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FAQ - Questions & Answers for Starting a Fellows Program

Thinking about launching a TFI Fellows program in your church? Here are some common questions that you might have. If you can't find your question here, please either contact us here at TFI.

  • When should I apply?
    Spots in the TFI Fellows programs can fill up quickly, so we encourage you to apply as early as possible. The Early Application Deadline is November 15. The Winter Application Deadline is January 15. The Spring Application Deadline is March 15. After the Spring Application Deadline, we enter the Rolling Admissions season until all of the spots are filled. To know the status of any given program, please look at page 2 of the TFI Common Application. It gives details about which programs are still accepting applications and which are filled.
  • Can I apply to multiple Fellows programs?
    Yes! The TFI Common Application makes it easy to apply to three TFI Fellows programs at one time. If the three programs you initially choose are unable to accept you (i.e. they are full at the time you apply), you can use the TFI Reapplication Form to apply to another three programs. Please only complete the TFI Common Application one time.
  • How should I decide which program(s) to apply to?
    With more than 30 TFI Fellows programs across the country, you are sure to find ones that fit you well. They are in big cities, small towns, near the mountains, near the beach, etc. There is something for everyone. There is no one way to decide which program is a good choice for you. But, to help you narrow your options, you should at least consider these four things: location, leadership, partner church(es), and living arrangements. Location. If you are interested in a particular city after your Fellows program year, you should strongly consider the program(s) in or near that city. Spending a year in a city is an incredible way to explore that place. Leadership. Each Fellows program has one or more leaders who love God and have a wealth of wisdom to offer you. It's helpful to get to know the leaders of any program you are considering. You can learn more about them here. Church(es). Every TFI Fellows program is connected to one or more Gospel-centered churches from a variety of denominations. These are all amazing churches, but if you're still unsure, consder doing some research on the host churches. Living Arrangements. In the majority of TFI Fellows programs, you will live with host families from the host church(es). A few programs have community housing in which the fellows live together. Both models can be amazing ways to learn and grow in community. You can always contact the TFI Fellows programs directly with additional questions. We've made it easy for you. Using this form, you can request more information from and ask questions of up to 5 programs.
  • What do TFI programs look for in an applicant?
    TFI Fellows programs value a diverse set of life experiences in the members of each cohort. They look for applicants from a wide range of backgrounds, universities, and majors. In general, Fellows programs look for applicants that exhibit maturity and humility, have teachable spirits, have an eagerness to grow in Christ, and are willing to apply themselves. Fellows who have performed well academically and have demonstrated a tendency toward leadership are also desired. Most programs require that applicants are eligible to work in the United States (i.e. either U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S/green-card holders). TFI Fellows programs generally prefer fellows that are between the ages of 21 and 25 on the first day of the program.
  • Is a bachelors degree required? What if I have a graduate degree?
    Most TFI Fellows program do require a bachelors degree. However, several programs are now accepting applications from people with 2-year and trade school degrees. Without a bachelors degree, you will be required to participate fully in the theology classes but will not be able to receive graduate credit. Check with the individual programs for more detail. If you already have a masters or other graduate degree, you are definitely welcome to join a TFI Fellows program as long as you are in the age range set by the local programs. Many fellows have completed a Fellows program after completing a graduate degree.
  • How long do admissions decisions take?
    Admissions decisions vary across the network, but you should know your acceptance status within 4 weeks of submitting your application.
  • How much does the program cost? Are scholarships available?
    Program fees vary from program to program, $4,500-$7,500. The program fee covers all of the expenses related to your participation in the program including: books, course registration fees, community meals, and retreats. Each TFI Fellows program has their own process for giving scholarships, but typically there are a limited number of partial scholarships available. Incoming fellows are encouraged to raise financial support to cover some or all of the program cost. Every program is willing and able to help with this process.
  • Should I use the TFI Common Application or the individual Fellows program application?
    There are two ways to apply to be a Fellow. You can either complete the TFI Common Application or the application on an individual Fellows program website. The Common Application is handy because you can apply to three programs at once. It doesn't matter which approach you choose. Both applications are treated the same by the individual Fellows programs.
  • What can I expect once I submit the TFI Common Application
    Once you complete your TFI Common Application, you will enter the admissions processes for each of the three programs you selected. This gives you and the individual program leaders the chance to know each other and determine if their program is a good fit for you. There is no centralized admissions process at TFI. It is all handled locally by each Fellows program. The admissions process normally takes 3-5 weeks.
  • What if I am accepted to more than one Fellows program?
    Congratulations! With multiple offers in-hand, you get to choose which program is right for you. The TFI program leaders all know each other and see this work as shared Kingdom work. They will work closely with you and each other to help you decide which program is the best fit for you. Ultimately, though, the decision is yours to make.
  • How does the job placement work?
    After being accepted to a TFI Fellows program, you will partner with the program director and their work placement team to connect you with a job in your field of interest. Members at the church(es) supporting your Fellows program will tap into their professional networks to help you find an opportunity that will benefit you and the employer. You should expect to interview with the employer as you would for any other job. Some employers may also require other things such as writing samples, references, etc. The employer will work with you and the work placement team to finalize your job offer and other details.
  • What if I don't know what sort of job I want to pursue?
    It's not a problem. In fact, about half of all incoming fellows are unsure of their vocational interests. Through a comprehensive job placement process, members of the Fellows program’s work placement team will help you assess your interests and skills to match you with opportunities in their networks. The job placement mentor assigned to you will spend time talking through what you might be looking for in an internship, what skills you are looking to gain, and can help talk you through what kind of internship you should have during your Fellows program.
  • Can I be a fellow without a job/internship?
    No. The job is an important part of being a fellow. It is important for you to have hands-on work experience during the Fellows program, not only as a way to explore God’s vocational calling, but also as a way to explore the realities of the work environment. Among other things, a TFI Fellows program is a faith and work exploration program that will help you integrate your Christian faith with the work you do all week, so the job placement is a critical component of the educational process for a fellow.
  • Can I find my own job?
    This isn't very common, but yes it's definitely possible. If you have already received a job or internship offer, TFI Fellows programs are happy to work with your employer to sort out the details. In these cases, your employer should fully understand and agree to the weekly and annual schedule of the Fellows program. You will be asked to introduce your employer to the Fellows program director so they can sort out all of the details.
  • Can I do an unpaid internship as my job placement?
    While we don't recommend this, it is possible. If you have been offered an unpaid internship that is of interest to you and potentially valuable for your future career steps, you should discuss this with the Fellows program director. In these cases, you will be asked to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to make it through the Fellows program without income.
  • How many Fellows are in each program each year?
    6-16. This differs between individual programs and is part of what makes each TFI Fellows program unique. Regardless of the cohort size, community is one of the most impactful aspects of a Fellows program.
  • What do you mean by "graduate level theology courses"?"
    Each TFI Fellows program offers meaningful and advanced learning opportunites for fellows. While the content varies somewhat from program to program, every program covers biblical theology as well as studies in vocation, servanthood, leadership and community - all from a Christ-centered viewpoint. Most TFI Fellows programs have accreditation partnerships with seminaries and graduate schools such as Reformed Theological Seminary, Johnson University, Denver Seminary, Fuller Seminary, and other graduate institutions.
  • Where will I live during my Fellows year?
    Most TFI Fellows programs offer housing with host families. A few programs offer community living in shared apartments or houses. Both are amazing opportunities! In the host family model, local church members invite fellows into their homes for the duration of the Fellows program. Host families provide an amazing example of radical hospitality and are often a source of lifelong friendships. Community housing is more similar to college life in that you share a living space with other members of your Fellows class.
  • How is a typical Fellows week structured?
    The breakdown of a typical week in the life of a fellow will vary by individual program, but every program’s weekly structure will intentionally engage in these core areas: work, service, learning, worship, and community. Work - Fellows grow as professionals by spending 3-4 days per week, typically Tuesday-Thursday, working in a paid job in their field of vocational interest Service - Fellows cultivate rhythms and habits of service by consistently serving in the church and local community, typically in the form of serving in youth ministries at the host church and/or organizations in the community. Learning - Fellows develop a spiritual foundation by taking graduate level leadership and theology course(s) on the days of the week they are not working. The number of courses taken per semester (typically 1 or 2) varies by program. Worship - Fellows explore how to be more than just a consumer of church by connecting deeply with a local church body. Fellows worship at their host church(es) on Sundays and are involved with the life of those church(es). Community - Fellows form intentional relationships within their cohort, mentors, their host family, and many other relationships in the church to create a model of post-college Christian community. A Fellows cohort typically shares a meal and engages in discussion groups or bible studies once a week - one of many cohort community-building opportunities in a program. Additionally, fellows are typically matched with a mentor from the church congregation, cultivating cross-generational relationships, and a broader cross-generational community within the host church.
  • I am planning to attend graduate school. Does a TFI Fellows program make sense for me?
    Yes! Many fellows have chosen to go to graduate or professional school after their Fellows program. Fellows have gone to law school, medical school, and graduate programs in a variety of subjects (e.g. business, education, theology, counseling, political science, etc.). The vocational, educational, and community service experiences gained during the Fellows year are exceptional preparations for graduate study in just about every field.
  • Can I be engaged or married as a Fellow?
    Engaged, yes. Married, it depends on the program. It is not unusual for fellows to become engaged before or during the program year. While this is a wonderful, exciting step in life, it also can be challenging for a fellow. Planning a wedding is time-consuming. Spending time with a fiancé can put many extra burdens on a fellow and can keep them from fully participating – physically, mentally and spiritually – in the life of the Fellows community. Our best recommendation is to maintain a good perspective on your relationship with your significant other while seeking to remain fully invested with the other fellows. Generally, we encourage all fellows not to underestimate the impact of their absence on the Fellows community. Holding a wedding within one month of the end of your Fellows program is also discouraged. The last month is a very busy time of year for a fellow. Not only is the fellow focused on finding a job and a place to live, he or she is also dealing with finishing the program well and attending many year-end activities. Most Fellows programs do no accept married Fellows. A few will accept both partners of the couple so they can share the experience. A few will accept one partner.
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