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Public Scholar Program

Grants to USA Individuals to Write Humanities
Books for a General Public Audience

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Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

Deadline Date:

02/07/18 11:59 PM ET Receipt


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Grants of up to $50,400 to USA individual authors and scholars for the writing of books that promote a deep understanding of the humanities for a broad readership. Applicants are advised to verify or complete their online registration no later than January 24. This program supports well-researched, humanities-based books that explore subjects of general interest through a humanities lens.

The Public Scholar Program supports well-researched books in the humanities intended to reach a broad readership. Some humanities scholarship is necessarily specialized, but the humanities can also engage broad audiences in exploring subjects of general interest. Such scholarship might present a narrative history, tell the stories of important individuals, analyze significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic. Books supported by this program must be grounded in humanities research and scholarship, making appropriate use of primary and/or secondary sources. They must also be written in a readily accessible style, addressing significant humanities themes in a way that will appeal to a large audience of general readers. Applications to write books directed primarily to scholars are not appropriate for this program.

By establishing the Public Scholar Program, NEH has entered a long-term commitment to encourage scholarship in the humanities for general audiences. The program is open to both individuals affiliated with scholarly institutions and to independent scholars, researchers, and writers. Projects may be at any stage of development.

Upon completion of their book projects, Public Scholar award recipients will be expected to participate in public events, such as serving as keynote speakers at conferences and offering public lectures at book festivals, library and museum programs, or other events aimed at reaching broad audiences. Additional NEH support for such events may become available.

Standing Together:

NEH invites projects related to its Standing Together initiative, which encourages projects related to war and military service.

All applications will be given equal consideration in accordance with the program’s evaluation criteria, whether or not they respond to the Standing Together initiative.

Providing access to grant products:

As a taxpayer-supported federal agency, NEH endeavors to make the products of its awards available to the broadest possible audience. NEH’s goal is for scholars, educators, students, and the American public to have ready and easy access to the wide range of NEH grant products. For the Public Scholar Program, products might be issued as printed books (paperback or hardbound), e-books, audiobooks, or (ideally) in all these formats. Digital or Web-based products intended to supplement a proposed book are also allowed. In such cases, all other considerations being equal, NEH gives preference to products that the public can access at no cost.

Grantees agree that they will allow NEH, in consultation with their publishers, to post excerpts from their books on the NEH website and/or in Humanities magazine.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177811

Estimated Size of Grant:

Successful applicants receive a stipend of $4,200 per full-time month. The maximum stipend is $50,400 for a twelve-month period.

Awards will be reduced to reflect the smaller time commitment when recipients work part time or for less than twelve months.

Term of Contract:

The Public Scholar Program supports continuous work over a period of six to twelve months. Awards may be held part time or full time (or part time for some months and full time for other months).

Recipients must work at least half-time on their projects for the entire period of the grant, and they must work the equivalent of at least six full-time months. No grant may exceed twelve months. Recipients who work full-time on their projects must forgo other major activities, including teaching. Recipients combining a part-time award with teaching must carry a reduced class load during the award period.

Applicants should request award periods that suit their schedules and the needs of their projects. Requesting an award period shorter than twelve months will not improve an applicant’s chance of receiving an award.

Recipients may begin their awards as early as September 1, 2018, and must begin no later than September 1, 2019.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The Public Scholar Program accepts applications from individuals, whether they have an affiliation with a scholarly institution or not.

U.S. citizens, whether they reside inside or outside the United States, are eligible to apply. Foreign nationals who have been living in the United States or its jurisdictions for at least the three years prior to the application deadline are also eligible.

To be eligible, applicants must also meet one of the following conditions: they must either a) have written as sole author a book published by a university or commercial press; OR b) have written at least three articles and essays appearing in publications that reach a large national or international audience of general readers. The articles or essays may be published either in print or electronically.

In either case, applicants must list the relevant publications on their résumés.

Applicants may not meet this requirement with a co-authored volume, an edited collection of essays or an anthology, a self-published book, or a book that has not yet been published at the application deadline. Nor may they meet it with articles or essays appearing in peer-reviewed academic journals or other publications aimed primarily at readers with a professional interest in the material.

Prospective applicants who are unable to meet the requirement for previous publications may wish to apply instead to the NEH Fellowships or Summer Stipends programs.

NEH will not review late, incomplete, or ineligible applications.

Currently enrolled students:

While applicants need not have advanced degrees, individuals currently enrolled in a degree-granting program are ineligible to apply.

Dissertation revisions:

Applicants may not request funding for projects based on completed dissertations.

Projects previously supported by NEH:

You may not apply for funding for a project previously supported by an NEH Fellowship, a Public Scholar award, or an Award for Faculty. You may, however, apply for funding for a project previously supported by a two-month NEH Summer Stipend. In such a case NEH will ask evaluators to review the accomplishments from the previous award to determine whether the project is likely to result in a book manuscript of broad interest to a general audience.

An NEH grant for one stage of a project does not commit NEH to continued support for the project. Applications for each stage of a project are evaluated independently.

Concurrent grants from other organizations:

Recipients of NEH Public Scholar awards may simultaneously hold fellowships or grants from institutions other than NEH in support of the same project during their award period. They may also have an advance from a publisher.

Collaborative projects:

The Public Scholar Program is designed primarily for individual researchers. Awards may not be divided. If you are seeking funding for a co-author, each person must submit a separate application specifying the individual contribution. Panelists will be asked to evaluate each application on its own merits. Each application should clearly explain how the work will be divided and the extent to which each collaborator’s contribution depends on that of the other(s). Applicants who are seeking funding only for themselves but who are working as part of a collaborative team are eligible. In this case, too, the application should clearly explain how the work will be divided and the extent to which each collaborator’s contribution depends on that of the other(s). Scholars who are working as part of a collaborative team should consider applying for an NEH Collaborative Research grant for the larger project.

Multiple applications:

Applicants may submit only one proposal to the Public Scholar Program in a given year. They may, however, compete concurrently in the following programs for individuals in a given year:
-Fellowships or NEH-Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication;
-Summer Stipends;
-NEH and National Science Foundation - Fellowship Program for Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL);
-Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUSFC) – Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan; and
-Library of Congress (LOC) - John W. Kluge Center Fellowships.

Each competition has separate formatting requirements for its applications. Please follow the relevant program guidelines in each case.

Successful Public Scholar applicants who plan research at the Library of Congress may be offered a jointly funded NEH-LOC Kluge Center Fellowship.

Applicants may hold or accept only one NEH individual award in a given federal fiscal year. (The fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.) In some cases there are additional restrictions on individual awards held in sequence.

You may not participate in a project supported by an NEH institutional award while holding a full-time NEH award for individuals. Additional restrictions may apply to directors or co-directors of projects that have received NEH institutional awards.

Public Scholar awards may not be used for:
-Promotion of a particular political, religious, or ideological point of view;
-Advocacy of a particular program of social or political action;
-Support of specific public policies or legislation;
-Projects that fall outside of the humanities (including the creation or performance of art; creative writing, memoirs, and creative nonfiction; and empirically based social science research or policy studies);
-Research for doctoral dissertations or theses by students enrolled in a degree program;
-Dissertation revision projects;
-The preparation or revision of textbooks;
-Curriculum development;
-The development of teaching methods or theories;
-Educational or technical impact assessments;
-Historical fiction and philosophical novels;
-Guide books, how-to books, and self-help books;
-Anthologies and edited collections of essays;
-Publications consisting primarily of transcribed interviews, oral histories, or responses to
-Projects devoted primarily to promoting or disseminating a completed book;
-Books for children or young adults;
-Works of graphic fiction or nonfiction; or

Pre-Application Information:

Applicants must register with NEH strongly recommends that you complete your registration at least two weeks before the application deadline.

Applications to the NEH Public Scholar Program must be received by by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on February 7, 2018.

Applicants will be notified of the decision by e-mail in early August 2018.


-Before the February 7, 2018 deadline: Contact Division of Research program officers with questions and for advice (optional)

-January 24, 2018: Register or verify your registration with by this date

-February 7, 2018: Submit application through by this date

-February 16, 2018: NEH sends recommenders requests for letters of reference by this date

-February 28, 2018: Deadline for receipt of letters of reference

-Late February and March 2018: Peer review takes place

-July 2018: Meeting of the National Council on the Humanities, followed by funding decisions

-August 2018: Applicants are notified of the funding decisions

-September 1, 2018: Successful applicants may begin work on their projects as early as this date

-September 1, 2019: Successful applicants must begin work on their projects no later than this date

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Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Division of Research Programs
National Endowment for the Humanities
Washington, DC 20506


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