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Need help deciding which divinity schools to apply to.


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Good evening, all.

I'm about to complete a Master of Divinity program at a top divinity school in the United States. I started out as a Master of Theological Studies student but the well-rounded MDiv with its focus on Christianity and fusion of research and praxis eventually became so appealing that I switched (I must admit my professors noting the MDiv is more widely renowned with regard to doctoral programs was also a boon). As a gay individual, I've had my struggles with the Church and had thus locked the prospect of ordination away--but as the program wore on I began to realize that I not only am in a good position to give voice to a community historically silenced by the Church, but also feel morally obligated--given my training--to do so.

Because my divinity school is not affiliated with a particular denomination and I am Episcopal (an anglophile since birth), I have considered pursuing a Master of Sacred Theology degree in Anglican Studies (since some study beyond the MDiv is required so that you understand your background and theology). The STM is usually a one or two year program targeted at individuals either seeking ordination or to enhance the lay ministry in which they engage. The reason I find it appealing is because it is practice-oriented and the liberation theology I developed during constructive theology courses during my MDiv program was a practical theology.

Here's my background: My GPA is currently a 3.5--which doesn't make me an academic superstar of any sort. I received a B+ and an A in Constructive Christian Theology I and II respectively, an A in Pastoral Care & Theology, and grades of Honors in my first year of Supervised Ministry internship and my second year of an Advanced Supervised Ministry internship. I have been active in social justice issues, most notably LGBT equality. I have served as a chair of the divinity school's LGBT-straight alliance. I've also spoken on panels regarding issues of sexuality and religion with scholars of theology and area ministers. I've also served as a chaplain for the broader university's LGBT student life office and am currently working for my city's governmental human rights commission. During my program, I will have worked with Rev. Mel White, Bishop Gene Robinson, and Grammy-award winning Christian music artist Jennifer Knapp--all of whom are notable for their work in areas of sexuality and religion. I'm also serving on my school's policy committee to amend our commitments to LGBT students. I have good relationships with professors and employers and could probably garner some strong recommendations. On the side, I'm very passionate about creative writing. The way writers like Sartre and Camus convey their philosophies via fictional narrative--my goal is to do that with theology. My undergraduate GPA is a 3.68--a Bachelor of Arts with majors in English, Writing, Philosophy and Religion and a minor in Global Studies.

So now we arrive at my question (finally!--sorry for the delay). I am interested in applying to a Master of Sacred Theology program in Anglican Studies but do not know my chances of being admitted to the universities of interest. I have done my research and can definitely write a good admission essay, but I don't know how strongly my GPAs will weigh in and if they will obliterate my chances. None of the websites gave any helpful clues about a minimum GPA from one master program to the next. I also want to be mindful of money. First, I don't want to send applications to schools that would reject me flat out because of my GPA. Second, I would love a program that could offer me some scholarship money, since I'm already going to need to pay off my MDiv degree. Here is a list of the schools I'm contemplating. You'll notice some are overseas. I've always wanted to study abroad and have the heart of a vagabond. Also, considering my Anglican tradition, what better place to study? For those of you who are familiar with graduate divinity school programs, would you mind telling me what schools you would apply to if you were in my shoes?

In the United States:

* Sewanee, University of the South

* Virginia Theological Seminary

* Berkeley Divinity School (at Yale University)

In Canada:

* University of Trinity College (University of Toronto)

In the United Kingdom:

* Ridley Hall (associated with Cambridge)

* Wycliffe Hall (Oxford)

* St. John's College (University of Durham)

* Trinity College (University of Bristol)

So what's the word? How many of these should I apply to and which ones?

Thanks so much for taking the time to sort through my question.

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Berkeley needs to be at the top of your list. I'd say Sewanee and Virginia are a bit too conservative for you liking, but Berkeley would fit nicely. UK tends to be more conservative with regards to the Anglican communion than the US...but that's a vague generality and I can't give you specifics on schools in the UK.

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