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Reaching out to potential PhD advisors?


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Hey all,

I've decided to go ahead with pursuing the PhD route and National Guard Chaplaincy. I am currently looking at Drew University, Claremont School of Theology, and perhaps Boston U and Claremont Graduate University as well. I am also open to suggestions. Anywhere with a focus in process theology or "Emerging" traditions (paganism/new age/contemprary) would likely work; though in the first case I would likely have a rough time migrating to a philosophy department.

I have identified who I would like to work with at Drew and CST. Is it appropriate to contact them to make sure they are taking new doctoral students and/or test if research interests align? Are in person meetings encouraged? I would be looking at entry in Fall 2021 if that changes things.

Many thanks.

-Witch87

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Absolutely reach out but be clear that you’re looking for Fall 2021. Every school has different policies about how they choose incoming students so the faculty will be able to give you a good idea of what’s possible. It’s also possible that their current research interests don’t align with the kind of student that they want to supervise. So, always check!

 Generally in-person meetings are probably seen as unnecessary. If you’re going to be in the area, it’s a little different but traveling from Rochester to Berkeley for a 15 minute chat is a bit much. When you apply and if they like you, some select schools will require you to come to campus, though usually on their dime.

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12 hours ago, xypathos said:

Absolutely reach out but be clear that you’re looking for Fall 2021. Every school has different policies about how they choose incoming students so the faculty will be able to give you a good idea of what’s possible. It’s also possible that their current research interests don’t align with the kind of student that they want to supervise. So, always check!

 Generally in-person meetings are probably seen as unnecessary. If you’re going to be in the area, it’s a little different but traveling from Rochester to Berkeley for a 15 minute chat is a bit much. When you apply and if they like you, some select schools will require you to come to campus, though usually on their dime.

Thanks for the reply.

 

Should the conversation stick to research interests and if/when new students will be taken, or is it also appropriate to ask what you can do to improve your chances? Mainly concerned in my case for my lack of languages (elementary Spanish, German). Going to try to get both of those up to intermediate by the time of application and maybe introductory French. My focus is modern so I dont predict too much delving into ancient languages.

Edited by ChristoWitch87
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Absolutely ask about what the department and POI value in prospective applicants, and what you can do to maximize that.

Some programs are sticklers for language - they want them done before you enter. Others want a modern done, and you’ll pick up the second before comps. A number of modern programs, though not at top schools, don’t really seem to care. By that I mean they don’t require any evidence of language before entering and from students I’ve met at AAR, they don’t require any before you go.

My department largely doesn’t care for those of us in modern. I came in being pretty decent in Latin and Czech (odd professional sidetrack - I was raised Moravian and wanted to work at the intersection of Moravian and American religious history but a number of faculty already in the area confirmed that it’d be career suicide Due to being unemployable because I’d be too specialized).
 

I did a couple group sessions of French and German translations for reading proficiency and was asked to go and take the translation exams. I’m 100% my work was garbage but it was also stupid easy - could use a digital dictionary and we had four hours to translate a 500 word chunk of text. I essentially went through and translated the major words, and using context clues placed them in an order that made sense.

Never got notification of Pass/Fail. I asked my advisor and he said I was marked as satisfied the second I stepped into the exam room. The department doesn’t require language exams for modern fields but the university says they have to - so you show up, they mark you done, you move on.

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Yes, it's fine to ask them about 'improving chances,' but frame it differently: just ask them what, to their mind, makes a competitive applicant; this way you don't convey any sense that you think to have an advantage just because you are speaking with said person. For what's it's worth, I don't think these kinds of conversations are worth much, besides getting an idea of a) is that person able to take a student the cycle you are applying and b) does said person still study/research the things you think they do (some folks change their research interests radically, and their online/publication data has not yet caught up). Also, talk to said person's current/recent grad students about the program/what makes a competitive applicant (i.e. look at their backgrounds); this is a far better idea of what you will be up against when you apply than whatever guarded advice said adviser is willing to give up to you.

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You should look at Harvard Divinity if these are your interests. Claremont in particular is horrible for funding, even if they do specialize in process stuff. Harvard will pay much better and open more doors. 

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27 minutes ago, 11Q13 said:

You should look at Harvard Divinity if these are your interests. Claremont in particular is horrible for funding, even if they do specialize in process stuff. Harvard will pay much better and open more doors. 

Harvard is the only M.Div program that has ever dinged me. I can only assume my chances for the PhD there are non-existent lol.

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