Even though the discussion has strayed somewhat from the original question about scholars who pursue advanced degrees in New Testament studies & the competence needed, I really appreciate the viewpoints expressed so far. I think that we now have a broader understanding of the nature & extent of the issues involved as a result. My intent with this follow-up post is to help refocus & synthesize the discussion in light of the previous contributions.
In the general background we have problems in education & educational philosophy as well as societal changes (including in Christian communities). There are also market forces & economic realities that reflect those general background changes. My original point was that there is little we can do to change those larger environmental factors directly. However, I should add that a good appreciation of those factors can help us figure out how to adapt successfully &/or overcome them (whereas simply lamenting, complaining, or lambasting generally do not contribute to positive change or results). In addition, several have noted that the responsibility for upholding standards lies with the training institutions, especially graduate schools. Carl has also pointed out that the predominant grammar-translation type of pedagogy is broken.
In my opinion, the facts, in general, that we face are: (1) students entering into Ph.D. study are generally less equipped & less motivated to master Greek; (2) admission standards are generally lower; (3) career prospects are generally bleaker & market pressures involved in making oneself more marketable for a teaching post make mastering Greek a relatively low priority; (4) the pedagogy method most frequently used to teach Greek does not serve to equip many of these students well (some manage to thrive regardless, but this has always been a very small percentage--mostly restricted to people who end up doing Ph.D. work, but as more people outside of these ranks gain admittance into Ph.D. programs, the problems become more pronounced).
In my view, a minimum solution requires addressing issues (1) & (2). There are some institutions that have resisted market forces better & upheld or even raised admission standards for Ph.D. study. Far-sighted & determined leadership & financial independence are usually present for these institutions (often the far-sighted & determined leaders purposely raised specifically-targeted endowments to ensure the ability to withstand market pressures). A broader solution would require addressing issues (3) & (4) too. By & large, the people in positions to make decisions at institutions & who possess the resources or determine the allocation of resources are not going to be Ph.D.s in NT or biblical studies. To change perceptions & influence more decision-makers in future generations, new generations of students going through seminaries & religious institutions need to receive more effective training in Greek & receive a better experience with both the joy & relevance of language learning. Initiatives such as Randall Buth's Biblical Language Center deserve wider consideration & use. As market forces (at least within Christian circles) begin to change for the better, demand for highly competent Greek scholars would improve (improving career prospects will cycle back to help motivate candidates preparing for these positions). In addition, I think that better biblical language software tools can be part of the solution, helping to bring comprehensive understanding of the original texts of the New Testament (& related Greek literature), not only to the masses, but also supporting, enhancing, & speeding up the work of future generations of Greek scholars.