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PhD applications for 2014 chit chat...

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Duke and Harvard's PhD don't accept students with one MA from an evangelical school that regularly, as far as I understand. Especially not in the fields I'm familiar with, especially not recently.

I understand why you're accusing me of elitism, but it's not the case here. I'm from an evangelical institution, and I have plenty of friends from evangelical institutions who are getting into fantastic schools and I think it's awesome.

The phenomenon I was trying to point to was people who are ridiculously and obviously unprepared, and yet they apply to the top schools as if they literally knew nothing about how difficult the application process was. My friends who are successful from evangelical institutions have all taken account of how difficult the field is and acted accordingly, getting a second MA or a ThM from a great school. So in other words, it's not that he had the guts to apply to some of the best programs in his discipline. It's that he *only* applied to the very best schools with almost no recognition that these programs were nearly impossible to get in to. Of course, my evaluation of his application is based on conversations with him that you don't have, so it could come off as if I was judging him off the cuff.

 

I guess what frustrates me about is #1 It happens all the time in seminary (the attitude that I don't really care, whatever, and somehow I'll get into Harvard one day) and #2 by acting like it's no big deal and they can get in to the best schools without trying, they are completely ignoring their friends who are working incredibly hard (and being successful) to get into the best schools through second master's degrees. It's a failure to take this whole process seriously that frustrates me.

 

-- 

This isn't a super substantive reply to your post, the quote etc, but that's because I judged that I hadn't made myself clear. This isn't a post about bashing anyone's viewpoint or anything of the sort. I'm sure there are people from public universities or mainline divinity schools who act as if they think they can waltz into the best programs.

Edited by Alex Madlinger

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I will speak from my own experience: Yale gets one admit per year. In the last three years, Yale has admitted students to the New Testament program every year from evangelical seminaries - the last two coming from Gordon-Conwell and Dallas Theological. To assume that getting into a top New Testament program requires a second masters degree from a "public university of mainline divinity school" is not only elitist, it is demonstrably false. 

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Does anyone else get irrationally angry when they meet someone who is applying to PhDs but clearly making terrible life decisions? Like, I met two people in the last week who made me want to attack them with a lexicon. One of them has an MA from an evangelical seminary. He only applied to Chicago, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins and he (obviously) got rejected to every single one. The other one was musing about his life plans and said, 'Oh, I don't know. I guess I'll apply to Duke and [random evangelical seminary].' You don't just 'guess' you'll put in an application at what is probably the best university to study New Testament in the US!

 

Does anyone else get super frustrated to meet people who clearly aren't taking the process seriously enough? Or do I have some weird psychological problem?

 

I know exactly what you're talking about, and it's not elitist at all I don't think. I don't know if it makes me angry... maybe just more confused! At Fuller, I only knew of a small group of us who were really serious about PhD programs. Most people were just interested in ministry and not thinking about a PhD at all. But then there were people like you're describing who would be like, "I'm really interested in doing a PhD that combines theory in performance studies with New Testament studies. Maybe at Duke or something." They would say Duke because a lot of biblical studies profs at Fuller went to Duke. And I would think, hmm... do you know if anyone else does anything remotely like that? I could maybe imagine a project that does that--I mean, I wouldn't be completely shocked to hear someone does something along those lines. But these were not people who had put a lot of very serious thought into what potential projects are actually viable options, much like what Alex is describing. They had some general interests and just assumed they could mash those together and go do a PhD combining all of them. 

 

I occasionally get emails from friends of friends who are looking for advice on how to begin this process, and I always begin by telling them to be as realistic as possible about 1) the viability of their project based upon what is being done in the field and 2) their own limitations with regard to grades, institution, GRE, etc. There is definitely a group, usually seminary students, who skip those steps and take the attitude Alex is describing. It's not elitist to think that's a bad way of approaching this process. I think it's just being realistic.

Edited by marXian

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You know? My comment was out of hand, and while I don't think I'm being elitist against evangelicals, I'm still just venting my frustration about a human being who annoyed me, and I don't feel like that's an action worth defending. If I knew how to delete/retract my comments, I would.

---

Thanks for the support, I'm glad somebody knows what I'm taking about :/

I'm not far enough along in the process to get too many requests for advice, but I have gotten a few and I'm happy to tell anyone anything I've learned. People who ask someone else for advice are, in my book, categorically excused from the group I'm describing. The person who frustrated me literally told me, 'If God wants me to get in, he will open doors.' That response was not a general statement of trust in God, but an answer to the question, 'Have you considered getting a second MA?'

Edited by Alex Madlinger

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Duke and Harvard's PhD don't accept students with one MA from an evangelical school that regularly, as far as I understand. Especially not in the fields I'm familiar with, especially not recently.

I understand why you're accusing me of elitism, but it's not the case here. I'm from an evangelical institution, and I have plenty of friends from evangelical institutions who are getting into fantastic schools and I think it's awesome.

The phenomenon I was trying to point to was people who are ridiculously and obviously unprepared, and yet they apply to the top schools as if they literally knew nothing about how difficult the application process was. My friends who are successful from evangelical institutions have all taken account of how difficult the field is and acted according, getting a second MA or a ThM from a great school. So in other words, it's not that he had the guts to apply to some of the best programs in his discipline. It's that he *only* applied to the very best schools with almost no recognition that these programs were nearly impossible to get in to. Of course, my evaluation of his application is based on conversations with him that you don't have, so it could come off as if I was judging him off the cuff.

 

I guess what frustrates me about is #1 It happens all the time in seminary (the attitude that I don't really care, whatever, and somehow I'll get into Harvard one day) and #2 by acting like it's no big deal and they can get in to the best schools without trying, they are completely ignoring their friends who are working incredibly hard (and being successful) to get into the best schools through second master's degrees. It's a failure to take this whole process seriously that frustrates me.

 

-- 

This isn't a super substantive reply to your post, the quote etc, but that's because I judged that I hadn't made myself clear. This isn't a post about bashing anyone's viewpoint or anything of the sort. I'm sure there are people from public universities or mainline divinity schools who act as if they think they can waltz into the best programs.

 

Why should it make you angry, though? I would think it would be more angering if they were so nonchalant about the process but still got in - while someone such as yourself, who worked his tail off to get in, never did (assuming that were to happen at some point).

 

On the other hand, what frustrates me to some extent (though not as much), is individuals who seem to live, eat, and breathe PhD preparation, as if they have absolutely nothing else to do in life - while some of the rest of us (such as myself) don't have the time to devote as much energy into the process at this stage. Of course, I'm doing plenty to prepare (and can get stressed out about it at times), even though I'm one of those underprivileged people who has been unable to procure anything beyond a single MDiv from one of those evangelical institutions. But I'm trying not to confuse my calling, profession, and academic future with my identity. I have more to live for than getting - or not getting - into any particular school.

 

It's just a matter of perspective and where one's values (and value) really lies - at least for me (speaking nothing of any of your evangelical friends).

Edited by newenglandshawn

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I guess 'exasperated' is a better word.

And yeah, I suppose that would be annoying too. Haven't met anyone like that, but I only have a small handful of personal friends who are taking this route.

Oy, remember not to say anything that sounds even partially dismissive to people with an evangelical MDiv... Hello people, evangelical born and bred here, at an evangelical institution.

And, I honestly didn't know that about Yale, but then again I don't have a ton of research interests in common with Yale profs so I don't know too much about the program. I've met several people from GCTS in several different great schools. I get the feeling they're a fantastic seminary, but I haven't had much personal experience with them.

Edited by Alex Madlinger

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The phenomenon I was trying to point to was people who are ridiculously and obviously unprepared, and yet they apply to the top schools as if they literally knew nothing about how difficult the application process was. My friends who are successful from evangelical institutions have all taken account of how difficult the field is and acted accordingly, getting a second MA or a ThM from a great school. So in other words, it's not that he had the guts to apply to some of the best programs in his discipline. It's that he *only* applied to the very best schools with almost no recognition that these programs were nearly impossible to get in to. Of course, my evaluation of his application is based on conversations with him that you don't have, so it could come off as if I was judging him off the cuff.

 

I guess what frustrates me about is #1 It happens all the time in seminary (the attitude that I don't really care, whatever, and somehow I'll get into Harvard one day) and #2 by acting like it's no big deal and they can get in to the best schools without trying, they are completely ignoring their friends who are working incredibly hard (and being successful) to get into the best schools through second master's degrees. It's a failure to take this whole process seriously that frustrates me.

 

 

Frankly, I don't know why this matters. If someone applies to Harvard or Chicago not because of any prestige but because that's where they applied, and they get in or if they don't get in, what's that to you? Because they didn't have a full appreciation of the gravitas of being admitted into the ivory tower, nay, the beacon on the hill for the whole world that is Hahvahd? This process shouldn't be hard for the sheer sake of being hard, shouldn't be taken seriously for the sheer sake of being taken seriously. If someone is smart enough, qualified enough to get in, then good for them whether they were anal about the process or not, whether they went to a school who we think is inferior or not. We could deal with a lot more academics that are less concerned with coiffing their plumes and puffing up their chests and talking about how great they are, and actually start getting down and doing work.

 

You know, and who are also generous scholars who are nice, kind people. And who help strengthen their colleagues rather than questioning their right to be there in the first place. 

Edited by theophany

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Alright, alright. My comments were a mistake, ill conceived and ill stated. I'm at an evangelical seminary and I got rejected from all of the uber-prestigious programs I applied to. I'm not trying to be elitist or snobbish, so I sincerely apologize to anyone I offended, and I won't try to defend my comments or interact with any more replies.

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I can understand being frustrated when you're working your tail off to have the person next to you think they're doing the same thing as you are.

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Alex, relax. You're wound up a little too tight. I know the kind of people you're talking about. They're annoying. Seminary is a breeding ground for those types; I know, I've been there. Ignore them. They probably aren't going to get in anywhere. On the bright side, if you do your due diligence and they don't, that'll only benefit you since that means fewer quality applications vying for precious few admissions slots.

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It's interesting to hear you say that MarXian, because I felt like everyone at Fuller wanted to get into a PhD program.

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Alex, all is well; we have all been there/are there. They exist everywhere. 

 

I might note that, I think, GC and Dallas, while 'evangelical,' they are also really really good at training people in ancient languages, precisely because they have degrees focused on them (e.g. M* in biblical Greek, etc.). In fields like NT, this sets them apart. I'm not saying students would not get into Yale from those schools without the languages, but I wonder if we might be assigning too much weight to university and/or seminary labels and not to the actual degree preparation? It would be interesting to look at how many students from GC or Dallas get into PhD programs in systematics or ethics? I have no earthly clue. But, while I have met numerous biblical studies doc students from GC and Dallas, I have never met one outside of a textual field. 

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I found out that this is actually something the scholarly community recognizes. Evangelicals can do some really great work in Greek, textual criticism, linguistics because those degrees are largely 'safe,' ie it's not like issues of form criticism, historical Jesus, etc, which conservative evangelicals might be uncomfortable with theologically. A few generations ago, leaving for Europe to get a PhD in text criticism, in order to return to the states to teach New Testament, amounted to an evangelical strategy, if I understand correctly.

 

My seminary is the same way, though not as good as DTS or GC by any means. No MA in New Testament/Religion/Biblical Studies but an MA in Biblical Languages. They have an MA in OT as well, but it's largely a Hebrew language degree.

 

Caveat: I'm speaking about the very conservative types here, not every Christian who identifies as 'evangelical.'

Edited by Alex Madlinger

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It's interesting to hear you say that MarXian, because I felt like everyone at Fuller wanted to get into a PhD program.

 

I'm sure there were way more than I realized. I think it was just because I got into a small group of people all interested in philosophy and theology and all interested in PhD programs. I knew very few people outside of that group who were applying. 

 

Edit: Now that I think about it though, I guess I'm vaguely aware that a lot of people there want to go on to do biblical studies PhDs so maybe I didn't notice as much because I knew that wasn't going to be my field so I wasn't competing for the attention of MMT and the like.

Edited by marXian

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I'm sure there were way more than I realized. I think it was just because I got into a small group of people all interested in philosophy and theology and all interested in PhD programs. I knew very few people outside of that group who were applying. 

 

Edit: Now that I think about it though, I guess I'm vaguely aware that a lot of people there want to go on to do biblical studies PhDs so maybe I didn't notice as much because I knew that wasn't going to be my field so I wasn't competing for the attention of MMT and the like.

 

I don't know how many people were serious, but I heard a lot of people casually suggest going on to a PhD like it was no big deal. I'd hate to be Fuller faculty during application season. 

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Alex. You sound like a great human being ..... who has given us the great entertainment of reading how you have stuck your foot in your mouth and subsequently started to chew on it. All is good

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I don't know how many people were serious, but I heard a lot of people casually suggest going on to a PhD like it was no big deal. I'd hate to be Fuller faculty during application season. 

 

Oh yeah, if we're talking about all the people throwing it out there as one option along side starting a non-profit, going to live in a Chilean village indefinitely, etc., I knew plenty of those! Damn, I'm a jerk, haha.

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If you haven't heard anything one way or the other from UVa, odds aren't good. Admits and those on the wait list were notified a month ago.

 

Yeah, I know. I'm 99% sure I haven't been admitted. I emailed the grad admin and said I was under the impression offers had been made so if I haven't heard, should I expect rejection and she explained that I should still have some hope. It's not so much that I have much hope left, as that if I accept elsewhere without knowing all my options, and then find out that by some freak luck I did get in, I'll kick myself. 

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As far as Fuller goes, lots of people toss the idea around of a PhD, but very few follow through once it becomes apparent how rigorous the application process will be.  Unfortunately, many desire to do a PhD once they have completed half their course work and are carrying a relatively low GPA.  As far as evangelical seminary admits, UCLA's Near Eastern Studies and ancient history departments have admitted at least 3 Fuller students in the last 5 years, fully funded.  These are 1 admit per emphasis apps that are, like most, highly competitive.  But these Fuller students went through extensive training in languages and probably were not your typical Fuller student.  I know that most of my peers at Fuller were more interested in missions, church planting, and a host of other things that at times I would also rather do than than pour over hours of research.  I think the difference was that, while most of the students were there in large part for the the MDiv and the overall seminary experience, I was there for the specific type of training I would need for a doctoral admit.

 

As far as those who take a foolhardy approach to their PhD apps, I just figure it was to my advantage, as those types of people helped me to get admitted.  It sounds callous, but if everyone had shown my dedication, I would probably be applying again next year.  

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Oh yeah, if we're talking about all the people throwing it out there as one option along side starting a non-profit, going to live in a Chilean village indefinitely, etc., I knew plenty of those! Damn, I'm a jerk, haha.

 

I laughed, so we can be jerks together.

 

 

As far as Fuller goes, lots of people toss the idea around of a PhD, but very few follow through once it becomes apparent how rigorous the application process will be.  Unfortunately, many desire to do a PhD once they have completed half their course work and are carrying a relatively low GPA.  As far as evangelical seminary admits, UCLA's Near Eastern Studies and ancient history departments have admitted at least 3 Fuller students in the last 5 years, fully funded.  These are 1 admit per emphasis apps that are, like most, highly competitive.  But these Fuller students went through extensive training in languages and probably were not your typical Fuller student.  I know that most of my peers at Fuller were more interested in missions, church planting, and a host of other things that at times I would also rather do than than pour over hours of research.  I think the difference was that, while most of the students were there in large part for the the MDiv and the overall seminary experience, I was there for the specific type of training I would need for a doctoral admit.

 

As far as those who take a foolhardy approach to their PhD apps, I just figure it was to my advantage, as those types of people helped me to get admitted.  It sounds callous, but if everyone had shown my dedication, I would probably be applying again next year.  

 

This reminds me of the time I was going to get a form signed by my academic adviser and had to wait outside while she was dealing with another student. I overheard this student seeking advice for getting into PhD programs who had a GPA barely above a 2.0. Yikes.

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This reminds me of the time I was going to get a form signed by my academic adviser and had to wait outside while she was dealing with another student. I overheard this student seeking advice for getting into PhD programs who had a GPA barely above a 2.0. Yikes.

 

Did she give him the "Sooo....You Want to Get a PhD?" handout that Thompson (John) and Murphy put together? I think they made it for academic advisers to give out to all students who came by asking for PhD advice to try to deter those students from coming to them. I think I still have my copy saved in my email somewhere...

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Sure. I added a link to it for download on my old blog here. I guess some folks maybe would've found that helpful about 9 months ago...

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Sure. I added a link to it for download on my old blog here. I guess some folks maybe would've found that helpful about 9 months ago...

 

That is really useful. Wish I had seen it two years ago. I'm saving it for the tips on publications and conferences. The GRE prices definitely date the document a bit. LOL! I wish they would have only been $115 per test and $15 per school!

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That is really useful. Wish I had seen it two years ago. I'm saving it for the tips on publications and conferences. The GRE prices definitely date the document a bit. LOL! I wish they would have only been $115 per test and $15 per school!

Having read that, it's a miracle I even got one admit.  I can't believe that neither my faculty advisor nor my academic advisor ever gave me that sheet when I entered Fuller.  I would advise, however, preparing sooner for the GRE.  

Edited by awells27

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