Dempster Fellowship


Overview of the Dempster Graduate Fellowship

Origin and Purpose

The fellowship is named for the Rev. John Dempster, a pioneer in United Methodist theological education. Converted at a Methodist camp meeting in 1812, he preached in New York, served as a missionary in Argentina, and founded Boston University School of Theology and Garrett Biblical Institute (Garrett-Evangelical Seminary) in Evanston, Illinois. 

The purpose of this fellowship is to increase the effectiveness of teaching in United Methodist schools of theology by assisting worthy Ph.D. students who are committed to serving the church through theological education. 

The fellowships are funded by the Ministerial Education Fund through the Division of Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.


Basis of Award

The awards are made annually to graduate students selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • intellectual excellence
  • academic achievement
  • promise of usefulness in teaching careers
  • personal qualities
  • clarity of spiritual purpose and
  • commitment to Christian ministry and the preparation of pastoral leadership for the church

The Committee on Awards will give due regard to the encouragement of students preparing to teach in United Methodist institutions in fields in which there is a need for teachers

Eligibility for a Dempster Graduate Fellowship

The fellowships are open only to members of The United Methodist Church who plan to teach in seminaries, or to teach one of the theological disciplines (Bible, church history, theology, ethics, and the arts of ministry) in universities or colleges.

The applicant must have received the M.Div. degree or its equivalent from one of the United Methodist seminaries, or be in a Ph.D. program or its equivalent at a university affiliated with a United Methodist seminary at the time the award is granted. Verification of study toward the Ph.D. or equivalent degree is required prior to the distribution of the stipend.

A person already holding a Ph.D. degree is not excluded from candidacy. Graduate study by current seminary faculty to meet changing faculty needs will be considered. Candidacy for ordination as an elder in an annual conference of The United Methodist Church is preferred.

Number and Amount of Awards

Fellowships up to $10,000 will be available, depending upon the applicant's budget and study plans. Recipients of the Dempster Fellowship Award are not to engage in any employment which will interfere with their applying full time to their academic studies during the period in which they hold the fellowship. In cases where applicants hold another fellowship for the same year or are awarded another fellowship or scholarship grant subsequent to their being awarded the Dempster Graduate Fellowship, the stipend will be adjusted according to the needs of the recipient.

Additional scholars will be granted $1,000-$5,000 for their doctoral programs, some of whom may continue to receive Dempster Awards for up to five years, with a maximum of $30,000 granted during that period of time.

Application Procedure

A prospective applicant should do the following steps:

  1. Complete an application on the official form (to be supplied by the executive director of the Dempster Graduate Fellowships).
  2. Provide transcripts of all previous academic work, graduate and undergraduate.
  3. Secure letters of reference regarding his/her personal, religious, and intellectual development.
  4. Supply a term paper, or other paper of essay length as an example of the applicant’s most scholarly work (25 pages or fewer).
  5. Submit the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  6. Submit a summary statement of plans for the academic year for which application is made, including signature of approval and statement of progress by the advisor or major professor.
  7. Provide a resumé.

Failure to include items indicated in the application procedure will be regarded as a weakness in the applicant’s qualifications for the award.

Deadline for Application - November 1

All applications properly documented shall be in the hands of the executive director on or before November 1, for awards for the following academic year. Make inquires to:

Dempster Graduate Fellowships
Division of Ordained Ministry
P. O. Box 340007
Nashville, Tennessee 37203-0007
(615) 340-7388
Fax: (615) 340-7377

I am a new applicant requesting an application

I am a former recipient requesting an application package

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