applying to ph.d. programs in theology :: words for the wise(?)

…that is…if any of them are still applying…I thought I’d share a few of the helpful things I have come across in the last few months as I’ve been gradually assembling Ph.D. applications. These websites vary widely in nature and repute; scroll to the bottom for a grain of salt to take with you as you follow these links. Some are specific to Theology, some are directed toward people interested in Philosophy, English, or even Psychology, but all have at least one bit of advice that struck me as useful.

If I come across anything else that is stellar, I’ll add it to the list.

Studying for the GRE:

Free Rice. By far my favorite link on the list—and one that is good for people who aren’t applying to doctoral programs. This vocabulary game (which includes very difficult words—as tough or tougher than those you’ll see on the hardest questions of the GRE) uses revenue from discrete little ads at the bottom to buy 10 grains of rice for the world’s hungry every time you answer correctly. I racked up 630 grains the other day and made it to vocab level 45. Go see how you do, and (l)earn a meal for someone else.

Super Vocab, a site that actually existed when I took the GRE a few months ago and has lots of helpful quizzes and obscure vocabulary words collected all in one place (to facilitate flashcard manufacture…)

Writing a Personal Statement (and other application advice):

A very thorough load of advice from a philosopher at UC Riverside in Southern California. Covers the whole application process.

More philosophy-centered advice, but specific to the personal statement—the comments are particularly helpful as many professors seem to have chimed in.

Thoughts on the personal statement.Advice from three admissions-folk (from Harvard, NYU, and Yale) on the personal statement.

Part I and Part IIApplicant to Ph.D. programs in English publishes advice about the personal statement (without telling us whether she got accepted or not…)

Evaluating Programs:

Phd.org — a website that allows you to rank schools based on many different criteria. You select the weight of each criterion, and the program ranks schools from there.

R.R. Reno’s assessment of the American graduate theological scene in First Things. Candid advice from one theologian.Council on Graduate Studies in Religion — a list of “major” theological graduate programs.

UPDATE (10.9.09): Here is an excellent assessment of an updated version of Reno’s ranking effort.

UPDATE (10.31.09) Here is a slew of excellent advice on the Ph.D. application process (be sure to wade through all the posts), particular to theology, and written by a friend of mine.

5 Replies to “applying to ph.d. programs in theology :: words for the wise(?)”

  1. These are some helpful links. That said, Reno’s opinion is so biased and inflammatory to be of little help. Lets clump all feminists together as advocates against Reno’s Christiniaty!!! Certainly some of the mainline places (Yale, Chicago, Emory, etc.) have faults, but to rank Trinity in Deerfield just because of Vanhoozer above them is asinine. Speaking of the school I know best, Emory, there is far more than Lewis Ayres to suit someone with Christian interests. Luke Timothy Johnson in NT, Ian McFarland and Joy McDougall are youngish scholars with tenure working on classic doctrines, Tom Long does great work in homeletics and theology of preaching, and the law and religion program with John Witte is tops in the nation. Are there problems and a liberal agenda? sure, but as a Reformed theologian deeply influenced by Calvin and Barth, sympathetic to Roman Catholic, I have found Emory a fine place. I am sure students at other institutions that he lambasts could defend there schools as well.

  2. Joshua,

    Thanks for the grain of salt! Reno’s perspective is clear within his article, and I must say that even in the course of a few hours visiting classes and professors, I found more qualities of redemptive value in many of the programs mentioned than he did. Most notable on that mark would be Fordham, whose program seems to be gaining strength and is quite open to a range of opinions (not all of which count Vatican II as their provenance).

    However, for people walking in Reno’s theological footsteps (and I know a few), his article gives fair warning—they are not likely to find a great number of sympathetic ears in many corners of the country.

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