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Macrina

so, which are the "most competitive" programs?

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I don't think I said I didn't care about being at the best program. I said I am not at a school right now so I have no agenda to fit my school (since I don't have one) in the "top."

 

Well, what are you doing on this board?  Preparing to apply?  If so, this place can be a good resource.  

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You might have an idea about the game, but you're not on the list (yet).  Just don't count your chickens before they hatch, guy.  That's all.  

Oh, I see. Well, as long as you feel super good about yourself I guess?

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Oh, I see. Well, as long as you feel super good about yourself I guess?

 

I don't need to feel good about myself.  Sorry. I didn't mean to upset you.   :o

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I'd bet my bottom dollar Perique69 is one of those people at SBL whose eyes never rise above name badge level. As for wanting to be on the "list," I'm content in the knowledge that people smarter than me are making a tremendous investment both in terms of time and money to educate me and that the placement rate for my program is good (even if most of those people teach at small Liberal Arts colleges). I don't need to be the best. I don't need a festschrift when I retire. I just want to get paid to do what I love. It is really as simple as that. 

 

 

Fair enough.  Lots of people want to get paid to do what they love.  Just be careful not to get walked on.  

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Well, well, look who turned out to be Judas!  Of all people, I thought you were my friend.    :(

 

Lol, I tried being nice to you, but your comments about the entire board in general are overbearing.

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When discussing the competitiveness of any program, it is important to keep in mind that these programs are divided into subfields, so that competition may differ depending on where one wishes to specialize.  For instance, while Duke may receive an enormous amount of applications in the subfield of New Testament, it would hardly receive the same attention from students interested in medieval history/theology.  As another illustration from my own department, in the past season applications for subfields ranged from ca. 70 with an acceptance of 3 (4%) to a total of 3 applicants, of whom 2 were accepted (66%).  While this is admittedly rather extreme, those interested in the competition they will face when applying should not that this can vary wildly among areas within any department. This does not change the general notions of the prestige of a school, which, as perique69 so charitably has pointed out, can be very important when it comes to securing a teaching position.  At the same time, there are many factors beyond the prestige attached to one's name that a search committee will take into consideration, especially if members of the committee have an awareness of one's subfield and which programs are particularly strong in that specialization. 

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Thank you Tollege! Great example. You just can't think about which schools are the most competitive. Each subfield is different (and some subfields are probably more competitive across the board than other subfields).

Beyond that, it just so much depends on what one wants to do in your chosen subfield. There are really really strong programs that I'd rather poke my eyes out than be in. Not because the people there are a--holes, don't support their students or of geography issues (although those matter a lot too), it's because I find certain approaches in my subfield boring as Hell. And I'm sure they find the approaches I like boring or stupid.

 

I couldn't even recommend or rank the programs in my subfield because of this. One person's top school would be another person's nightmare.

 

Even so, as someone getting pretty close to the job market, it's just not worth doing it if you're not at a school that has an excellent reputation and excellent support. I hate putting it like this, but if you can't name-drop your school, it's probably not worth going to. The job market is just way too brutal.

 

Besides that though, the top programs have the money and the connections to make the living-hell that getting a phd can be much more bearable. It's no fun going through grad school for 5-7 years when you're living in poverty, your library sucks, and you have to work twice as hard to get papers and presentations accepted because of your non-top tier school. It'll also be a lot harder to get the relevant/top outsiders on your committee.

 

It's awful, but when you're trying to present at top panels at AAR/SBL, or get accepted to a conference, it's going to be way easier when you're coming from top dog school than mid-level school. People do look at names. And then, having those conferences and papers on your CV is going to make getting funding or the job easier etc. It's a cycle. The names open doors that open doors that open doors. Get that first door closed, and you're out. The quality of your work won't matter as much, and you'll probably have less funding and resources to produce that quality anyway.

 

I don't want to be Mr. Downer, but I strongly advise against going to a non-top school. And by that I mean, if you couldn't drop the name of your school in conversation to impress that cute girl or a boy, it's not a top school.

 

At the same time though, don't just apply to top schools because they're top schools. Only apply to the ones that really interest you. First, your application will most likely fail if you're just applying to a place because you think they're a top school. Second, it's much less likely that you'll be happy or succesful there if you do get in. There are few things worse than spending 5-7 years reading and thinking about a topic in a way that you think is boring, outdated, or stupid, and then being forced to go on the job market and present yourself in that way.

Edited by Joseph45

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I don't want to be Mr. Downer, but I strongly advise against going to a non-top school. And by that I mean, if you couldn't drop the name of your school in conversation to impress that cute girl or a boy, it's not a top school.

I agree with much of what you said, but I don't think impressing a cute girl should be the criterion of what a top program is. If you're in Christian theology and ethics, for example, most cute girls would be impressed if you said you were at Harvard, less impressed by Duke, and probably not impressed at all by Emory. For those in the know, however, Harvard would be the least impressive, at least for those interested in working within Christian orthodoxy. If you want to impress anyone at all - and I'm not sure that should be anyone's goal - you should find out which programs, or better yet, which faculty members others hold in high esteem, and go work with them.

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^Agreed. This kind of "Starbucks cool factor" is unproductive. You could very easily walk into any number of Starbucks and tell someone you were getting your PhD at U Chicago and many people wouldn't know it from U of Phoenix. 

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^Agreed. This kind of "Starbucks cool factor" is unproductive. You could very easily walk into any number of Starbucks and tell someone you were getting your PhD at U Chicago and many people wouldn't know it from U of Phoenix. 

I guess I should take it as a compliment to be taken so seriously. But really, why try to impress a boy or girl if she doesn't know about U Chicago?

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Sorry if my post wasn't clear! I don't at all mean to say that U Chicago is not competitive because of this. Far from it! We all know it is one of the most competitive programs around. My point was merely, who gives a rat arse what other people think outside of your subfield. We all work in fairly specific areas and the fit varies accordingly. For some, U of Phoenix may be a better fit than Chicago!  :lol:  B)

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Even so, as someone getting pretty close to the job market, it's just not worth doing it if you're not at a school that has an excellent reputation and excellent support. I hate putting it like this, but if you can't name-drop your school, it's probably not worth going to. The job market is just way too brutal.

 

 

I don't want to be Mr. Downer, but I strongly advise against going to a non-top school. And by that I mean, if you couldn't drop the name of your school in conversation to impress that cute girl or a boy, it's not a top school.

 

I'm with you on everything except this point. I think it's probably better to put it this way:

 

1. No one should be contemplating any PhD program unless he/she cannot imagine doing anything else. If you think you can be talked out of it, do something else.

 

2. Don't pay for a Ph.D.

 

3. Given 1 or 2, it's perfectly fine to go to a second tier program as long as earning a Ph.D in religion/theology/etc. is your dream and you don't have to pay to do it.

 

Job prospects are really tough--absolutely. But they're even more bleak if you have your heart set on a job at a T1 school. I know that even jobs at lesser known schools are hard to come by. But if one were to be open to other possibilities including government work, publishing, even teaching high school, things aren't quite as dire. 

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I'm with you on everything except this point. I think it's probably better to put it this way:

 

1. No one should be contemplating any PhD program unless he/she cannot imagine doing anything else. If you think you can be talked out of it, do something else.

 

2. Don't pay for a Ph.D.

 

3. Given 1 or 2, it's perfectly fine to go to a second tier program as long as earning a Ph.D in religion/theology/etc. is your dream and you don't have to pay to do it.

 

Job prospects are really tough--absolutely. But they're even more bleak if you have your heart set on a job at a T1 school. I know that even jobs at lesser known schools are hard to come by. But if one were to be open to other possibilities including government work, publishing, even teaching high school, things aren't quite as dire. 

I guess we just have to agree to disagree here. I just know too many people in "top tier" (e.g., NT at Duke) programs that can't get a job anywhere (for years), even though they've published and are doing great work. Their problem isn't that they're aiming too high, the job market is just really really tough.

 

I know people too who are at good, but not great, programs, and life is really tough for them. Their work suffers because of all the teching they have to do, or, once they graduate, they can't get a job at all. Their problem isn't that they're not willing to teach at a small college, or go into work outside the academy, but to get any employment.

 

It might sound like a good idea just to do something you love, even if it's not top tier, when you're 25ish, but it's not going to be fun five-ten years later if you end up with a domestic partner (and perhaps kids) who resents you for following a plan that's less realistic buying lottery tickets every day.

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I guess we just have to agree to disagree here. I just know too many people in "top tier" (e.g., NT at Duke) programs that can't get a job anywhere (for years), even though they've published and are doing great work. Their problem isn't that they're aiming too high, the job market is just really really tough.

 

I know people too who are at good, but not great, programs, and life is really tough for them. Their work suffers because of all the teching they have to do, or, once they graduate, they can't get a job at all. Their problem isn't that they're not willing to teach at a small college, or go into work outside the academy, but to get any employment.

 

It might sound like a good idea just to do something you love, even if it's not top tier, when you're 25ish, but it's not going to be fun five-ten years later if you end up with a domestic partner (and perhaps kids) who resents you for following a plan that's less realistic buying lottery tickets every day.

 

This, I kind of have to agree with, at least if I look at where current professors got their PhDs from. Granted, this is all tied up in where the important schools were in the 1980s and early 90s, and there are plenty of professors not from P69's "top six" or whatever, but they're the largest minority.

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Seems to be right. My adviser has been part of a committee to hire a new faculty member (I'm at a 'top 10'), and has told me the elaborate process of getting a job at a top school. The candidates for the position have all had to, among other things, fly here and give several lectures to students and faculty. I know two of the three people are PhD grads from Princeton and Brown, FWIW. I imagine it would be pretty difficult to get in without having the 'right pedigree'. On the other hand, it seems like some people can get lucky. Or, perhaps it's not luck at all, but more being in a less popular field. For those of us in biblical studies...I imagine we are going to be fighting for jobs at the local high school.  B)

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So, if it's next to impossible to find a teaching position unless you have the "right pedigree," isn't the same true with getting into a PhD program to begin with? How many of these top programs actually accept students who did not get an M* degree from a top school? I wish when they have a sheet with all their admissions stats and they divide it among subfield, race, gender, etc., they had a stat that broke down the percentage of students from non-top tier programs that apply, and then how many of those they actually accept!!

 

As a person who did not get my M* degree from a top-tier program, this is obviously a point of stress for me.

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So, if it's next to impossible to find a teaching position unless you have the "right pedigree," isn't the same true with getting into a PhD program to begin with? How many of these top programs actually accept students who did not get an M* degree from a top school? I wish when they have a sheet with all their admissions stats and they divide it among subfield, race, gender, etc., they had a stat that broke down the percentage of students from non-top tier programs that apply, and then how many of those they actually accept!!

 

As a person who did not get my M* degree from a top-tier program, this is obviously a point of stress for me.

 

M degree?!?  All you need is a BA according to some on this board.  If you want a real answer, research the education of ranked professors at top-tier schools.        

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Job prospects are really tough--absolutely. But they're even more bleak if you have your heart set on a job at a T1 school. I know that even jobs at lesser known schools are hard to come by. But if one were to be open to other possibilities including government work, publishing, even teaching high school, things aren't quite as dire. 

 

For this reason, most would be better off studying theology as a hobby.  Get a 2 year degree and become a nurse or physician assistant (and make considerably more than religion/theology professors), or a BA in engineering (and make way more than theology professors).  I know several PhD's from very top-tier programs who are 1) not teaching at all (due to no prospects); 2) teaching part-time as a writing instructor at a community college; 3) teaching religion as adjuncts at community colleges.  

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If you want a real answer, research the education of ranked professors at top-tier schools.        

 

That would not address the scope of my question. That's because there are plenty of people who went to top-tier schools who do not now teach at top-tier schools (eg., at the evangelical Seminary I attended, there are a number of professors that went to places like Notre Dame, UC Berkeley, etc.).

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That would not address the scope of my question. That's because there are plenty of people who went to top-tier schools who do not now teach at top-tier schools (eg., at the evangelical Seminary I attended, there are a number of professors that went to places like Notre Dame, UC Berkeley, etc.).

 

Addressing the full scope of your question is near impossible unless you can convince a school to truthfully divulge the information you want.  Regardless, my suggestion was aimed at your question about whether or not a top-tier M degree is necessary.  Look at profs with top-tier PhDs and see where their M's came from. 

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Addressing the full scope of your question is near impossible unless you can convince a school to truthfully divulge the information you want.

 

Yes, I am definitely aware of the challenges of this and was somewhat inviting people to share any anecdotal information they could - e.g., I seem to remember someone saying recently that all three of the OT/HB students that were admitted at Emory in the last year or two came from Harvard, Yale, and Duke (or something to the effect).

 

What I really want is someone to say, "Oh, no, you have awesome chances in getting into a top HB/OT program even though you didn't go to a top-tier school for your M* degree!" That is very wishful thinking, I know! I actually know of a number of individuals that went to my school who were admitted into Vanderbilt (both for OT and NT) - a school to which I am actually not planning to apply.

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It's possible. A friend of mine came from a tiny bible college, then a similarly tiny seminary, and landed at Johns Hopkins (HB/ANE) after JH and UChicago got in a bidding war over him.

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