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

by Eric Daryl Meyer

…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: — 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.