Jump to content

Divinity School Programs: German Language or Gov Service Focus


Recommended Posts

Hello! I just recently finished my sophomore year of college, and am at the moment heavily considering attending Divinity School after I graduate.

As the title implies, I was hoping to hear from current/former divinity school students (or anyone else) who knows of div programs in which language education/study also plays a large role. I am a double major (or potentially just minor) in German language. Additionally, I plan to pursue a career in federal government, and so I would be very interested to see if there are programs which feature that sort of concentration. The closest that I have found so far is Palmer Theological Seminary, whose M.T.S program allows for a concentration in public policy.

I am aware of some (Harvard, U of Chicago) which I believe offer such programs with language focuses, but I also don't fully understand the role that each language plays for them. As an aside, I also don't believe that U of Chicago Divinity School is confessionally-Christian like many other div schools (e.g Duke), and so I am curious as to what the environment is like. Does anyone have any experience there?

Also, it may be useful to know that at the moment, I do not feel a call to ordination, and thus would be studying to receive a Master of Theological Studies or equivalent. Div school would largely be for my own personal spiritual growth, as well as academics.

Thank you! If anyone has any other information on where to ask these questions, I would appreciate it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently an MDiv student at Princeton Theological Seminary and a bit of a homer at that. It isn't the right school for everyone, but it might have some things of interest to you. The number one advantage is the ability to take graduate level courses for credit at Princeton University (the two schools have reciprocity but are not formally related). This means you could take public policy classes, graduate level german classes, or whatever else you can convince the registrar to allow (which in my experience is almost anything). Additionally, you might be interested in the National Capital Semester for Seminarians - description below:

"This spring semester-long, intensive program of study in ethics, theology, and public policy is offered through Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC. The National Capital Semester for Seminarians (NCSS) is open to M.Div. students in their middler year and to dual-degree students in years two or three. NCSS brings together seminary students from accredited theological schools across the country for a combination of classroom experience, field visits, and internships. It offers seminar-style engagement with a changing array of questions in public life, exposure to those involved in policy formation, implementation, and critique, and the opportunity for hands-on experience in one of the wide range of organizations doing research, advocacy, and implementation. Participants retain their enrollment at and pay tuition to Princeton Seminary during the program, and are eligible for financial assistance. Housing and meal costs are paid directly to Wesley Seminary and students bear their own costs for books, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Students who apply and receive admission into the program will postpone their academic-year field education placement until their senior year."

Also the financial aid is great. Not sure what tradition you are coming from, but PC(USA) students receive 100% scholarships that cover tuition. Let me know if you have any questions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chicago isn't a confessionally Christian school but of their Div student, most would tell you that they identify as "Christian" - whatever that might mean for them. You're going to have Roman Catholics studying alongside various persuasions of Baptists, to those nominally Christian but say they're still figuring out what that means for them, etc. All this is to say is that you (IMO!) want this in a student body. If your classmates come in saying "I am 100% [this]" and they leave having never struggled with that, had long and hard conversations with students and faculty about their doubts, etc - stay away from the school and/or you're not ready.

I know Duke offers a M.Div and MPP (Public Policy). Yale, I think, would let a student propose such a study. HDS students could do the same. Vandy has a number of students dual enrolled in other programs, including law or taking graduate courses in government/poly sci/etc.

If you're really wanting to focus on the German, I know a number of Lutheran schools have arrangements for students to spend .5 a year, to a full year, in Germany.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We need a bit more info on what exactly you plan to do with the German. If you're only minoring in German, then you probably wont be far enough to do graduate coursework in a German department. This is important: thus, some kind of dual degree program or even a MTS might allow you take German classes, but they will probably need to be graduate classes to count toward your degree. This is actually one reason why many Div students don't take classes in other grad departments (e.g. PTS -> Princeton); that is, Div students often do not have the prereqs (divinity schools are often forced to be more introductory, because they usually have little to no prereqs). There is also the stigma attached to divinity schools in the professional world. I have no doubt you would be better off doing an MPP and taking a few classes in religion/theology at the same school than the other way around. "Divinity" feels antiquated, even backward, to many folks in the professional world. Though I can imagine that government jobs, at least in the US, are far more sympathetic. Doing both has its advantages, but as you said I don't think many official dual degree programs exist. I know Duke has such a program and I used to know someone who graduated from it. In any case, such a program adds considerable expense, which I assume for you will be offset by loans. Since there is little benefit, professionally speaking, of doing an MTS and an MPP, I would go for the MPP only (these days, considering the cost for most folks, doing an MTS with no intention of continuing to a PhD is risky, in my humble opinion). For you, that extra year might be worth the 40-50k. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know very little about Div programs in general (I'm a Phil student who happened to wander into this thread), but I do know a bit about UChicago's Div program, since I'm a student at UChicago with some classmates in Div. The Div program there is very "loose" in that there are basically no requirements, not even a thesis requirement. It's basically two years of getting to take whatever courses you want across all of UChicago's departments. You come out with an attractive Div degree that will definitely be helpful for getting into PhD programs, if that's your goal. Like you say, it's non-confessional, but that makes sense given the open structure of the program. It's a very expensive program though. I'm not sure whether they give out substantial scholarship money for it either.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 7/15/2020 at 7:37 PM, sacklunch said:

We need a bit more info on what exactly you plan to do with the German. If you're only minoring in German, then you probably wont be far enough to do graduate coursework in a German department. This is important: thus, some kind of dual degree program or even a MTS might allow you take German classes, but they will probably need to be graduate classes to count toward your degree. This is actually one reason why many Div students don't take classes in other grad departments (e.g. PTS -> Princeton); that is, Div students often do not have the prereqs (divinity schools are often forced to be more introductory, because they usually have little to no prereqs). There is also the stigma attached to divinity schools in the professional world. I have no doubt you would be better off doing an MPP and taking a few classes in religion/theology at the same school than the other way around. "Divinity" feels antiquated, even backward, to many folks in the professional world. Though I can imagine that government jobs, at least in the US, are far more sympathetic. Doing both has its advantages, but as you said I don't think many official dual degree programs exist. I know Duke has such a program and I used to know someone who graduated from it. In any case, such a program adds considerable expense, which I assume for you will be offset by loans. Since there is little benefit, professionally speaking, of doing an MTS and an MPP, I would go for the MPP only (these days, considering the cost for most folks, doing an MTS with no intention of continuing to a PhD is risky, in my humble opinion). For you, that extra year might be worth the 40-50k. 

Thank you very much for your advice! I'll try and explain my education a bit further.

My primary major is biology, as my primary and first career area will hopefully be one in a laboratory setting. However, I hope to later transition to a more role more oriented towards active law enforcement. Double-majoring in German is 100% my goal at the moment, but given my bio major's importance, I will drop it to a minor if I must.

Thus, neither a degree focusing on German or government(public service, polict, etc.) is truly necessary for my career. Potentially attending divinity school or a seminary is a personal goal for myself, largely for spiritual reasons along with some genuine academic interest.

My reasons for wanting to look at a M.T.S. or M.Div program with concentrations or opportunities to increase my educational level in German and/or public service is somewhat two-fold:

1) While neither German nor government degrees or concentrations are required for my dream career, both could increase my effectiveness as well as hopefully my desirability.

2) Because my primary degree is biology, I have not/will not be able to take many religous studies-esque classes during my undergraduate career, and my hope is that either (most likely German, I suppose) could increase my chances of getting into a more academic institution.

Sorry if the situation is a bit confusing, but I appreciate any advice y'all could possible give, including criticism of my plans, ideas, or expectations. Thank you!

Edited by gaulsa
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/14/2020 at 7:48 PM, JDD said:

I'm currently an MDiv student at Princeton Theological Seminary and a bit of a homer at that. It isn't the right school for everyone, but it might have some things of interest to you. The number one advantage is the ability to take graduate level courses for credit at Princeton University (the two schools have reciprocity but are not formally related). This means you could take public policy classes, graduate level german classes, or whatever else you can convince the registrar to allow (which in my experience is almost anything). Additionally, you might be interested in the National Capital Semester for Seminarians - description below:

"This spring semester-long, intensive program of study in ethics, theology, and public policy is offered through Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC. The National Capital Semester for Seminarians (NCSS) is open to M.Div. students in their middler year and to dual-degree students in years two or three. NCSS brings together seminary students from accredited theological schools across the country for a combination of classroom experience, field visits, and internships. It offers seminar-style engagement with a changing array of questions in public life, exposure to those involved in policy formation, implementation, and critique, and the opportunity for hands-on experience in one of the wide range of organizations doing research, advocacy, and implementation. Participants retain their enrollment at and pay tuition to Princeton Seminary during the program, and are eligible for financial assistance. Housing and meal costs are paid directly to Wesley Seminary and students bear their own costs for books, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. Students who apply and receive admission into the program will postpone their academic-year field education placement until their senior year."

Also the financial aid is great. Not sure what tradition you are coming from, but PC(USA) students receive 100% scholarships that cover tuition. Let me know if you have any questions.

That program you mentioned looks fantastic, and it's awesome to see that it's available at other institutions as well!

PTS is not an institution I have thus-far considered (not for any real reason, just because I'm clueless), but the potential to take other classes sounds great as well! If you don't mind my asking, what is the Baptist tradition's presence like there? It's not at all a requirement for me, but I would appreciate some representation.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, gaulsa said:

Thank you very much for your advice! I'll try and explain my education a bit further.

My primary major is biology, as my primary and first career area will hopefully be one in a laboratory setting. However, I hope to later transition to a more role more oriented towards active law enforcement. Double-majoring in German is 100% my goal at the moment, but given my bio major's importance, I will drop it to a minor if I must.

Thus, neither a degree focusing on German or government(public service, polict, etc.) is truly necessary for my career. Potentially attending divinity school or a seminary is a personal goal for myself, largely for spiritual reasons along with some genuine academic interest.

My reasons for wanting to look at a M.T.S. or M.Div program with concentrations or opportunities to increase my educational level in German and/or public service is somewhat two-fold:

1) While neither German nor government degrees or concentrations are required for my dream career, both could increase my effectiveness as well as hopefully my desirability.

2) Because my primary degree is biology, I have not/will not be able to take many religous studies-esque classes during my undergraduate career, and my hope is that either (most likely German, I suppose) could increase my chances of getting into a more academic institution.

Sorry if the situation is a bit confusing, but I appreciate any advice y'all could possible give, including criticism of my plans, ideas, or expectations. Thank you!

Hi there, I think the advice others have given is great. But I would just push back and ask you to evaluate your desire to go to a divinity school further. You seem to have an idea of how exactly German, biology, law enforcement, and working in a lab all fit together for your career goals. It seems very random to me, but you obviously have something in mind there! According to your original post, I completely second @sacklunch and think it makes more sense for you to major in a particular program more in line with your career interests and just take some theology courses as electives. If your desire to go to divinity school is primarily for "spiritual reasons," I can tell you that even Duke Divinity School (which is pretty confessional) is not super great for spiritual development! That's not really the reason people do an MTS degree. So, I would just encourage you to look introspectively and ask yourself why you're wanting to have a degree in theology. Is it because you're hoping to one day be in a confessional context where the degree will become necessary for your credibility and professional role? In that case, it might make sense! But from what you've said so far, I think you'd be better off just studying theology on the side. On the other hand, if you feel like you have unlimited time and money in this season of your life, then why not! I would just make sure that you get TWO graduate degrees and not corner yourself into only having a theology degree with a focus or concentration—because a theology degree just seems unrelated to what you've described about your career interests.

Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, PBenjy said:

Hi there, I think the advice others have given is great. But I would just push back and ask you to evaluate your desire to go to a divinity school further. You seem to have an idea of how exactly German, biology, law enforcement, and working in a lab all fit together for your career goals. It seems very random to me, but you obviously have something in mind there! According to your original post, I completely second @sacklunch and think it makes more sense for you to major in a particular program more in line with your career interests and just take some theology courses as electives. If your desire to go to divinity school is primarily for "spiritual reasons," I can tell you that even Duke Divinity School (which is pretty confessional) is not super great for spiritual development! That's not really the reason people do an MTS degree. So, I would just encourage you to look introspectively and ask yourself why you're wanting to have a degree in theology. Is it because you're hoping to one day be in a confessional context where the degree will become necessary for your credibility and professional role? In that case, it might make sense! But from what you've said so far, I think you'd be better off just studying theology on the side. On the other hand, if you feel like you have unlimited time and money in this season of your life, then why not! I would just make sure that you get TWO graduate degrees and not corner yourself into only having a theology degree with a focus or concentration—because a theology degree just seems unrelated to what you've described about your career interests.

It definitely is a bit random! In my brain, it all has a purpose that I suppose might be unrealistic. Just so things make a bit more sense, a more specific career path I have in mind is starting as a forensic scientist, and then becoming a federal law enforcement agent. It is the latter job that is my ultimate ultimate career goal, which is why I'm not considering or planning on getting a masters in biology or a related field. Technically, I don't need grad school at all, I just thought I could have the best of both worlds, as it were.

Thank you very much for your advice! You are completely right in saying that I need to think about things further. That's why I'm glad that I have at least another full year before I would be applying anywhere. I am sorry to hear that your experience at Duke hasn't been developing though. My sister is a current M.Div there, and it's my understanding that she has had an awesome time. I am aware, however, of the differences between the two degrees and understand that their respective experiences could be quite different.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, gaulsa said:

It definitely is a bit random! In my brain, it all has a purpose that I suppose might be unrealistic. Just so things make a bit more sense, a more specific career path I have in mind is starting as a forensic scientist, and then becoming a federal law enforcement agent. It is the latter job that is my ultimate ultimate career goal, which is why I'm not considering or planning on getting a masters in biology or a related field. Technically, I don't need grad school at all, I just thought I could have the best of both worlds, as it were.

Thank you very much for your advice! You are completely right in saying that I need to think about things further. That's why I'm glad that I have at least another full year before I would be applying anywhere. I am sorry to hear that your experience at Duke hasn't been developing though. My sister is a current M.Div there, and it's my understanding that she has had an awesome time. I am aware, however, of the differences between the two degrees and understand that their respective experiences could be quite different.

Ah, what you said about forensic science and law enforcement makes sense now! I think that sounds like a great plan. And in response to your last comment, I actually LOVE Duke and have really enjoyed my time so far, but I was mainly commenting on the difference between academic and spiritual development. Within the discipline of theology, they're totally separate (not that they have to be or should be though!). For example, reading Rudolf Bultmann is going to be a completely different experience than reading Henri Nouwen. Doing an MTS degree is more about the academic focus and setting oneself up for PhD study, which typically happens in non-confessional environments and thus is not super conducive to spiritual development!

Edited by PBenjy
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, PBenjy said:

Ah, what you said about forensic science and law enforcement makes sense now! I think that sounds like a great plan. And in response to your last comment, I actually LOVE Duke and have really enjoyed my time so far, but I was mainly commenting on the difference between academic and spiritual development. Within the discipline of theology, they're totally separate (not that they have to be or should be though!). For example, reading Rudolf Bultmann is going to be a completely different experience than reading Henri Nouwen. Doing an MTS degree is more about the academic focus and setting oneself up for PhD study, which typically happens in non-confessional environments and thus is not super conducive to spiritual development!

Gotcha! Sorry if my comment seemed pointed in any way. As someone with experience then, if it is purely for personal growth and development with perhaps limited opportunites to study either German or public service, would you more-likely recommend an M.Div over an M.T.S.? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, gaulsa said:

Gotcha! Sorry if my comment seemed pointed in any way. As someone with experience then, if it is purely for personal growth and development with perhaps limited opportunites to study either German or public service, would you more-likely recommend an M.Div over an M.T.S.? 

No worries, I didn't interpret any pointedness! The other drawback with the MDiv is that it's a year longer than the MTS and usually leads to some type of ordination within the school's respective denomination. If you're interested in being an ordained Baptist minister, then you could do an MDiv at a Baptist seminary. Otherwise, I would say that you could just look for an MA program (not necessarily MTS) that offers curriculum more specific to your general spiritual interests. Southern Baptist, for example. offers a range of different kinds of MA degrees: https://www.sbts.edu/academics/ma/. The MTS or MDiv might not necessarily match your interests as well as some other kinds of programs might. But a Google search just pulled up that Emory's div school has an MDiv concentration in "Criminal Justice Ministries," so that might also be something to check out: http://candler.emory.edu/academics/degrees/mdiv/mdiv-concentrations.html

 

Edited by PBenjy
Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose my initial response still largely remains valid - i.e. you probably won't have enough coursework in German to take graduate level German classes (and thus those classes you could take, advanced undergraduate courses, will not count towards your degree). You would be better off doing a more general, interdisciplinary M*, say at UChicago, than a divinity degree there or anywhere else. This will allow you to craft the degree you want/need. In response to the post above that a UChicago Div degree is "attractive" -- I respond, to whom? There is no doubt that UChicago is impressive, but the attached "Divinity" will raise certain eyebrows among potential employers in biology et sim. (if I am reading your interests right). Let us say that the UChicago AM in Divinity and the UChicago MAPSS (vel sim.) allow you to take whatever courses you want and that both cost the same: you will be far better off professionally doing the latter, in my opinion. The kinds of divinity schools you're looking at are not well-known for good funding (Chicago, Duke). The only school mentioned here that has good funding, PTS, is an even riskier move, professionally speaking, because it is a standalone divinity school without formal ties to PrincetonU. I have known too many people with "elite" divinity degrees who, after realizing they have no interest in either a) theological careers and/or b) academia, cannot get a decent job. One that comes to mind is a Harvard MTS grad who works at Home Depot now. Good luck, friend.

Edited by sacklunch
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.