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Application Deadline: February 1, 2020

Fellowship Amount: $25,000

Apply for a Dissertation Fellowship now.

The Dissertation Fellowship (DF) program supports the final year Ph.D. or Th.D. dissertation writing for students engaged in research pertaining to North American Christianity, especially projects with the potential to strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions, including seminaries, while simultaneously advancing American religious and theological scholarship.

Previous DF Fellowships


DF applicants must be candidates for the Ph.D. or Th.D. degree in an accredited graduate school in the United States or Canada. Applicants must be on track to fulfill all pre-dissertation requirements, including approval of the dissertation proposal, by February 1 of the award year and should expect to complete the dissertation by the end of the following academic year. These fellowships are intended to support the final year of dissertation writing.

Proposed projects may employ a variety of methodological perspectives, including, but not limited to, history, ethics, the social sciences, biblical studies, and historical, systematic, and practical theology. They may also be interdisciplinary in nature.

In all its grantmaking, including the Dissertation Fellowship program, LI is interested in funding projects with the potential to strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions while simultaneously advancing American religious and theological scholarship. The Louisville Institute also has an interest in strengthening the quality of theological school teaching.

Applicants may not submit applications to more than one Louisville Institute grant or fellowship program within the same grant year (June 1-May 31).

Doctoral Fellows are encouraged to apply for the Dissertation Fellowship program. It is also open to outstanding students who may not intend to teach in theological education, but whose dissertation projects have the potential to strengthen the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions. Questions about eligibility may be sent to Pamala Collins.

DF Application Requirements

Applicants must plan to complete their Ph.D. or Th.D. degree in the current academic year.

All documents must be submitted by the February 1 deadline. Upload each application requirement in *.pdf format (preferred). Transcripts must be received on or before February 1st. Recommenders must submit their letters by February 8th. If you encounter problems, contact Pamala Collins.

Applications must include:

  • Applicant Information
      • Title of Proposed Dissertation
      • Core Question: State your project’s core question 1-3 sentences and why it is important to the church in North America.
      • Project Summary: Summarize your project in approximately 200-words.
      • Using the online form, provide details about your proposed dissertation, institutions you attended, relevant coursework, academic honors, pertinent teaching/employment experience, titles/citations of publications, career plans and how your dissertation will contribute to American religious life.
  • Curriculum Vitae or résumé (no more than 4 pages)
  • Dissertation prospectus of no more than 5 to 7 pages (double-spaced and typed in a 12-point font, 2000 word limit) in which you articulate clearly the thesis of the dissertation, summarize its argument, and discuss its contribution to the study of religion in America and to the vitality of American religious life.
  • Selective bibliography (2-3 pages double-spaced)
  • Transcripts: One official copy of each of your graduate & professional school transcripts sent by the institutions or dossier service directly to the Louisville Institute via hard copy or transcript service to
  • Two Letters of Recommendation: When uploading your application requirements, provide names, email addresses and phone numbers for your recommenders. After submitting your application, LI will immediately email recommenders with a link to submit letters online. Applicants should contact their recommenders in advance to explain procedures and guidelines (below). Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by February 8th.
    • Dissertation Advisor’s Letter of Recommendation: Your dissertation advisor will be asked to provide a letter that assesses your doctoral work, dissertation topic and research to date, and your promise for a vocation of teaching and scholarly research.
    • Dissertation Second Letter of Recommendation: Your second letter of recommendation should be from an academic mentor or colleague, someone who can affirm your scholarly promise and assess the quality of your doctoral work and dissertation research to date. In addition, this recommender will be asked to comment on your personal qualities and commitments, including engagement with faith communities (if applicable).

    With the exception of transcripts, upload application materials through our website in *.pdf format by February 1. If you encounter problems, please email Pamala Collins.

Review and Selection Process

Every year the Louisville Institute Board appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Dissertation Fellowships. Committee membership and deliberations remain confidential.

Applicants whose projects are not funded will be notified by mail as soon as possible following the adjudication process. Due to the large number of applications the Institute receives, LI Board and staff members do not provide additional feedback on declined proposals.

Awards will be announced on or before May 1, 2020.

Duration of Award and Stipend

Dissertation Fellowships will provide a stipend of $25,000 for twelve months beginning in September. Fellowships are not renewable. All tuition, medical insurance, and required fees are the responsibility of the student.


Grantees may not accept other awards that provide a comparable stipend during the tenure of this fellowship nor may they undertake substantial outside employment (more than fifteen hours per week) without written permission. Persons who decline the offer of a Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship are ineligible to reapply in a subsequent year. The Dissertation Fellowship program has no residence requirement. However, all fellows selected in 2020 are expected to participate in the Institute’s annual Winter Seminar scheduled for January 2021 (exact dates TBA). LI will pay travel and lodging expenses for this gathering. Please note that LI grantees may not simultaneously hold two grants or fellowships from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations that total more than $45,000.

The Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship is not intended to replace any financial support that the doctoral student would otherwise receive from the student’s doctoral institution during the period of the Louisville grant. If the doctoral institution chooses not to cover or waive the tuition, and withdraws its financial support because of the Louisville Fellowship, then the Louisville Institute will exercise its right to withdraw the Dissertation Fellowship.


For further information on all Fellowships, please contact Pamala Collins.