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I've been accepted into an MTS program of a private university that ranks in the top 120ish nationwide and is one of the best in the region; 2nd best school in the city. I'm being offered a full-ride with a small stipend. Its an R2 school much larger and more well-known than my undergraduate institution. 

It has a religious affiliation but seems to be more pluralist in practice.

(keeping it vague for obvious reasons).

My concern is that I won't be able to take coursework needed for a PhD in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/Ancient Near East. For example, they don't offer Hebrew but I'd be able to take it at a nearby institution and transfer it in. 

The program is a 2-year program with between 30-45 hours. I have an undergraduate degree in Bible/Theology from a Bible college program. 

Would it be a waste of time to pursue this if I couldn't go directly into a PhD program? Or would this be a helpful bridge towards a second, more specialized master's degree (MA). 

It's not a school necessarily known for religious studies, but the school itself has a good reputation. If I decline this offer, not sure if there will be another chance to get a full-ride master's degree; but I know for certain that a 2nd master's degree would be mandatory for me to get what i needed to get into a PhD?

Thoughts? Is this a common experience? Am I better off going straight for a master's that'd directly qualify me for a doctoral program? 

(P. S., what are your thoughts about how to maintain a career/living while also pursuing academics? The market stinks, but I'm wondering if its possible to have a living in a professional job that isn't working retail or blue collar, but then getting advanced degrees). 

Edited by Gravda
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3 hours ago, Gravda said:

My concern is that I won't be able to take coursework needed for a PhD in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/Ancient Near East. For example, they don't offer Hebrew but I'd be able to take it at a nearby institution and transfer it in.

But do they offer other courses in the realm of Hebrew Bible? I suspect not, especially if Hebrew isn't offered. Have you also looked to see if it's housed in another department, such as Near Eastern Languages. Are you sure your institution and the second institution would permit you to take courses there? Sure, schools often have inter-institution agreements but often scheduling them to fit your schedule is a hassle.

3 hours ago, Gravda said:

Would it be a waste of time to pursue this if I couldn't go directly into a PhD program? Or would this be a helpful bridge towards a second, more specialized master's degree (MA).

None of us can say if it's a waste of time. That said, if your ambition is to get a PhD in Hebrew Bible, you need a M* degree and extensive coursework in that field. Also, second or more master's degrees in language intensive fields like Hebrew Bible or New Testament are not uncommon.

Many go to a middle of the road, even very lowly ranked school and climb to another school. There's no shame in that.

3 hours ago, Gravda said:

(P. S., what are your thoughts about how to maintain a career/living while also pursuing academics? The market stinks, but I'm wondering if its possible to have a living in a professional job that isn't working retail or blue collar, but then getting advanced degrees). 

That's hard but just pursue tangential areas. I had friends that taught religion at private schools, worked for publishing houses, some went to work for NGOs or the State Department (Civil and foreign service). I had classmates at VDS that volunteered for local campaigns and now work for US Senators, Reps, think tanks in DC, or state politicians. Just identify what some of these interests are for you and pursue them as you can, even as a volunteer since you'll still be making connections.

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Hebrew Bible Programs prioritize extensive knowledge and coursework in various languages. For this reason, it's not unheard of to pursue 2nd M*. Actually, it might have been getting more popular in recent years. I personally am seeking to pursue NT and Early Christianity PhD, and I've chosen to pursue a 2nd M* for more coursework in languages. 

After talking with faculty members, PhD students, and some folks in this forum, I personally give you the following few advices.

  1. Don't get into debt for grad-school.
  2. When finishing your 1st M* degree, apply to few PhD programs along with 2nd M* degrees.
  3. Among Top Tier Divinity schools, some of them offer highly customizable or concentrated MTS or MA degrees. These degrees usually require 48 hours, and only 3 or 4 classes are required core courses, then the rest is customizable with your focus of studies. Yale's concentrated MAR is a great example. Consider these options as your 2nd M* degree. To my knowledge, Duke, Vanderbilt, HDS, YDS, and UChicago offers M* degree highly customizable. 
  4. Some schools say they offer "concentrated" M* degrees. But make sure you check their Course Requirements. After searching through extensively, I have noticed some of them require almost 20 hours of core courses, then 3 or 4 in Thesis, leaving only 6 to 8 courses to your own choice. 
  5. You could go to programs with ThM or STM. But note that ThM and STM degrees usually come with very small amount of scholarship. Some of these will say you can finish in 1 year, but that differs by every school.

Hebrew PhD programs will require you to get extensive knowledge not just in Hebrew, but also other languages. Some of those are Ugaritic, Akkadic, Aramaic, Syriac, etc. Greek is also a given. When applying to a 2nd M*, make sure you go to a school that would offer variety of language courses. 

Edited by kor_to_nola
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