3.15.2006

Duke Divinity School

Post any experiences you've had either in visiting or attending Duke Divinity School.

16 comments:

Kevin K. Wright said...

Duke Divinity School is the jewel in the crown of mainline seminaries. Boasting an all-star faculty and towering gothic structures, Duke ranks as one of the premier graduate religion programs in the country.

Duke's M.Div program can be completed in three years and allows a student great liberty in choosing specialized fields of study through a generous allotment of course electives. While other schools might be fortunate enough to harbor at least one "all star" faculty member, Duke's catalogue boasts a litany of powerhouse scholars and professors (Maddox, Hays, Hauerwas, Steinmetz, Crenshaw, etc.).

Duke is a Methodist school and thus does theology from an Arminian perspective. Duke's student body is elaborately diverse enough to include Anglicans, Baptists, Nazarenes, Anabaptists, and Pentecostals. This wide array of denominational representation allows the school to maintain a strong ecumenical flavor not found at other schools.

All students are required to undergo a thorough spiritual formation program that includes small groups, annual retreats, and mentoring. The wide offering of classes is enough to make any religion grad student salivate. Financial aid is exceedingly generous and is only surpassed by a school like Princeton Theological Seminary.

The best way to find out about Duke, however, is to visit. Sit in on a class. Talk to students in the hallways. Come experience our hospitality, our friendship, and our mutual love of Jesus Christ. We don't do theology for the Church, we do theology as the Church.

Danielle said...

Kevin couldn't have said it better. I completely agree with what he has said, but I have three more things to add to what he has said.
First, let me add a couple of other professors to his list. Premier feminist theologian McClintock-Fulkerson is at Duke, as are Douglas Campbell (NT), Heitzenrater (Wesley), Ellen Davis (OT), Berger (Theology), Hutter (Theology), Gregory Jones (Theology), Verhey (Theology), and Wainwright (Theology). To those who have been in the field for long, these names have a familiar ring. Heizenraters is perhaps the foremost Wesley scholar in the country. Davis was chosen by the Archbishop of Canterbury as one of 35 Anglicans worldwide to participate in an Anglican discussion. Verhey is widely recommended as one of the scholars you have to take if you are entering a Ph.D. program in theology. In addition, I have been more than impressed by the quality of the faculty at Duke that are not "all star" members. Each and every one of them is a serious thinker who challenges their students and pushes them to the absolute highest quality of scholarship.

Second, these scholars are thrilled to interact with their students. They take the time to get to know the people who come to talk to them, and they welcome conversation, questions, and dialogue from the students in their classes. I know students here who have designed classes for independent study with particular professors, and I have been told by several faculty members that I am welcome to sit in any class they offer. These are professors who care about their students.

Fianlly, one of the factors in choosing a seminary is always the fellowship and relationships present and available in the school. As I headed to Durham, I was worried that an institution like Duke would prove to be a difficult place to find friends. I have been proven wrong numerous times as the school has gathered in prayer around students who experience great loss. I have watched as students gather together to study for exams, and how they share notes, so everyone has the best information. I have watched as friendships form, often because those are the people who sit next to me in class, and because the people I sit next to introduce me to others. We go out for lunch together and watch Duke basketball games in each other's apartments. As one who was worried about finding friends at Duke, let me assure you that it is not a problem in a class of 200 people who are all on the same class schedule.

Keith.Drury said...

Princeton & Duke

Some IWU students apply to both Princeton and Duke. If you do, this post is for you. Full disclosure: I am a loyal Princeton man, yet I still see some advantages for Duke. From Here is my own takeof the advantages of both schools:

-Duke’s campus is younger and fresher than Princeton’s.
-Duke’s Divinity school is right smack in the middle of the university so there are plenty of young collegians walking about.
-Duke is located in the a more friendly “Bible Belt” culture closer to Midwest culture than New Jersey-in-the-shadow-of-NYC
-Duke people practice southern hospitality and will likely make you feel more welcomed.
-Duke is Methodist and thus has closer ties with the Wesleyan heritage of IWU.
-Duke has recently been a tad bit easier to get into than PTS.

In short, Duke will likely "feel" more like IWU in some ways.

So what about Princeton Seminary? Here is my starter list:

-Princeton is very unlike IWU and offers a totally different atmosphere in which to study.
-The culture of the Northeast is far from the Bible belt or south and is so secular that it prepares one to communicate with unreached secularists.
-Princeton’s ivy league stature casts a long shadow.
-The reformed approach to scholarship offers something different than a Wesleyan/Methodist approach if you are a grounded Wesleyan already.
-Princeton has a vibrant community life since the vast majority of students do not live off campus or in apartments but in campus housing.
-Princeton is highly diverse, even to the point of contentious which creates a lively learning environment if you can handle diversity.
-PTS’s open curriculum is especially good for self-directed students.
-PTS has as old school style of study highly committed to the careful reading of classic texts.
-PTS is a church-owned seminary thus is exceptionally ecclesially oriented.

(I'll post this in the other school's section too)

Anonymous said...

I visited Duke with the same assumptions that have been expressed here. I heard that they are godless liberals who would try to destroy my faith.

After my visit I have been counting down the days for when I actually get to enroll! I loved everything about Duke. The admissions counselor was very helpful and seemed to actually care about me and my decisions. The class that I sat in on (Dr. Phillips) about Christian Worship seemed challenging and insightful. The community life seemed to work well. Professors seemed to be available. Everyone that I encountered seemed to be happy that they were there.

Also the enviroment didn't seem to be liberal at all. I have learned that the words "conservative" and "liberal" mean different things to everyone.

Another assumption that I had was that Duke would be more focused on academics than ministry. For me, this didn't seem to be the case. The people that I talked to talked more about ministry and didn't seem to boast much about the academics. (though their faculty speaks for itself)

All of these ideas came from one visit so my view can't be taken very seriously.

Kevin said...

Although I was blown away on my visit to Duke, I was a little skeptical as I rolled into Durham to begin this three year program. Duke, however, has blown my socks off. The balance here between top-notch scholarship and preparation to pastor a church has been incredibly impressive in my first few weeks here.

The heart of the Div. School is ecumenical in nature, yet extremely orthodox. Coming from IWU, I feel quite well prepared in my classes here at Duke. The reading is intense, but it's graduate school, what should I expect?

I would encourage anyone to come down here and take a visit. I am extremely excited about it because Duke is the place where God wanted me to be at this time. Other schools may be better for some people, so I will not make claims about Duke's greatness. All I know is that I daily look forward to sitting in class, worshiping with classmates, and being part of the community that exists at Duke University.

-Kevin Johnson

Andy Rowell said...

Greetings. I am a new Th.D. student at Duke. I taught Christian Ministry at Taylor University the last two years and am happy to be in touch with people.

My blog is at www.andyrowell.net

Andy Rowell

Anonymous said...

To Nathan Hendershott: I think that when people speak of theological institutions being "liberal," they aren't speaking of politics. Though there are similarities and general worldview resemblances, the row over liberal/conservative theology is not about politics.

You posted your comments a while ago so maybe you've figured that out already. Many mainline religious schools like Yale and Virginia are considered post-liberal. Some, like Harvard, are still considered liberal but even their brand of liberalism is different than traditional liberalism.

When conservative Christians (and really, let's not beat around the bush, we're talking about Bible believing, traditional Christians--frankly, real Christians who are going to heaven to be with Christ as opposed to certain modern strains that make Christian sounds and do vaguely Christian things without being bothered by notions of resurrections, souls, sin, or redemption)... ahem... when conservative Christians talk about "liberal" institutions today, they generally just mean anyone who goes soft on the resurrection or taking Scripture seriously.

Ken Schenck said...

Talbot Anon,

The thing is, I think the vast majority of profs at Duke Divinity School do believe in things like resurrection, sin, and salvation. Certainly Maddox, Hays, etc.. do.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Ken, you're right. I wasn't saying that Duke is in a liberal death-spiral. If I had gotten a perfect score on my GRE I would have eagerly applied to Duke.

I was simply responding to a previous poster who was confusing the political liberal/conservative divide with the theological one.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Yale, what is meant by it being a post-liberal school? In my circles Duke is considered a fairly moderate school. In what I have seen I wouldn't put Yale in the moderate category, though I don't know much about it. Just reading a few articles written by professors and students, I would think Yale would be a lot more liberal than Duke. thoughts??

Rev. J said...

One thing that has not been mentioned about Duke that should is the Field Education placements. Two of these 'internships' are required before you can graduate. They do a good job giving you practical experiences along with the intellectual aspect of the classroom. Not only that but they also help with tuition and lets face it, Duke is expensive.

I did five field education placements and I loved all of them. I did work in rural churches but also did chaplaincy work in Duke University Hospital working with HIV/AIDS patients. In addition I did a CPE course where I worked with children in a low income housing development.

I cherished my time at Duke, the friends I made, the basketball games I went to and the atmosphere. These are all the icing on the cake of the scholarly learning you will do in the classroom

Wen said...

I've just finished the MTS degree at Duke Divinity and had a wonderful time. As a reformed presbyterian evangelical, I was somewhat apprehensive of Duke Div's methodist arminian bent going in, but my experience has been anything but difficult. There is a great theological diversity in both the faculty and student population and I quickly found friends who were at least sympathetic if not defenders of reformed theology.

More importantly, the academic atmosphere of Duke allows for different traditions to actually learn from one another in conversation, something that I had hardly witnessed in other evangelical circles. I quickly met many friends who were quite different theologically (in terms of adiaphora) but were loving and interested in forming friendships with those who shared faith in Christ.

The Duke Div student body is a great mix of methodists, anglicans, baptists, a few pentecostals, mennonites, presbyterians, and moravians, but all on the same page in their passion for serving Christ's church in the parish/pastorate or in academia. The "duke school" of thought is certainly present (a hauerwasian-post-liberal model) on campus, but there is plenty of breathing room to consider and engage with other models, traditions, and approaches. I found duke divinity to be a wonderfully stretching, challenging, and complimentary experience for any reformed evangelical looking to get a greater "ecumenical" grasp on biblical studies, theology, ecclesiology, pastoring, and their own faith in Christ.

I agree with Kevin and think that if you're interested, just come and sit in on a class or two. that will give you a great picture of what duke is like. i'll be continuing on at duke for doctoral work in american christianity so if anyone has any questions about duke or approaching seminary in hopes of doing phd work, feel free to shoot me an email!

Ray said...
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Danny D said...

I have seen the funded Field Education experiences mentioned a number of times here. I know that Duke allows student to participate in non-funded FE as well and states that funded FE is not guaranteed. How available or how easily obtained are the funded FE? I would not have a lot of flexibility financially and this info would help my decision quite a bit.

I know this thread has been dormant for awhile, but any info would be great!

JMKendall said...

Danny => "How available or how easily obtained are the funded FE? I would not have a lot of flexibility financially and this info would help my decision quite a bit."

I'm in my first year at Duke and am quite familiar with the field-education program. Prior to enrolling in classes, I was able to do a "pre-enrollment field ed placement" and am preparing to do another one in the coming months. If you are willing to stay in North Carolina and serve at an endowment-eligible institution (typically a Methodist congregation or a few parachurch ministries) then you will receive a funded placement of *I believe* $8,500. This is divided as salary and grant money, which I saw as a big bonus because the grant money is tax free. I believe I got paid around $5,000 in 2 paychecks and the other $3,500 went straight toward my tuition. Typically students do these field placements during the summer; however, you can do field placements during the academic school year. I've heard there is a limit to how many funded field placements you can do, but I'm not sure about that.

Other financial aid comments:
- you can be a "student-pastor" which gives you more opportunity for aid, but forces you to attend school for 4 years (they cap the classes you can take at three per semester so you can hopefully have some balance). This seems to be very challenging, but there are quite a few students who do it.

- Also, because of Duke's endowment, first year students get 1/3 off tuition and after that I believe it is 1/4. this is based on fafsa I believe, making it need based, but most people qualify for it as I understand.

- Another comment on Field Ed...self-initiated placements and nearly all out-of-state placements are NOT funded. There are exceptions to this of course, but as a general rule this is the case.

I hope this was helpful. Maybe one day I'll get around to writing my take on the school, but I'm still in the process of trying to figure it out before I post a review! Blessings to you as you seek God's direction.

Danielle said...
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