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tsgriffey

Why do you want to study religion? Concerns about economic security, etc.

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Well, I'm throwing in the towel as I've decided not to attend after all. Not sure what the next step is yet. Thanks for all of your feedback and I wish you all the best!

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Well, I'm throwing in the towel as I've decided not to attend after all. Not sure what the next step is yet. Thanks for all of your feedback and I wish you all the best!

 

I applaud your decision. It's not easy to turn down Chicago and Oxford. I wish you the best of luck!

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As results begin to come in I for one have been doing a lot of thinking about whether or not this course of study is the right one for me. There is no doubt in my mind that I am fascinated about what I'm thinking about studying (the interaction/dialogue between religious belief, scientific knowledge, and philosophy), but I don't how I'll feel about it after MA, PhD, and a career as a professor and if I'll become jaded by a lack of concrete answers to metaphysical questions. I don't think I will because I enjoy learning about how people answer these questions for themselves and justify their answers. In addition, I know I'll enjoy being a professor since I enjoy teaching (through my limited experience in study groups and tutoring), thinking about pedagogy, and helping people develop more precision in their thoughts and communication (undoubtedly a big goal of a college education, especially in the humanities). Yet, the path requires so much commitment of time and money with no guarantee that half a decade, or more, of education beyond college while scraping by financially will result in any economic security or at least the opportunity to put what we have learned to use in a career. With this in mind, and I haven't heard much different from current professors, do you guys ever consider pursuing something with more economic security and promise? For example, I have considered enrolling in a post-bacc program in computer science instead of pursuing graduate school in the humanities, but my passion for studying existential questions keeps me going--much to the confusion of some family and many friends.

 

I know you guys have probably been berated by these doubts and thoughts by people who don't understand and maybe even by yourself like I have so I'm sorry if this is trite and annoying for some of you, but, for me at least, having a reasoned discussion with people who understand the passion and the risks and who are about to make a similar leap of faith into this next stage of our lives is incredibly important.

 

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

 

I am somewhat worried about the debt, as I do not want my family to be burdened, but not worried about the placement. I'm getting my Ph.D. at Ave Maria University. When I had to make my decision, I was surprised that this university is having such fine success with regard to placement data. I compared ours with that of some of the second-tier schools that seem to be on everyone's list, but the placement here has been better. Now that I've been here, I can see why. The university is still pretty young, but it's the real deal. The studies are quite rigorous, the faculty is erudite but not hyper-specialized to the point where one cannot pursue one's own interests, the learning environment is healthy, and my peers are true scholars. Many of the students have families, and the children are happy to have other children to play with. There are many areas where this place has room for growth, of course. At first, I wasn't sure if the fit was right, but now I am glad that I wasn't accepted to some of the colleges that were "higher" on my list.

 

To answer your question, when looking at the finances sometimes I toy with the idea of pursuing something else. Since, however, the life of a theologian is a vocation, I do not expect to get rich by my work, but that's the standard for this field and the humanities in general. Teaching university students or Catholic seminarians is my goal and I trust that I'll reach that. Plus, when else am I going to be thus at my leisure, reading the fathers in their original languages or discussing Nouvelle Théologie over scotch and cigars with classmates? I'm sure similar communities exist at various colleges around the nation, but I really like it here. The end is important, but one ought to be pleased to will the means along the way.

 

Best wishes to you as you discern your path.

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Well, I'm throwing in the towel as I've decided not to attend after all. Not sure what the next step is yet. Thanks for all of your feedback and I wish you all the best!

 

Best of luck! If you ever change your mind, I think those universities would be happy to welcome you back based on your acceptances. Hope to buy you a pint at SBL in the future (the lectures are free, I believe). 

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I found out last Friday that I was accepted to Oxford Theology and Religion Dphill. This caught me completely off guard since I applied in January and it is now almost June! I was sure that I had been rejected.

 

I think any international students whose last name is not Rockefeller is concerned over the price. My course will be $36000/year (Canadian Dollars) in tuition and college fees, plus $$$ for rent, food and transportation. I assume I will be all in at about $60,000/year. It is hard to turn down Oxford with its history, prestige etc. but that is a lot of money...on top of that I was offered a position here at a world-ranked university with almost $30,000 in funding....going to Oxford is a $90,000/year swing OUCH!

 

As for why I study theology...I don't really. I would say I study historical theology. My field of interest is in Late-Antique/Early medieval intellectual history, particularly Augustine and Boethius. I applied to Oxford Theology because that is where the most relevant supervisor is. I may see if I can link up with Oxford's Centre for Late Antiquity. That, I hope, would push my doctorate more squarely into the realm of history which I am sure would be better in the job market.

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FWIW one thing that helped me with the whole turning down Oxford thing was the idea that with paying so much I'd struggle to enjoy my time there since I'd be so concerned about the money. Best of luck with your decision!

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I am lucky enough that I won't have that problem...I can afford it. I am more concerned with making a smart investment with that money.

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I am lucky enough that I won't have that problem...I can afford it. I am more concerned with making a smart investment with that money.

 

You'll see it written about variously on the Religion forum here, but for the sake of "smart investment" you should also think about how the British DPhil/PhD is viewed in North America if you want to try to do the professor thing in North America. I don't have any experience on that front, so this is all hearsay, but various posts on here have expressed caution (especially if you don't already hold a masters degree or two), because the DPhil/PhD is not a taught degree—"all" you have to do is write the dissertation and defend it. That is substantially less than the 2yrs of coursework (on top of the masters), comprehensive exams, and usually 2yrs of teaching for an North American PhD. This raises questions of rigor for lots of people, so I've seen. More people can comment better than I can, but if I were in your boat, the validity of those concerns would be my #1 question.

Edited by theophany

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This is a concern common to all fields. However, the professors I have spoken with do not question the validity of the UK doctorate but feel that it does not prepare the student to teach...they seem to think that we can only teach the exact topic of the dissertation. But I wonder how systemic this is. Afterall, Oxbridge is up there with the Ivy's in placing their students in teaching positions. I would not even consider the UK doctorate if it was not at Oxbridge! I do, however, have an M.A. in history. It was course based with an MRP instead of a thesis. I think this puts me in a somewhat better position than those who did a course based M.A..

 

For the most part I believe that we shouldn't obsess over the future because we will forget the present. But god, you could do a lot of living for the $180,000 the Oxford doctorate would cost. My hope is that I would receive one of Canada's graduate scholarships for the second and third year but I can't rely on that.

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This is a concern common to all fields. However, the professors I have spoken with do not question the validity of the UK doctorate but feel that it does not prepare the student to teach...they seem to think that we can only teach the exact topic of the dissertation. But I wonder how systemic this is. Afterall, Oxbridge is up there with the Ivy's in placing their students in teaching positions. I would not even consider the UK doctorate if it was not at Oxbridge! I do, however, have an M.A. in history. It was course based with an MRP instead of a thesis. I think this puts me in a somewhat better position than those who did a course based M.A..

For the most part I believe that we shouldn't obsess over the future because we will forget the present. But god, you could do a lot of living for the $180,000 the Oxford doctorate would cost. My hope is that I would receive one of Canada's graduate scholarships for the second and third year but I can't rely on that.

Oxford in the faculty of theology and religion is my top choice (won't apply this year but next). I fear I will have to do the same as you. Like you I can afford it but it seems like an unjustifiable cost.

Personally i would not be too worried about crossing over with Oxbridge on my cv.

I'm dreading making the decision.

By the way, do you mind sharing which uni in the US you are picking over Oxford?

I wonder how Oxford and Cambridge compare when it comes to scholarships.

Edited by Averroes MD

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I did not apply to any U.S. schools as I refuse to write the GRE. Also, I am leaning towards Oxford over the other Canadian schools I received offers from.

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Only raging masochists incur debt for a PhD in religion. $180,000 for Oxford is just insane considering the degree won't be worth much more than $40k per year salary.  

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Well it is not $180,000, it is about £17000/year for 3 years for a total of around £51,000 or about $100,000 Canadian dollars. With living expenses I anticipate about $180,000.

I think I am in a somewhat different boat than most in theology and religious studies. I am a historian studying in a theology department because the best supervisor is there. At best I study hisyorical theology but in reality I study the intellectual tradition of late antiquity. I think my history background at the ba and ma level with my historical topic makes me somewhat more employable than most who study theology.

I cant imagine turning down Oxford. The intellectual environment and high level connections one can make there are invaluable. Never mind the reputation Oxford brings in both the academic and professional world.

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I cant imagine turning down Oxford. The intellectual environment and high level connections one can make there are invaluable. Never mind the reputation Oxford brings in both the academic and professional world.

 

I'm still struggling with the fact that I did; it was such a tough call.

 

But, I think anyone that reads my posts would probably pick up on the fact that I'm pretty lost in terms of what to do professionally. The dynamic between what you want to do, can do, and should do for a career is so overwhelming. If I took on what would have equated to 50K of debt (after living expenses) for a M.St. at Oxford, I would have been pretty shut out from maybe pursuing graduate work in another, more lucrative, field for at least a couple years. Probably should help pay off a counseling psychologist's debt at this point in my life.

Edited by tsgriffey

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I'm still struggling with the fact that I did; it was such a tough call.

 

But, I think anyone that reads my posts would probably pick up on the fact that I'm pretty lost in terms of what to do professionally. The dynamic between what you want to do, can do, and should do for a career is so overwhelming. If I took on what would have equated to 50K of debt (after living expenses) for a M.St. at Oxford, I would have been pretty shut out from maybe pursuing graduate work in another, more lucrative, field for at least a couple years. Probably should help pay off a counseling psychologist's debt at this point in my life.

 

I think you made a good call. I know people with M* from Harvard who can't get jobs. Everyone knows if you go to Oxford for almost any degree (including their doctoral degrees in our field) you pay (if from N. America). It's not worth it. 

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If you have $180k to spend, and you want to spend it on a DPhil from Oxford, I think that it is totally your choice.  That money would likely be a better investment, from a purely economic perspective, elsewhere (like real estate, or maybe some conservative stocks where it could hang around for the three years that it might take you to get a DPhil), but if you have the spending bread to invest, the choice it really yours.

 

Now, if this is your entire savings, I might reconsider, and take one of the options outlined above, but if say this is 180k out of a couple of million that you are sitting on (or maybe even as low as a half million or something), why not?  Have fun in Oxford, learn a bunch, write a dissertation and see where it takes you.  Most of the other posters are, I think cautioning against taking out this kind of money in loans, which at least in the US, the government will allow you to do, and which many (mostly white, Evangelical males) have been wont to do as of late.  This would be a very poor investment, quite risky, and truly only for the raging masochists that Perique69 mentions.  Even if you do get a job, it is likely not going to pay enough for you to possibly pay that loan off in your lifetime. 

Edited by AbrasaxEos

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I agree, but from a purely economic perspective any study in the humanities is a bad investment. If it is a bad investment to go to Oxford for a PhD what can we say about a BA in the humanities? Why do so many people pay $80,000 + for a BA in the humanities when it is unlikely that they will eve find a job in that field? That said, I don't think I would take out a loan to do the PhD, or at least not a loan to cover the whole cost. Personally I think government need to restrict the number of loans they give for studies in the humanities...but that will never happen because it would be seen as an attack on the poor.

 

I am going to try and get my study done through Oxford's Centre for Late Antiquity. My hope is that this will more strongly position my work in history and make me more attractive to history departments. I must admit, however, that my careers goals are not very grandiose... I would love to teach at one of the many small universities in the U.S. where I can make a decent living without the pressure of a big school. What is the point of struggling to get a well paying job at a big school like UofToronto when the cost of living is so much greater. It may well take me 4-5 years to recoup the tuition money but at the end I will have a degree from Oxford,

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I took think you made the right decision. It is just too much money to spend when you do not even know where you want to take it, or have it take you. Especially at the M* level since everyone seems to have those nowadays.

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While I don't recommend this, owing 180k, if borrowed from the US Government, isn't a complete disaster. Programs like the Income Based Repayment plan cap your repayment each month based on your income (or lack thereof...). Excluding tax complications, you could theoretically pay this percentage each month (you would easily qualify if you made 50k and owed 180k) for 20 years, after which said loans are completely forgiven. Hilariously such a scheme would not even pay the interest on your massive dept, but if the government does not alter its current setup this could work.  :ph34r:

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While not really a great setup to posit a astronomical understatement, if one has dependents it shows up even more on the IBR. I basically plug in family size and I need to be getting close to 100K salary before the serious repayment starts to kick in. While granted I will not have dependents young forever, and the program may not last forever. but...........

Edited by JimmyLLang

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I think you made a good call. I know people with M* from Harvard who can't get jobs. Everyone knows if you go to Oxford for almost any degree (including their doctoral degrees in our field) you pay (if from N. America). It's not worth it. 

Well, people *do* get scholarships, although they are very competitive to obtain. I think therefore it would be unreasonable to brush aside *every* Oxbridge student as just paying their way there. For example, the Cambridge Gates Scholarship is extremely prestigious.

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Well, people *do* get scholarships, although they are very competitive to obtain. I think therefore it would be unreasonable to brush aside *every* Oxbridge student as just paying their way there. For example, the Cambridge Gates Scholarship is extremely prestigious.

 

I have no doubt that is is prestigious. Hence why I said I am skeptical of one's chances. Nothing wrong with trying to get it though!

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I have no doubt that is is prestigious. Hence why I said I am skeptical of one's chances. Nothing wrong with trying to get it though!

 

Yeah, you're right... It's a long shot.

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I have not posted here in a while but remembered this post while sitting in my hotel room just outside of the Oxford University district. I am here for the Oxford Patristics Conference that just finished.

It is obviously a beautiful campus with loads of history. There is one tower that dates back to the 11th century but most seem to be from 1600-1860. Public transport here is amazing.  You cannot go a minute without seeing a bus.

 It is somewhat expensive to live here. The average rent looks to be in the 800 pound per month range for a 1 bedroom though if you go a few miles out that drops to 500-700. Other than cost there are 2 downsides. First, Oxford is a tourist attraction so it gets quite busy. If you did not know better you would think Asians with cameras were the students. Second, the theology department is not in the "old" part of Oxford. It is actually about a 10 minute walk from high-strung and is in a not so nice modernish building. This saddens me....the o port unity to work in the "old world" so to speak is part of what attracted me to oxford.

O get back to the  topic, Cambridge and Oxford both have scholarships for international students. Additionally most countries have scholarships that will fund graduate work overseas. I will be applying for 2 here (sshrc and ogs) and If I get both I would get in excess of $50,000. Ì think the chances of getting them is improved with an acceptance from Oxford get or the ivy leagues....well I hope at least.

 

My advice is to choose a few dream programs and some lower tier schools. I apples to Oxbridge and UofT as my dream schools and a few other top tier Canadian schools. I never thought I would get into Oxford but it happened and I am happy. Just don't put all of your eggs in one basket. The same goes for scholarships....apply for everything!

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