Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Postdoctoral Fellowship (PostDoc) programs provides awards of $30,000 each year (plus housing, health benefits, and moving benefits) to support a two-year visiting professorship in a theological school, college, or university setting. Louisville Postdoctoral Fellows are accompanied by an academic mentor and a pastoral mentor. Fellows also constitute a peer learning cohort that meets a total of six times over two years.

Now accepting 2023 Applications

Application Deadline: October 15, 2022 *NEW date*

Fellowship Amount: $30,000 stipend per year for two years, plus other benefits

Postdoctoral Fellowship Timeline: Fall 2023 – Spring 2025

The Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship (PostDoc) provides early career theological educators with vocational and professional formation through a two-year visiting professorship, usually in placements at ATS-accredited seminaries, colleges, or universities in the United States and Canada. As part of the Louisville Institute’s Vocation of the Theological Educator (VTE) Initiative, these scholars engage in intentional, focused, professional formation and teaching as they explore a calling to be a theological educator. Fellows 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.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship provides a stipend of $30,000 for each of the two years, as well as insurance, housing, and moving benefits (note: postdoctoral placements often require relocation). Fellows also receive ongoing mentorship and join with a peer cohort of other fellows for three formational gatherings per year, in October, February, and May. All expenses for participants in the VTE gatherings, which are held in Louisville, KY, are covered by the Louisville Institute.

Previous Postdoctoral Fellows

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Who is eligible for an LI Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Eligible applicants:  

  • are scholars based in the United States and Canada who will complete all Ph.D./Th.D. work, defend their dissertation, and receive their degree no later than June 30 the year the fellowship begins 
  • demonstrate appreciation for the Christian church and a commitment to theological education, and are able to articulate how their doctoral work and other related experiences have prepared them to be a theological educator
  • are aware that postdoctoral placements often require relocation in order to match fellows with appropriate schools/departments

If you anticipate completing your doctoral program after June 30, 2023, we encourage you to apply for a Postdoctoral Fellowship next year. Previous LI Doctoral and/or Dissertation Fellows are eligible to apply to be Postdoctoral Fellows. If you have previously received another Louisville Institute grant, you may apply for a fellowship but all program and financial reports for any earlier grants must be submitted by July 1. Preference for Postdoctoral Fellowships is given to recent doctoral graduates. 

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). Additionally, 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. Your academic discipline/field
      3. Your anticipated doctoral defense date
      4. Dissertation summary/abstract: Briefly describe your dissertation, its claims, and its significance. (Limit 2000 characters, about 200 words.)
      5. Doctoral progress: Provide the dates you completed your coursework, comprehensive or qualifying exams, and approval of your dissertation proposal or thesis topic.
      6. Application essay: The Louisville Institute Postdoctoral 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 your interest in teaching in theological education, how your experiences in theological education have influenced your sense of vocation, and your understanding of the significance and realities of theological education in the twenty-first century. 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 vocational goals within this larger context. Draw connections between your experience, your scholarship, and your sense of vocation. In this essay, we are more interested in your ideas, analysis, and passion for theological education than a recitation of your résumé. Include your name on each page of the essay, number the pages, and upload the document as a PDF.
      7. 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.
      8. 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.)
      9. 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 October 22, 2022, one week after the application deadline.
        • Advisor letter of recommendation: Your first letter of recommendation should come from a faculty mentor or advisor who can attest to your promise as a teacher and researcher in theological education, the significance of your work thus far, and your interest in and understanding of the role and purpose of theological education. The recommender should also indicate your expected graduation 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 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 October 15, 2022, except for recommendation letters, which are due October 22, 2022. For items a) through e) above, you will be prompted to fill in blanks online. For items f) and h), 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 October 15, 2022. 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 name Postdoctoral Fellowship semifinalists. Committee membership and deliberations are confidential. All applicants will be notified as soon as possible following the selection committee, which usually takes place about 8 weeks after the application due date. Semifinalists will then be interviewed by the Louisville Institute executive director to begin the process of coordinating a possible placement.  

We are often asked how many applications we receive for our fellowships. For each of the last several years of the Postdoctoral Fellowship, we have received about 70–75 eligible applications, and have awarded about 10 fellowships.


What else do I need to know?

Ordinarily, the Louisville Institute will place Postdoctoral Fellows in an appropriate, ATS-accredited theological school; we have also placed fellows in hybrid teaching/program-oriented settings. As a semifinalist, your preferences and needs will be taken into account throughout the placement process, and you will have an opportunity to discuss your hopes and desires with us. However, it is neither necessary nor appropriate for you to pursue possible placements yourself at any time during the process. The Institute will arrange two-year placements depending on the teaching needs of the theological school, the disciplinary expertise of the fellows, and theological and contextual fit between the two. 

As part of the placement process, we will ask you about other placements or jobs you may be pursuing (which are kept confidential). This is for our information as we place our scholars and does not have any bearing on whether or not you will receive a Postdoctoral Fellowship. Our desire is to help find the best option for you — be it in one of our Postdoctoral Fellowships, or elsewhere — and we ask that you be open and transparent in these conversations so that we can best assist you, wherever you land.

In the event that a Postdoctoral Fellow accepts full-time employment elsewhere, the Postdoctoral Fellowship or placement process will end but the fellow may choose to continue participation in the Vocation of the Theological Educator formation as a Louisville Institute Scholar. The Louisville Institute will negotiate fellowship status and participation on a case-by-case basis.

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