The Doctoral Fellowship program invites current Ph.D./Th.D. students to consider theological education as their vocation. Fellows receive US$3,000 each year for two years, and join with a peer cohort of other fellows for three formational gatherings each year as part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative (VTE).
2024 Application information now available
Application due date: March 1, 2024 (11:59 p.m. EDT)
Doctoral Fellowship amount: US$3,000 each year for 2 years
Fellowship timeframe: Fall 2024 — Spring 2026
Awards announced: May 15, 2024
Vocation of the Theological Educator Gatherings: October 2024; February, May & October 2025; and February & May 2026
What are Doctoral Fellowships?
The Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellowship program invites current Ph.D. and Th.D. students in their first or second year of doctoral study to consider theological education as a vocation. Applicants are typically scholars studying Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, religious trends and movements, Christian and other faith-based institutions, and religion and social issues. As part of the Louisville Institute’s Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative (VTE), Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellows participate in intentional, focused, professional formation as they explore a calling to be a theological educator.
The Louisville Institute understands theological education broadly, encompassing the academic study and teaching of religion and its practices, as well as formation for ministry, leadership, social justice and public service, nonprofit and other agency work, etc. Preference for fellowships is given to doctoral students who demonstrate an interest in theological education as a vocation, who express an understanding of the current challenges and opportunities of theological education, and who articulate connections between their doctoral work and these trends and dynamics.
As Doctoral Fellows, students receive a US$3,000 grant each year for two years, and join with a peer cohort of other fellows for three formational gatherings each year (October, February, and May) as part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative (VTE). All expenses for participating in the VTE gatherings, held in Louisville, KY, are covered by the Louisville Institute.
What do I need to know to apply?
- Review all eligibility and application requirements below.
- Learn more about previous Doctoral Fellowship recipients.
- Ready to apply? Click here or APPLY in the upper right corner. NOTE: Application portal opens June 1, 2023 for 2024 Doctoral Fellowship applications.
Who is eligible for a Doctoral Fellowship?
- are students in their first or second year of a Ph.D. or Th.D. program at the time they apply
- attend 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
- come from diverse fields such as history, systematic and practical theology, pastoral studies, social sciences, ethics, or biblical studies, or bring interdisciplinary approaches to their scholarship
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are VTE Gatherings?
Three times a year (October, February, & May), LI Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellows gather in Louisville, KY, for vocational and professional formation, relationship building, and mutual support as part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative (VTE). With their cohorts, fellows engage vocational questions about theological education, discernment, leadership, pedagogy, mentoring, research and writing, employment and tenure, public theology, guild participation, and other relevant issues. Through peer learning and in conversation with mentor-facilitators and invited resource persons, fellows together create space for dialogue, imagination, collegiality, and growth within and across the academy and the church. All expenses for participation in the VTE gatherings are covered by the Louisville Institute.
How do I apply?
PREPARING YOUR DOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP APPLICATION
- 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 “Doctoral Fellowship” to begin entering the elements of your application. NOTE: Application portal opens June 1, 2023 for 2024 Doctoral Fellowship applications.
- Applications are due by 11:59 p.m. EST March 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 March 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.
Doctoral Fellowship applications require the following elements. After you have created your online profile, you will be prompted to provide the following:
- General information about your doctoral progress to date, including:
- The focus or subject of your anticipated dissertation research
- Your academic discipline/field
- Your doctoral progress: the dates you anticipate completing your coursework, comprehensive or qualifying exams, and approval of your dissertation proposal or thesis topic.
- Application essay: The Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellowship is part of the Vocation of the Theological Educator Initiative, and its intent is to help early career scholars consider theological education as their vocation or calling. In an essay of no more than 1500 words (5–7 pages, double-spaced, 12-point font), describe why theological education has been important to you, why you have chosen to pursue a doctoral degree related to religion, and what you see as your vocational trajectory. From your perspective and social context, reflect on current dynamics and realities of theological education and the church, the possibilities and challenges ahead, and how you see your gifts, skills, and academic goals within this larger context. In this essay, we are more interested in your ideas, analysis, and passion for theological education than a recitation of your resume. Include your name on each page of the essay, number the pages, and upload the document as a PDF. (Note: The Louisville Institute understands theological education broadly, encompassing the academic study and teaching of religion and its practices, as well as formation for ministry, leadership, social justice and public service, nonprofit and other agency work, etc.)
- Doctoral transcript: One transcript (unofficial or official) from your doctoral program to date must be sent by email to email@example.com 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.
- 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.
- Two letters of recommendation due from the recommenders March 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.
- Faculty mentor/advisor letter of recommendation: Your first letter of recommendation should come from your faculty mentor/advisor who will be asked to assess your doctoral work thus far, your vocational interest in theological education, and your promise as a teacher and scholar.
- Second letter of recommendation: Your second letter of recommendation should come from an academic mentor or colleague 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.
COMPLETING THE APPLICATION
All elements of the application, including transcripts, must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 1, 2024, except the recommendation letters, which are due from the recommenders March 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the selection process for Doctoral Fellowship?
Every year the Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Doctoral 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 15, 2024. Fellowship funds are dispersed in September of the award year.
We are often asked how many applications we receive for our fellowships. For each of the last several years of the Doctoral Fellowship, we have received about 60 eligible applications and have awarded 10 fellowships.
What else do I need to know?
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).
Louisville Institute grantees and fellows may not simultaneously hold two individual grants from Lilly Endowment-funded organizations that together total more than US$45,000.
Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions — send us an email at email@example.com.