Master of Theology '04
When I say I've attended seminary, the conversation quickly diverts, "So where are you pastoring?" To which I reply, "Well, I'm not serving a congregation, I'm getting my PhD." I'm sure that most persons attending seminary will be asked that same question regardless of his/her vocational goals. The truth is that anyone can attend Bethany: minister-in-training, curious Christians, and yes, even those who plan to pursue doctoral study.
From my own experience, Bethany is an excellent place to begin a scholar's journey. Bethany is both a scholarly and pastoral community, with an ethos that creates a welcoming place to learn and to grow. For me, I established close working relationships with all my professors (a gift not common in other institutions!) and through their guidance, I narrowed my field of study and quickly learned the process of research and writing.
However, attending Bethany is not without its challenges for students pursuing further graduate work. For me, the challenge of a non-competitive grading system opened more temptations than anything else. The idea of not getting a "grade" occasionally translated into a "getting by" approach (a reality often named by my professors!). Only after my credits were converted into grades for graduate applications did I realize how much more work I could have done. Even later, while attending a school where grades were the primary evaluation, I realized just how helpful Bethany's narrative evaluations were in providing me significant feedback on the level of quality of my work, not to mention areas for growth. Anywhere else, the letters A, B, and C had to speak for themselves without much direction.
Simply put, Bethany is a tremendous place for both academic and pastoral growth. I am convinced that Bethany's academic program prepared me well for doctoral studies--the competitive nature of all doctoral programs requires drive and diligence no matter where you go. Given this reality, I am sure that Bethany provided me with the means to travel this academic road.
Josh Brockway is currently completing his PhD program at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.