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Pentateuch PhD, Cambridge vs. St Andrews vs. Trinity Evangelical? And hiring prospect for ethnic minority?


Elwynn11
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Hi all, your advice is much appreciated. Which of the these schools is better choice for an OT PhD in the Pentateuch? For now let's assume I have offers from all of them, and their funding situation will end up similar on my end. My background is evangelical, dissertation topic has to do with passages in the Pentateuch. Career goal for now is academia (don't mind evangelical or secular).

Cambridge

Advantage: professor (potential supervisor) is very attentive; Disadvantage: may have to deal a lot with critical scholarship on dating, history of religions, etc. (though the professor said dating is not the primary issue for my topic (but secondary), so I don't need to worry about it excessively)

St Andrews

Advantage: professor said I can do the project in a synchronic way, so no need to worry about dating at all

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (in Chicago):

Advantage: professor is renowned scholar in the evangelical world; Disadvantage: will have to do three years of coursework first, and professor will likely retire in a few years, but said would still supervise my dissertation after retirement

 

One extra note, not that I don't want to engage with critical scholarship at all, but many established scholars have warned me against doing a Pentateuchal study in a secular/critical environment. I suppose it is simply very difficult/painful to do, or past success rate is low?

 

And another important question. I am Asian, female. Will this status enhance my hiring prospect in the academia after the PhD? 

 

Thanks!

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I'll be blunt: I don't see how it's possible to not "engage with critical scholarship at all." What exactly are you going to write about, then? Or perhaps we have different understandings of "critical"? Are you a US citizen? If so, you're going to have trouble finding any academic job in this country with a short PhD. A three-year PhD in this country is perceived as little more than a masters. And yes, as an Asian female you will fair better than most applicants. That said, current stats show that less than 10% of humanities PhD in the US now will secure any tenure-track job. I imagine that minority applicants have better luck, but probably not more than say 20%? FWIW, I'm a postdoc at a top program in the USA and I know several minority applicants in similar roles as mine who had zero luck this last application cycle (no interviews even). No matter what path you choose, chances are you will not get a tenure-track job. That is the cold hard truth. Since you seem to be active in your religious community, you can always fall back on that. But as you know you don't need a PhD for such jobs.

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Thanks Sacklunch.

One more question, from this forum I get that a British PhD is very much looked down upon in the US. But the faculty lists of many schools I surveyed so far (most of them Christian/evangelical) reveal that a good portion of their faculty hold a British degree. So the fact/anecdote that a British PhD is not worth much only applies to secular universities, or the situation just changed in the recent years?

 

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The main reason of denouncing British or Phd degrees is that they don’t have a coursework which enhance a general understanding of teaching and learning in academic setting. Pertaining to the number of academic jobs, secular or general universities outnumbered evangelical seminary positions. Thus, you may try to search job postings on the websites, such as Indeed, Highered, and Chronicle. How many jobs posted in your boundary of evangelical schools in comparison to other religious schools. 

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To add onto @True_hope's argument. British universities are 1) known for allowing a dissertation that wouldn't see the light of day at a mainstream school and/or 2) use American students as the cash cow our student loan system is, taking us in and pushing us back out with a very poor dissertation, but with a PhD/DPhil none the less and they get $100k+ for it, knowing that you're all but unemployable in the US and abroad.

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Many evangelical/confessional students go to the UK for a PhD because they believe they can escape issues of higher/historical criticism in their dissertation there. While this may be slightly more possible than in most religion or theology departments in the U.S., one really cannot ignore these issues unless immersed entirely within evangelical academia and intent on not dialoguing with the broader field. Even at Cambridge or St. Andrews, the general culture of the departments won't shut out these issues completely. If you're determined to stay within strict evangelical lines, TEDS is your best/only option. Also, I second the above about not becoming a cash cow to the UK system. 

Also, unsolicited, but my advice would be not to allow the main deciding factor of where to attend grad school to be rooted in a fear of certain types of scholarship. 

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16 hours ago, Elwynn11 said:

Thanks Sacklunch.

One more question, from this forum I get that a British PhD is very much looked down upon in the US. But the faculty lists of many schools I surveyed so far (most of them Christian/evangelical) reveal that a good portion of their faculty hold a British degree. So the fact/anecdote that a British PhD is not worth much only applies to secular universities, or the situation just changed in the recent years?

 

You raise an important point I hadn't mentioned. Yes, you're right that many faculty in the US at Christian/evangelical schools have British PhDs (or European). The reason, as xypathos already alluded to above, is that since those PhDs are dissertations only they allow students to ignore much "critical" scholarship and maintain their traditional beliefs without (much) challenge. From the perspective of (many) conservative Christians (a term I hesitate to use), this "fast-track" PhD is ideal because it allows the student to ignore those "polluting" perspectives of secular academics, while giving them the air of learning. This is pure nonsense from my perspective (worthless to many of course). The point is that these fast-track degrees only open doors at those Christian/evangelical schools. At basically any other school your application will be swiftly throw in the trash. 

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Thanks all. Very helpful (though kinda discouraging). But what if I do go to a British school and work under a leading "critical" scholar and engage a lot with critical scholarship in my dissertation, does that improve my hiring aspect in a secular university a bit (i.e. counter the anecdote of a "British degree" somewhat), or the search committee wouldn't even care to learn what I did in my dissertation?

If I do indeed go to a British school, are there things I can do to mitigate the fact that I am missing a few years of coursework. e.g. Postdoc research, teaching classes while doing PhD, trying to get more publications, etc.?

For years in my own seminary (a leading evangelical one) where I did my Master's, I get the feeling that a British degree is the best in the field (the most respected scholars I encountered are from Cambridge, for example), so I didn't even plan on applying to US secular PhD programs (the three schools mentioned here are the only ones I applied to). But the info in this forum opens the other side of the world for me. 

I hope in the end I do have something to fall back on. I hope each of you also have a rewarding end.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Elwynn11 said:

Thanks all. Very helpful (though kinda discouraging). But what if I do go to a British school and work under a leading "critical" scholar and engage a lot with critical scholarship in my dissertation, does that improve my hiring aspect in a secular university a bit (i.e. counter the anecdote of a "British degree" somewhat), or the search committee wouldn't even care to learn what I did in my dissertation?

If I do indeed go to a British school, are there things I can do to mitigate the fact that I am missing a few years of coursework. e.g. Postdoc research, teaching classes while doing PhD, trying to get more publications, etc.?

For years in my own seminary (a leading evangelical one) where I did my Master's, I get the feeling that a British degree is the best in the field (the most respected scholars I encountered are from Cambridge, for example), so I didn't even plan on applying to US secular PhD programs (the three schools mentioned here are the only ones I applied to). But the info in this forum opens the other side of the world for me. 

I hope in the end I do have something to fall back on. I hope each of you also have a rewarding end.

 

 

 

 

 

Frankly, no I don't think it will matter. You are missing far too much (coursework, teaching, time to think, etc.). The rate of success for USA humanities PhDs securing tenure-track jobs in the USA is sobering, to say the least. If they are hovering at the 2-7% success rate (the most recent estimate I have read), an American with a European PhD would surely fare (far) worse. Every single faculty member at a university in the USA knows that with few exceptions even a Cambridge PhD was bought; they accept most Americans because they know we can get federal loans to pay for the degree. If you get a full ride that's a different story (usually such applicants come from stellar/top-tier undergraduate institutions). The "best" in the field may be Cambridge et sim. But I can guarantee you that few institutions will share that view. The hard truth is that no matter where you get a PhD, you have less than a 10% chance of getting any tenure-track job. It should be obvious, but remember that your mentors are exceptions, even in the small, "conservative" Christian academic world. Many completed their PhDs and were hired in an era when academic jobs were relatively plentiful. Most are simply ignorant of the changing market (and I can't blame them). 

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Hello all,

As an American with M*s from a TT US school and an evangelical seminary who's applying to both UK and US TT programs, this question is very interesting to me. Out of the schools to which I am applying,  I prefer at least one UK school over all the US TT programs. However, I've seen a trend on Grad Cafe that is a bit baffling. The "UK PhDs are looked down upon" claim is simply nonsense. This pops up on Grade Cafe often, and I seldomly observe it anywhere else. Let's look at a few issues with this claim:

1. Oxford and Cambridge are well-represented in American TT religion/theology departments. I recently checked most USTTs (Duke, PTS, Emory, ND, Yale, Chicago, CUA, and Harvard). There were 10 profs from Oxford and 6 from Cambridge, plus several from other UK schools (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St. Andrews) occupying spots in TT US faculties. Many of these were relatively new hires. Excepting the number of profs that any particular school hires from its own program (e.g., PTS hires a lot of PTS PhDs), Oxbridge is better-represented in TT American programs than several TT American programs (certainly more than Emory and CUA). (The reason I except these numbers is because, otherwise, I would have to include the faculties of Oxford and Cambridge in the count to level the playing field.)

 

2. Oxbridge has some of the greatest scholars in the world. Can anyone actually dispute this? Often times, the faculties at Oxbridge are superior to many of their American competitors. Durham and St. Andrews are also formidable.

3. Ranking: Now, I'm not a big fan of rankings. But, because most rankings rely on reputation, citations/publications, facilities, etc., they are relevant here. Does it matter that Oxford and Durham outrank most all American TTs? I think so. 

4. Oxbridge has a high acceptance standard, on par with US TTs. For example, the Oxford DPhil has a 3.8 GPA minimum and—for US students—takes the GRE with expectations similar to that of North American programs. It's true that they can take a few more students than most US TT programs. But it's still very small. Moreover, one must have her/his thesis proposal ready—and defend it in an interview—to gain admission. For US apps, this is not an issue, making the app process easier by comparison. 

5. What Prof at Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, etc. is going to hide (or let her advisee hide) from critical questions? What's more, most profs at American evangelical schools (e.g. Fuller, Trinity, Asbury) address historical criticism, redaction, etc. with enthusiasm. Ironically, the TT US program I attended were so concerned with literary criticism that historical criticism was often pushed aside. At my evangelical school, Profs majored in historical criticism. One caveat: although evangelical schools engage with critical issues, they usually do so with an apologetic slant. Will anyone seriously claim that Joel Green, Craig Keener, David DeSilva, and others hide from critical scholarship? Lol. I think some of these criticisms to the contrary come from folks that are simply too unfamiliar with Evangelical schools or UK schools to make a good assessment.

6. The "UK schools are looked down upon" claim usually comes with a criticism of conservative scholars. I may be wrong here but, often times, these criticisms are adjoined to a prejudicial disdain for more conservative scholars. The notion seems to be something like 'conservatives hide out in US evangelical and UK schools because they can't hack it in good (more liberal-friendly) US departments. Of course, that's utter nonsense. The faculties of the best US schools have—sometimes a majority—of scholars who could ideologically fit with most evangelical schools. Does anyone want to argue that Richard Hays, Ross Wagner, Brittany Wilson, Kavin Rowe (Duke) or John Fitzgerald and David Lincicum (ND) or Beverly Gaventa and Clifton Black (PTS) couldn't work comfortably at Oxford or Cambridge in the UK or Fuller, Asbury, or Trinity in the US? Likewise, could John Barclay, Markus Bockmuehl, Rowan Williams, N.T. Wright, etc. not hack it at US TT programs? No: making this a 'conservatives hide in the UK' issue is simply nonsense.

7. UK departments assume that their candidates have done the requisite work to make themselves ready for research and writing. Thus, you're treated like a junior scholar who doesn't need three extra years of hand-holding to ensure that you do your chores. However, if you need time to expand your knowledge of any particular field, you have 3–4 years to 'choose your own adventure.' US programs usually give you a year to write your dissertation (year 4 is usually encumbered with teaching). Thus, at a UK program, you can read well beyond your subject, engage in plenty of seminars, learn more languages, etc. There is more time and more freedom. This makes Americans nervous, I suppose; they would rather be told what to do and prove what they've done via a transcript rather than publications.  

There is simply no reason to believe that TT UK programs are inferior to TT US programs. Its time to put that bit of snobbery to rest. These are two different systems that appeal to students for different—but valid—reasons. 

Lastly, I would like to echo what a few folks have said here: I don't think it's possible to do scholarship without engaging with critical scholarship. However, maybe I am misunderstanding your statement. Whatever the case, for job prospects, I suggest choosing an elite UK program (especially Oxbridge) over an American evangelical PhD.
 

Best wishes to you on your choice and future scholarship! 
 

Edited by Athanasius
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7 hours ago, Athanasius said:

Hello all,

As an American with M*s from a TT US school and an evangelical seminary who's applying to both UK and US TT programs, this question is very interesting to me. Out of the schools to which I am applying,  I prefer at least one UK school over all the US TT programs. However, I've seen a trend on Grad Cafe that is a bit baffling. The "UK PhDs are looked down upon" claim is simply nonsense. This pops up on Grade Cafe often, and I seldomly observe it anywhere else. Let's look at a few issues with this claim:

1. Oxford and Cambridge are well-represented in American TT religion/theology departments. I recently checked most USTTs (Duke, PTS, Emory, ND, Yale, Chicago, CUA, and Harvard). There were 10 profs from Oxford and 6 from Cambridge, plus several from other UK schools (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St. Andrews) occupying spots in TT US faculties. Many of these were relatively new hires. Excepting the number of profs that any particular school hires from its own program (e.g., PTS hires a lot of PTS PhDs), Oxbridge is better-represented in TT American programs than several TT American programs (certainly more than Emory and CUA). (The reason I except these numbers is because, otherwise, I would have to include the faculties of Oxford and Cambridge in the count to level the playing field.)

 

2. Oxbridge has some of the greatest scholars in the world. Can anyone actually dispute this? Often times, the faculties at Oxbridge are superior to many of their American competitors. Durham and St. Andrews are also formidable.

3. Ranking: Now, I'm not a big fan of rankings. But, because most rankings rely on reputation, citations/publications, facilities, etc., they are relevant here. Does it matter that Oxford and Durham outrank most all American TTs? I think so. 

4. Oxbridge has a high acceptance standard, on par with US TTs. For example, the Oxford DPhil has a 3.8 GPA minimum and—for US students—takes the GRE with expectations similar to that of North American programs. It's true that they can take a few more students than most US TT programs. But it's still very small. Moreover, one must have her/his thesis proposal ready—and defend it in an interview—to gain admission. For US apps, this is not an issue, making the app process easier by comparison. 

5. What Prof at Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, etc. is going to hide (or let her advisee hide) from critical questions? What's more, most profs at American evangelical schools (e.g. Fuller, Trinity, Asbury) address historical criticism, redaction, etc. with enthusiasm. Ironically, the TT US program I attended were so concerned with literary criticism that historical criticism was often pushed aside. At my evangelical school, Profs majored in historical criticism. One caveat: although evangelical schools engage with critical issues, they usually do so with an apologetic slant. Will anyone seriously claim that Joel Green, Craig Keener, David DeSilva, and others hide from critical scholarship? Lol. I think some of these criticisms to the contrary come from folks that are simply too unfamiliar with Evangelical schools or UK schools to make a good assessment.

6. The "UK schools are looked down upon" claim usually comes with a criticism of conservative scholars. I may be wrong here but, often times, these criticisms are adjoined to a prejudicial disdain for more conservative scholars. The notion seems to be something like 'conservatives hide out in US evangelical and UK schools because they can't hack it in good (more liberal-friendly) US departments. Of course, that's utter nonsense. The faculties of the best US schools have—sometimes a majority—of scholars who could ideologically fit with most evangelical schools. Does anyone want to argue that Richard Hays, Ross Wagner, Brittany Wilson, Kavin Rowe (Duke) or John Fitzgerald and David Lincicum (ND) or Beverly Gaventa and Clifton Black (PTS) couldn't work comfortably at Oxford or Cambridge in the UK or Fuller, Asbury, or Trinity in the US? Likewise, could John Barclay, Markus Bockmuehl, Rowan Williams, N.T. Wright, etc. not hack it at US TT programs? No: making this a 'conservatives hide in the UK' issue is simply nonsense.

7. UK departments assume that their candidates have done the requisite work to make themselves ready for research and writing. Thus, you're treated like a junior scholar who doesn't need three extra years of hand-holding to ensure that you do your chores. However, if you need time to expand your knowledge of any particular field, you have 3–4 years to 'choose your own adventure.' US programs usually give you a year to write your dissertation (year 4 is usually encumbered with teaching). Thus, at a UK program, you can read well beyond your subject, engage in plenty of seminars, learn more languages, etc. There is more time and more freedom. This makes Americans nervous, I suppose; they would rather be told what to do and prove what they've done via a transcript rather than publications.  

There is simply no reason to believe that TT UK programs are inferior to TT US programs. Its time to put that bit of snobbery to rest. These are two different systems that appeal to students for different—but valid—reasons. 

Lastly, I would like to echo what a few folks have said here: I don't think it's possible to do scholarship without engaging with critical scholarship. However, maybe I am misunderstanding your statement. Whatever the case, for job prospects, I suggest choosing an elite UK program (especially Oxbridge) over an American evangelical PhD.
 

Best wishes to you on your choice and future scholarship! 
 

While I appreciate your opinions (truly!), I think you're wrong on most counts. I think you will change your tune after you have the PhD in hand (if you get in and if you graduate) and especially if/when you're actually applying/working as a scholar in the US system (if you manage to get a job in the field). Some points to consider:

1. To be clear, UK PhDs are not looked down upon as a rule. But generally speaking they are seen as inferior to US departments looking to hire. The reasons are actually pretty simple. The big one is teaching experience. Nearly all UK PhDs have far less (if any) teaching experience with the PhD in hand than US PhDs. If you have little to no teaching experience, you are probably not going to get a job (regardless of whether it's from the UK or US or wherever). 

2. Check the nationality of the faculty holding UK PhDs in the US schools. How many of them are from the US? I'm guessing very few. There are different expectations for non-US applicants. In any case, I can guarantee you that UK PhDs have even less luck getting a tenure-track job in the US than US PhDs (maybe 5%?). 

3. Yes, you're absolutely right that Oxbridge (et sim.) have great scholars and can produce great scholars and it's true that great scholars with UK PhDs hold tenure-track jobs at TT US schools. What you are ignoring is how little this matters once you finish the PhD. Remember, in the US you have roughly 10% (or less) chance of getting any tenure-track job. Most of the few jobs that actually exist could care less if your PhD adviser was someone famous (chances are they won't know who said person is or care). What they care about most, again, is teaching experience. Your list of fancy recommenders makes no difference to nearly everyone hiring.

4. You're simply wrong about the yearly process for US doctoral students. You don't have a year to write the dissertation. Most take 3-4 years - the same amount of time most UK students take, but the US students usually begin in their fourth year. The result is more time learning and honing skills valued by hiring committees in this country, esp. teaching.

5. All of your points make complete sense at your stage (post M*) (folks during/post PhD tend to leave the forum). Your experience of academia is (understandably) narrow and chiefly limited to discovery and research, which is of course part and parcel of the process, but it is only one part of the day-to-day work of most academics in this country (many in fact have no time for research).

6. I hate to harp on this point again, but, whatever path you follow, you are unlikely to get a tenure-track job anywhere in the US regardless of the school. I can tell you that I know zero people who were even interviewed for a tenure-track job this last season. These are people with PhDs from, among others, Duke, Chicago, Harvard, and Yale. Surprisingly, graduates from the elite schools fare worse at getting jobs at lower-ranked schools than graduates from lesser-known programs. I also applied and failed to get an interview (I have my PhD from one of the aforementioned schools and I'm now a postdoc). You will probably have to do something else once you finish (again, if you make it past all the hurdles of entry and graduate). This is the reality. It's no longer about whose the better academic (actually it never really was), but more of a lottery. 

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10 hours ago, Athanasius said:

Hello all,

As an American with M*s from a TT US school and an evangelical seminary who's applying to both UK and US TT programs, this question is very interesting to me. Out of the schools to which I am applying,  I prefer at least one UK school over all the US TT programs. However, I've seen a trend on Grad Cafe that is a bit baffling. The "UK PhDs are looked down upon" claim is simply nonsense. This pops up on Grade Cafe often, and I seldomly observe it anywhere else. Let's look at a few issues with this claim:

1. Oxford and Cambridge are well-represented in American TT religion/theology departments. I recently checked most USTTs (Duke, PTS, Emory, ND, Yale, Chicago, CUA, and Harvard). There were 10 profs from Oxford and 6 from Cambridge, plus several from other UK schools (Edinburgh, Aberdeen, St. Andrews) occupying spots in TT US faculties. Many of these were relatively new hires. Excepting the number of profs that any particular school hires from its own program (e.g., PTS hires a lot of PTS PhDs), Oxbridge is better-represented in TT American programs than several TT American programs (certainly more than Emory and CUA). (The reason I except these numbers is because, otherwise, I would have to include the faculties of Oxford and Cambridge in the count to level the playing field.)

 

2. Oxbridge has some of the greatest scholars in the world. Can anyone actually dispute this? Often times, the faculties at Oxbridge are superior to many of their American competitors. Durham and St. Andrews are also formidable.

3. Ranking: Now, I'm not a big fan of rankings. But, because most rankings rely on reputation, citations/publications, facilities, etc., they are relevant here. Does it matter that Oxford and Durham outrank most all American TTs? I think so. 

4. Oxbridge has a high acceptance standard, on par with US TTs. For example, the Oxford DPhil has a 3.8 GPA minimum and—for US students—takes the GRE with expectations similar to that of North American programs. It's true that they can take a few more students than most US TT programs. But it's still very small. Moreover, one must have her/his thesis proposal ready—and defend it in an interview—to gain admission. For US apps, this is not an issue, making the app process easier by comparison. 

5. What Prof at Oxford, Cambridge, St. Andrews, etc. is going to hide (or let her advisee hide) from critical questions? What's more, most profs at American evangelical schools (e.g. Fuller, Trinity, Asbury) address historical criticism, redaction, etc. with enthusiasm. Ironically, the TT US program I attended were so concerned with literary criticism that historical criticism was often pushed aside. At my evangelical school, Profs majored in historical criticism. One caveat: although evangelical schools engage with critical issues, they usually do so with an apologetic slant. Will anyone seriously claim that Joel Green, Craig Keener, David DeSilva, and others hide from critical scholarship? Lol. I think some of these criticisms to the contrary come from folks that are simply too unfamiliar with Evangelical schools or UK schools to make a good assessment.

6. The "UK schools are looked down upon" claim usually comes with a criticism of conservative scholars. I may be wrong here but, often times, these criticisms are adjoined to a prejudicial disdain for more conservative scholars. The notion seems to be something like 'conservatives hide out in US evangelical and UK schools because they can't hack it in good (more liberal-friendly) US departments. Of course, that's utter nonsense. The faculties of the best US schools have—sometimes a majority—of scholars who could ideologically fit with most evangelical schools. Does anyone want to argue that Richard Hays, Ross Wagner, Brittany Wilson, Kavin Rowe (Duke) or John Fitzgerald and David Lincicum (ND) or Beverly Gaventa and Clifton Black (PTS) couldn't work comfortably at Oxford or Cambridge in the UK or Fuller, Asbury, or Trinity in the US? Likewise, could John Barclay, Markus Bockmuehl, Rowan Williams, N.T. Wright, etc. not hack it at US TT programs? No: making this a 'conservatives hide in the UK' issue is simply nonsense.

7. UK departments assume that their candidates have done the requisite work to make themselves ready for research and writing. Thus, you're treated like a junior scholar who doesn't need three extra years of hand-holding to ensure that you do your chores. However, if you need time to expand your knowledge of any particular field, you have 3–4 years to 'choose your own adventure.' US programs usually give you a year to write your dissertation (year 4 is usually encumbered with teaching). Thus, at a UK program, you can read well beyond your subject, engage in plenty of seminars, learn more languages, etc. There is more time and more freedom. This makes Americans nervous, I suppose; they would rather be told what to do and prove what they've done via a transcript rather than publications.  

There is simply no reason to believe that TT UK programs are inferior to TT US programs. Its time to put that bit of snobbery to rest. These are two different systems that appeal to students for different—but valid—reasons. 

Lastly, I would like to echo what a few folks have said here: I don't think it's possible to do scholarship without engaging with critical scholarship. However, maybe I am misunderstanding your statement. Whatever the case, for job prospects, I suggest choosing an elite UK program (especially Oxbridge) over an American evangelical PhD.
 

Best wishes to you on your choice and future scholarship! 
 

Seconding @sacklunch - you're mistaken on all accounts.

1. The UK PhDs that are well represented/respected come from UK scholars, by and large. They often attended highly elite boarding schools, did their BA at Oxford or Cambridge, and stayed on for a doctorate. They are a cut above your run of the mill scholars. Yes, absolutely, there are acclaimed US scholars that went to the UK for their DPhil. But guess what? The good ones landed highly competitive scholarships and their work reflects their overall ethic.

2. No one is questioning their scholars. We're questioning their institution taking advantage of gullible students.

3. What rankings, specifically, are you referencing? There's not a strong contender for Philosophy Gourmet like there is Religion/Theology.

4. I interviewed at Oxford and was granted acceptance but alas no aid. My POI walked me through the draft, step by step, with feedback until we knew that it would pass their committee. He said, literally, they're expected to do this for every US student.

5. You don't "hide" from critical scholarships. You find a hole in their argument and just blow it out of proportion. That's how their scheme works.

Etc., Etc., Etc.

You're reading our criticism as being negative of UK schools. Their scholarship is, by and large, sound. What we're critiquing is how their administrators handle US applicants and because of that, how they're perceived when they return Stateside looking for a job.

EDIT: Also done with my PhD but I like to stick around and offer advice. That said, I'm an Episcopal priest and knew that I would be headed into church work with minor/medium interest in the academy.

Edited by xypathos
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On 2/4/2022 at 10:22 PM, xypathos said:

The UK PhDs that are well represented/respected come from UK scholars, by and large.

And, to put it mildly, some of them had very tough times finding jobs. Mark Goodacre, whom I'd consider an excellent scholar, ended up working in retail before he found a job.

On 2/4/2022 at 8:58 PM, sacklunch said:

6. I hate to harp on this point again, but, whatever path you follow, you are unlikely to get a tenure-track job anywhere in the US regardless of the school. I can tell you that I know zero people who were even interviewed for a tenure-track job this last season. These are people with PhDs from, among others, Duke, Chicago, Harvard, and Yale. Surprisingly, graduates from the elite schools fare worse at getting jobs at lower-ranked schools than graduates from lesser-known programs. I also applied and failed to get an interview (I have my PhD from one of the aforementioned schools and I'm now a postdoc). You will probably have to do something else once you finish (again, if you make it past all the hurdles of entry and graduate). This is the reality. It's no longer about whose the better academic (actually it never really was), but more of a lottery. 

Fairly or not (not, given the contours of the current market), some smaller institutions believe that PhDs from top-tier programs are more likely to leave for another offer. As a result, they'll sometimes hire someone with a degree from (e.g.) Claremont or Drew, on the basis that they're less of a "flight risk." Again, given that the vast majority of faculty will never leave where they're hired, it's an outdated thought process...

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks @Athanasius and @sacklunch and all of yall for your constructive thoughts. I think you all have a lot of truth in what you said. I do not believe Oxbridge will be bad, but the the fact of the gloomy job market simply cannot be ignored.

With that all said, if I may ask one more question...if for now I do quit on the expectation of landing a tenure track job in the field, what are some other jobs outside of the field of theology I can do /may possibly get hired with a theology PhD? Do they pay an ok salary? I am asking this because as I am still waiting for the scholarship results these days, and sense it to be tough, I have been considering the feasibility of taking loans for this PhD. But of course I want to know if I will be able to pay it back with relative ease afterwards, even if it means working in other fields. 

So, you guys get me, I really do want to do this PhD, and at this moment I can care less if after graduation I don't work in the field (at least not immediately). So, is it wise to take out loans to make it happen? I am thinking of no more than 50K, and that is for TEDS (Cambridge will be too expensive for me to even take loans)

Another option for me right now is to work a few years (in other fields) to save up enough money and then do the PhD. But I worry if I were to apply again in two or three years I may not be accepted by the same programs again. 

Btw, the biggest reason that I want to do a theology PhD now is not so that I can work on a tenure position for the rest of my life. At this moment it is really because I think I have a good research topic and I want to make my contribution to the theological world. And PhD and academia seems to be the most proper way to it. So here is my another long time question - if I do not do a PhD thus getting into the scholarly world, are there other ways to do publications and join the scholarly discussions?

 

Thanks a lot for all your input.

 

 

 

 

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36 minutes ago, Elwynn11 said:

Thanks @Athanasius and @sacklunch and all of yall for your constructive thoughts. I think you all have a lot of truth in what you said. I do not believe Oxbridge will be bad, but the the fact of the gloomy job market simply cannot be ignored.

With that all said, if I may ask one more question...if for now I do quit on the expectation of landing a tenure track job in the field, what are some other jobs outside of the field of theology I can do /may possibly get hired with a theology PhD? Do they pay an ok salary? I am asking this because as I am still waiting for the scholarship results these days, and sense it to be tough, I have been considering the feasibility of taking loans for this PhD. But of course I want to know if I will be able to pay it back with relative ease afterwards, even if it means working in other fields. 

So, you guys get me, I really do want to do this PhD, and at this moment I can care less if after graduation I don't work in the field (at least not immediately). So, is it wise to take out loans to make it happen? I am thinking of no more than 50K, and that is for TEDS (Cambridge will be too expensive for me to even take loans)

Another option for me right now is to work a few years (in other fields) to save up enough money and then do the PhD. But I worry if I were to apply again in two or three years I may not be accepted by the same programs again. 

Btw, the biggest reason that I want to do a theology PhD now is not so that I can work on a tenure position for the rest of my life. At this moment it is really because I think I have a good research topic and I want to make my contribution to the theological world. And PhD and academia seems to be the most proper way to it. So here is my another long time question - if I do not do a PhD thus getting into the scholarly world, are there other ways to do publications and join the scholarly discussions?

 

Thanks a lot for all your input.

 

 

 

 

There are very few jobs that will leverage your skills outside of academia. I have a PhD from a top program and I have applied to hundreds of non-ac jobs over the past six months. I've found that basically no one cares and in many cases the PhD will hurt your chances. In short, you're vastly overqualified and underqualified. You feel like you shouldn't have to start at the bottom with all the recent BA graduates, but sadly this is where you will probably land. The career outside of academia that seems most obvious is publishing. The problem is the jobs in this industry do not require a PhD and most of the higher up positions are filled by people who worked their way up over years; that is, they value experience and not so much graduate degrees (most I've met in the industry have a bachelors, few have even a masters). But the worst part about the publishing industry is the pay. I've interviewed for a few editor roles and the pay seems to hover between 40-50k (USA). Most never make above 60k. 

You may have a great research topic, but it's not enough reason to go into debt for the PhD, given your very poor earning potential. Is there a way to enter the "conversation" without a PhD? Not really. Anyways, I think what you would find, after having completed the PhD, is that the conversation is not at all what you imagined. Actually it's not really a conversation. There is to some extent a rich exchange of ideas between scholars, but mostly its working in isolation on projects that can and do take years to complete. And at the end of those projects few people seem to care outside of small specialized circles (you may not even care given the time to publish). More to the point: if you don't have a position at a university it's very difficult to contribute at all (here I speak of publishing). 

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47 minutes ago, sacklunch said:

There are very few jobs that will leverage your skills outside of academia. I have a PhD from a top program and I have applied to hundreds of non-ac jobs over the past six months. I've found that basically no one cares and in many cases the PhD will hurt your chances. In short, you're vastly overqualified and underqualified. You feel like you shouldn't have to start at the bottom with all the recent BA graduates, but sadly this is where you will probably land. The career outside of academia that seems most obvious is publishing. The problem is the jobs in this industry do not require a PhD and most of the higher up positions are filled by people who worked their way up over years; that is, they value experience and not so much graduate degrees (most I've met in the industry have a bachelors, few have even a masters). But the worst part about the publishing industry is the pay. I've interviewed for a few editor roles and the pay seems to hover between 40-50k (USA). Most never make above 60k. 

You may have a great research topic, but it's not enough reason to go into debt for the PhD, given your very poor earning potential. Is there a way to enter the "conversation" without a PhD? Not really. Anyways, I think what you would find, after having completed the PhD, is that the conversation is not at all what you imagined. Actually it's not really a conversation. There is to some extent a rich exchange of ideas between scholars, but mostly its working in isolation on projects that can and do take years to complete. And at the end of those projects few people seem to care outside of small specialized circles (you may not even care given the time to publish). More to the point: if you don't have a position at a university it's very difficult to contribute at all (here I speak of publishing). 

 

So what do you plan to do now? Sounds like a difficult situation to be in...

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@sacklunch makes great points on leveraging your PhD in non-academic jobs. People do it, but your colleagues (and more so bosses!) will always ask, "What the hell are you doing here?!? Wouldn't you like to be teaching?" Say what you will about the job market but unless they're plugged in and fellow academics, many of them will either 1) See you as some kind of weirdo that couldn't get hired at a school and/or 2) Someone to be weary of. You're biding your time and will jump ship as soon as you can. Basically, someone that can't be trusted and someone not to give long-term projects to.

Of my friends that haven't gotten a safe full-time academy job, some went into administration. I have two friends that work in student affairs, one as a college chaplain and the other runs a school's Office of Religious Life but it's a purely administrative job. Some went into teaching at boarding schools which can be fairly lucrative, salaries in the 40-60k+ but it comes with housing and they legitimately have the summers off. One teaches at St. Paul's in NH and makes significantly more than 60k.

I also had two former classmates go work for the foreign service at the State Department! A former M* classmate from VDS also works at the State Department but in their Office of Religion and Global Affairs.

Some went into non-profit work.

Jobs are there but yea, probably none that directly utilize your PhD outside of teaching at an elite boarding/prep school. They have significant curriculum and financial well-being that teachers can teach seminars in their respective areas, something you aren't going to find much of anywhere else.

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@xypathos (I don't know how to do this @ trick), can you tell me more about teaching in boarding schools? You mean private high schools? I always thought teaching high school is also a good choice (with summers off, etc.). Are these jobs abundant?

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4 hours ago, Elwynn11 said:

 

So what do you plan to do now? Sounds like a difficult situation to be in...

I have a postdoc position now (R1), which I am fortunate indeed to have! While I could continue this position for another year I've decided to leave early. It's been a painful process, since I'm currently doing what I love, but it seems foolish, even reckless, to continue down the same path. Even if I can land a tenure-track job, it will almost certainly not be the kind of job I want (i.e. a job that requires me to teach 3-4 undergraduate classes a term, leaving little time for anything else). I'm not willing to spend 5+ years (after the 11 years I spent in graduate school) in a terrible position in the middle of North Dakota (et sim.) teaching undergraduates (most of whom quite frankly are there because they have to be, to fulfill some general requirement) on the gamble that I will get a decent academic job. There are other considerations. I have a serious partner. And academia just isn't what I thought it would be. Most of what you do isn't research. It's teaching, meetings, workshops, administration. I want to do research, but in order to squeeze that into the mix (and produce good scholarship) you need to sacrifice your personal life. You need to not go out with friends, not watch that show with your partner, tell your parents you can't come this weekend (or the next few), and so on. And when you give in you feel guilty. You never catch up, never produce enough, always to the next thing, always comparing yourself to others. That's the life. I get that it doesn't feel like that at your stage (PhD life and after). I'm not saying you will end up feeling the same way as me. What I do know is that my feelings are entirely typical. For most of us, academia--even if you can "make it" (and that's a huge if)--is simply unfulfilling. I truly hope, if you continue, you will be the exception. But I doubt you will be. You will probably find yourself, at 35-40 with a PhD in Religion, scrambling to find a job doing anything that will pay you barely more than your PhD stipend. As for me, I am fortunate to have found a good government job that leverages some of my skills (skills not commonly acquired by PhDs in religion; more dumb luck in my case). 

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7 minutes ago, sacklunch said:

I have a postdoc position now (R1), which I am fortunate indeed to have! While I could continue this position for another year I've decided to leave early. It's been a painful process, since I'm currently doing what I love, but it seems foolish, even reckless, to continue down the same path. Even if I can land a tenure-track job, it will almost certainly not be the kind of job I want (i.e. a job that requires me to teach 3-4 undergraduate classes a term, leaving little time for anything else). I'm not willing to spend 5+ years (after the 11 years I spent in graduate school) in a terrible position in the middle of North Dakota (et sim.) teaching undergraduates (most of whom quite frankly are there because they have to be, to fulfill some general requirement) on the gamble that I will get a decent academic job. There are other considerations. I have a serious partner. And academia just isn't what I thought it would be. Most of what you do isn't research. It's teaching, meetings, workshops, administration. I want to do research, but in order to squeeze that into the mix (and produce good scholarship) you need to sacrifice your personal life. You need to not go out with friends, not watch that show with your partner, tell your parents you can't come this weekend (or the next few), and so on. And when you give in you feel guilty. You never catch up, never produce enough, always to the next thing, always comparing yourself to others. That's the life. I get that it doesn't feel like that at your stage (PhD life and after). I'm not saying you will end up feeling the same way as me. What I do know is that my feelings are entirely typical. For most of us, academia--even if you can "make it" (and that's a huge if)--is simply unfulfilling. I truly hope, if you continue, you will be the exception. But I doubt you will be. You will probably find yourself, at 35-40 with a PhD in Religion, scrambling to find a job doing anything that will pay you barely more than your PhD stipend. As for me, I am fortunate to have found a good government job that leverages some of my skills (skills not commonly acquired by PhDs in religion; more dumb luck in my case). 

Sounds very depressing, but thank you for being so honest. Yes, it seems like at this stage I should give up on the thought of a tenure-track job. And honestly it is not my ultimate dream to grade undergrad homeworks for the rest of my life. I think many of us deep down just want to do study and research all day. But sadly there isn't a standard job for that. But I am glad you were able to land a government job.

If I go down this path, I will be betting on possibilities that: teaching in the Majority World as a missionary (which requires raising support); working in the church; or working in other fields (I have an engineering background. However, I am not sure of the likelihood of finding an engineering job again after being out of it for 8-9 years).

But back to our true desire of study and research...are there other more "fulfilling" ways to do it, outside of academia?

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18 hours ago, Elwynn11 said:

@xypathos (I don't know how to do this @ trick), can you tell me more about teaching in boarding schools? You mean private high schools? I always thought teaching high school is also a good choice (with summers off, etc.). Are these jobs abundant?

So private schools can broadly be separated into two categories: day school and boarding school. It's as they sound, day schools end at 3-4 and then there's some extracurricular work and students go home. Boarding schools, easy enough, the students live there. Some do both but they generally "specialize" in one or the other.

The jobs increase in abundance if you have multiple subjects and/or skills that you can bring to the table. For instance, if you only want to teach religion you limit your options. But, if you have done coursework and have an interest in teaching history, literature, philosophy, etc, then your options increase. An increasing number of your more privileged boarding schools are looking for candidates that specialize (say religion) but are qualified to teach in Humanities broadly. My friend at St. Paul's, for example, primarily teaches religion, but they also teach the occasional course in existential literature in the English Department, religious history in the History Department, or ethics over in Philosophy.

You'll also be expected to take up some amount of administrative or "residential life" duties. Working as a "dorm parent," coaching a sport*, advising students on courses and/or college applications, supervising volunteer experiences, etc. These all get factored into your workload.

I * coaching because sometimes you're legitimately coaching if you played a sport in high school or college, and sometimes you're really just handling the administrative duties but they still call you a coach.

Of the people I know teaching at boarding schools, especially the more privileged ones, one of the perks I've heard passed around is the networking you're able to do with parents. Namely, and these are all rumors (in the sense that I don't have names), that parents have gotten to really love their kid's teacher and when their kid graduates, they make some phone calls and a well regarded university is willing to offer you a position on their faculty. Some teachers have also only had their master's degree and leveraged these connections to get into PhD programs, though these are also rumors.

On the church side of things, I know for a fact that episcopal chaplains at elite boarding schools have been able to leverage connections and end up as a bishop (making six figures with hefty benefits) or landing a cushy church job in a highly desirable area.

EDIT: The National Association of Independent Schools is the largest networking and job site for these positions. Their main website is here and their job listings here.

Edited by xypathos
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17 minutes ago, xypathos said:

So private schools can broadly be separated into two categories: day school and boarding school. It's as they sound, day schools end at 3-4 and then there's some extracurricular work and students go home. Boarding schools, easy enough, the students live there. Some do both but they generally "specialize" in one or the other.

The jobs increase in abundance if you have multiple subjects and/or skills that you can bring to the table. For instance, if you only want to teach religion you limit your options. But, if you have done coursework and have an interest in teaching history, literature, philosophy, etc, then your options increase. An increasing number of your more privileged boarding schools are looking for candidates that specialize (say religion) but are qualified to teach in Humanities broadly. My friend at St. Paul's, for example, primarily teaches religion, but they also teach the occasional course in existential literature in the English Department, religious history in the History Department, or ethics over in Philosophy.

You'll also be expected to take up some amount of administrative or "residential life" duties. Working as a "dorm parent," coaching a sport*, advising students on courses and/or college applications, supervising volunteer experiences, etc. These all get factored into your workload.

I * coaching because sometimes you're legitimately coaching if you played a sport in high school or college, and sometimes you're really just handling the administrative duties but they still call you a coach.

Of the people I know teaching at boarding schools, especially the more privileged ones, one of the perks I've heard passed around is the networking you're able to do with parents. Namely, and these are all rumors (in the sense that I don't have names), that parents have gotten to really love their kid's teacher and when their kid graduates, they make some phone calls and a well regarded university is willing to offer you a position on their faculty. Some teachers have also only had their master's degree and leveraged these connections to get into PhD programs, though these are also rumors.

On the church side of things, I know for a fact that episcopal chaplains at elite boarding schools have been able to leverage connections and end up as a bishop (making six figures with hefty benefits) or landing a cushy church job in a highly desirable area.

 

Thanks Xypathos. I do have a Bachelor's and Master's in engineering, and worked a few years as an engineer. So I can always teach STEM classes... I hope that should be a plus too?

Love to know that at least high schools are still in demand of qualified teachers. I started my MA in theology thinking maybe I can become a high school teacher (I got a little tired of engineering, and thought a teaching job with summers off would be cool), but as I did pretty good on my studies, I thought I should pursue a PhD. But it is good to know that high schools are always a good option.

Bottomline, at this point I just hope there are realistic outlets after the PhD so I can pay off the loan quickly. I don't want to change a life passion/path just for some 50k which I may be able to pay back in one year or two.

Edited by Elwynn11
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15 hours ago, Elwynn11 said:

Sounds very depressing, but thank you for being so honest. Yes, it seems like at this stage I should give up on the thought of a tenure-track job. And honestly it is not my ultimate dream to grade undergrad homeworks for the rest of my life. I think many of us deep down just want to do study and research all day. But sadly there isn't a standard job for that. But I am glad you were able to land a government job.

If I go down this path, I will be betting on possibilities that: teaching in the Majority World as a missionary (which requires raising support); working in the church; or working in other fields (I have an engineering background. However, I am not sure of the likelihood of finding an engineering job again after being out of it for 8-9 years).

But back to our true desire of study and research...are there other more "fulfilling" ways to do it, outside of academia?

It's depressing for most, but it need not be for those who do want to teach intro/undergraduate courses as a career. Yes, basically everyone on this forum is a student and imagines that academic life post PhD is not so different from their student days. It's not really the same and for those who can actually get a job it's entirely different. It's sad and strange that this isn't widely known. Regarding the private school jobs, there does seem to be far more positions than university ones. But, to me those jobs seem barely better than the university ones. In both roles you're primary responsibility is teaching younger people and rarely (if ever) doing research. That will be fulfilling to many, but not most PhDs from R1s. You may end up going back to engineering after the PhD (if you get it and if you finish), because the job opportunities are far better. You will probably have to start at the bottom of some career not-entirely-related to your PhD, whereas at least with your engineering background you can leverage skill sets that easily position you for higher up roles (and certainly much better pay). It makes you wonder what the point of it all is. 

Edited by sacklunch
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3 minutes ago, sacklunch said:

It's depressing for most, but it need not be for those who do want to teach intro/undergraduate courses as a career. Yes, basically everyone on this forum is a student and imagines that academic life post PhD is not so different from their student days. It's not really the same and for those who can actually get a job it's entirely different. It's sad and strange that this isn't widely known. Regarding the private school jobs, there does seem to be far more positions than university ones. But, to me those jobs seem barely better than the university ones. In both roles you're primary responsibility is teaching younger people and rarely (if ever) doing research. That will be fulfilling to many, but not most PhDs from R1s. You may end up going back to engineering after the PhD (if you get it and if you finish), because the job opportunities are far better. You will probably have to start at the bottom of some career not-entirely-related to your PhD, whereas at least with your engineering background you can leverage skill sets that easily position you for higher up roles (and certainly much better pay). It makes you wonder what the point of it all is. 

 

Question, since you can get summers off in a high school, it sounds like you would have some time doing research on the side right?

Yes, if I were to go back on engineering and forever, what is the point of spending a few years in between on a theology PhD? But in that case, it also begs to ask, what is the difference of spending 40 years of my life on engineering, compared to 30 years on engineering + 10 years on theology? (you can replace the engineering here with your current government job) As long as making money is not your highest goal, and you somehow manage to survive financially, wouldn't be a plus to your life that you gained the education and credential you always wished for? 

 

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14 minutes ago, sacklunch said:

It's depressing for most, but it need not be for those who do want to teach intro/undergraduate courses as a career. Yes, basically everyone on this forum is a student and imagines that academic life post PhD is not so different from their student days. It's not really the same and for those who can actually get a job it's entirely different. It's sad and strange that this isn't widely known. Regarding the private school jobs, there does seem to be far more positions than university ones. But, to me those jobs seem barely better than the university ones. In both roles you're primary responsibility is teaching younger people and rarely (if ever) doing research. That will be fulfilling to many, but not most PhDs from R1s. You may end up going back to engineering after the PhD (if you get it and if you finish), because the job opportunities are far better. You will probably have to start at the bottom of some career not-entirely-related to your PhD, whereas at least with your engineering background you can leverage skill sets that easily position you for higher up roles (and certainly much better pay). It makes you wonder what the point of it all is. 

I see the mounting problem here as no matter how (even if you get a tenure track in a university), you cannot easily do that research work that you always dream of (unless you teach an intro class for 30 years and become a professor emeritus?). This is really the obstacle that is hard to get over. So again, my question is, are there other, or creative ways for us to still be able to engage in research and publication even outside of standard academia?

So that's why I was thinking about teaching high schools (it pays well and you have summers off so can use that time for research). Or back to engineering, so I can work for a few years and save enough money to take a few years of leave (this is how I got my MA in theology in the last a few years).

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