How do people do a PhD?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Greektim, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. Greektim

    Greektim
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    If they have a family, they need an income. If they work, they can only do 3 (maybe 6 credits) a semester. Then they have bills out the wazzoo w/o the open jobs to pay them.

    Am I the only one seeing the unrealistic nature of this process? The goal for getting a PhD in the USA is becoming less a reality for me for this very reason.

    How is it possible???
     
    #1 Greektim, Mar 21, 2014
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  2. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    I'm not planning on going for a doctorate, but I am working on my Masters in Behavioral Pyschology from Mizzou. I'm guessing doing a Ph.D. would be even harder, and this is hard enough.

    I have to drive 250 miles round trip every Saturday. I see about 20-23 clients a week, I have to do the paperwork due for courts, parole and probation officers with about 60% of my caseload, plus the normal clinical notes for each client. Even at the hourly rate my BA and experience grant me, it is hard to pay for a Masters, so I've continued doing something I did straight out of the Army -- I build houses, as a general contractor. I at one time built 50-60 homes a year, but now I'm only building a dozen, tops.

    This way our lifestyle doesn't suffer, though we're prepared spiritually if that's what God calls for in our lives, and it enables us to plan for an uncertain future, given Social Security, Medicare and the economy are pretty much all in the toilet. It requires long hours, hard work, attention to detail, the ability to multitask, a loving wife and a quiet place to study, and do both jobs.

    But most of all it requires the grace of God, and by and through Him, all things are possible. If you believe God is calling you to get that degree, pray to make sure you're hearing him correctly, make sure you have the support of your wife and your church, and once satisfied all these things are in line, go for it. :thumbsup:
     
    #2 thisnumbersdisconnected, Mar 21, 2014
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  3. Earth Wind and Fire

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    How badly do you want it professor?
     
  4. Greektim

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    I know this is a major component. I just want to know how people do it, especially those who want it bad[ly].
     
  5. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Where do you want to go to get one Doc?:smilewinkgrin:
     
  6. Greektim

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    If I do one in the USA, Southern Baptist Seminary has a program in biblical theology that looks really intriguing. My ThM is in NT studies (finish this summer w/ thesis!!!), so I don't want to do more of that out of redundancy sake. And I've noticed that theologians make better pastors and preachers. So I thought this would be a nice balance in between the text and theology... right in my wheel-house.

    I was also thinking of the University of Pretoria for a PhD in NT. But that is a European format PhD so not as big of a sacrifice. I wouldn't have to move either.
     
    #6 Greektim, Mar 21, 2014
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  7. Greektim

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    Good stuff, esp. the underline portion. Thanks, bro.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    If you're living abroad, the only benefit of a US based PhD is the access to loans.

    The way I did a PhD, don't have a family and live in near abject poverty for two and a half years. ;)

    If that's not an option, make sure you're entire family is on board. You know this like I do, there is almost ZERO opportunity for faculty placement stateside in theology right now unless you're in a specific theological/personality tribe or have a terminal degree from a high end private university in the US or UK.

    Ask yourself the question: what do I want to do with this?

    I know of one position in NT studies that opened up, full-time, tenure track, and they had over 250 applications from qualified individuals. The person who ended up getting it had their PhD from a UK school with a personal recommendation from one of the leading NT scholars in the world in their CV. That's nuts.

    Of course it depends on what you want to do. If you have a family they need to be on board with the idea and aims of the degree. A PhD is an incredible energy and time sapper. You're going to be doing seminars for three years (maybe four) if you're only taking one, possibly two, seminars a semester. Then you've got comps, plus (if the program is worth it) language exams before that, then dissertation...which is beast that is not defeated overnight but a war waged over a season.

    A PhD is one heck of a degree and, when its has the appropriate requirements and engagement, can really bolster your work and research. But most people don't understand that and don't understand a PhD.

    From folks that I've seen who have families, they made the decision and paid the price for two to three years to finish and then get back to real life. They also worked hard at finishing their dissertation in a timely manner. It's hard but it's worth it.
     
  9. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Absolutely. That's what brothers do. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. Greektim

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    I'm still looking to hear how men w/ families go for a PhD financially (assuming a relocation is involved). Are those students given priority in on-campus employment? Do good schools help these guys get a job? Or is it just a crap shoot totally up to the guy to find something?
     
  11. Brandon C. Jones

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    Hi GreekTim,

    I recommend trying to get into a program that will take care of you financially. I moved my family to Grand Rapids, Michigan for Calvin Seminary's PhD program. They keep their program small enough that tuition is covered by their endowment and there is ample aid available (not loans) to subsidize living expenses for families who need it. We lived on-campus and had our rent paid for through fellowship/assistantship/grant money. My wife and I both worked part-time to help make ends meet, but for the most part I was a full-time student for four years there.

    Friends of mine who have gone to other programs often work full-time themselves or have a spouse who does to help make ends meet. Most traditional PhD programs in the US will require at least a two-year residency and after that let you live elsewhere for comps and dissertation. Non-traditional programs are increasing in popularity that allow for you to stay where you live while you earn your degree. I cannot speak for them, though.

    You will need to find what works for you and do take in mind PreachinJesus's post about the dire state of the teaching job market in biblical and theological studies. There are many things to be treasured in knowledge and training, especially while serving in a church, so do not enter a PhD program with the mindset that it will not be worth your time and effort unless you come out the other side with a teaching position. You might get one, but you might not. You will increase your chances if you find something that will separate you from the pack of other qualified applicants.

    I hope that helps,
    Brandon
     
  12. Greektim

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    Helps greatly. Thanks, Brandon! Wouldn't mind hearing more about your experience at Calvin. They don't necessarily have what I'm looking for, but they sound like they have a good program for guys who are looking for them.

    Just fyi, the PhD I want may be for teaching, but it may just be for me to be the scholar/pastor that I desire. And I am not bound to teach in the USA either, as I currently live in Honduras teaching. Part of why I want the degree is for the options and opportunities that it will open up to me.
     
  13. Brandon C. Jones

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    Hi GreekTim,

    I'd be happy to talk more. The link "more about me" will take you to a page with my email address if you'd like to follow up.

    Blessings,
    Brandon
     
  14. JohnDeereFan

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    My mother has two PhDs. She tells her students that it's the biggest waste of time and money she ever did.
     
  15. Greektim

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    Ok... but that's not the question.

    How do guys afford to do it? If they relocate their family, how do they land a job first? Or do they move & live off of savings for a while until they land on their feet?
     
  16. preachinjesus

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    From what I've seen, and tipping my hat to Brandon Jones' excellent post, there is a huge price paid both monetarily and relationally in getting a PhD if you have a family.

    For the majority (I wouldn't be opposed to "vast" here btw) of programs, there is no preference given to families or individuals for on-campus housing or employment. Maybe, if you know somebody, you can get an inside track, but that is rare from what I've seen.

    Some school, maybe like Calvin, have subsidies for families to help with expenses, but most do not. A few high end PhD programs have stipends attached to them, mine did, but you're looking at an Ivy League or upper level program and not usually in an evangelical seminary unless you also work as a TA/GA and those positions are hard to come by. Loans are usually used for the tuition costs and you end up leaving pretty burdened with debt.

    The few folks I've known who had families, with children, and started PhD programs made the decision to move to the campus, downsize their housing, put their kids in public schools, have their spouse work full-time, and they got done with seminars and front matter as quickly as possible. Usually that meant three years max on campus. It was hard for them. Though it was hard for me, I didn't have a family to navigate at the beginning and no children during the program when I did have a spouse.

    A PhD is a massive time and money commitment. It's worth it if you are passionate about it and enjoy doing work nobody understands...save your advisor and a few academic conference buffs. ;)

    Hope that helps.
     
  17. Sapper Woody

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    In my own situation, I am looking at going for a PhD. A little background: I am getting medically retired from the Army. This means I'll have lots of help while obtaining my Bachelor's (I have to start over, since I'll be going for physics, and my current degree is in theology), and some financial help for my Master's and Doctorate. My goal is to be a university professor in Math and/or Physics, and for me a Doctorate will be financially easier to obtain than most.

    Now, a "regular" person, I honestly don't know how they'd do it. If your doctorate would lead to a great paying job, as in the medical field or legal field, I would say that student loans would be OK to get. But there are also grants out there for most of us, especially low-mid income families, to make things easier.
     
  18. 12strings

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    Regarding SBTS

    I live about an hour from SBTS in Louisville, was a student there, and have known several PHD (&DMIN) students there. Here's a breakdown of common scenarios: (initials to help me remember people, but keep their identities secret):

    (All these are married Family men:)
    M-Was already a Pastor in the area, Decided to go for the degree, had a family friend who offered to help pay for part of it. Attended Seminars

    J- Pastors a church in Texas...Flies to Lville a few times a year for Seminars & on-campus research work. (Apparently his church salary can cover this).

    C,G, C, D, T & most others: It seems the most normal thing to happen is that a person will move to the Louisville area (anywhere within 60-80 mins away) and find a Church to pastor, or be on pastoral staff. This gives them the necessary proximity and a steady income (sometimes their spouses work too,not always).

    But most importantly...A church Job is usually much more flexible than a secular job in allowing them to take random days/weeks off to go to the seminary. And they can to use Coarsework/dissertation studies in their preaching & teaching, which can ease the workload a bit.

    How they pay for it? I don't know for sure...I do know of one church in the greater Louisville area that has less than 200 average attendance, and pays the pastor 90k+ a year, but I don't think that is the norm.

    Most of these churches are not that big (75-300), so They Generally stay in these churches for 3-5,6,7 years, then begin looking around once their Degree is done. For many SBC churches in my area, our 7-year pastor (Who as far as I can tell, plans to stay here 20-30 more years) is one of the longest tenured pastors...So many can say this is not a good model, but I suppose it is part of being so close to a major Seminary.

    Hope this helps...you can PM me if you want more info.
     
  19. Greektim

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    Thanks for the helpful scenarios!

    I feared this would be the case if I were to pursue this. I don't treasure the idea of seeking to find a church ministry "job" in order to get me through my PhD only to springboard me to another ministry. Plus, I feel like these churches would be suspicious of that by now anyways. Are they not against this type of situation? But I guess if this is what God has called you to, this is what you do. A 10 year tenure at a church would be reasonable? So many questions!
     
  20. 12strings

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    1. I suppose some of these churches are just so used to it they don't think about it. Some of them probably hope "the next guy" will stick around longer. Some probably know it but don't say anything...a "don't ask don't tell" policy. May not be best for the churches, but it is unfortunately very common.

    2. 10 years a reasonable tenure? I don't know if there's any set number...It would all depend on motivations and expectations.

    In general, I think it could possibly not be all bad, if the churches saw that their church was playing a part in preparing a man for further ministry...whether there, or somewhere else.

    Where it could be mostly bad is if said pastor planned to leave as soon as possible, and so as a result did not invest in the church, but rather did the minimum require to get by for a few years. I suppose it's the difference between seeing that church as a real place to minister and invest your life for a season of life, or rather as a stepping stone to be tossed aside at the earliest convenience.
     

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