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Hello All,

I'm wondering if anyone has any advice or experience about getting an MA from a seminary. I'm considering going to Union Theological Seminary in New York for my MA, and then proceeding to a PHD program at a Divinity School or academic program. I want to study religion, and on the one hand I feel like Union seems to be very well-respected, and would be a great place to get a firm grounding in the Western theological tradition. On the other I'm a little worried that there might be some bias in PHD programs against someone applying with an MA from a seminary. It's totally possible this bias is in my head, but, does anyone have any first hand experience, either with a seminary like Union, or with the atmosphere in university graduate programs towards the academic quality of seminary graduate programs?


- C

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Union is indeed a respected school. I don't know that the name/reputation of the school should stop you from going there. The more important factor is whether or not you can study with good people who can get to know you so that you have allies at your school, as well as whether or not you feel like you fit there. I would recommend contacting people at the schools you are interested in for doctoral work and see what they say about the kinds of degrees the students they accept traditionally have prior to matriculation.

The difficulty in answering your question is that there is no formula for this process. I don't really have any way of knowing why I was accepted or rejected at the various schools to which I applied. I certainly didn't do things the "right" way, but even people who do things the "right" way get rejected from the top programs.

Thus, rather than basing your decision primarily on the degree beyond the master's degree, if you just want to be at Union, I'd say go for it. If you are happy somewhere, you will be able to thrive and develop into the kind of person/student that doctoral programs would want.

Hope this helps (or at least doesn't hurt).

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  • 1 month later...

I applied to Union for their MDiv (which I was advised to do because, apparently, from these academically top schools, the three year degree is more competitive). I think it's a fantastic program, but beware the cost of living- although I got a full grant, the other costs and fees would have been covered by a substantial loan. For that reason I chose a school with an endowment, unaffected by our lousy financial market. Living in NYC comes with it's price tag, and I just can't afford increased student debt.

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