Leader Studies Inquiry

Scholar Leaders (SL) supports PhD studies of Christian theological leaders from the Majority World. SL does not support undergraduate work, Master’s degrees (MDiv, MA, MAR), professional doctorates (DMin, DMiss, EdD), or studies in non-theological fields.

Leaders who receive scholarships are expected to return home to serve. We only sponsor scholars who sign a covenant affirming their plan to minister in their home context for at least ten years post-PhD. If they fail to return home or do not remain in a Majority World context for at least ten years following the completion of their studies, they will be required to repay their scholarship.

Successful applicants are marked by:

  • Evident faith in Jesus Christ
  • Demonstrable commitment to serve in home context
  • Pursuit of a doctoral-level degree of value in home context
  • Employment after graduation or a viable ministry plan
  • Acceptance into a leading academic program in the Majority World or the West
  • Proven leadership ability

The Leader Studies scholarship is a highly competitive award. We regularly receive over 100 applications. On average, we accept 10-12 new students each year.

Scholarships usually cover 25-30% of a student’s total annual need. Amounts vary based on costs of study.

Scholarships typically support students for three to five years (the duration of a normal PhD program).

Most successful applicants are under the age of 40.

If you meet these qualifications, we invite you to fill out the short inquiry form at the bottom of this page. Use the text box to summarize your eligibility and study plan briefly (word limit: 500 words). If your inquiry is accepted, our staff will send you a link so that you can complete the full, extended application.

What does SL look for in a successful scholarship application?

  • Intellectual ability
  • Specificity and clarity of dissertation topic
  • Contextual relevance
  • Leadership ability
  • Clear path to leadership/ministry at home

Students typically refine their topics over time in a PhD program, but demonstrating a clear sense of purpose, context, and theological importance makes a stronger application to SL. For more detail, consider these two examples.

A PhD topic from an unsuccessful application: Bad leadership is a wide-reaching problem. Bad leaders corrode society and anger God. Christians need to mitigate this issue. Some nations have wise governments that have come up with commissions for good leadership. These commissions have good intentions but they do not result in true change because good leaders come from spiritual development. The church can remedy this situation. But the church itself does not always have good leaders. Sometimes church leaders are corrupt, or they sin heinously and publicly, or they simply do not care. My research will try to develop spiritual rubrics that the church can use to raise good leaders. Businesses will also use my research to develop good leaders.

This example is unsuccessful because:

  1. It talks about a broad topic, “bad leadership.”
  2. It does so in a very broad setting that includes “society,” “the church,” and “businesses.”
  3. It does not have a clear theological perspective.
  4. It does not have a clear contextual engagement – not even a focus on a particular continent, much less a specific nation or people-group.
  5. It does not suggest what specific solutions might be (a “rubric” is very general; the example doesn’t describe what might be in this rubric).

A PhD topic from a successful application: The African Church has a lot of potential to create strong leaders, but corruption in the African context leads many leaders to lose their integrity. My research will explore a paradigm shift for how African grassroots theological education can address leadership integrity. My research will gather and create tools – including, possibly, group Bible study guides, one-on-one questionnaires, and individual devotional recommendations – to equip African Christian leaders in local contexts to evaluate their integrity in practical ways. It will challenge African Christians’ thinking about how they use power (especially those who exploit their positions for their own gain). My main goal will be to help Africans apply the fundamental African value on relationships to leadership, especially through the framework of sacrificial servant leadership that Paul states in his epistles. My study will focus on Kenya.

This example is successful even though it begins by talking about a broad topic, “leadership,” because:

  1. It focuses on one facet of the fight against corruption, leadership integrity.
  2. It specifies the African context and, even more particularly, Kenya.
  3. It suggests a contextual engagement – the African value on relationships.
  4. It says that the researcher will use this contextual engagement to “create tools” to solve this problem (though this is still broad, we at least know that those tools will be relationship-based).
  5. It states a theological lens.

We Believe in…

The only true God, the almighty Creator of all things, existing eternally in three persons- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-full of love and glory.

The value and dignity of all people: created in God’s image to live in love and holiness, but alienated from God and each other because of our sin.

Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, who lived as a perfect example, who assumed the judgment due sinners by dying in our place, and who was bodily raised from the dead and ascended as Savior and Lord.

Redemption by God’s grace to all who repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

The indwelling presence and transforming power of the Holy Spirit, who gives to all believers a new life and a new calling to obedient service.

The unity of all believers in Jesus Christ, manifest in worshiping and witnessing churches making disciples throughout the world.

The victorious reign and future personal return of Jesus Christ, who will judge all people with justice and mercy, giving over the unrepentant to eternal condemnation but receiving the redeemed into eternal life.

The unique divine inspiration, entire trustworthiness and authority of the Bible. To God be the glory forever.

Affiliation: SCHOLAR LEADERS is not affiliated with any particular church or denomination and although our leanings are conservative and evangelical, SCHOLAR LEADERS helps develop servants who return to lead in a variety of Christian traditions.

Scholar Leaders has an extremely competitive application process. We regularly receive over 100 applications and only award 10-12 scholarships per year. Below is the application timeline.

  • August 1: Application opens; inquirers can receive the full application to complete
  • November 15: Application closes; all applications are due on this day; late applications will not be considered
  • November – December: Finalists chosen and sent to selection committee
  • February: Selection committee chooses scholarship recipients
  • February – March: Successful applicants are notified of scholarships; unsuccessful applicants are notified
  • August 1: Application opens again; inquiries can receive the full application to complete
  • September: Successful applicants begin to receive scholarships

Scholar Leaders supports the doctoral studies of Majority World Christian theological leaders. We seek to sponsor women and men who will hold senior leadership positions across the theological institution in areas including (but not limited to) Biblical studies, intercultural studies, history, psychology, theology, and education.

For scholarships beginning in the coming academic year, we are particularly interested in students who propose to write dissertations on topics such as (but not limited to) the following:

  • The Church & the Mosque (questions of theology, history, and/or contemporary relations)
    • How might Christianity and Islam respond to cultural issues – ecology, the role of women, family relationships, the arts in society, or human rights/immigration?
    • How might Christian theology interface with Islam – on eschatology, the doctrine of general revelation, or evangelism/da’wah, for instance?
    • What might today’s Christians in Muslim-majority contexts learn from early Arab Christians and how they related to Islam? For instance, what social challenges did Arab Christians face after the advent of Islam? What role did Arab Christians have in early Arab/Islamic society? How might each of these topics guide the Church now, especially where they live as a numerical minority?
  • The Church challenging political, social, cultural, and/or spiritual corruption
    • How does corruption influence the Church’s own theology and practice?
    • How does corruption influence education? How may Christians counteract this?
    • How does corruption contribute to exploitation – of women, refugees/migrants, children, the disabled, and the elderly? How might Christians address this problem?
    • How may Christians address corrupt political systems?
    • How does corruption influence economic and financial systems? How may Christians establish just attitudes and practices with money and business?

If your proposed dissertation addresses one of these topics, we invite you to fill out the inquiry form below. (You can download a copy of this CFP here.)


Please fill out the inquiry form, and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.

For scholarships beginning in Fall 2025, we especially invite applicants who will write on one of the topics outlined in this CFP.

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Leader Studies Application Inquiry

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