To Ph.D. or Not to Ph.D., That is the Question.

I have been offered an opportunity to begin a Ph.D. program with the department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands.

This all came about because of a paper I presented at a theological/philosophical conference in Rome a couple of years ago. One of the fellows on the same panel as I, a Romanian professor of theology, in response to my ruminating about possible Ph.D. work, suggested I pursue it and mentioned the University of Groningen and how I should go about contacting them. So, after the conference I sent the paper I had presented in Rome to the department of theology and religious studies at U of G and, frankly, forgot about it. I really didn’t expect a response. I wasn’t sure that was a mountain I really wanted to climb anyway.

Well, they responded and thought the paper had the seeds of a Ph.D. dissertation in the ideas presented. They asked for a proposal, bibliography, some sample graduate papers, curriculum vitae, and my transcripts from undergrad and graduate school. So I sent all that, thinking, well, they’re going to require further classes or graduate work (neither of my degrees are in pure philosophy or pure religious studies) and I can bow out at that point noting the time difficulties it would create to add all that on top of dissertation work.

But, again, the response was positive and they want me to fine-tune the proposal and begin moving forward. Wow. What in the world have I gotten myself into? I never thought my paper would be accepted for the Rome conference and it was. I never thought a school would accept my paper as a spring board for a Ph.D. dissertation and it was. My bluff has been called at each point. I am a terrible poker player, clearly. What to do now? Any suggestions?

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