MAT with limitations, looking for a PhD

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by rorschach, Jul 29, 2011.

  1. rorschach

    rorschach
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    I have a BS in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Liberty and have just completed my MAT (Biblical Studies and Theology) at Fuller. I would like to teach, preferably at Bible colleges or seminaries -- while I also pastor -- which requires a PhD.

    But, many schools require an MDiv (and won't accept an MAT), other language proficiencies (French, German, and perhaps another ancient language), a thesis (Fuller doesn't offer a thesis track), etc. This limits my choices.

    Also, my wife is a nurse in California, and moving out of state (or the country) to complete a PhD would make it incredibly difficult for her to get a job. So, I need to find a school that is accredited and credible, either a distance program or a school located in the Los Angeles area, where I could do PhD work in New Testament, Biblical Studies, Theology, or Apologetics.

    South African Theological Seminary seems like a possibility, and I have heard of Andersonville, but I do not know of any other schools, nor of how credible a place like SATS would be in the states.

    I know these questions get asked a lot, but I feel that mine might be a bit different from usual. Has anyone any advice or suggestions for me, given the situation described above?

    Thanks ahead of time.

    PS: Yes, I know you cringed when I said "Fuller". And you're fully justified in doing so.
     
  2. Rhetorician

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    Rorschach Response from Rhetorician

    First off, welcome to the BB:

    Please clarify, what is an MAT in Biblical Studies? What is the degree? Master of Arts (Theological Studies?)? You may have to go and pickup the MDiv.

    You did not say if you would be willing to do a modular PhD program or not, there are some of those springing up around. You would have to do a couple of weeks on campus per year. Is that doable? I know that Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (and some others) in NC has one, my pastor is in it.

    And I would never apologize for having a degree from Fuller, I know you received a good education there.

    I personally would stay away from Andersonville, you would not be able to teach college/seminary with a degree from there. South African TS is accredited in SA, but probably will not get you in door for a teaching position in the US.

    Before I considered doing the PhD I would look long and hard and make sure you want to go that route, for there are hardly any jobs out there to be had, unless one "has a friend" if you know what I mean. The time spent vs. the return may not be worth the long term costs and wear and tear on your family.

    Having said all that let me tell you three things I was told when I was looking for my doctoral program:

    1. Study at a big name school if possible, Vanderbilt, Duke, Emory, etc.

    2. Study with a big name person like David Buttrick in Homiletics at Vanderbilt.

    3. Study a unique subject matter, or a new slant on an old subject matter, maybe even one that is controversial.

    Any one or combination of these three might help get you hired when finished.

    Having laid out these 3, let me add one: Do something with experience or education that sets you apart from the other persons in the field of contenders. This is what I did. I had grad hours in two fields, communication and religion. This many times will help get you hired.

    Get back with questions. I don't know much but this is one area where I am somewhat of an expert. At least I am an expert on my own experience and opinion! :laugh:

    "That is all!"
     
    #2 Rhetorician, Jul 29, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2011
  3. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician Follow Up

    Hello again:

    This is not meant as a slam, just a question. Do you feel that your education has qualified you to do a PhD? Would it not help you, with the Biblical languages and all, to go back and get the MDiv before searching / applying?

    No offense intended, just asking for discussion's sake. :applause:

    "That is all!"
     
  4. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician Follow Up to the Follow Up

    I will keep this one short:

    Write! Write! Write! Write!

    Early! Often! As much as possible!

    Publish! Publish! Publish!

    Find something to say, and say it at every opportunity!!!

    I was given this advise 20 years before I used it and there is no telling what opportunities it may have opened for me.

    "That is all!" :wavey:
     
  5. PilgrimPastor

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    I'm finding that with the internet as an additional tool for connecting, that if you write! write! write! and publish it in as many venues as you are able, writing opportunities will even find you! I've had to limit the amount of opportunities that I am willing to participate in during the last 6 months as the seeds of previous writing seem to be generating more opportunities and God sends those opportunities to me.

    This is good advice! :thumbsup: "That is all..."
     
  6. RG2

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    Maybe you should look at an advanced track MDiv somewhere?

    I agree with all that was said above. Universities are pretty picky about where their professors have their PhDs from and usually those schools are pretty picky about who they take in. Usually schools that require languages do so for a reason.
     
  7. StefanM

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    I think you'll generally find that most seminaries will care more about the MDiv than a university will. You may want to try to find a program at a university. UCLA has some programs in Near East Civilizations that may be of interest.

    Of course, if you want to teach in a Bible college or seminary, you might have trouble without the MDiv.
     
  8. rorschach

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    Ah, yes, the languages! I've spoken to a number of professors about languages, and while they enjoy the languages and tend to employ them in their seminars, they've given me the impression that the importance of languages is overstated for work in Biblical Studies (as opposed to, say, historical theology, where one would want to read original sources).

    I was hoping to be able to avoid playing the academic game of needing a big name school (I've not been impressed by Princeton, DTS, or Oxford scholars I've met, as if the school makes the scholar). I also want to focus on what matters -- Scripture -- rather than on becoming an expert on hundreds of other people's opinions. And since I am hoping to teach at a smaller school rather than some big name seminary, I am hoping that avoiding the absurd fees, wasted years spent studying irrelevant material, and soul-sucking involvement in the realm of academic one-upmanship. I am not looking to be invited to speak at Claremont, especially when getting the credentials to do so would require blowing through 2 or 3 otherwise useful years of my life.

    I have considered doing an MDiv to satisfy those schools that require it, but with only a year's worth of classes different between my Master of Arts in Theology and an MDiv, the MAT credits do not transfer (since they are part of a degree already conferred), and so I would have to spend more than a year doing MDiv work...simply so I could send those transcripts to other schools with my doctorate application.

    In summary, I want to teach, but I don't want to be part of academia. The same way someone who wants to make a difference doesn't want to be part of the federal government.
     
  9. Havensdad

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    I don't know who you've been talking to, but Liberty allows 100 percent of your MATS to transfer to your M.Div. Degree. Had I wanted to spend an extra 250 dollars, I could have gotten an M. Div. AND MaRS...

    Also, the biblical languages are MOST important for Biblical studies...whereas Latin, French, German, etc., are more important for Historical Theology (depending on the period...). I am not sure who told you that, but they are dead wrong. There is not a MORE important preparation one must have for an advanced Biblical studies degree...ESPECIALLY a doctorate!
     
  10. rorschach

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    Sorry, I replied to a number of comments in my above comment, but I'll try to be more specific here.

    Yes, MAT is Master of Arts in Theology. I've looked at picking up an MDiv, but it seems like a silly requirement when, for instance, Fuller's MAT is academically equivalent to an MDiv (the MDiv essentially adds a year of pastoral counseling classes, which...aren't exactly edifying at Fuller). Strangely, Liberty seems to think that an MAT should have a thesis to be admitted, but an MDiv somehow is excluded from that requirement (as if pastoral counseling classes and an academic thesis are in any way equivalent).

    Modular is probably doable. With a new wife and some involvements in SoCal, I'd rather not have to turn my life upside-down right now simply to get my degree.

    Are you perhaps mistaking Fuller for its 1960s version?

    Does this hold true if I wanted to teach at smaller schools, eg Golden Gate?

    Also, would this hold true for other lesser known -- but less questionable -- schools I might attend? That is, is it the prominence and awareness of the name that would keep me from teaching if I attended Andersonville, or is it the fact that it has a questionable reputation?

    And this is one of my biggest concerns, so thank you for bringing it up. I do not want to be some star in Academia. I despite academia. But I recognize that credentials matter, and if I would like to teach, then a doctorate is important. That is why I do not want to waste several years studying all sorts of other people's opinions, especially if the program required that those opinions be concerning things I am not studying. I do not want to toil through a seminar on Calvin or Augustine when, frankly, what Calvin or Augustine thought is not nearly as important to someone interested in New Testament or Apologetics as what Scripture says and what modern arguments and conversations are taking place right now.

    I especially don't want to have to pretend, after sitting under professors from Princeton and the like and hearing how uninformed and unintelligent they often are, that my obtaining a PhD from such a school suggests I am a better scholar than those who receive their degrees from "lesser" schools. On that note, "Harvard Schmarvard" has some great insights regarding reputations of schools.

    Are you aware of any well-known and respected schools which focus on Scripture and research, or apologetics and research, rather than on becoming an expert on what 500 other (usually wrong) "experts" say about those things?

    Thanks for taking all the time to respond. I hope I haven't come across as being too cynical in my responses; I'm just trying to get into a system in which I don't want to become another cog. It's been said, "The purpose of Yale is to produce Yale graduates." I don't want my life to be governed by such things -- I want to get the credentials (and of course, education) that will allow me to teach.
     
  11. Rhetorician

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    Rhetorician Response

    Dear Brother,

    You can do Master of Divinity "leveling work" to make what you have equal to the MDiv degree. I have seen it on many a resume where someone would have a MA in Youth Work and then go back and do the additional hours.

    It seems to me that you are somewhat in the same boat as a high school graduate who is seeking what school, degree to obtain.

    We must "decide what we want to be when we grow up," then go and get the appropriate degree or credentials to be able to do that.

    Do you want to teach in a Regionally Accredited college, then you will need to get a terminal degree from a Regionally Accredited University.

    Do you want to teach in an Association of Theological Schools seminary, then you will need to get a terminal degree from an ATS seminary.

    Or, you may need to get a degree from a school that is both.

    If you know clearly what you want to do then the "how" would come along automatically, it seems to me.

    It also seems to me "why" you want a terminal degree is also a major factor for the discussion at hand, is it not?

    Settle the "why" then the place and degrees will come into focus rather easily I would think.

    Do not take the tone of this email in any way but me thinking out loud so as to help you think internally. No harm is intended to you.

    "That is all!" :tongue3:
     
  12. rorschach

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    Apologies, but I think I might not have been clear in my communication. I already have my MAT from Fuller, which means that those credits are not transferable to Fuller's MDiv program, and as far as I am aware, an entire degree cannot be transposed to another school's. If I were finishing my MAR at Liberty, then I could switch to an MDiv, yes. But if I wanted to get an MDiv from Liberty, it would not be as simple as simply taking another 30 hours at Liberty, as if I were transferring credits from an incomplete MAR.

    Sorry for the confusion here. Certainly Greek and Hebrew are important for Biblical Studies programs, and I in fact taught and tutored Greek at Fuller while I attended. Professors have explained to me that the "other" languages -- such as French and German -- only end up being useful to a handful of doctoral students, and even then, they are unnecessary. I have been able to work through a seminar with some German and Latin, but it had to do with the so-called fathers, and I my lack of proficiency did not hinder my work (in fact, it seems that the "proficient" students were as dependent on translating tools and dictionaries as I was).

    But yes, certainly for Biblical Studies, Greek and Hebrew are a must, and I have spent quite a bit of time with both.
     
  13. Greektim

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    It sounds like you want a research degree without having to do research--study other peoples opinions and learn the research languages. I'm gonna have to utilize a lot of German and French in my thesis (not a PhD student). That's what it takes to do comprehensive research.

    BTW... when you finish LU's MAR, you can go right into the MDiv having those credits apply towards it. In your case, you can probably transfer in 50% of you other stuff and only have 45 credits left. Most or all can be done online.

    BTW#2... SEBTS does have some modular PhD classes but NONE for the Bib Studies/Theology/Hermeneutics degrees. Dr. K won't allow it.

    Something to think about... do a MTh through SATS (you would only need to do a thesis or even a mini-thesis). This would help you on your research writing and might help with those require a thesis.

    Or

    Golden Gate's seminary only has a 42hr PhD program. It is by far the shortest of the SBC6 (though NOBTS PhD program goes through the ThM first so you get both).
     
    #13 Greektim, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 2, 2011
  14. TomVols

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    If you plan on doing a PhD, you invariably will have to become an expert an "expert on hundreds of other people's opinions." That's part of doing doctoral research. You'll narrow down to a specific area and then pretty much become an expert in that area.

    I also cannot agree more about the importance of the languages. While one can make an argument the role of the GRE in admission, the role of the seminar vs indy study, the languages are invaluable. I'd also recommend a good grasp of logic and statistics. You need to be able to sift through an enormous amount of information and data, synthesize it, and interact with it in an intelligent way, giving a thoughtful analysis and evaluation. The value of language preparation and knowledge of statistics is impossible to overstate.
     
  15. Rhetorician

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    Tom Vol's Addition

    Dear Bro. Tom,

    I would add if I may, that the PhD grad also has to be an "expert" in all of the current and past research in his or her chosen field. And to be able to be conversant in it. True? or no?

    "That is all!" :thumbsup:
     

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