I am meeting with Professor Tucker today to talk about many things, one of which includes a potential switch to a post-baccalaureate doctorate program. There are many reasons why I am discerning this process. First, I hope to emphasize that the M.T.S. program isn’t right for me. I have studied religion as an academic discipline and feel I am not getting what I need from graduate school, namely, an opportunity to expand upon knowledge from my bachelor’s degree. While the semester has barely begun, my concern is that this trend will continue. Furthermore, I am concerned that the only way to prevent this trend from occurring is through directed studies with other academics. However, I do not wish this to occur either. Directed studies will give me freedom but they lack the components that I desire, namely, academia is a community. Directed study entails a loss of a significant portion of academic work: discourse.
Second, I also hope to emphasize that I feel bound by the M.T.S. program and that it’s not allowing me to emphasize my own research interests. Academic discipline means that I should have some confines, I should be disciplined. However, I am interested in studying women, gender, and sexuality in religion. I am getting some of this information, at least peripherally, out of the courses that I am taking at the moment. However, I also want to specifically focus on these issues and I want to be in a setting where many of the other students are too. Charting territory is cool. Thinking outside the box is excellent. That being said, I want to have discussion and it’s difficult to do that when you’re the only one intent on studying what you want to study.
The question now turns to whether I am ready for it. A good rationale is that I petitioned out of two of the courses required for the degree. That doesn’t mean much because there are a lot of people who have done this. However, I have done significant work in Texts and Traditions. I have done significant work in Contemporary Contexts. My undergraduate academic experience reveals that I am prepared to take that next step. Furthermore, the fact that I am working with doctoral students in Sociology of Religion says a lot about my preparedness to commit to doing doctoral work. If my background in theories and methods is being used to tutor doctoral students, then I feel more called to move from the MTS to doing Ph.D. work.
Why focus on all of this? Being able to articulate this desire determines whether I complete a Masters Thesis. It determines whether I discuss the next courses I take to focus on my discipline. A lot is centered around this question.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that this discernment process won’t lead to what I want it to. I have to admit that there is a rationale that I am not thinking of that might prevent me from this process. It’s a quick change during a relatively short period in time. Here’s to hoping. If not being able to pursue my calling, then at least being grounded in a way that accentuates my desires and interests.