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MDiv programs for fall 2022


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Hi there! I'm in the beginning stages of applying to MDiv programs for fall 2022. I'm currently interested in college chaplaincy work, as well as writing and nonprofit work. I'm from a liberal PC(USA) tradition but would also prefer more ecumenical or even interfaith settings. I'm particularly interested in areas like practical theology, spirituality, and social justice as it applies to faith and religion.

My undergrad degree is in a completely different field, but I do have reasonably extensive undergrad research/publication experience in history, a good deal of undergrad coursework in religious studies, and personal experience on the ministry side of things and in public education.

Right now I'm looking at Boston University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Yale, and possibly Chicago, Duke, and Emory. Thoughts on these schools (good fit for me, funding chances, etc.)? Thanks in advance!

Edited by futurechaplain78
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Princeton gives, I believe, all Presbyterians 100% tuition as a matter of policy. Someone that attends/ed may be able to correct me or even say if that includes any kind of stipend. They also offer housing and I can't stress the benefit of an intentional community. In all likelihood they will be your best bet in terms of theological fit and funding. PTS also offers a wide swath of courses in practical theology that will be invaluable to someone interested in chaplaincy.

BU - It's Boston, there's great cultural things going on. That said, it's expensive and funding at almost all of BTI's member schools is meh. Again, should you get lucky and get a strong offer, you can take courses at other BTI schools and campus ministry service opportunities are a plenty.

VDS is real hit or miss. Very few funding opportunities beyond 50% tuition discount. Nashville is astronomically expensive as a graduate student. If you decide to go this route, reach out to the Disciples' House EARLY for housing, they run an intentional community/apartment building for VDS students but it's competitive. There's also some Friendship House options but also competitive. I'm an alum of VDS and while I enjoyed my time there and it pushed me to grow a lot, I generally don't encourage people to attend. I had dozens  of classmates graduate with 90k+ debt just from their MDiv. Someone in an alum group leaked an internal document from VDS that stressed the school's shift to focus more on bettering the school's PhD reputation and move resources away from the M* degrees and student body.

Wake Forest is an outlier. Baptist heritage but really quite progressive now. They've had students go on to do amazing practical things and place in top notch PhD programs. Winston-Salem isn't an expensive city and if you're willing to drive in you can live even more frugally. I've known two MDiv graduates from WFU - one got 100% tuition and I think the other somewhere around 75%. I just don't know enough to say what you might expect.

Yale's funding is like Harvard - a bit meh. Great school with resources and connections to help you succeed but you're coming out of there with debt.

Chicago accepts VERY few MDiv students. In defense of that though, very few people apply there for a MDiv. Basically same situation as BU. Chicago would provide a great opportunity to connect with other schools and chaplaincy opportunities. Funding is hit or miss though. Some years they've done, it seems, nearly 100% tuition and sometimes it seems to be solely merit based. They've had a recent change of leadership in an effort to shore up the Div School's finances and bring it closer to being a profitable enterprise. VDS is doing this too, hence the exceptionally large classes that they accept.

Duke seems to mostly give everyone somewhere around 25% tuition discount and laugh at you. They know who the reputation of their name and that their M* degrees are cash cows, no desire or interest to change.

Can't comment on Emory.

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Mostly agree with xypathos on the schools. The comment about Duke’s laughing at applicants had me chuckling at its truth. I was accepted to Yale Divinity, Duke Divinity, BU, and PTS last year and feel I can chime in on their current funding.

Yale offers many students 100% tuition scholarships (combo of merit-based and need-based) and plan to begin fully funding all students in the next few years. Consider applying to their Institute of Sacred Music, which typically offers living stipends ($5k-10k I think) on top of full-tuition scholarships. Yale is where I settled and will have zero debt upon leaving. Many I’ve spoken to are in a similar place—generous funding and no debt. Of course, that only reflects my experience.

Duke offers little beyond 25% tuition scholarships. I managed to receive a 50% offer and even appealed their financial aid office for more, but nothing came of it. Pretty sad situation for a school which could offer so much to ministry-minded folks.

BU offered 100% but the cost of living is, well, Boston-level. As xypathos pointed out, a perk is that you’d have the opportunity to study at other BTI schools. Upon acceptance, if they offer scholarships where you write like three short essays (250-500 words each), DO IT. It could turn into easy money for you.

PTS… see xypathos’s comment.

It sounds like you’re on the right track as far as your school list goes. In case you haven’t already, reach out to their admissions teams for details and contact current students for the on-the-ground reality. I’d be glad to share anything I could offer you.

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