International Dissertation Research Grants


The International Dissertation Research Grants program is designed to support AAR student members whose dissertation research requires them to travel outside of the country in which their school or university is located. Grants are intended to help candidates complete their doctoral degrees by offsetting costs of travel, lodging, and other dissertation research-related expenses. (Grant monies may not be used for tuition, stipends, computer hardware, or meals.) This is a competitive program: applications will be reviewed by the Graduate Student Awards Jury of senior scholars appointed by the president of the AAR. View a list of past winners.

The AAR typically awards two grants per academic year:

  • one international dissertation research grant to a student working in any sub-discipline within religious studies
  • the Selva J. Raj Endowed International Dissertation Research Fellowship

The Selva J. Raj Endowed International Dissertation Research Fellowship honors the life and work of Professor Selva J. Raj, a prolific scholar, a gifted teacher, and a magnificent human being who passed away unexpectedly in 2008. A graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School and a longtime member of the American Academy of Religion, Selva held several prominent leadership positions in the Academy and at Albion College, where he was Chair of the Religious Studies Department as well as the recipient of an endowed professorship and several other honors, grants, and student awards. Selva’s excellent scholarly contributions, his tireless passion for promoting scholarly exchanges, and his extraordinary collegiality are warmly remembered in the Academy and beyond. His ground-breaking field research-based scholarship on ritual boundary-crossings in Indian popular Catholicism greatly advanced our understanding of Indian Christianity, Hindu-Christian Studies, religious syncretism in India, popular religiosity in India, as well as ritual studies, inter-religious dialogue, and religious pluralism. In awarding the Selva J. Raj Endowed International Dissertation Research Fellowship, priority will be given to graduate students working in one or more of these areas.


  • Applicants for International Dissertation Research Grants must have been AAR student members for at least two years and must have completed all requirements for the doctoral degree except the dissertation.
  • Current AAR membership is required to be eligible to participate in the International Dissertation Research Grants program.
  • Previous applicants may reapply for a grant; however, previous recipients of the International Dissertation Research Grants are not eligible. 
  • The AAR will make grants only if there is a sufficiently diverse and rich pool of applicants. 

How to Apply

Candidates must submit:

  • A letter of application (no longer than 3 pages) that describes their research project and how support for on-site research is critical for the completion of their dissertation
  • A current curriculum vitae
  • A proposed budget and project timeline
  • A letter of support from their dissertation supervisor

Dissertation supervisors may send letters of support electronically to [email protected] or by mail to:

International Dissertation Research Grants Program
American Academy of Religion
825 Houston Mill Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30329-4205

Winner Expectations

  • Checks will be made payable to the individual student recipient.
  • The AAR will issue recipients a Form 1099 in the amount of the grant for income tax use.
  • Funds awarded must be expended by December 31 in the year the grant is received.
  • Recipients will be expected to submit a written report of their research, including a budget narrative, no later than January 31 of the year following grant receipt.


For further information, please send an email to [email protected].


TBA for the 2022 cycle

Award Amount

$5,000 for each award