Jump to content

Vanderbilt vs. Emory/Candler...thoughts?


Recommended Posts

I noticed that these two schools have yet to have gotten a fair comparison on this forum, so I thought it deserved some discussion.

I have personally visited both and found them to definitely be fantastic institutions. Vanderbilt is in an urban setting in a smaller city. As one of the few popular non-denominational schools it is definitely nice to have a place where no particular tradition is dominant. At the same time, certain denominations are more represented there so it can feel like you are in a denominational setting, depending on what circles you are in. I would definitely describe their theological bent as more liberal and LGBT/Feminism focused as a whole and I fear this could be a cause for concern for those who don't wish to focus on this particular theological methodology. I think they have some great professors who are into nonviolence, my area of interest. At the same time, they don't seem as strongly-focused on developing a worship-filled community.

Emory is in a very large city and is in probably one of the nicest suburban neighborhoods in all of Atlanta. I think the school is more moderate than Vanderbilt, but it definitely represents a healthy diversity of perspectives theologically speaking in that multiple denominations and approaches to theology are well-represented there. For some reason people keep saying the faculty is not widely recognized but that they are awesome, but I think there are a lot of widely recognized people there. I hear placement isn't as strong but this depends more on the student themselves than the school from which they come.

Any thoughts on how they compare?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The LGBT feel you get from Vanderbilt is valid and well known and in fact, I'd say most of their PhDs coming out of Vandy have touched on LGBT concerns to some degree in their research. That's not necessarily a bad thing, even if you aren't particularly interested in "Queer Theology," it's just Vandy encourages their students to consider the minority's voice when doing their work so naturally Feminist Theology and Queer Theology are the first to come to mind. I was fortunate in that I had college friends attend all of the well known seminaries and we shared notes and stories - Vandy's MDiv students, imo, faired better academically and their wealth of knowledge, which for those looking for ministry positions will only help them.

If I were to try and place Vandy on a spectrum, I'd say they're between Harvard and Yale. Yale has started down the path of -liberal theology whereas Harvard is pretty much already finished (My orthodox friends say that Harvard has abandoned Christianity all together and as such fails miserably in preparing people for ministry; I'd argue that they're setting out to redefine Christianity and religion for a modern world). Vany on the other hand is somewhere in between, they're big on minority voices and less than usual academic focuses but they still hold a level of tradition when it comes to training their students.

I'd also agree that Vandy has worked hard to enforce the nondenominational culture of the school, even moving to make it illegal for school clubs to mandate that their officers be practionners of the faith or sign any form of a creed, etc. Basically, say there's Christian Group XYZ - Vandy has decided that those groups can't mandate that their officers or members actually be Christians, so in theory you could have an atheist, Muslim, etc running the group and vice versa. It should make for some interesting politics over the next year or two.


Emory I hear is an amazing school (faculty, resources, getting into a PhD, etc) in a wonderful location. I'd agree that it's more moderate than Vandy, partially b/c of its location (the South) and also b/c Emory is generally more selective than places like Duke, particularly for its UMC students seeking ordination. That said, I can't name a single faculty member off the top of my head but maybe that's b/c it's still early and I'm not focusing and all too often I hear people picking Emory over their other acceptances for the sole purpose of money and not b/c of its faculty or resources - Emory is VERY liberal with their financial aid.

It's not much but hopefully others will chime in with what they know of the schools.

What are you looking to study?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally I'm interested in religion and politics/society, community, pacifism/non-violence, Christian identity, and to a lesser degree hermeneutics, biblical interpretation, and theological methodology.

I agree with everything you said but particularly with the comment on the faculty at Emory. Actually there are a lot of hidden gems there there (like Steffen Losel, Ian McFarland, Elizabeth Bounds, Timothy Jackson, Jan Love, Ellen Ott Marshall, Stephen Michael Tipton) who I would love to work with while Vanderbilt has a little less that catch my eye but they are fantastic for my area (Victor Anderson, Melissa Snarr, Kathleen Flake, Douglas Meeks, Paul DeHart).

I like to think of Emory as a hidden gem. Not that it is hidden, but it is often underestimated as an institution by many. Yet, in terms of PhD rankings, it is #5 on the list even ahead of Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. I noticed they publish A LOT as well so they are active. They seem to be known for loving teaching.

In either case I consider both fantastic institutions.

Edited by Windfish
Link to comment
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.