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I can't resist throwing my own dilemma out there for potential feedback :)


I am deciding between the MARc at Yale and the MTS at BC. I have 50% tuition at Yale and full tuition + stipend at BC. I hate that funding is such a big factor in my decision, but I can't seem to separate my decision from money matters. 


I am giving the PhD route serious consideration but I also have a growing interest in other applications of the degree - perhaps some sort of ministry or nonprofit work or religious journalism. I imagine that the MAR concentrated would be a better fit for the PhD route (and I would love the opportunity to work closely with a few of the professors in my concentration) and BC might be better if I have diverging interests.


Does anyone know how BC students fare in competition for PhD programs? Or if I might have difficulty applying a degree from a concentrated program like the MAR toward anything other than academia? General thoughts about either program and/or how you would rank funding when deciding between the schools?


Any feedback much appreciated!

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Have you visited either programs? Have you talked to students there? Does denomination affiliation matter to you? 


I do believe you would do fine going into non-profit work or ministry with the MARc. You will still be getting an MTS at BC, so the degree isn't necessarily any more pastoral or ministry focused, and it is still considered an academic degree. How do you figure that BC may be better for you if you have divergent interests? Because the MTS degree is less focused then a MARc in its coursework in terms of your specific field of study? 


One thing to consider is the alumni network at these schools as well as the opportunities given to students while at these institutions. I am sure both schools fair equally in terms of connections to non-profits, and ministry positions. Though the STM (not including IREPM's history) is a much younger school than YDS. The thing is that most MTS programs (as well as probably the MAR) don't fund these students for field study or ministry placements - as it is not a requirement of the degree. Depending on your specific school, perhaps you could use work study to say, get a ministry job part time, but I'm not sure about the rules and regulations at your school. Furthermore, work study funds will be greatly affected by the sequestration so who knows what they'll be offering next year. Thus, perhaps you could do internship or volunteer job part time while in school a few hours a week, but most students spend a considerably amount of time studying, of course. Most MTS and MAR students I am sure spend their summer learning languages, and getting ready to apply to PhD programs. I guess a question for you is really what program would allow you to investigate your divergent interests. Should you seriously be considering ministry, perhaps switching to the MDiv may be an option. MDiv's sometimes receive better funding than MTS's - though I am not sure if your funding package would change if you did this. 


With the market as it is, I am sure Yale MARc's fair pretty well during doctoral programs applications, comparatively. Again, the academy is so political and bureaucratic  its hard to say anything definitive, so take what I say with a grain of salt. I don't think BC STM students do that well during doctoral applications, but I can't speak from experience as I didn't go there. I can say BC's PhD program accepts many more students from ND's Masters program than from BC STM. BC accepted at least two students from Yale into its PhD this year. Also this year, BC accepted at least two individuals with masters from HDS. Obviously, YDS, HDS, and ND are very good schools. But, often, most doctoral programs accept many of their own masters students, and this makes sense. It happens often at HDS and UChicago, and I am sure at other schools, too. If you look at these schools doctoral students, like half of the admitted/current students are their own masters students.


I think one reason is that BC STM is NOT under the same faculty as BC's PhD program in Theology. It's a separate school, on a campus across the street, and isn't considered part of BC's graduate studies in arts and sciences, so you don't get to know the doctoral faculty. So, if a BC STM student didn't get into BC's PhD, then what are they chances they got into say, Harvard, Yale, or Notre Dame (of course, two completely different programs). I do know a STM student who got into UChicago but he does comparative religions/theology (something BC's theology faculty is good at, and he did his undergraduate studies at BC and knew some of the theology faculty really well, and also spent quite some time living in India) and will be doing his PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations. In short, I'll bet that BC STM MTS students don't do that well during the doctoral application process as Yale MARc students, since the MARc is a rather competitive degree itself. Since you did get into the MARc, I bet you're a fantastic student, and will do well at either place. 


HAVING SAID ALL THAT, (I'm sorry, I'm realizing that this post is convoluted), debt is a reality and serious burden. As this degree is obviously not something that one pursues to make the big bucks, going into debt for it is not a good idea, in my opinion. You have to consider your situation. Do you have undergraduate debt? It doesn't seem wise to go over 40k in debt for a degree in which you're not entirely sure what you'll do with it. Having worked at non-profits, the pay is rather low for an entry level position, should you decide to go that route after you finish your MA. Stipends for doctoral students in theology-- -- should you go that route--is around 20k, depending on the school, some more and some less. YDS estimates almost 16k for just living expenses for masters students - to give you an estimate of what living in the NE area will be like. So if you do pursue doctoral work, you'll still have this debt to deal with while not having much of an income to pay it off, and while having to make end's meet.


I apologize, this was the most bleak and depressing post, ever. I need to congratulate you, really, b/c you had a wonderfully successful masters application process! You have great options. 


Anyways, did you completely rule out ND?  


Feel free to message me if you have questions. I was accepted to ND, YDS, and BC two years ago, and decided to go to HDS instead, though my situation and interests are probably different than yours. Apologies for the typos. 

Edited by Neem217
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The above post summed up a lot of the disadvantages to BC (compared to the MARc). But truthfully, I'm not sure if any degree can compare with the MARc, regardless if it's HDS or Chicago. 


I have heard from several people on this board that BC's MTS students do not necessarily do well in doctoral admissions, but I think this may have more to do with how new the program is. It's hard to gauge how competitive the program is when it hasn't been around terribly long (MTS formed in 2008). 

For what it's worth, two friends I went to BC (MTS) with who were serious about doctoral admissions both were offered good spots: one is at ND and the other at Yale, while another chose a similar path I did and is getting another M* at ND. 


The good thing about the program is you are able to take as many classes as you'd like in BC-theo dept (PhD). In fact I took more there than I did in the STM. So really, you can get an MTS with only having taken classes in the theology department. And, like the other BTI schools, you have the option of taking up to 50% of your courses elsewhere.


I applied to the MARc back then and was denied (2nd Temple). If I had been accepted I would have gladly accepted (over BC, and my other offers). Though money is always an issue. In short, (if you can deal with the possible debt) go where the best faculty are for your interests. 

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Wow, I appreciate your thorough and honest response. You bring up a lot of excellent points.


I'll be attending BC's admitted student days and I am trying to manage a trip to New Haven during the same trip. I've talked mainly with my own UG professors about different programs - some feedback from actual students is definitely something I should try to find.


In response to some of your other questions:

Yes, there is something appealing about the open-ended nature of BC's program. (Looking back on my applications, I realize that my list of programs doesn't exactly follow a trend. I love the study of theology and know that I want to engage in more of it, but I'm not certain where I want to go from a master's program... hence a mix of MDiv and comprehensive/concentrated programs.) Denominational affiliation isn't a strong factor for me, but I am Catholic and have wondered if, should I pursue a non-academic route, the STM might be a better fit. That said, I'm very interested in gaining some broader perspectives/experiencing other faith traditions. 

I did my undergrad at ND and absolutely loved it. The idea of going back is extremely tempting, but I'm beginning to feel that I should experience a new environment for my grad work. I haven't ruled it out yet, though.


I'm hoping that visiting and, hopefully, talking with some students will help my decision process. I really want to leave the PhD route open (especially as it has been a consistent interest of mine for a substantial length of time). I am willing to consider spending a bit more money if it will make a difference later. Hmm... looks like I have more thinking/research to do. Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts/information.


JDM -- thanks also for your helpful response! It's great to hear of success stories :) It's also great to learn of the flexibility re: taking classes. All things that I will consider!

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