Hope this doesn't count as going offtopic, but would I be right in thinking that generally there aren't Buddhist universities/colleges in the way there are theological colleges for Christians or Madrasa (sp?) for Muslims? It seems to me you practice as a lay person, go to talks, and then take novice ordination or whatever?
If you wanted an academic degree (i.e. you need/want the credentials) then maybe doing a course in Buddhist studies, while deepening lay practice, would make sense? Apart from anything else, if you decided to stay a layperson, you'd still have a degree