Doctoral Fellowship

The Doctoral Fellowship (DOC) program encourages current Ph.D./Th.D. students to consider theological education as their vocation. The Institute awards two-year Doctoral Fellowships of $3,000 per year. In addition, Fellows constitute a peer learning cohort that meets six times over a two year period.

Now accepting 2023 Applications

Application Deadline: March 1, 2023

Fellowship Amount: $3,000 per year for two years

Doctoral Fellowship Timeline: Fall 2023 — Spring 2025

The Louisville Institute Doctoral Fellowship (DOC) program invites current religion Ph.D. and Th.D. students in their first or second year of doctoral study to consider theological education as a vocation. Many of our applicants are scholars in areas related to Christian faith and life, the practice of ministry, religious trends and movements, Christian and other faith-based institutions, and religion and social issues. As Doctoral Fellows, students receive a $3,000 grant each year for two years, and join with other fellows for three formational gatherings per year (October, February, and May) as part of the Louisville Institute’s Vocation of the Theological Education (VTE) Initiative. All expenses for participating in the VTE gatherings, held in Louisville, KY, are covered by the Louisville Institute.

Previous Doctoral Fellows

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Who is eligible for an LI Doctoral Fellowship?

Eligible applicants:  

    • must be students in their first or second year of a Ph.D. or Th.D. program in an accredited graduate school in the United States or Canada, and be U.S. or Canadian citizens or international students with appropriate student visas to study in North America
    • may study in a variety of disciplines (history, ethics, practical theology, biblical studies, etc.), or may be interdisciplinary

The Louisville Institute supports scholars and projects pertaining to the church and that have potential to enrich the religious life of North American Christians and their institutions. For Doctoral Fellowships, preference is given to 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. Though students who apply to be Doctoral Fellows are often in the early stages of articulating their research, applicants are encouraged to demonstrate how their academic and vocational interests reflect the goals of the Institute. 

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. Additionally, 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 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. 

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


How do I apply?

  1. Read all the application materials and eligibility requirements on this page thoroughly, and refer to them as you complete your application. 
  2. Create an account. Click the “Apply” button to create an account and get started.
  3. Prepare your materials. You will be asked to provide: 
      1. General applicant information
      2. The focus or subject of your anticipated dissertation research 
      3. Your academic discipline/field
      4. Doctoral progress: Provide the dates you anticipate completing your coursework, comprehensive or qualifying exams, and approval of your dissertation proposal or thesis topic.
      5. 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, 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 from your perspective, 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 résumé. Draw connections between your experience, your education, and your sense of vocation. Include your name on each page of the essay, number the pages, and upload the document as a PDF.
      6. Graduate and professional school transcripts: One official copy of each of your graduate and professional school transcripts must be sent by the institutions or dossier service directly to the Louisville Institute at fellowships@louisville-institute.org via transcript service (preferred) or hard copy (Louisville Institute Fellowships, 1044 Alta Vista Road, Louisville, KY 40205). Transcripts are due with the application, so make sure to request them in advance so they are received in time.
      7. Curriculum vitae or résumé: Provide a CV or résumé of no more than four pages — put your name on each page, number the pages, and upload the document as a PDF — that includes:
        • Institutions of higher education you’ve attended and degrees earned, including dates, starting with the most recent
        • Major academic honors you’ve received
        • Teaching experience and/or other relevant employment, starting with the most recent
        • Titles and citations of your publications, starting with the most recent
        • Other relevant experience (guild membership, ordination, volunteer service, etc.)
      8. Two letters of recommendation: 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 the contact information, the person you’ve named will automatically receive an email with a link to submit a letter online. Applicants should contact their recommenders in advance to discuss the fellowship and provide copies of their application materials. We will notify you via email as we receive the letters. Letters of recommendation are due by March 8, one week after the application deadline.
        • 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 to this point, your vocational interest in theological education, and your promise as a teacher and researcher. 
        • Second letter of recommendation: Your second letter of recommendation should come from an academic mentor or colleague who can speak to your academic promise and your interest in theological education. In addition, this recommender will be asked to comment on your personal qualities and commitments, including engagement with faith communities, if applicable.

All elements of the application, including transcripts, must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 1, 2023, except for recommendation letters, which are due by March 8, 2023. For items a) through d) above, you will be prompted to fill in blanks online. For items e) and g), please upload documents in *.pdf format. If you have questions or encounter problems with the application, email fellowships@louisville-institute.org. 


Can I edit my application?

Yes, you can edit all portions of your application until 11:59 p.m. EST March 1, 2023. Unfortunately, changes cannot be made after the application deadline.


How do I know my application is complete?

In the week after the application deadline, LI staff will process the applications to prepare for the selection committee. If your application is incomplete, we will follow up with you. Once your application is complete, we will email you confirmation.


What is the selection process?

Every year the Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Doctoral Fellowships. Committee membership and deliberations are confidential. All applicants will be notified as soon as possible following the selection process, which usually takes place about 6 weeks after the application due date. Awards will be announced publicly on or before May 15, 2023. Doctoral Fellowship award checks are disbursed in September each 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 40–50 eligible applications, and have awarded 10 fellowships.

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