Too many PhD's & ThD's???

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Greektim, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. Greektim

    Greektim
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    Is the seminary/graduate school of theology turning into a conglomerate business where the job market is getting too competitive with hiring faculty due to an excessive number of trained hirees?

    or to put it another way...

    Are there too many PhD programs and such as well as not enough faculty jobs to fill the void? I am embarking on a ThM & PhD, and I feel very strong to enter this realm of ministry (teaching and writing). But it seems like there are a lot of people doing the same thing, and I can't imagine the rate of growth for institutions as well as the faculty turnover rate being comparable.

    Any thoughts???
     
    #1 Greektim, Jun 9, 2010
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  2. sag38

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    Is this what you are called of God to do or is it just a career path that you are choosing for yourself? There are probably a lot of folks who need to find a clear answer to that question.
     
  3. Greektim

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    You make a great point. I pastor as well, but through many forms (including confirmation from men I greatly admire) of confirmation, I feel God would have me to serve Him in an academic setting. And trust me, you don't know how inadequate I feel about that.

    But I'm not just posting about myself. I am wondering if people are seeing what I am seeing - a lot of people who find the glamor of academia and thus seek such a career path.
     
  4. Jim1999

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    When I was starting out in the ministry in the 1940's, we went to a three-year Bible college, graduated without any degree and started ministry. Our whole ambition was serving Christ, preaching the word and reaching the lost. Some of us went on to higher learning. It wasn't for the degree, it was for the learning.

    I look around to-day, and I can't help but wonder if it isn't all about degree and is not our original desire, to serve the Lord.

    Even churches are looking for men with degrees worthy of publication on the bulletin board..see, our pastor is learned!

    I am constantly reminded of the little ditty we had in seminary:

    There was a laddie in college name Breeze,
    Weighed down with BA's and BD's,
    Said the doctor, "It's plain,"
    "You are killing yourself by degrees."

    I just wonder!

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  5. TomVols

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    back in the early to mid 90s when I was in seminary, guys who said what you said were a dime a dozen. No offense. Many are so disillusioned with the church, they want to do anything but serve on church staff. Plus, they get wide eyed when their theology prof waxes eloquent about the atonement and think "I'd love to do that." But let's say your interest is (and I'm just making one up) Church history. Even at a seminary the size of say SEBTS, SBTS, SWBTS, etc., you only have a handful of these positions open. Every year we graduate PhDs, knowing 95% won't get teaching positions like this. As a member of ETS, I see the list every year of PhD grads who intend on teaching. And their names usually appear year after year. Most of my friends in this condition (and full disclosure, I intended to do what you are doing - M.Div, then PhD at SBTS) either wind up trying to take a church or they end up doing something other than what they thought they wanted to do. I was fortunate in that I always wanted to pastor but felt open to teaching. I have gotten to do both, but I'd rather be a pastor than a professor. That's just me.

    I'm not trying to discourage you. Get a PhD. Everyone who is able should, has the interest should, and has the finances should. I think it could help you (though there are some awfully big names that say pastors should not necessarily waste time on poor PhDs where you have to read 19,000 pages of nonsense). But I hope you have a ministry calling that would fit with a church so you can do that if you can't get on at a university or seminary. The glut of PhDs is not limited to seminaries either.

    FWIW, I know D.Mins who are now bivocational. The landscape is changing drastically.

    I hope this helps somewhat. What are do you want to do the PhD in?
     
    #5 TomVols, Jun 9, 2010
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  6. Dr. Bob

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    I have both a D.Min. and an Ed.D (never finished my Ph.D. due to health issues). Am bivocational mission church planter and loving every minute of it.

    Over my 40 years (I'm old) of full-time ministry I have pastored 2 churches 7 years each, conventionally; I have served as Dean and as a professor at two colleges/grad schools 4 years each; and 18 years working with either dying, closed or new church work in the US. My training has made me a better pastor, and allowed me to minister on the collegial level. Had I not had the advanced degrees, these doors would have been closed.

    So let the dream/vision/goal you have now motivate you thru the very difficult years ahead. The educational field has just as many "challenges" as the pastoral field.

    Sam Jones, Methodist preacher of the 1800's, said, "Get all the education you can, even if you are just going to drive a mule. It makes more difference between you and the mule."
     
  7. gb93433

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    While there may be many with degrees I would wonder how many of those have a lot of temperature given by the Holy Spirit.
     
  8. Rhetorician

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    Greektim Response

    Hello greektim,

    I hope you are well. Let me rehearse some opinions I have given before here on the BB. I learned them in the "school of hard knocks," pun intended.

    At the beginning, to answer your question, yes there are too many terminal doctorates out there.

    You had better make sure that it is "God's Will" and not yours if you are going to go this route!!! There is indeed a glut in the marketplace and not many jobs in any religious cognate; in the liberal arts Christian colleges, Bible colleges, universities, grad schools of religion, or the community colleges. The price may be too high to pay for tuition, time involved, cost to family, et al.

    There had better be much more than, "I feel very strong to enter this realm of ministry (teaching and writing)," if you are to choose this route!!

    If I knew then what I know now I would tell a young man what I was told when I went into the ministry: "If you can do anything else--do that!" I would say the same thing when it comes to doing a PhD/ThD. With that having been said may I offer you some pointers from long hard years of experience?

    First, go to an outstanding, well know, graduated school/divinity school with a PhD program; say Vanderbilt, Emory, UNC, Baylor, or Duke.

    Secondly, if you cannot get to one of these schools, try to find an outstanding scholar who will take you on. Your research will have to fit with theirs for him or her to take you on, obviously.

    Thirdly, pick a subject that has not been studied before. Or tackle or refute a part of a controversial issue and take it to task.

    Fourth, try to do something that will set you apart. Make yourself hire-able. Like, have grad work in more than one field so you can "switch hit."

    Fifth, do the PhD not the ThD preferably.

    I must reiterate, if you can do anything else do it.

    Now before I get all "those cards and letters," I in no wise discount the will or our Sovereign Lord.

    God Speed! :praying:

    "That is all!"
     
  9. TomVols

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    Good point. Back when I was frothing at the mouth over the PhD program at SBTS, you had to do three areas - one major, two minors. Here's the kicker - you did the same hours in each, so you basically came away with a PhD in three areas you could teach in. So you could go to a college and teach in any of those three areas. Don't know if it's still that way at Mecca....er, I mean the Beeches :smilewinkgrin:
     
  10. Crabtownboy

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    Bingo! You put well what I was thinking. It was for the learning! That should be the reason any of us pursue higher education. Learning should be lifelong. We are most fortunate in our society in that we have opportunities to continue learning our whole life through. God gave us a brain and I believe he expects us to us it.

    Everyone knows the line, a little learning is a dangerous thing, and often use it as a stand alone sentence which gives the wrong idea.

    Here is Alexander Pope's qoute in full:

    Quite a different meaning than that which many give it by misquoting.
     
  11. Martin

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    No, I think schools should offer the degrees. I believe the problem is people who do not do their research before entering degree programs. Too many people made a decision and then charge off without prayerfully doing their homework. Right now this is even more the case due to the high number of layoffs (etc). If people would do their homework they would learn that higher education is a difficult field to enter mainly during difficult economic times. If people don't have a clear direction from the Lord, personal connections, and an open door, they should not quit their day jobs. Most people cannot be, will not be, college instructors/professors. There are too few positions and far too many candidates. This is true at every level.

    As for your situation, I can't give you an answer. That is between you and the Lord. However I would advise you to make double, triple sure that the Lord is indeed guiding you. If He is, He will open the doors for you. If He is not, you will have spent a great deal of money and time and have little to show for it.
     
    #11 Martin, Jun 13, 2010
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  12. StefanM

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    One advantage of a theology/biblical studies PhD is that it does help in non-academic circles. Pastors with PhDs are common. Also, if you have a PhD, you don't have to worry about going back to grab a D.Min. later to get the FBC of a local town (there's the cynic in me talking :)).

    The problem with many non-religious PhDs is that there is almost no market at all for non-academics. The sciences have industry jobs, to be sure, but the humanities job market is horrendous.

    A PhD in history can do only a few things in the field (public history, college instructor, etc.). Unless one is lucky enough to find a tenure-track job (and for that you better go to a highly regarded school), one might dwell in the land of adjunct purgatory with not enough time or resources to publish, therefore perpetuating a vicious, non-tenure cycle.

    But with regard for the PhD in a seminary context, I think it is a good thing as long as the individual is prepared to serve wherever God calls him. That may be a tenure-track faculty position, or it may be in a church or parachurch organization.
     
  13. TomVols

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    Pastors are slowly getting acceptance with terminal research degrees, but I still know of one recent committee who trashed every resume with a PhD/ThD for their opening. D.Mins were acceptible only. Sad. We need more PhDs in the pulpit. Used to, as Stefan pointed out, First Baptist church of County Seat was all but a lock for a D.Min. Now, due to the doctoral glut, I know of D.Mins in my association who are bivocational.

    And Stefan is absolutely right (he agreed with my post :)) about the secular world. If you want people to look at you like you have a foot growing out of your forehead, hand them your corporate resume with a D.B.A. or a PhD in finance. They just don't know what to do with you. And more to the point, wonder what the heck you'll expect in terms of salary package.
     
  14. gb93433

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    I have known some who were tired of their current job and sought to be a professor at a theological school. Could it be that is one of the issues? I was told in a class in seminary that about 2/3 of the pastors in churches would not stay if they had an alternative. Some denominations and conventions have a history of pastors serving a short time while at the same time other denominations and conventions have a history of pastors serving much longer.

    I know that as soon as I left the pastorate my insurance went way down. I asked the insurance agent about the matter and was told that among pastors there are a lot of issues such as mental health.

    Recently I have read some books of some of the structures that are set up in denominations and among churches. Some of them have policies and procedure in place to deal with antagonists in the church so the pastor does not have to regularly deal with a diet of those people. In some churches the antagonist has free reign to destroy.

    In one church I pastored I found out later that one of the men in the church carried a pistol and when one of the antagonists bothered him one Sunday he pointed to the gun and that ended the antagonism.
     
  15. PilgrimPastor

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    Perhaps they should issue one of those to all seminary graduates... :rolleyes:
     
  16. Martin

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    Of course I was talking about those trying to break into academics. People who are going back to be pastors, either with a MA, MDiv, DMin, ThM, or ThD, should, with the Lord's guidance, have no trouble finding a position.

    That is true, but people with advanced degrees in history (etc) can find jobs in public schools, private schools, banks, and government agencies. Trying to land an academic job (community college, university) is next to impossible unless one has connections and the Lord opens a door.
     
  17. Martin

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    I'm sure it is. However people need to be realistic.
     

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