Dissertation Application

Lake Institute on Faith & Giving at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy will offer a one year doctoral dissertation fellowship of $25,000 for the academic year 2018-2019.

This doctoral dissertation fellowship will be given to a graduate student whose research engages and intersects issues within religion and philanthropy or faith and giving. The fellowship is intended to support the final year of dissertation writing.

The fellowship award will be paid in three installments: $11,000 at the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic year; $11,000 at the mid-point of the 2018-2019 academic year; $3,000 upon the successful completion of the dissertation.

Application Information

The application process for the 2018-2019 Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship will open this fall. All applications materials must be received by January 15, 2018. When uploading the required documents, please save your files with your last name followed by a dash and the name of the document, for example Smith-bibliography.

Required criteria for applicants

Applicants for the Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship must:

  • Be a candidate for a Ph.D. degree at a graduate school in the United States.
  • Fulfill all pre-dissertation requirements by December 31 of the applying year, including approval of the dissertation proposal with the expectation that the dissertation will be completed no later than July of the year following the fellowship grant year.
  • Must not have received a similar grant or fellowship for the writing of the dissertation. Please note that Lake Doctoral Dissertation Fellows may not accept other awards that provide similar benefits in the same academic year. Smaller awards and/or those involving limited opportunities to teach may be permitted, at the discretion of the Research Advisory Committee of Lake Institute on Faith & Giving.  
Recipient recieves
  • Receive three award payments totaling $25,000
  • Be invited to special research-focused Lake Institute engagements
  • Have the opportunity to take advantage of the Lake Institute’s resources and expertise
  • Share your research through our website and citations in our seminars
What to submit
  • Application form (below)
  • Resume/CV (upload)
  • Executive summary (upload)
    • No longer than 15 pages summarizing your topic and its relevance for the understanding of an important question(s) or issue(s) related to religion and philanthropy or faith and giving. Please write this executive summary so that scholars outside of your discipline would not have difficulty comprehending your proposal.
  • Copy of the approved dissertation proposal (upload)
    • Describing the proposed work, demonstrating relevance to the field of religion and philanthropy, describing source materials and their availability, commenting on any special skills or interests you have for carrying out the proposed work, and giving a clear statement of the research or scholarly methodology to be employed.
  • A selected bibliography (upload)
    • No longer than two pages, double-spaced, indicating the major theoretical, practical and critical works that bear on your dissertation. “Selected” means you should include those works that most clearly demonstrate your command of the scholarship necessary to write the proposed dissertation. In most cases this will already be part of your proposal.
  • A timetable (upload)
    • Detailing your chapter outline, your progress to date, and your schedule for the fellowship year. It should be no longer than one page, double-spaced.
  • Three letters of recommendation (share this link with recommenders to upload letters)
    • One from your dissertation director and two from faculty members familiar with your work
  • Official transcript from the graduate school which will award the Ph.D. degree (mail, Attn: Lake Institute) or upload unofficial transcript.


Application: December 7, 2017 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time
Supplementary Materials: January 9, 2018 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time

General Guidelines and Advance Preparation
  • Provide all information requested on the application web pages. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Prepare and upload essay documents.
    • Essays must be the applicant's original work.
    • Get feedback from advisers, mentors, and colleagues.
    • Carefully proofread all documents.
    • Avoid technical jargon.
  • Contact potential letter writers to submit letters of recommendation by the Supplementary Materials deadline.
  • Confirm the minimum Supplementary Materials required for complete application submission.
Formatting Documents
  • Save as .pdf files prior to upload.
  • Double-space using a standard 12-point font.
  • Set margins at 1" (top and bottom) and .5" (left and right sides).
  • Do not exceed the maximum page limits.
  • Do not exceed the maximum file size limit (4 MB).
  • Do not include headers or footers.
  • Write all materials in English.

Each application will be reviewed by two to five reviewers. Not all reviewers will have specific technical expertise; therefore, applications should be written to provide informative detail without jargon and highly technical content.

Application Components (items in bold are required)

A complete application includes the materials described below. Failure to complete any part of the application, including essays and all requested supplemental materials, will result in removal of the application from the competition.
  1. Profile Information
Contact information, demographic information, education history (name, location, enrolled date, degree received, and research field for all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended, years attended or currently attending as of fall 2017), employment history, honors, and awards 

Note: Contact and demographic information will not be shared with application reviewers.
  1. Application Materials
Personal Statement (maximum two pages, 12-point font, double-spaced) describing the applicant’s background and experience and commitment to the goals of the Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs by addressing all of the following that apply:
  • the applicant’s capacity to respond in pedagogically productive ways to the learning needs of students from diverse backgrounds
  • the applicant’s sustained personal engagement with communities that are underrepresented in the academy and ability to bring this asset to learning, teaching, and scholarship at the college or university level
  • the applicant’s likelihood of using the diversity of human experience as an educational resource in teaching and scholarship
  • the applicant's membership in one or more of the following groups whose underrepresentation in the American professoriate has been severe and longstanding:
    • Alaska Natives (Aleut, Eskimo, or other Indigenous People of Alaska)
    • Black/African Americans
    • Mexican Americans/Chicanas/Chicanos
    • Native American Indians
    • Native Pacific Islanders (Hawaiian/Polynesian/Micronesian)
    • Puerto Ricans
Applicants should describe their past and ongoing community service efforts such as: 
  • Tutoring and mentoring students in challenging environments
  • Participation in housing or public service projects
  • Leadership and organizational skills that benefit a larger community
    • Campus-based student activities
    • Language teaching
    • Involvement in professional organizations that serve the community
Applicants should note anything in their background that speaks to their unique perspective:
  • Membership of a group designated by the Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs as currently underrepresented in the American professoriate
  • Membership of another underserved group
  • First person or generation in family to achieve college degree or seek advanced degree
Applicants may also cite the following:
  • Teaching methods and academic interests that are inclusive and sensitive to diversity
  • Any successes that can be attributed to using new techniques to create an inclusive and respectful teaching and learning environment
  • Personal goals, both long-standing and future-focused, that involve increasing understanding in the college or university setting and are in the broader context
  • Employment that demonstrates a long-standing commitment to diversity and depth of understanding of a multicultural society
  • Efforts to improve access and opportunity for all, particularly in one's local community (neighborhood, place of worship, geographic region)
Statement of Previous Research and Scholarly Productivity, including a list of publications and presentations (maximum three pages, 12-point font, double-spaced; publications/presentations may be single-spaced)
  • Previous Research including: 
    • Undergraduate research including any summer research programs or summer, part-time, or full-time employment
    • Research conducted to date during graduate study including research progress on the dissertation
    • For graduate level research, include goals, general methodology, major results, and impacts of the research  
  • Scholarly Productivity 
    List of publications and presentations for the last five years. Items should be listed in the following order:
    • Publications in reverse chronological order
    • Presentations in reverse chronological order 
Abstract of Dissertation (maximum one page, 12-point font, double-spaced)
Proposed Plan for Completion of Dissertation and timeline describing the applicant's long-range career goals (maximum three pages, 12-point font, double-spaced)

Applicants should describe the work they expect to undertake if awarded a fellowship.
  • Description of the overall framework of the dissertation
  • Summary of research remaining to be completed for the dissertation, including a description of technical methods, data sources and collection, sampling methods, analytical methods, etc.
  • A time line for writing the dissertation including a discussion of possible barriers to completing writing during the period of the fellowship
  • Expected timing of defense of the dissertation
  • Description of how the dissertation work will facilitate and enhance the applicant's career plans and contribute to the field of study
Note: Citations, if used, may be single-spaced and will be included in the total page count. Applicants should use a standard bibliographic format appropriate to their field.

Applicants may wish to ask their dissertation adviser or a professor in their discipline to review the proposed plan (especially for substance, clarity, and organization) prior to submission.

Annotated Bibliography (two to four sentences each for no more than ten key sources, including primary and secondary sources)

  1.  Supplementary Materials
    References: Names and contact information of a minimum of three (maximum of five) individuals who will upload a letter of recommendation on the applicant's behalf (four letters are highly recommended). Applications with fewer than three letters submitted by letter writers by January 9, 2018 will not be reviewed.
    • One of the letter writers should be the applicant's dissertation adviser.
    • Other letter writers should be able to comment on the applicant's proposed plan for the completion of the dissertation.
    • Letter writers should be faculty members in the applicant's field who are acquainted with the applicant's intellectual ability and long-range goals.
    • Letters of recommendation from personal friends, clergy, medical doctors, and family members are not appropriate.
    • Applicants should provide each letter writer a copy of their essays and any other relevant information which will enable the writer to submit a strong letter on their behalf.
    Transcripts and GPAs
    • Baccalaureate degree transcript(s) showing all undergraduate coursework completed, grades, and baccalaureate degree award date as well as GPA.
    • Graduate transcript(s) showing all graduate coursework completed or in progress as of fall 2017 as well as GPA.
    • Transcripts issued in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified translation into English and must include a description of the institution’s grading system.
    • Unofficial transcripts or grade reports are acceptable for the review; however, if offered an award, applicants will be required to submit official transcripts to verify the accuracy of the uploaded transcripts or grade reports.
    • Uploaded transcripts should not be secured, password protected, or encrypted files as reviewers will not be able view these documents.
    • It is the responsibility of the applicant to upload all transcripts and to ensure transcript legibility and degree attainment dates after each document has been uploaded. Transcripts sent via postal mail or e-mail will not be accepted.

    Verification of Doctoral Degree Status (VS) Form 

    The applicant's adviser or another official must sign the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine's Verification of Doctoral Degree Status Form confirming that the applicant has completed all requirements for the degree by January 9, 2018. The form must be uploaded to the fellowship application as a .pdf document before the deadline of 5:00 PM Eastern Time on January 9, 2018.

Additional Information

  • All application materials become the property of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and will not be returned. Applicants should retain copies of all submitted application materials for their personal records.
  • Visit the Helpful Resources page for more information regarding preparing an application.
  • For additional information or questions, contact FordApplications@nas.edu.

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