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HDS (NT) vs KU Leuven (Biblical Studies)


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Hi all,

I’m in a confusing situation and I was hoping that I could get some advice. I’ve got offers from HDS (MTS in NT and Early Xtianity) and KU Leuven in Belgium (2 year Master’s program in Biblical Studies). I was also given funding at HDS (full tuition, 7k stipend). The faculty of theology at Leuven will get back to me on funding by May. I should mention that I’m an International student from a third world country who’s never been to the US or Belgium before. So I’m somewhat in the dark about how certain things work in those countries. I also plan on doing doctoral work hopefully in the US or Canada.

My questions then are:

1) Which program is likely to provide better academic preparation for doctoral work at a top tier institution in North America? Are both programs on the same level? And overall, what are the major differences between the American and European educational systems at the Master’s level? From what I can tell, both institutions seem to have reputable scholars in the field (Verheyden/Bieringer at Leuven; Nasrallah/Bazzana/King at HDS). And the interests of scholars at both institutions overlap with mine. 

2) Which program is likely to cost more overall? As I mentioned before, I’m an international student which means that even with HDS’s generous offer I still need to demonstrate that I can support myself financially. HDS says I need to have about $22,000 and I from what I hear, Cambridge is a very expensive city to live in. At KU Leuven I need to have at least €9200 to secure a visa. But again, I’ve been told that in reality, that amount won’t be nearly enough to cover costs in the city of Leuven.

I’m really torn between both institutions and would really appreciate it if anyone with knowledge of any or both programs/cities could offer any advice.

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If you want to better position yourself for a PhD program in North America then HDS is your only option.

KU Leuven is a wonderful school with access to amazing cultural resources. There has been the occasional student here that graduated from Leuven and gone onto top programs. That said, I've also seen faculty have to google KU Leuven when someone says their name.

There is also a rather wide belief that you only go to Europe for a Masters and then to the US for PhD because you couldn't get a cheaper M* degree here. You're an international student so this won't affect you as much but being a third world applicant and getting a funded position at HDS speaks to your ability, what HDS sees in you, and what they believe that you can offer their student body.

I've never lived in Cambridge or Leuven so I can't speak to costs.

I lived on the Isle of Man for two years and as part of that process the diocese had someone sit down with me, over Skype, and do the visa paperwork. There's ways to frame resources so that you don't need to have $22,000 in a bank account but rather have access to it. I don't know if HDS has someone that can help with this but I suspect so. I know some of my international classmates at Vanderbilt from Africa and Asia did similar things too. On a US visa you'll be entitled to work up to 20 hours a week when classes are in session and 37.5 when they are not - not sure about Belgium/EU.

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Thank you very much for your advice @xypathos. Could you please shed a bit more light on the issue of framing resources such that I don’t need to have that amount of cash in an account? In an email correspondence and on the financial certification form that was sent by the registrar’s office, it was stated that by the time of resumption the stated amount of money must be in an account in the Cambridge/Boston area. Are you aware of such a requirement and whether it would be possible to go around somehow?

Sorry for all the questions! 

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Harvard would open a lot more doors for you, though KU Leuven would honestly probably be just as good if not better for NT and EC. In a NT class at Harvard, you may only have a couple people who are Christians or actually studying the NT, simply because Harvard is a pluralistic place. Nasrallah is also leaving, so their NT faculty is kind of empty. All that said, Harvard is still the correct professional decision.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/3/2019 at 7:58 PM, Euangellion said:
Thanks a lot @11Q13. That’s a shame about Nasrallah as I was actually hoping to work with her in the area of Pauline studies. What are your impressions about Bazzana as a scholar? 

Bazzana is great. I was his RA years back. He's not going anywhere anytime soon as far as I know.

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