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PhD Applications Fall '17 Season

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12 minutes ago, rheya19 said:

What kinds of questions should I expect in my interview next week? I'm assuming I'll get "Tell us about your research" and "Why do you want to come to this school," but are there other specific things I should be prepared for?

If you're doing something along the lines of historical studies, below are some questions I've gotten from interviews:

1. What got you into wanting to study this field?
2. What type of history are you thinking of writing/how are you approaching the question (cultural history, social history, intellectual history, institutional history, biographical, etc...)
3. Are you familiar with X work? (since they're experts in the field, they may ask if you're familiar with someone else's work)
4. How is your work different or engaging with X's work (building off of the previous question, but still working on your familiarity with the current scholarship)
5. What's your long-term goal? What schools are you hoping to find employment in after you graduate from this program? (This question is about knowing what type of schools the department targets and the focus of the program compared to others, like seminaries vs. liberal Christian schools vs. state schools)

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1 hour ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

So I would really appreciate some comments and advice, if you guys don't mind. I applied to PhD programs in NT this year. I will graduate with my MDiv this spring, so I just have an undergraduate and MDiv.  I have been rejected at SMU, waitlisted at Baylor, and have yet to hear anything from others except TEDS.  The grad director called me and advised me that the committee felt I needed more preparation.  Therefore, TEDS offered me a spot in the ThM program, which would lead to the PhD. I know that most will have more than one grad degree so I am thinking getting the ThM would be a good move, especially for future applications. Any advice on the ThM?  Good move?  Better prep?  Stronger applicant next time round?  Etc?

 

13 minutes ago, y00nsk said:

A ThM might help for the next time you apply, but if you go that route, I would suggest maybe considering other schools, too. I've found that ThMs at schools like TEDS are often more expensive than at other more prestigious schools. And when you say the ThM would "lead to the PhD," do you mean they would help make that happen? Or just that you could apply again? If the former, then it's worth considering.

The thing with ThMs (you'll find many posts on this) is that since they're one-year degrees, it's often hard to get to know the professors well enough to get new LORs and you will just have finished one semester of courses by the time you re-apply. If you're willing to wait two years, you could finish a ThM, then apply the following fall.

I would second the suggestion of shopping around for ThM programs. Also STM programs (like Yale's) are more or the less the same as a ThM. Many people will tell you that ThM programs are cash cows for schools (i.e. little to no funding for admitted students). Yale routinely offers 50% tuition remittance for their STM students; however, I think once you calculate living costs Yale's STM is similarly priced to Princeton Seminary's ThM. I know there are a few Duke ThM's who frequent the forum who could speak to the benefits of doing an advanced degree there. 

I would also recommend contacting a few schools you think you are good fit for. Ask them about their opinions of ThM/STM programs and what places they think best prepare students for doctoral work at their school. Another way to ask this is to simply inquire into the types of places recently admitted students have come from. One school I know this year only took Yale students; in fact, just about three years running they have only taken Yale students. If you wanted to go to that school, going to TEDS or elsewhere would be of little help.

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1 hour ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

So I would really appreciate some comments and advice, if you guys don't mind. I applied to PhD programs in NT this year. I will graduate with my MDiv this spring, so I just have an undergraduate and MDiv.  I have been rejected at SMU, waitlisted at Baylor, and have yet to hear anything from others except TEDS.  The grad director called me and advised me that the committee felt I needed more preparation.  Therefore, TEDS offered me a spot in the ThM program, which would lead to the PhD. I know that most will have more than one grad degree so I am thinking getting the ThM would be a good move, especially for future applications. Any advice on the ThM?  Good move?  Better prep?  Stronger applicant next time round?  Etc?

From my experience, a ThM helps a ton. Last year, I applied to PhD programs with just an MDiv and got rejected from almost every one except for TEDS, which I got in but no funding. After doing a ThM-like degree this year, I received four interviews and acceptance. 

As a caveat though, I would suggest you choose where you do your ThM wisely and target professors who have reputations both within the seminary context and outside. TEDS is a good school if your target are Theology Schools/Christian Seminaries. However, if you're looking to get into a Religion Department, it would be more helpful to do a ThM from a religion department school (based on feedback from even my seminary professors).

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1 hour ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

So I would really appreciate some comments and advice, if you guys don't mind. I applied to PhD programs in NT this year. I will graduate with my MDiv this spring, so I just have an undergraduate and MDiv.  I have been rejected at SMU, waitlisted at Baylor, and have yet to hear anything from others except TEDS.  The grad director called me and advised me that the committee felt I needed more preparation.  Therefore, TEDS offered me a spot in the ThM program, which would lead to the PhD. I know that most will have more than one grad degree so I am thinking getting the ThM would be a good move, especially for future applications. Any advice on the ThM?  Good move?  Better prep?  Stronger applicant next time round?  Etc?

I would second the STM at YDS. They have a lot of money to give (always good if you have to do it). Avoid HDS as they have no funding for the ThM.

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1 hour ago, Marcion said:

Expect to be asked where else you applied. Other questions will be like, "Do you see yourself more a researcher or as an educator?" I was asked, "How do you describe your work, what "type" of scholar do you consider yourself?" You might get asked, "What have you been reading lately?" One of my friends was asked that recently.

I definitely see myself as more of an educator, but I'm not sure if schools prefer to hear that you're more of a researcher. 

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2 minutes ago, rheya19 said:

I definitely see myself as more of an educator, but I'm not sure if schools prefer to hear that you're more of a researcher. 

Depends the school but yeah, it is a bit of a trap question...

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Just now, Marcion said:

Depends the school but yeah, it is a bit of a trap question...

"I love teaching, but I think that research in this field will help me develop my career by blah blah blah."

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2 hours ago, rheya19 said:

What kinds of questions should I expect in my interview next week? I'm assuming I'll get "Tell us about your research" and "Why do you want to come to this school," but are there other specific things I should be prepared for?

 
 
 
 

One question that threw me off recently was, "Why Theology" (as in, like, why "this discipline", akin to something an undergraduate essay for admission would ask). It really took me by surprise, which is embarrassing since it is such a jejune question.

Edited by axiomness

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2 hours ago, KnightGeorge said:

Has anyone heard about Marquette's Historical Theology this season? Any word? Also, Vanderbilt's Theology dept? 

I know Vandy has already held interviews and they have a finalist list but don't know if acceptances have already gone out.

I thought someone earlier claimed an acceptance from Marquette (here on the forums) but maybe that was just an interview.

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4 minutes ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

Hey thanks for the responses guys. I would add that I do seek a Theological/Seminary setting, per one of the responses.

I'd certainly look into PTS in that case. Plus its costs aren't as insurmountable as other ThMs.

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7 minutes ago, turktheman said:

I'd certainly look into PTS in that case. Plus its costs aren't as insurmountable as other ThMs.

Hey thanks. I just looked and their application cycle isn't complete until April 15. Do you know how long it takes for them to make an admissions decision. Essentially, is it too late this year to expect a reply by March or April (I read they have "rolling admissions"). Thanks. 

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13 minutes ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

Hey thanks. I just looked and their application cycle isn't complete until April 15. Do you know how long it takes for them to make an admissions decision. Essentially, is it too late this year to expect a reply by March or April (I read they have "rolling admissions"). Thanks. 

A friend from my first masters applied a couple of weeks ago, but he hasn't heard. He's expecting to hear back in March. I would apply ASAP and send an e-mail to admissions to inquire about the turn around. To add undue information, their summer language agreement with Princeton University for German/French/Latin is a great way to get a leg up in the application pool, and it is cheap. Parsenios's work on the Gospel of John in light of Greek literature (esp. drama) is great. I've heard a lot of great things from people who have done their dissertation under him. 

 

I would also add that if you do decide on a ThM, be sure to contact the professors as soon as you are admitted and decide to attend. You can make contact through the summer to help speed along the getting to know you process for recommendation letters. PTS also publishes its course list in advance, so their website (maybe under the catalog) would already tell you what classes you can expect.

Edited by turktheman
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3 hours ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

Hey thanks for the responses guys. I would add that I do seek a Theological/Seminary setting, per one of the responses.

If you're looking for something funded but confessional, you might check out Western Theological Seminary in West Michigan. I don't know a whole lot about the school, except that I read they funded a couple of ThM students every year. 

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I did a ThM at Duke. It was ridiculously expensive, but every person I knew in the program who had the facility and inclination to do PhD work ended up in a program with the exception of two people who were Duke PhD or bust folks. 

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13 hours ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

So I would really appreciate some comments and advice, if you guys don't mind. I applied to PhD programs in NT this year. I will graduate with my MDiv this spring, so I just have an undergraduate and MDiv.  I have been rejected at SMU, waitlisted at Baylor, and have yet to hear anything from others except TEDS.  The grad director called me and advised me that the committee felt I needed more preparation.  Therefore, TEDS offered me a spot in the ThM program, which would lead to the PhD. I know that most will have more than one grad degree so I am thinking getting the ThM would be a good move, especially for future applications. Any advice on the ThM?  Good move?  Better prep?  Stronger applicant next time round?  Etc?

I'm finishing up a Th.M at Calvin Seminary right now. I think they're definitely helpful, but the criticisms stand: no funding (I received a meagre 5k grant) and no time to get to know professors (Finishing in one year, I basically was pleading for LORs after a month, it was awkward as hell).

 

Congrats on TEDS acceptance. Have you heard anything back about funding?

Edited by brentthewalrus
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19 hours ago, NT PhD ... Hopefully said:

So I would really appreciate some comments and advice, if you guys don't mind. I applied to PhD programs in NT this year. I will graduate with my MDiv this spring, so I just have an undergraduate and MDiv.  I have been rejected at SMU, waitlisted at Baylor, and have yet to hear anything from others except TEDS.  The grad director called me and advised me that the committee felt I needed more preparation.  Therefore, TEDS offered me a spot in the ThM program, which would lead to the PhD. I know that most will have more than one grad degree so I am thinking getting the ThM would be a good move, especially for future applications. Any advice on the ThM?  Good move?  Better prep?  Stronger applicant next time round?  Etc?

Seriously looked at ThM's when I was in waitlist limbo as well. Hold out hope! (But good on you for also making contingency plans!)

ThMs seem to me to be dependent on what you put into it. People I know who've been intentional about getting to know professors early (over the summer), for instance, seem to do very well on the whole. I see this all the time in my school's Th.M. program.

A piece of advice I've heard from others is to do your Th.M. at the school where you'd want to do you PhD. Theres quite of few people in my program who did this, don't know of many who did a M* at school A, a ThM at school B, and then went to do a PhD at school C. 

I second the Yale STM re funding. I think Emory/Candler's ThM has funding available as well. Western Seminary as well. Princeton Seminary has a low sticker price as well that might be an option. (There was a flyer someone posted at my school last year about this time listing schools that had funded ThM's that I'll try and track down).

Also, I've known some people who've started their ThM in the Spring semester to get around the whole "meet professors and ask them to write for you within a couple months game." This way they had a whole semester of completed work under their belt in addition to the about half a Fall Semester other ThMs are scrambling with. Of course, this gives you a timeline that might not be workable, but worth considering.

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