Pastoral Study Project

The Pastoral Study Project (PSP) awards pastoral leaders up to $15,000 to pursue a pressing question related to Christian life, faith, and ministry. Grants are available for study projects involving full or partial leave from job responsibilities.

No longer accepting 2023 Applications.  CHeck back april 15 for 2024 information. 

Application Deadline: AUGUST 1, 2022 *NEW date*

Grant Timeframe: January 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024
Grant Amount: up to $15,000

What deep questions of Christian life have you been pondering? What challenges or opportunities facing the church and contemporary society do you wish you could tackle? 

The Louisville Institute Pastoral Study Project Grant provides up to $15,000 to support your independent or collaborative project — your engaging study of Christian life, religious practices and institutions, or significant issues for the church, our communities, and the wider world. PSP grants are awarded to skilled and innovative clergy, lay leaders, and staff working in diverse Christian contexts in North America. Grantees share their research through books and other publications, blogs, podcasts, digital media and film, exhibits, worship, music, presentations, classes, and more. The project timeline for grants awarded this cycle is January 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024.

PSP grantees also gather in Louisville for the Pastoral Study Project Consultation — an exciting opportunity to develop your project in community with others. The PSP Consultation will be held February 6–8, 2023, and all expenses are paid by the Louisville Institute.

Download the full 2023 PSP Application Guide

Learn about previous PSP Grant projects


Who is eligible?

Eligible candidates have received theological education, training, and/or mentoring to be Christian leaders, and work in diverse ministry contexts in the United States and Canada. PSP Grants have been awarded to a variety of Christian leaders, including:

      • clergy
      • chaplains
      • church and denominational staff
      • Men and Women Religious
      • members of monastic communities
      • non-profit and parachurch staff
      • pastoral counselors
      • artists and musicians
      • independent researchers and writers
      • ordained ministers not currently employed by a religious organization 
      • others regularly working in recognized positions of pastoral leadership

Pastors enrolled in Ph.D. or Th.D. programs are not eligible for the PSP grant but may be eligible for one of our fellowships. Seminary administrators and faculty are also ineligible for a PSP Grant but can apply for one of our other research grants. Additionally, PSP grants cannot be used for tuition or expenses toward the completion of a degree, including M.Div or D.Min. coursework or research. Detailed eligibility requirements can be found in the Application Guide.

If you have questions about grant eligibility, please email

How do I apply?

  1. Download the 2023 PSP Application Guide. The application guide contains the details you need. Read this document carefully and refer to it as you prepare your materials.
  2. Review the eligibility requirements in the guide.
  3. Create an account. Click on the “Apply” button to create an account and get started.
  4. Prepare your materials. Complete applications require the following (see the Application Guide for full details):
      1. General application information
      2. Project core question: What is the main question you hope to explore? (100 words)
      3. Project summary (200 words)
      4. Project snapshot: In one sentence, provide an intriguing, quotable “snapshot” of your project (for use on our website and in publicity materials)
      5. Project narrative (1500 words) that includes:
        • A rationale for why your project should be funded
        • Your study/research plan
        • How you intend to share what you discover
        • The impact you hope your project will have
        • A project schedule/timeframe (between January 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024)
      6. Bibliography: a list of primary resources you plan to study, review, or consult (2–3 pages)
      7. Proposal budget (both a line item budget and an explanatory budget narrative)
      8. Curriculum Vitae or résumé (maximum four pages)
      9. Overview of your ministry context (500 words)
      10. Two Letters of Recommendation: one from a ministry colleague, and one to assess the feasibility and significance of your project, due August 8, 2022
      11. Affirmation of support: verification that your employer/organization supports your project and will give you flexibility and/or time off to complete it
  5. Submit all application materials by the due date: 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 1, 2022. Letters must be submitted by the recommenders by August 8, 2022.

What is the selection process?

Each year the Louisville Institute appoints a selection committee to review proposals and award Pastoral Study Project grants. Committee membership and deliberations are confidential. 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. 

We are often asked how many applications we receive for our grants. For the last 10 years of the PSP Grant, we have averaged 90–100 eligible applications, and we typically award around 25 grants.

Is my project idea a good fit for the PSP Grant?

We will not accept feedback requests until after march 1, 2023.   

We are happy to provide initial feedback on your project idea and help you determine if it fits our funding criteria. Before submitting your request to LI, review the Application Guide thoroughly, and share your plan with a few trusted colleagues and get their feedback. Be mindful to seek input from persons who might be participants in your research, especially if they are members of vulnerable or underprivileged groups.

To request feedback, please respond to the following questions about your project in no more than 500 words (total): 

    • What is the heart of your project — the question you want to explore — and why is the project important to you, your community, and the church in North America? (2–3 sentences)
    • What is the context in which you hope to carry out your project (which congregation or organization, city, region, population, etc.? (2–3 sentences)
    • How do you plan to conduct your study? Describe research strategies or methods you think you might use and why you think they will be helpful (e.g., interviews, surveys, observation, visits, library records).

Email your answers to these questions, along with your name and organizational affiliation, to with the subject line, “PSP feedback.” Because we receive many requests for feedback, responses can take several weeks, but we will respond to all feedback requests submitted prior to July 1.

I’m new to this — where can I learn more about how to conduct research?

Studying Congregations is an online collaborative resource for understanding religious congregations in the United States, and the website is full of tools for how to conduct congregational and other ministry-oriented studies:

The USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture offers an online resource manual specifically for studying religious communities and practices. The resource suggests ways to think through interview and survey methods, confidentiality concerns, ethical considerations, and other ideas for collecting and organizing your research. Visit Studying Faith: Qualitative Methodologies for Studying Religious Communities.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us!