PREPARATION FOR PROFESSIONAL GRADUATE STUDY IN THEOLOGY--Includes Seminary or Divinity School Many students major in philosophy with a religious studies concentration or minor in religious studies as a way to prepare for seminary or divinity school. The American Association of Theological Schools advises students to major in any humanities or social science field. While previous study in the area of religious studies and philosophy is recommended, it is not required for admission to programs of professional study leading to the MDiv. (The MDiv—Master of Divinity—is the standard professional degree for students preparing for a career requiring ordination to the ministry or rabbinate.) RELI-3240 (“Hebrew Scriptures”) and RELI 3250 (“Greek Scriptures”) are relevant for students interested in the Christian and Jewish traditions. Students aiming to apply to university divinity schools, or whose interest in the study of religions is primarily academic (as opposed to vocational) are strongly advised to earn a B.A. degree with at least a minor in religious studies, including SOAA 3800 (“Religion, Society, and Culture”). It is also important to complete at least 6 hours in German, French, or in a classical language at the 3000 level.
Note: Students seeking preparation for ordination to the ministry, priesthood, or rabbinate in a specific church traditions should contact their minister or rabbi to contact denominational officers who advise and guide candidates for ordination
The Association of Theological Schools
This is the accrediting agency for schools and programs of professional graduate education in ministry and theology. Its website (listed above) lists all accredited theological seminaries and other programs of professional graduate study in theology and ministry in the United States and Canada. Schools are broken down by region and tradition.
PREPARATION FOR PHD PROGRAMS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES OR RELATED FIELDS
NOTE: It is critical for students to read the discussion of religious studies as a field under HOME above!
1. Choose an undergraduate major in a field or discipline that contributes to the academic study of religion. At ETSU, this would include philosophy with a religious studies concentration, or history, anthropology, sociology, or English, with a minor in religious studies, including, in either case, SOAA 3800: Religion, Culture, and Society.
2. Earn a BACHELOR OF ARTS (BA) degree
3. Select either German or French to fulfill BA degree requirements, or other languages that will be necessary to do primary research in the area or tradition that is of primary interest to the student. Keep in mind that religious studies PhD programs typically require students to demonstrate a reading knowledge in German and French, and in addition, any other languages required for the purpose of research in a particular area or tradition.
*For Buddhism, this would include Chinese or Japanese, but especially Sanskrit, Pali, or Tibetan through ETSU’s exchange agreement with The Institute of Buddhist Studies at the University of Katmandu in Nepal.
*For Christianity or Judaism, this would include Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. Instruction through the 4th semester in Latin and Greek is, or will shortly be, available to students at ETSU on campus. Further instruction in Koine Greek, Hebrew, and other ancient middle eastern languages is available at the Emmanuel School of Religion through exchange agreement between Emmanuel and ETSU.
*See or e-mail the Director of the Religious Studies program/minor about finding instruction in languages not mentioned here, or the applicability or transfer of courses taken through study-abroad programs.
4. Remember that admission to PhD programs is highly competitive. The better the program, and the better its record of placing graduates in university teaching positions, the more competitive admission to the program is likely to be. Students should make every effort to maintain a high GPA, and to earn as high a percentile-ranking as possible on the Graduate Record Examination, which must be taken by November in the year that students are applying for programs. Admission deadlines are typically in December or January 15, at the latest. And announcements of decisions and awards usually occurs around March 1. All supporting documents for an application must be completed and submitted by the admission deadline. This typically includes:
*letters of recommendation from 2 or 3 faculty who have taught students at the upper-level (at ETSU, in courses at the 3000-level or above in their major field of study)
*a personal essay outlining one’s scholarly interests and goals, and explaining students’ decision to apply to the program in question, and possibly,
*a sample of academic or scholarly writing.
5. Select graduate programs in universities that are members of the Council on Graduate Study of Religion of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) ( http://www.aarweb.org/) the primary professional organization for scholars in the study of religion in the United States and Canada.. (See list below) These are programs in leading universities and seminaries with strong academic traditions that agree to standards of professional excellence. Students should make an exception to this rule only if they are interested in a particular confessional theological tradition, and do not intend to seek an academic placement at an institution not a part of, or otherwise related to, that tradition. (See “Theology Programs not related to the Council on Graduate Study in Religion” below. ) Some schools of this sort offer a Doctor of Theology Degree (Th.D). Keep in mind that a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) is NOT a degree that qualifies one to each in an academic program.
Council on Graduate Study in Religion: Member Institutions
University of California, Santa Barbara
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Chicago
University of Notre Dame
Claremont Graduate School
University of Pennsylvania
Princeton Theological Seminary
University of Southern California
Emory University Southern Methodist University
Graduate Theological Union
Hebrew Union College
University of Toronto
Union Theological Seminary, NY
University of Iowa
Jewish Theological Seminary
University of Virginia
Select Theology Doctoral Programs not participating in the
Council on Graduate Studies in Religion:
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, KY)
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC)
Fuller Theological Seminary (Fullerton, CA) Broadly Evangelical and Reformed, not affiliated with a specific denomination
Andrews University (Berrien Springs, Michigan) Seventh-Day Adventists
Biola University/Talbot Theological Seminary (La Mirada, CA) Conservative Evangelical Christian, non-denominational
Westminister Theological Seminary (Th. D programs) (Philadelphia, PA) Conservative Calvinist/Reformed
Asbury Theological Seminary (Th. D programs) Conservative Evangelical Wesleyan/Methodist
Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX) Conservative Evangelical Christian, non-denominational
University of Dallas (Dallas, TX) Roman Catholic traditionalist
Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) Roman Catholic, with pontifical affiliation and endorsement