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Q: Choosing a field for a PhD ( No Answer,   5 Comments )
Subject: Choosing a field for a PhD
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: journeyofthought-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 03 Nov 2006 16:57 PST
Expires: 03 Dec 2006 16:57 PST
Question ID: 779901
I am having a conflict of what to get a PhD in - I am looking at a PhD
in Public Policy OR a PhD in Religion. I have a Master's in Public
Administration from a top 5 program and a BA in Political Science with
a double major in Philosophy & Religion.

In my research for Religion PhD programs, all of them require at least
2-3 foreign languages, and occasionally you can substitute classes in
statistics for a language. Are there any PhD programs from at least
semi-respectable schools that do not require foreign languages if your
research does not need it? Or do any programs exist which have only 1
foreign language requirement which may be fulfilled by taking

I am only interested in the purely academic study of religion (no
bible colleges/seminary schools).

Another question - you don?t have to answer this, but I'd be curious
to know if you found some ideas in the course of looking for my
previous question: are there any jobs that Religion PhDs can obtain
that don?t involve teaching?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Choosing a field for a PhD
From: triumfdoogooder-ga on 03 Nov 2006 17:58 PST
You could either be "Lecturing" or Ministering which also involves
some teaching.  Of course, you could be employed at an office doing
non-specialized administrative/executive duties which have nothing to
do with religion.
If the pay is commensurate, why complain?  If you can't do what you
love - Love what you do and be happy!
Subject: Re: Choosing a field for a PhD
From: journeyofthought-ga on 04 Nov 2006 14:27 PST
I am interested in the academic study of religion (ie, no
"ministering"). My presumption is that Religion PhDs, like other
fields, can be employed by researchers.

It obviously would matter - if I enjoy research and writing that does
not mean I would enjoy teaching, even if it is in my field.

Money is not everything.
Subject: Re: Choosing a field for a PhD
From: journeyofthought-ga on 04 Nov 2006 14:31 PST
By the way, Ive raised the price to $15 - if there are any RESEARCHERS
who are looking at this and think it would take more than that, let me
know...I'm willing to up the price but I really dont need a very huge
answer either.
Subject: Re: Choosing a field for a PhD
From: politicalguru-ga on 04 Nov 2006 17:26 PST
Dear Journey, 

I am almost at the same field as you, and almost at the same stage of
life (OK, I am hopefully towards the end of my never-ending
dissertation...). I am not going to answer your question, because - if
I understood it correctly, you're looking for someone who'd find top
ranking departments of Religious Studies, which will not require
languages - I am not aware of any, and sorry, would not browse for $15
through the top 50 or so, to see if one of them doesn't require

However, I have a few helpful suggestions, based on my very intimate
acquintance of this discipline.

(1) What discipline - have you thought of checking out sociology
departments that are strong in sociology of religion? What about
public policy/government/poli-sci schools that have researchers strong
in religion (for example, Kellog at Notre Dame, Government@Georgetown
has several strong researchers like Clyde Wilcox)? Other channels you
might want to explore: History (if history of religion interests you
more than the social and political aspects of spirituality/belief);
Cultural Studies.

(2) Languages - this is not as impossible as you might think and would
certainly help your professional development, even if you would go on
social science approaches, which is what I suggest. Most top academics
that I know, also if they are sociologists and social scientists, are
pretty fluent in *at least* two languages and know a third. Usually
more. The International Society of Sociology of Religion asks people
to hand in articles with a French/English abstract (depending on the
main language of the article, the other should be the abstract's). By
the way, check with the grad-students' advisor of the relevant
departments, but in many cases the language requirements are to be
fulfilled throughout the graduate school studies.

(3) Jobs not at universities/colleges: The Chronicle of Higher
Education ( has sometimes articles by PhDs in
various disciplines, who have found alternative jobs. Many go through
further professional studies (law school/journalism and yes, also
public administration); in your field, especially if you'd do it as a
poli-sci doctorate or similar, there might be need in certain branches
of the government dealing with the research/analysis of fundamentalist
groups and religious trends; another course of career might be in NGOs
working for interreligious dialogue, or for education about
religion/tolerance; naturally, there are other professions - religion
correspondent for a media outlet, for example; working for
religion-related lobbies, etc.
Subject: Re: Choosing a field for a PhD
From: journeyofthought-ga on 04 Nov 2006 20:21 PST

I appreciate your comments. Just so your aware, I wasnt looking for
the top 50 ranked programs in religion that dont have a language
requirement. Ten good ones (dont have to be top ten) or actually even
five would work!

I am not trying to get "out of" a foreign language - I could probably
do one. My problem is that for whatever reason, I have difficulties
with grasping foreign languages. Given that, it would be pointless for
me to get into a program which requires three or four.

I was not aware of political science programs with a politics &
religion concentration - I will certainly look into those!

I have considered going the political science route, but I cant seem to find

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