Jeffrey Nicolaisen, Ph.D. 2019

Visiting Researcher, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University – Hsinchu, Taiwan

2019 Ph.D., Religious Studies; certificate in College Teaching

How has being a Religion graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"I entered this field because I wanted to learn more about the topic of Asian Religions, and Duke provided the special opportunity to focus on what I wanted to study with the financial support that allowed for significant freedom to pursue my interests. I was lucky enough to have time to focus on learning languages and doing research, without heavy assistantship requirements. I am grateful for that opportunity, and I think that Duke provided the skills I needed to engage with the global academic community both in teaching and research."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Religion programs? 

"Enjoy the time you have to study and develop your own project, because you may have more freedom to explore in graduate school than the demands of jobs may allow later. I also recommend current students to take advantage of the support you have to focus on your dissertation, write a strong dissertation, and finish quickly, but try to teach at least one course as instructor of record and put yourself fully into teaching and getting strong student evaluations. The job market is difficult, so you will need both a strong research record, and at least some proof of teaching effectiveness to get your foot in the door. It will help later to have developed a strategy early to be competitive on the job market."

Jeffrey Nicolaisen, Ph.D. 2019