Dissertation Fellowship

The Dissertation Fellowship offers US$25,000 grants to support the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. or Th.D. students whose research focuses on Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, religious trends and movements, Christian and other faith-based institutions, and religion and social issues.

No Longer Accepting 2024 Applications. Check back soon for 2025 information.

Application due date: February 1, 2024 (11:59 p.m. EST)

Dissertation Fellowship Amount: US$25,000

Fellowship Timeline: Fall 2024 – Spring 2025

Awards announced: May 1, 2024

Winter Seminar: January 22-24, 2025

What are Dissertation Fellowships?

The Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship offers US$25,000 grants to support the final year of dissertation writing for Ph.D. or Th.D. students whose research focuses on Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, religious trends and movements, Christian and other faith-based institutions, and religion and social issues. Dissertation projects may emerge from diverse fields such as history, systematic and practical theology, social sciences, ethics, biblical studies, etc., or may be interdisciplinary in nature. Of particular interest to the Louisville Institute are projects with the potential to bridge church and academy, and to generate new knowledge that enriches the life of the church in North America. Students applying in 2024 should expect to complete their dissertations during the 2025 calendar year.

Dissertation Fellows also attend Winter Seminar, a three-day gathering in Louisville, KY, in which award recipients from four different Louisville Institute programs gather to share their projects and engage in valuable collaboration together. Winter Seminar for this grant cycle will take place in January 22–24, 2025, and all related expenses for participants are paid by the Louisville Institute. Attending this event is a requirement of receiving a Dissertation Fellowship.

What do I need to know to apply?

  • Review all eligibility and application requirements below.
  • Learn about previous Dissertation Fellowship projects
  • Ready to apply? Click here or APPLY in the upper right corner.
    NOTE: Application portal opens June 1, 2023 for 2024 Dissertation Fellowship applications.

Who is eligible for a Dissertation Fellowship?

Eligible applicants:

  • are candidates for a Ph.D. or Th.D. degree at an accredited graduate school in the United States or Canada
  • are U.S. or Canadian citizens or international students with appropriate student visas to study in North America
  • are on track to fulfill all pre-dissertation requirements, including approval of the dissertation proposal, by February 1 of the year they apply (i.e., 2024)
  • expect to complete and defend the dissertation during the next calendar year (i.e., 2025)

LI Doctoral Fellows are welcome to apply for the Dissertation Fellowship program. However, if you have previously received and declined an LI Dissertation Fellowship, you are not eligible to apply again. If you have previously received another Louisville Institute grant, you are eligible and encouraged to apply, but all program and financial reports for any earlier grants must be submitted by July 1. Please note other provisions at the bottom of this page.

If you have questions about eligibility or other stipulations of the fellowship, please email fellowships@louisville-institute.org.

How do I apply?



  • Read all the application materials and eligibility requirements on this page thoroughly, and refer to them as you complete your application.
  • Create an online profile on our application portal. You will be asked to provide your name, contact information, and other details about yourself. If you have previously applied for a Louisville Institute program, make sure to update your contact information.
  • Once you have created your profile, click the “Apply” button and select “Dissertation Fellowship” to begin entering the elements of your application.
    NOTE: Application portal opens June 1, 2023 for 2024 Postdoctoral Fellowship applications.
  • Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST February 1, 2024. We recommend that you put together the application elements in time to share them with friends or colleagues for feedback before submitting them. Please do your best to provide clear, refined, and edited documents, noting which elements should be submitted as PDFs.
  • Recommendation letters are due from your recommenders February 8, 2024. In the application portal you will be asked to provide contact information for your recommenders — name, email address, and phone number — and we will send them a link to upload their letters.


Dissertation Fellowship applications require the following elements. After you have created your online profile, you will be prompted to provide the following:

  1. General information about your dissertation and progress to date, including:
    • Title of your proposed dissertation
    • Your academic discipline/field
    • Project core question: In a few sentences, describe the heart of your dissertation — in the form of a question you want to explore — and why the project is important to your community, your field, and/or North American Christianity. (Limit 500 characters/about 100 words.)
    • Dissertation summary/abstract: Briefly describe your dissertation, its claims, and its significance. (Limit 2000 characters, about 200 words.)
    • Project Snapshot: In one sentence, offer an intriguing, quotable “snapshot” of your project (for use on our website and in publicity materials).
    • Doctoral progress: Provide the dates you completed your coursework, comprehensive or qualifying exams, and approval of your dissertation proposal or thesis topic, as well as your anticipated doctoral defense date.
    • Additional support: List other grants or fellowships you’ve received or for which you intend to apply for your final year. (This information is simply for our reference as we work with other funding institutions and partners.)
    • Vocational plans: Briefly describe what you hope to do after you complete your dissertation, and how you envision your dissertation and vocational trajectory contributing to North American Christianity and/or bridging church and academy. (Limit 2000 characters/about 200 words.)
  1. Dissertation prospectus: Compose a dissertation prospectus of no more than 1500 words (5–7 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font) in which you articulate the thesis of your dissertation, summarize its argument and your findings thus far, and discuss its contribution to North American Christianity. Craft a prospectus specifically for this application, describing and reflecting on your dissertation research and progress to date, your methods, what you are discovering, and why the topic matters. The strongest applications demonstrate clarity of vision even in the midst of an emerging project, and offer perspective on the project in relationship to both current scholarship and lived reality. Put your name on each page, number the pages, and upload the document as a PDF.
  1. Selective bibliography: Compile a carefully curated bibliography (2–3 pages, double-spaced) that identifies the primary resources you will study, review, or consult in relation to your project. A research bibliography often consists of relevant publications, but may also include media, organizations, institutions, conference materials, interviews, etc., depending on the nature of your project. Use a citation style appropriate to your field of study. Put your name on each page, number the pages, and upload the document as a PDF.
  1. Doctoral transcript: One transcript (unofficial or official) from your doctoral program to date must be sent by email to transcripts@louisville-institute.org OR via transcript service to the same email. Please include your name and name of fellowship program in the subject line of the email. Transcripts are due with the application, so make sure to request them in advance so they are received in time.
  1. Curriculum vitae or resume: Provide a PDF of your CV or resume (no more than four pages) that includes:
    • Institutions of higher education you’ve attended and degrees earned, including dates, starting with the most recent
    • Teaching and/or employment experience, starting with the most recent
    • Major academic honors you’ve received
    • Titles and citations of your publications, starting with the most recent
    • Other relevant experience that will help the selection committee get to know you, such as church leadership, guild membership, volunteer service, etc.
  1. Two letters of recommendation due from the recommenders February 8: In the online application portal, you will be asked to provide contact information (name, email address, and phone number) for your recommenders, who will be sent a link by email through which they can upload letters. As soon as you submit contact information, your recommender will automatically receive the email. Make sure to contact your recommenders in advance to explain the fellowship and to share your application materials.
    • Dissertation advisor letter of recommendation: Your first letter of recommendation should come from your dissertation advisor who will be asked to assess your doctoral work overall, your dissertation significance and progress to date, and your vocational promise as a teacher and scholar. The recommender should confirm your anticipated doctoral completion date.
    • Second letter of recommendation: Your second letter of recommendation should come from an academic mentor or colleague (preferably an experienced or senior scholar) who can speak to your scholarly promise and assess the quality of your doctoral work and research. In addition, this recommender will be asked to comment on your personal qualities and commitments, including engagement with faith communities, if applicable.

We will notify you via email when we receive the letters from your recommenders.


All elements of the application, including transcripts, must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on February 1, 2024, except the recommendation letters, which are due by February 8, 2024. You can edit all portions of your application until the deadline, after which changes cannot be made. Late applications will not be accepted.

In the week after the application deadline, LI staff will process the applications to prepare for the selection committee. We will follow up with you if your application is incomplete. We will also send you confirmation when we receive your letters of recommendation, and will email you when your application is complete.

If you have questions or encounter problems with the application, email fellowships@louisville-institute.org.

What is the selection process for Dissertation Fellowship?

Every year the Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Dissertation Fellowships. All applicants will be notified as soon as possible following the selection process, which usually takes place about 8 weeks after the application due date. Awards will be announced publicly on or before May 1, 2024. Fellowship funds are dispersed in two equal payments: in September of the award year, and January the following year.

We are often asked how many applications we receive for our fellowships. For each of the last several years of the Dissertation Fellowship, we have received about 100 eligible applications and we expect to award 8–10 fellowships in 2024.

What else do I need to know?

The intent of the LI Dissertation Fellowship is to help free students from other commitments in order to finish their dissertations. For this reason, Dissertation Fellows are required to limit their outside employment to no more than 20 hours a week unless they ask for and receive prior approval from the Louisville Institute (such conversations take place when awards are granted).  

Please note that as a Louisville Institute grantee or fellow you may not simultaneously hold two grants that total more than $45,000 from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations, nor can you accept a Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship and another comparable dissertation completion grant at the same time. This does not preclude you from applying for grants from other institutions; if you are awarded a Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship and grants from other sources we will discuss options with you, including the possibility of being an Honorary Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellow. Additionally, the Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship is intended to supplement — not to replace — financial support you would otherwise receive from your doctoral institution during the period of the Louisville Institute grant. If your doctoral institution chooses to lessen or discontinue your financial support because you receive a Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship, let them know that the Louisville Institute will withdraw the fellowship award.

Because the Louisville Institute is housed at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, members of the seminary’s Board, staff, or student body or their immediate family members (parents, spouse, or children) are not eligible for LI grants or fellowships. Applicants may not submit applications to more than one Louisville Institute grant or fellowship program within the same grant year (June 1–May 31).

Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions — email us at fellowships@louisville-institute.org.