advisor who is an expert in their field. Having a person who is field-adjacent is actually going to help you better develop as a scholar. The reason is that they can really push you to write more clearly and precisely than someone who is already mired in your field because they need that higher level of clarity to understand your argument. I've found this extremely helpful as I have a terrible habit of always implying my argument through examples rather than coming out and saying it clearly and succinctly. I work on 19th/20th century German theology, philosophy of history, and social theory (and their intersection). My dissertation is on a relatively little known theologian (little known in the US). I have two co-advisors, one in religious studies and one in philosophy. The RS advisor is a Catholic social ethicist and the philosophy advisor is a Hegel scholar. Both have, at the very least, a passing familiarity with my figure, the philosophy advisor more so than the RS advisor. As I've had some friends and colleagues read over dissertation chapters, people who are intimately familiar with my figure have often missed the places in my dissertation where I'm doing what I describe above. My advisors have not. Of course, I have had to recruit an expert on my figure to my committee to make sure that my argument makes sense and is contributing meaningfully to the literature (someone from outside my institution). It's also going to be important for her to write me letters for jobs next application season. So having an expert on your committee is definitely a necessity. But that person does not have to be your advisor, and I think it's better if they are not your advisor.
  13. No, it's not--however, it's not a bad school, and it's important not to compare the schools in a vacuum. Your experiences, interests, and background matter a great deal. I did my MA in theology at Fuller, and although I got into an elite school for my Ph.D and know someone else a year behind me who ended up at Yale, there was primarily downside in attending Fuller with regard to going on to a Ph.D. BC is certainly not Fuller. I imagine there is some upside to their program and being able to more or less take whatever courses you'd want at Harvard anyway levels those programs a bit. The difference, I think, is in the overall reputation and whatever additional resources you'd be afforded at HDS/YDS v. BC including being able to secure the facetime you'd need with the people you want to write your letters of rec. I don't know much about the Yale faculty in your area, but admittance to the MARc in philosophical theology is obviously more competitive than HDS or BC. From my limited knowledge, people coming out of that program at YDS do pretty well during Ph.D app season. Languages are important, yes, but for your area perhaps equally, maybe even more important is narrowing in on a proposed idea for your SOP. You need to be somewhere that also best enables that. It's a tough choice, but I don't think there's a wrong choice here: keep that in mind. If you feel like you're going to be most comfortable at BC given all the pros/cons, that in some ways should outweigh the reputations of HDS/YDS.
  14. I think either YDS or HDS would be fine. Since you're interested in philosophy/theology, your language prep isn't going to need to be nearly as intense as someone studying philological issues, reception history, etc. of the same period. You will certainly need more Greek as sacklunch says but what other languages depends a lot on what more narrow direction your work goes. It's probably safe to say you will need Latin proficiency at the level of the Toronto Latin 2 exam. Depending on the program, however, you probably wouldn't need to have that before applying to PhD programs (though having it would likely be a huge bump to your application.) Everyone I know working in the medieval period, for example, took that exam sometime between the beginning of the second year and end of the third, doing a lot of independent and directed study as soon as they arrived at their program to prepare for it. They all had some Latin before starting. The best thing to do once you get to whichever school you decide on is to start talking to the profs who work in your general field of interest to get a sense of the level of language prep they think will be necessary. When it comes to philosophy/theology, there tends to be more variation in opinions on this than in the more philological disciplines where everyone agrees your need a very high degree of reading proficiency.
  15. I would also go with Chicago, but one other factor to consider: UofC has a deserved reputation for being a really intense place, i.e. ultra-competitive and cut-throat. I'm at Northwestern, and in my first quarter of course work, I took a seminar at Chicago with Kevin Hector. It was mostly M* students all vying for Hector's attention for PhD recommendation letters with 3 or 4 PhD students including me. The seminar conversations were always contentious, and there wasn't a lot of room to just "float" ideas out there (because a M* would cut you off demanding that you define a term, explain more, etc.) I did get a lot out of the seminar (we read the entirety of Schleiermacher's The Christian Faith, which is a feat) but it was a pretty brutal learning environment. I have colleagues at NU who did their M* at Chicago and confirmed that that was their experience as well. I did audit a Hans Joas seminar a couple years ago and it was a different experience--Joas was the one cutting people off, demanding they clarify. All that to say, some people thrive in that sort of environment, and some find it really challenging. I'm surprised by xypathos' report that all internal applicants were accepted into the PhD program in 2015. It struck me as much more competitive than that. When you visit, I'd try to find out competitiveness by track if possible. It might be that your specific area doesn't have as many applicants as, say, American Religions or Theology, which could further increase your chances of continuing at Chicago.
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