Lastly, if possible, develop a strong idea of what you want to study in your field before going to graduate school. This is a good idea for anyone going to graduate school, but it is especially important for Christians. Once you have thought deeply and deliberately about your area of interest, it will be harder for your professor to move you to a research area that does not fit your calling. Graduate school is a social area where many scholars have social and religious perspectives based on secular values. A Christian who has not fully thought out what to study in the framework of Christianity within his chosen field of research may wind up conducting research that does not comport with Christian values. It is difficult to fully know what to study before even taking a graduate class, but the more Christian students contemplate their potential research question the easier it will be to maintain the integrity of why they decided to attend graduate school to begin with.
Even though some information about Christians in graduate school can be discouraging, I offer these suggestions as encouragement. If God has called you into graduate school then nothing can stop you from achieving the goals he has for you except for unwillingness to do the work necessary to succeed. With that in mind, the most important step is to make sure you understand his call.
George Yancey is a professor of sociology at the University of North Texas. He is author of Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education (Baylor University Press) and co-author (with David Williamson) of What Motivates Cultural Progressives (Baylor University Press). He is currently doing research on Christianophobia in the United States and his work can be found at www.georgeyancey.com.