Tips on Applying to Grad Programs in Religious Studies, Part IX: The Writing Sample

Most PhD applications and some master's applications require a 10-20 page writing sample. Personally I'd say that this was the weakest part of my application. Not because I didn't have a decent writing sample to provide, but because what I did submit was not directly related to the interests of some of the programs I applied to. In retrospect, this probably disqualified me from a few places.Some guidelines to choosing a writing sample are as follows:1. Choose an 'A' paper. In other words, … [Read more...]

Tips on Applying to Grad Programs in Religious Studies, Part VIII: MA or PhD

In this post I want to address the question of whether one should first apply to master's programs in religious studies, or whether it's possible to be directly admitted into a PhD program without obtaining a master's degree. Below are some quick thoughts. As always, feel free to chime in since I'm speaking more from my own experience than any comprehensive study I've done on. … [Read more...]

Dear BYU Religious Education

Dear BYU Religious Education,I can only speak for myself here--one LDS graduate student studying religion; but I know this sentiment is shared, and that those who share it are apprehensive about expressing it. Over the next few years, however, you, Religious Education, will hire several new professors. I believe there is one search ongoing now in Provo (using the same ad), and another in Hawaii; so this is something you should probably know sooner rather than later.You think much higher of … [Read more...]

Symptoms of Parallel-o-Mania

I recently came across this presentation by Daniel Peterson given at the annual FAIR Conference in 2009. Admittedly I haven't read much of Peterson's work, but from conversations I've had with others I get the sense that he's rather well respected in the field of Islamic Studies. I know he's also very involved in Mormon Studies. I gather that he's one of the best comparativists that LDSs have since he's deeply knowledgeable of Islam and Mormonism. … [Read more...]

There are no Private Choices?

I taught Sunday School this past week, and in preparation I came across the following quote from the manual:Elder James E. Faust said: “Private choices are not private; they all have public consequences. … Our society is the sum total of what millions of individuals do in their private lives. That sum total of private behavior has worldwide public consequences of enormous magnitude. There are no completely private choices” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 101; or Ensign, May 1987, 80). … [Read more...]

Imposed Openness

How is God infinite and embodied? Are we born in the spirit world or have our spirits existed forever? What is the nature of "intelligence"? What is eternal progression?These are issues that LDSs have different views on. Leaders throughout the history of the Church have also expressed a variety of views in responding to these kinds of questions. The fact that 2 different LDSs can hold opposing views about these issues and both still be considered "faithful" is a primary reason that some see … [Read more...]

Tips on Applying: Spotlight on Edinburgh

Our next spotlight comes from Benjamin Park. Ben is a master's student at the University of Edinburgh's School of Divinity, studying historical theology in the 18th and 19th century. He also blogs at the Juvenile Instructor. … [Read more...]

Tips on Applying to Grad Programs in Religious Studies, Part VII: Placement

As much as graduate school offers up the chance for one to delve deeply into a particular topic of interest and, in many regards, devote several years of one's life to studying these interests; it is also a means to an end. In other words, success at graduate school (on the PhD level) entails not only producing a respectable dissertation, but also entails securing "good" employment after graduation. For most of those going into PhD programs in religious studies, this means landing a tenure track … [Read more...]


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