International Scholarships FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about International Scholarships

ELCA scholarships can support a variety of academic programs if the course of study is linked to the leadership priorities of the endorsing church or institution. ELCA scholarships can support both short-term and long-term study at a variety of levels, including one-off courses, certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees and more. Many different subject areas are eligible for ELCA scholarship support, depending on the leadership needs of the applicant’s endorsing church or institution. Most ELCA scholars study in their home countries, though some study in other parts of the world. Refer to the Scholarship Application Guidelines document for detailed information on the five types of scholarship applications.
The International Leaders Program accompanies global companion churches and institutions as, together we equip leaders for mission and ministry. The purpose of the scholarship program is to build and expand leadership capacity in ways that align with the strategic goals of each church/institution. Given this, all scholarship applications must be endorsed by the appropriate authority at a church/institution that has a companion relationship with the ELCA. By applying for and accepting an ELCA scholarship award, applicants commit to serving in leadership with their endorsing church/institution upon completion of their funded academic program. Similarly, the endorsing church/institution commits to providing to the scholar a position of leadership (paid or volunteer) that utilizes the skills gained.
Application forms become available every August. Access information is shared directly with the head office of each companion church/institution. Completed applications are due in October. Applications are reviewed by the International Leaders Program staff and scholarship application review committees. Final decisions are typically released by email between March and May, though the exact timing can vary.
The scholarship application forms are completed online and vary depending on the application type. The application includes both short-form and essay-form questions. Typically, additional documents are required, such as: a church/institution endorsement form, a letter of recommendation, transcripts from past academic programs, and documents related to the proposed academic program, such as a budget and an acceptance letter. Applicants may submit the ELCA application before gaining admission to an academic program, but an acceptance letter is eventually required before a scholarship award can be activated.
Please review the Scholarship Application Guidelines document for detailed information on selection criteria. Our reviewers score applications based on factors such as: alignment with strategic leadership priorities of the endorsing church/institution; commitment to service; application quality; track record of leadership or leadership potential; study location; and cost.
Scholarship offers are typically customized to each applicant’s specific situation. The program may offer either full or partial awards, based on the quality of the application, the needs expressed in the application and the funds available. ELCA scholarships primarily support direct academic costs like tuition and fees, but living expenses associated with an academic program are sometimes supported as well. Applicants typically submit an itemized scholarship budget proposal at application. Budget proposals must be accurate to the applicant’s best ability and be accompanied by a fee structure from the school. The review committee uses the fee structure and budget proposal, among other indicators, to determine the award amount. In most cases the approved budget will differ from the proposed one to align with program policies and fund availability. The details of the approved award budget are provided at time of acceptance, and awardees may either accept or decline an offer.

Typically the program will not cover retroactively any expenses incurred before the start date of the award. This is why applicants who have not begun their academic programs are prioritized over those who begin studying before scholarship support is approved. The program is typically not able to directly support expenses associated with family members of the awardee.
Everyone who is offered a scholarship receives a scholarship agreement document that outlines the full terms of the award. These terms include but are not limited to:
  • Annual evaluation process: All scholars are required to complete an annual evaluation process, the primary mechanism for reporting progress to the program staff.
  • Academic performance: All scholars must show satisfactory progress through their academic programs. They must maintain satisfactory grades/marks and should demonstrate that they are on track to complete the academic program within the approved timeline.
  • Code of Conduct: All scholars must abide by the International Leaders Program Code of Conduct, provided at the time of the award.
  • Connection with the endorsing church/institution: All scholars must maintain contact with the endorsing official(s) at their home church/institution, sharing periodic updates about their progress through the academic program. Scholars and their endorsers are also strongly encouraged to continually collaborate to prepare for the period of service after the scholar’s completion of their academic program.
Applications are completed online through the ELCA GrantMaker system. Instructions for accessing the applications are found in the Scholarship Application Guidelines document. Only applicants endorsed by a companion church/institution of the ELCA are permitted to apply. Do not begin an application unless you are properly endorsed.
If you are affiliated with a church body or institution that has a formal relationship with the ELCA, then we encourage you to contact the head office of that church/institution to learn more about the internal nomination/endorsement process for ELCA scholarships. All scholarship applications require an official endorsement from church/institution leadership (this could be a bishop, president, general secretary, church council, or other leader with authority to make commitments on behalf of the church/institution). Part of your church/institution’s commitment to the scholarship would be guaranteeing a position of leadership for you (employment or volunteer) in an area that utilizes your proposed academic study. Your commitment would be to provide leadership service to your church/institution during and/or after the academic program.

The ELCA announces the availability of the application forms to the head offices of all companion churches/institutions. This normally takes place in August each year. Completed applications are due in October.

If you are unsure whether your church body or institution has a formal relationship with the ELCA, you may contact us at