Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Choosing Schools (Philosophical Theology): Supplement

Several folks provided some helpful, extensive responses to my post on schools to consider for graduate study in philosophical theology. I thought I would post them here as a bit of a supplement (though please note: I'm not about to get into the Brian-Leiter-ranking business, and as I noted in the post, I'm not even attempting to be comprehensive):

From Sean Larsen, Duke:
You might want to mention the difference between PhD and ThD programs at Duke. The ThD program is housed in the divinity school. I think they admit 9 or 10 a year. The funding was last around 13,500 for 4 years. The PhD program is housed in the Graduate School. There is one admit a year for Theology and Ethics. All those currently active in the PhD program have gone to top tier master's programs (Yale, Chicago, Duke). The PhD program gives 5 years of funding (20,000 a year + health insurance) and often, if GRE scores are high enough to put them in the top 10% of PhD admits for the university, there's additional money. When I was applying, Duke and Yale relied most heavily on GRE scores of all the schools you listed. The ThD is currently attracting very high quality people and has room for a wide variety of intellectual projects. Some are approximating more traditional degrees (NT, OT, Theology, American Christianity, though technically there are no specified disciplinary boundaries), others more practical disciplines (Church Leadership, Evangelism, Missions), and some variations on more traditional topics (there is a theology and the arts group that works with Jeremy Begbie). The main formal difference between the programs besides the housing of the degree and the funding is that PhD students have an external minor requirement for exams and they have four comprehensive exams. ThD students, though they can and sometimes do have exam committee members from outside the divinity school, needn't, and they have three comprehensive exams. So far, the ThD students are being placed well (Baylor for Missions, Belmont for spirituality, and Fuller for NT).

Also, Duke and UNC function as a single institution in many ways. One can take up to half one's classes at the other school. This helps Duke because UNC has one of the best Phil. Depts around. UNC just hired Bob and Marilyn Adams, and I know that Marilyn is open to working with Duke theology students and fills an important gap in late medieval philosophy and theology that is open at Duke.

From Keith DeRose, Yale:

The main thing I'd point out about YDS is that they don't have a PhD program; just MA: they offer MDiv, mostly for those going on to do "churchy" work, and for the more academically inclined (& so more relevant to your post), Master of Arts in Religion (MAR). MAR students are mostly looking to move on to PhD programs. They can pick from a number of concentrations, listed on this page, which also has other info about the program: http://www.yale.edu/divinity/adm/MAR.shtml#philtheol I mostly encounter those in either "Philosophical Theology & Philosophy of Religion" or "Ethics". Many of the students I work with go on to PhD programs in philosophy, though YDS students (the ones I don't work with as much) go on to other programs, like in theology or religious studies. In philosophy (more than many other areas, I understand), the norm seems to be for students just having earned their undergrad degree to go straight into PhD programs. But some aren't ready -- perhaps because they weren't philosophy majors, or didn't have enough philosophy classes, or, in many cases that end up at the YDS program, because they went to a smallish Christian college that (unlike Calvin!) didn't have a very big, or very with-it philosophy program. Many of these use students use terminal MA programs as stepping stones to get into good PhD programs. Mostly those prospective philosophers from Christian colleges are interested in the program at YDS, and usually end up in the Philosophy of Religion or the Ethics concentration. In fact, I don't think the YDS program makes sense for those looking to go on philosophy PhD programs unless they do have a substantial interest in theology, because, although they may end up taking about half of their courses with us (the Yale Phil. dept.), half of their courses will also be non-phil., taken at YDS. Many (though certainly not all) the YDS students in my seminars are looking to go on mainly in analytic philosophy, but I think these programs also work well for those with more of a "continental twist," as you put it. But, again, this is all MA program stuff, mainly preparation to go to PhD programs.

Those looking for PhD programs at Yale in philosophical theology want to apply to the Yale Graduate School, in either philosophy [ http://www.yale.edu/philos/ ] or religious studies [
]. These programs are pretty tough to get into, but, on the upside, give very good financial support to those who do get in. (Like most Masters programs, I don't think the programs at YDS given nearly as good financial aid). Here's what's on the phil. page [ http://www.yale.edu/philos/grad.html ], describing the financial support at the Yale Graduate School programs:

Financial Aid: Students are normally given at least five years of full support -- tuition, plus stipend, plus health care -- in the form of non-teaching fellowships for the first two years and the fifth (or sixth) year, and teaching fellowships for the third and fourth year. For 2008-09, the stipend is $25,500 for both teaching and non-teaching fellowships. In the past five years, the stipends have increased every year for both incoming and current students. This great mix of teaching and non-teaching fellowships allows students to get the teaching experience they need to prepare them for teaching careers, while also providing for much time where the student is not teaching, and so can devote herself more completely to her own research.

From Andy Rowell, Duke:

I'm a fourth year Th.D. student and I heartily agree Duke is a great place to study. I would just mention that the Th.D. program (in its 5th year) technically in the Duke Divinity School, is accepting about 9 people each year in the Christian disciplines and the Ph.D. program, technically in the Graduate Program in Religion, is accepting about 9 people each year with about 4 in Christian disciplines. Students should consider both. (See for example the attached lists of new students for the last couple of years). The programs are functionally equivalent programs--studying with the same people, in the same courses, with the same standards. People do philosophy and theology equally in the two programs.

I have given more details about the two programs as well as my best advice about the application process along with similar warnings about the perils of doctoral work that you mentioned in your first post (So You Want to Go to Grad School: Think Backwards) in a post that is perhaps slightly dated now (March 6, 2009) but still useful: Advice about Duke Th.D. and Ph.D programs in theology

Here at Duke we hear people talking about the programs you mention as well as Baylor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Emory and Notre Dame as other places worth considering--depends on the discipline.

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