I want to be a professor in the field of Theology, Cont. (question for Professor X)?

Well this is a question continued from before, so if don't know what I am talking about then look before this one. Anyway, I want to ask Professor X this question. Say I wanted to be a full time working Professor of Religious Studies like you, how long will it take me on average to reach full time (good salary preferably)? What languages do I need to know specifically and how well of each of them? And the biggest factor is, If I wanted to go to school for all these years to become a professor, I am sort of on a budget at the same time for college. So say I went for 8 years to study, and each year costs 30,000 dollars, thats way over what I can ever afford. Where is the cheapest school best school for me? And anything else you can mention that is not mentioned in my other question. I will take any details possible because this is such a big step to me. Thank You for your time.

1 Answer

  • X
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Hi! As you know, you are asking a different question this time, since Religious Studies and Theology are two entirely different fields of study.

    First, don't worry about money! Do not!

    Just go to the best college to which you can gain admission. (Your high school GPA, the difficulty of your high school classes, and, most importantly, your SATs, will determine which colleges you'll be able to get into.) Then, weigh each college's academic reputation against the financial aid package you get, and choose on that basis. In other words, choose the best college that costs you the least. You will NOT be paying full tuition if you get great SAT scores. At the most, you'll take out loans each year for a relatively small amount. And don't worry about whatever loans you have to take, since you'll defer paying them until after you finish graduate school and get a job.

    If you score very well on the SATs, I strongly recommend that you apply to several top-tier liberal arts colleges, like Amherst, Wesleyan, Williams, Vassar, Swarthmore, Bowdoin, Middlebury, Trinity, Colby, Bates, etc. These top-tier liberal arts colleges all have superb departments of religious studies. And they all have large endowments, so they provide large financial aid packages to students whose families cannot afford full tuition (which is just about everybody).

    If you don't have high enough SATs for these schools, then look at the University of Vermont, Boston University, and Boston College. (Not U Mass.)

    And note that I've mostly confined myself to mentioning New England colleges, since you stated a preference for Massachusetts.

    While an undergraduate, major in religious studies and begin studying French, German, and any other languages that are relevant to your area of specialization. You will not discover your area of specialization until your junior year or so, after you have studied many different religious traditions. If you find that Hinduism is your passion, then you should begin to study Sanskrit. If it's early Christianity, then you should begin to study Greek, and if it's medieval Christianity, then Latin. If it's Judaism, then you need to begin Hebrew. If it's Buddhism, then Sanskrit, Pali, or the language of the geographic area of your interest, like Chinese, or Japanese, or whatever. (You get the drift. Begin your language study as early as possible, so you are not first learning your languages as a grad student.)

    Make sure you get great grades as an undergrad, and that you get to know your religious studies professors well. They'll be writing your graduate school letters of recommendation.

    When it comes time to start applying for graduate school, you must ace the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). It's basically the SAT for grad school admission. The better your score, the greater the likelihood of a fellowship or assistantship, which will pay for your graduate school in its entirety (full tuition remission) as well as provide you with a small living stipend. (Basically, enough to eat and pay the rent on a shared apartment.) This is the key: Do NOT pay for graduate school. Go to the program that gives you the best support.

    In graduate school, you'll be looking for a combination MA/PhD program. Among the best programs are: University of Chicago, Syracuse, University of California at Santa Barbara, Princeton, Duke, and Harvard. But you choose which ones to apply to by who is currently teaching there in your field of specialization (Hinduism, Native American Religions, Medieval Christianity, etc.).

    So we don't yet know where you should apply. :)

    While you are in graduate school, you join the American Academy of Religion (and/or the Society of Biblical Literature if your specialization is in Jewish or Christian scriptural studies).

    An MA/PhD program takes about 4 years of coursework, about 2 years of language exams (French and German and any languages necessary for your specialization) and qualifying exams, and then another year (or more) to research, write, and defend your dissertation. (Usually about 8 years total.)

    Then you apply for jobs. Your professors and the American Academy of Religion (or the SBL) will help you through this process.

    When you get you first job, it may be just a visiting position, or you may be fortunate enough to get a tenure-track position. Tenure track professors start out as assistant professors, then associate professors, then full professors. It usually takes about six years to get from assistant to associate, and then another six or so to get to full.

    (If they keep getting promoted as they should, which depends on constant writing and publication in scholarly journals, as well as decent teaching, as well as some few other factors, but you'll learn about this from your faculty advisor when you're a graduate student. Basically, you'll need to publish one book to become an associate professor, and another to become a full professor.)

    Source(s): My life. :) If there's anything I left out, just post another question.
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