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Marquette or Wheaton for Church History?


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Hi guys!  I'm brand new to this, but I'm looking for advice and found these forums.  Looks like you're a helpful bunch!

I'm hoping to study Church History with a focus on the early Church.  I've been accepted into Marquette and Wheaton.  I've been offered a full tuition scholarship to Marquette, and a $7000/year scholarship to Wheaton (about 2/3s of the cost).  Is Wheaton's program significantly better than Marquette's?  Better enough to warrant turning down a full ride?  I'm obviously strongly leaning towards Marquette, especially with that offer, but I just want to make sure I'm not passing on a school that's worth paying a bit more for.  Thanks!

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M.A. but interested in pursuing a PhD afterwards (not necessarily at the same school), so basically wondering what would set me up the best for that.

Edited by ypastorpat
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What's your ideal teaching environment should you get a PhD? Wheaton carries a lot of clout in the evangelical community while Marquette is Catholic, of course. This matters more post-PhD but it's something to be mindful of.

At this stage, I'd accept the Marquette offer myself. I don't know Wheaton and Marquette's placement record for getting students into a PhD but if a faculty member or two would be willing to tell you, that would be useful information.

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I'm Evangelical myself, but probably more ecumenical than most.  I really would like to work to build some bridges between the three big branches of Christianity, using our shared history as a starting point.  So I'd most likely end up in an Evangelical school, but I wouldn't rule out a Catholic university either.  How important is diversity in your college career? I.e. is it beneficial to have experience at both Evangelical, Catholic, and mainline schools?  Or better to just stick to one tradition and specialize?

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I'd take Marquette at least for the funding and the strength in your period (not to say Wheaton isn't strong in early Church, which it is). Going to Marquette might, I take it, plug you in easier to the schools that do really well at historical theology/church history which are often Catholic (Notre Dame, Boston College etc.)

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Marquette's MA programs have pretty good placements into good PhD programs. Additionally, if you are looking at working at an Evangelical school don't rule out Marquette just because it's Catholic. They have a great track record of placing their PhD graduates into Christian Liberal Arts Schools, both Catholic and Evangelical. 

Funding should be taken into account. Milwaukee is cheaper cost of living than Chicago. Plus you have full funding. 

(But I must admit I do have some bias as I will be starting my PhD program at Marquette this fall.)

 

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Forgive me, but frankly, I see no reason to choose Wheaton over Marquette.

 

More than anything, you know the logic with graduate programs - *You should never go into debt*.  But as we can see, that is just a logic and many of us are going into debt in the process. And a number of (sometimes significant) financial problems occur when you are pursuing masters degree (and keep in mind that you may pursue a second masters in the future).  Yes, I can see Wheaton's cost is relatively cheap, but that 1/3 cost that you should pay (I assume $3500/year) is not a small amount of money considering you have to pay it WHILE you're studying (for 2 years). Believe me, you will want to confront with these financial difficulties and stresses as late as possible. Because you already secured a resource (or award you've earned) that could lessen the direct financial burden on your graduate study, I don't know why you even hesitate. 

 

Secondly, Marquette's church history program is solid and they have pretty impressive faculty members. In particular, if you want to focus on early church history, Marquette's place is definitely notable. Marquette's "HISTORICAL THEOLOGY" subfield has a strong background in early church history.  I did my first master in the subfield of church history. I presented some research papers in that subfield and participated in several conferences. I was impressed that Marquette's professors are very active in this area and some of them could be regarded as an 'influencer' (I don't mean to disparage Wheaton's faculty. I'm just talking about Marquette's professors).    

 

So what you need to do right now is to study each school's curriculum, requirements and course details. And check their placements into 'good' PhD programs, if you cannot find it, just ask to your POI. You're an admitted student, you have every right to ask them that before making a decision.  Plus, it doesn't matter when you make a decision, as long as you give notifications on or before 15 APR. But, what's most important is to make sure that you are going to the right place. 

 

But, to be honest,  I don't see a single reason for you to kill Marquette's offer.

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I would also lean heavily in Marquette's favor, even if funding was equal. They have a much stronger reputation in the subfields of church history. Maybe I'm missing something, but who is at Wheaton studying early church history? Looking at their MA in "History of Christianity" I see only one faculty member studying the period. 

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It is basically only Dr. Kalantsis at Wheaton.  But the only hesitancy I had (which is basically gone at this point) is that he's one of the few Evangelical early church scholars out there.  Obviously I'd like to add myself to that group.  But the more I think about it, the more I realize that denominational distinctions don't matter in the academic world.

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4 hours ago, ypastorpat said:

It is basically only Dr. Kalantsis at Wheaton.  But the only hesitancy I had (which is basically gone at this point) is that he's one of the few Evangelical early church scholars out there.  Obviously I'd like to add myself to that group.  But the more I think about it, the more I realize that denominational distinctions don't matter in the academic world.

As long as you don't want to teach at a (strictly) confessional school, yes. As you know, good early church history programs tend to exist outside of such schools (e.g. Wheaton). So the kinds of doctoral programs you will be applying to (and hoping to impress) will likely be more favorable towards Marquette. Some stereotypes hold water: in this case, many of the Catholic schools are strong in church history. My own experience confirms this. FWIW I work in the early church period (though I do history and have zero theological interests) and I can say I have never met a doctoral student in church history from a school like Wheaton; the ones that do come from such schools are, in my experience, almost always in biblical studies.

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On 4/8/2017 at 10:49 PM, ypastorpat said:

Sounds pretty unanimous for Marquette.  Any pros to consider about Wheaton that I should consider first?  I'll probably make my decision on Monday.

I lived in Wheaton for two years (after college) for a job, and it's an interesting community. I don't know what sort of learning environment you are looking for, but my experience with Wheaton (the town) was that it was a quiet, affluent, mostly conservative evangelical community. (Again, no idea of what you're looking for; that was just my assessment of it while I was there.) It's nice to have direct access to Chicago via the West line, which takes you right downtown. It's an expensive area to live in, unless you are willing to leave in a nearby suburb like Carol Stream or maybe Glendale Heights. The people were very friendly and had often lived there for generations.

I can't comment at length about the life of the college, other than to say that it plays a prominent role in the community. The Billy Graham museum on campus was a big draw, and so is the Wade Center (C.S. Lewis library). There were often advertisement pinned up at local coffee shops about various lecture series, and it's the kind of town where regular people that are not affiliated with the college are still relatively familiar with some of the more prominent members of the faculty there- I'm thinking of people like Douglas Moo, Alan Jacobs (before he left for Baylor), Tim Larsen, etc.

Sorry that I can't comment more specifically on the school community itself, but seeing Wheaton on this board is rare enough that I had to chime in. 

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