Postdoctoral Fellowship

The Postdoctoral Fellowship provides early career theological educators with vocational and professional formation through a two-year job placement. Fellows receive US$30,000 each year (plus housing, health benefits, and moving benefits), 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).

No longer accepting 2024 Applications  

Application due date: October 15, 2023 (11:59 p.m. EDT)

Postdoctoral Fellowship amount: US$30,000 stipend each year for 2 years, plus housing & other benefits

Postdoctoral Fellowship timeframe: Fall 2024 – Spring 2026

Awards announced: Spring 2024

Vocation of the Theological Educator Gatherings: October 2024; February, May & October 2025; and February & May 2026

What are Postdoctoral Fellowships?

The Louisville Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship provides early career theological educators with vocational and professional formation through a two-year job placement, usually as a visiting professor at ATS-accredited theological schools or a college or university in the United States and Canada. 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), Postdoctoral 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 or recent graduates 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.

The Postdoctoral Fellowship provides a stipend of US$30,000 each of the two years of the placement, as well as insurance, housing, and moving benefits (note: postdoctoral placements often require relocation). Postdoctoral Fellows receive ongoing peer mentorship in their placement sites, 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 participants in the VTE gatherings, which are held in Louisville, KY, are covered by the Louisville Institute.

What do I need to know to apply?

Who is eligible for Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Eligible applicants:

  • are scholars based in the United States and Canada who will complete all Ph.D./Th.D. work, defend their dissertations, and receive their degrees no later than June 30 the year the fellowship begins (i.e., 2024)
  • demonstrate appreciation for the Christian church and a commitment to theological education, and are able to articulate how their doctoral work and other experiences have prepared them to be a theological educator
  • 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
  • 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, 2024, 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. Preference for Postdoctoral Fellowships is given to recent doctoral graduates.

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

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?


  • 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 “Postdoctoral 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. EDT October 15, 2023. 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 October 22, 2023. 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.


Postdoctoral 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:
    • Your academic discipline/field
    • Your anticipated doctoral defense date
    • A dissertation summary/abstract: a brief description of your dissertation, its claims, and its significance. (Limit 2000 characters, about 200 words.)
    • Your doctoral progress: the dates you completed your coursework, comprehensive or qualifying exams, and approval of your dissertation proposal or thesis topic.
  1. 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 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 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.)
  1. Doctoral transcript: One transcript (unofficial or official) from your doctoral program to date must be sent by email to 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 October 22: 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 a faculty mentor or advisor who can attest to your promise as a teacher and scholar 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 confirm 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.

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. EDT on October 15, 2023, except the recommendation letters, which are due from the recommenders October 22, 2023. 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

What is the selection process for Postdoctoral Fellowship?

Every year the Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and name Postdoctoral Fellowship semi-finalists. 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. Semifinalists will then be interviewed to begin the process of coordinating a possible placement. Awards will be announced publicly in Spring 2024 after all placements are finalized.

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 65-70 eligible applications and we expect to award 6 fellowships in 2024.

What else do I need to know?

Ordinarily, the Louisville Institute will place Postdoctoral Fellows in an appropriate, ATS-accredited theological school (or less often at a college or university). 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 arranges placements based on the needs of the institutions, 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.

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