Frequently Asked Questions


Who can apply for a Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal Fellowship?

Advanced doctoral candidates and recent postdocs from all fields in the social sciences, humanities, and theology are eligible to apply. Doctoral candidates must complete all requirements for the PhD degree except for the dissertation by June 2020. Recent postdocs are eligible if they were granted their PhD during or after Spring 2015.

Is there a degree requirement?

Applicants must currently be enrolled in PhD program and have advanced to candidacy by June 2020 or have completed their PhD during or after Spring 2015.

What disciplines are eligible?

The fellowship is open to applicants from all fields in the social sciences, humanities, and theology.

Is there a citizenship requirement?

There is no citizenship requirement as to who can receive funding through this program. However, research much be conducted on a topic relevant to the intersection of religion and spirituality with democracy in the United States.

Must I demonstrate proof of an institutional affiliation in my application for this fellowship?

Post-docs need not be affiliated with an academic institution to be eligible to apply.

I have a full-time faculty appointment. Am I eligible to apply?

Yes. Any scholar who completed their PhD during or after Spring 2015 is eligible to apply, regardless of institutional affiliation.

Application Process

What is the application and program timeline?

Applications are due, through the application portal, at 11:59 p.m., EST on March 16, 2020. Notification of award status will occur on or before May 22, 2020. Fellowships will provide support for research beginning as early as July 1, 2020, ending no later than August 31, 2021.

What does an application consist of?

A completed application consists of an application form, a ten-page research proposal and bibliography, a detailed budget, and one letter of reference. The research proposal must address the following questions:

What research question(s) will be addressed by the proposed research? How does your proposed research articulate with the goals of the program?

In what social science or other literature is/are the question(s) grounded? What existing work, within your discipline or others, will your research address?

What evidence will you gather through the proposed research? Where will you conduct this research (location, sources, etc.)? What methods will you use to collect this material? What approaches will you use to analyze it?

If your research requires specific skills data collection or analysis skills, briefly describe your competence in these skills, and how you acquired them.

How long can my research proposal be? Does it need to be formatted specifically?

The research proposal should be no more than 10 pages (single-spaced, 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1” margins), not including a focused bibliography that can be up to 2 additional pages. In the event that a longer document is uploaded, selection committee members will only review the first ten pages.

Who can write my letter of reference?

The letter of reference should stipulate the potential contribution and feasibility of the research. For PhD students, this letter should be from an advisor or committee member who is familiar with the proposed project. For postdocs, this letter may be from any colleague who is familiar with the proposed project and who can comment on how it speaks to both the relevant research field and to broader publics.

May I submit an application in a language other than English?

Proposals must be submitted in English.

May I submit my application by fax or email?

No. Applications sent by fax or email will not be accepted. Applicants must use the SSRC’s Online Application Portal to supply the necessary information.

Can I have a staff member review a draft of my proposal before submission?

No. For suggestions on proposal writing, we encourage you to consult The Art of Writing Proposals.

How can I find out whether the program has received my application?

An acknowledgement of receipt will be sent automatically via email upon successful submission of the application. If you do not receive an automatic email confirmation within 24 hours of submitting your application, please contact Please specify “RSDR Fellowship” in the message subject line.

If I submit my application before the deadline, can I change it?

No. No alterations will be accepted after the application has been submitted.

Research Projects

What is the expected length of time of the proposed research?

Proposed projects may be between three and twelve months in duration, and must be completed within twelve months of the fellowship start date.

What may fellowship funds be used for?

Fellowship funds will typically be used for activities directly related to research, such as travel expenses and accommodations, research equipment and supplies, support for research assistants, and costs for access to publications or proprietary databases. In exceptional cases, and in consultation with program staff, award funds may be used to cover other expenses.

Do the fellowship awards go directly to the fellows or are they channeled through a university?

All awards are paid directly to the RSDR fellows.

With other questions that are not answered here, contact the Religion and the Public Sphere staff at

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