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Simple question: What topics do you wish you had learned in your undergraduate degree to prepare you for graduate school? What areas of graduate schooling do you feel are underrepresented at an undergraduate level? What things do you now know about that you wish you had thought of to pick up earlier? What topics, books, speakers do you wish you had spent more time on? If you could have read one book as an undergraduate what would it be?

 

I'm aware that everyone's specific graduate experience will lead to different answers. I think that's the cool part about it. This is meant to be a fun topic, not a "HELP ME!!!" topic.

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If you're going the academic M* route, you'll want a healthy amount of coursework in Religious Studies.*

 

*I'm assuming a generalist M* degree here. If you're into <insert field here> then you need some UG familiarity with that field.

 

If you're headed in for an MDIV, none really. Intro to HB/NT wouldn't hurt but unless your grad. school lets you test out of it, odds are you'll be doing them again anyway - just more in depth so it's not a waste of time.

Edited by Balatro
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Languages. I came into my first M* program with Greek and Latin and it still wasn't enough. In biblical studies, coming into your M* degree with Greek, Hebrew, Latin and German would be ideal. So...get movin ya'll ;)....No, but really, in hindsight I would have triple majored in Classics, German, and Religion/Theology (I did Theology, Philosophy, and Classics instead).

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I also would have double majored in Classics/Religious Studies rather than Religious Studies/English! I do feel like I've been able to leverage my English degree in a lot of ways, but I also think I could pull off my current research without having written a bunch of papers about Jane Austen first. 

 

And the languages. Oh the languages. My undergrad institution didn't even offer Hebrew, but I wish I at least had the time in my schedule to take what Greek they did offer. 

 

The curriculum there was also a bit weird. All of the courses were super specialized and topical, and there was no proper intro to Hebrew Bible or New Testament. I loved it at the time, but in hindsight I wouldn't have hated a little conventionality. I spent the first year of my MA scrambling to catch up on basic things like the documentary hypothesis (sheesh!) and severely overloading on credit hours with Greek, Hebrew, French and German.

 

So yes, languages.

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I know A LOT of folks who did English/Theology (Religion) instead of Classics. I'm really happy I spent at least a couple years in UG learning some of that stuff....but meh, I prolly would have gone to a different school if I had to do it over again. What can you do about it now? Nothin. One of the reasons folks in religion/theology (particularly biblical studies) need multiple degrees is because many of us didn't come in with all the proper coursework...compared to a lot of other fields where you don't need a working knowledge of 3-4 languages before starting a PhD...I can't even imagine trying to break into the field with having, i dunno, a engineering major. 

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For me, it's the modern languages. I took Spanish in high school and early on in college, but really wish someone would've kicked me in the direction of French or German from at least the beginning of undergrad. Would've saved me a lot of time in the dictionary :-)

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I'm preparing to enter grad school to study American Religious History along with a smattering of ethics. I'm coming with a secular history degree, so I wish I had more courses in theology, or in religion in general.

I knew when returning to my undergrad program that I wanted to study religion, but my undergrad religion program was mostly tooled for ministry. That would be okay if I was doing an MDiv, but I'd say 80% of the required coursework was irrelevant to what I'm trying to do.

I also wish I had taken more philosophy courses, and more social science of religion courses. My history degree was located in the humanities department, which is fine (and the way it should be, I think), but I'd really like to use social science concepts to better inform my scholarship. If I didn't have to work full time finishing up a career while doing my undergrad, I think I would have been more well rounded than I am.

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Languages. I came into my first M* program with Greek and Latin and it still wasn't enough. In biblical studies, coming into your M* degree with Greek, Hebrew, Latin and German would be ideal. So...get movin ya'll ;)....No, but really, in hindsight I would have triple majored in Classics, German, and Religion/Theology (I did Theology, Philosophy, and Classics instead).

You and me both. My background will be of no use, haha.

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It depends on your area. I think making sure you take a few philosophy courses is a good idea (ancient and early modern are probably the most important.) You don't need a degree in philosophy, but making sure you are familiar with the basics of those periods is a good idea, especially if you're doing theology.

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Language and philosophy. I speak Italian pretty well, but it's not exactly coming in handy in this. I did French in high school and one semester of college, but I am profoundly ill-equipped in both that language and German. 

 

I also don't have the best formal backing in philosophy. I've done a lot of reading on my own, but nothing systematic or under the tutelage of a knowledgeable instructor.

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I'll join the chorus: LANGUAGES (particularly modern languages of scholarship). Going the HB/NES route (or the like) will probably require the most ancient language coursework (anyone, please feel free to correct me); but very often these languages are built into the curriculum of the MA/PhD (I took five during my MAR). Modern languages, while required for a PhD program, are NOT built into most M* programs--so you have to take them above your normal course load or learn on your own or during summers.

 

Depending on your interests, do Greek, Hebrew, Latin, whatever and get a jump on them--but be sure to get at least one of the modern ones too.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Weird - I doubled in English and Religious Studies as well, haha.

 

As everyone has already stated: LANGUAAAAAAGES!!!!

 

For some reason, I did six - yes SIX - semesters of American Sign Language (only to give up on it and forget most of it). If I could, I would go back and take Arabic, I would do it in a heartbeat, because learning Arabic at the Harvard pace and having work from my remaining classes is absolutely killing me (I am also ridiculous because I work as a faculty assistant and also intern at The Pluralism Project - no wonder I have no life).

 

Anyway, languages, yes! If there is a course on theories and methods, TAKE IT... taking that class before applying for an M* probably saved me the hassle of sounding like a tool (for those who have taken T&M, I'm sure you'll understand).

Edited by MsSarahBOOM
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