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I'm looking for some advice in making a decision as to which program I should attend for my MDiv (HELP):

I've applied to MDiv programs for this coming fall and have just been admitted to BU's MDiv program with the opportunity to interview for a full merit scholarship (currently offered 70% tuition). I am still waiting on an admissions decision from Harvard and Yale. I currently live in the Brighton/Allston area and would prefer to stay in Boston because I'd like to stay near my church and boyfriend.

In a school, I'm looking for a liberal, ecumenical environment with good faculty access and opportunities to explore different types of ministry with rigorous academics. I was a classics major in undergrad and am looking into hospital/university chaplaincy as well as possibly interfaith work (the pluralism project at Harvard peaks my interest). I really liked BU's community when I visited and the admissions office was so nice during the application season. I got a good sense of what their culture is like, but am seeing that the classes available aren't as varied as Harvard's are. I feel like I will most likely receive more funding from BU than Harvard (if admitted). It would be very difficult to turn down full funding from BU but at the same time it would be really hard to turn down Harvard with all of it's resources and breath of classes I could take within the div school and other Harvard schools as well as the alumni network/name recognition etc. Plus, I feel like Harvard is a higher regarded program, but am unsure (partially why I'm reaching out for advice)...

In short, I'm wondering which school has a better reputation and/or resources? Does the rank of the school that you attend for your mdiv matter in the job market? 

Thanks for any advice you might have for me!

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Personally, on this one, I'd say it comes down to funding. If you get a nice chunk of money from BU, and Harvard accepts you but offers you nothing, then you're relocating and leaving a lot behind. Now, of course, it /is/ Harvard. But it sounds like Boston might be the place for you, especially if you get money.

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Location seems to not matter very much in this instance- couldn't you commute to BU or to Harvard from Brighton/Allston? I'm not an expert, but my fiancee is from the area and my sense is that Cambridge is pretty accessible through the MBTA (although again, I'm not an expert- maybe that's not true). 

I wrestled with some of the same questions myself as I sorted through where to do my mDiv (starting this fall), and I heard over and over again to take the funding if you are at least reasonably comfortable with the climate of the institution. The sort of positions an mDiv qualifies you for are not particularly lucrative ones, and so minimizing debt throughout your studies will be key. BU is well regarded, and it definitely fits with the liberal/ecumenical vibe that you are looking for. While Harvard would probably offer a bit more breadth in their course listings, and has the name brand, you would have access to the BTI through admission to BU, which would enable you to take classes at Harvard as well as several other excellent institutions in the area. This is not to be discounted; it's a tremendous opportunity to build connections with other students and professors at theological institutions all over Boston. It would also help give you access to some of those classes they may not have at BU. 

Each person (and situation) is different, so I certainly couldn't say for sure what the right step for you is. With that caveat, it does seem to me that BU offers a lot of what you're looking for and a good funding package, while being close to home and providing access to the BTI (and therefore Harvard or whatever else you're interested in around greater Boston). Fortunately, the choice isn't between Harvard and Joe's Skewl of Theology- BU would, in all likelihood, provide you with a high quality education, and access to other institutions, too. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So I can't speak from personal experience, but my mother received her mDiv from BU (choosing it over Harvard) in the mid 2000s. They gave her full funding and a lot of support during her studies. It was definitely a positive experience for her and fits your liberal vibe. As I believe someone else said you also have access to other universities as part of the program. As part of her degree she worked as a hospital chaplain in addition to a more traditional church setting, so you can definitely get different experiences based on your interests. I'd say wait and see what Harvard gives you, visit both schools, and go with the one that feels right rather than name recognition. 

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