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Public Scholars

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

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) - Division of Research Programs

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

02/05/20 11:59 PM ET


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Grants of up to $60,000 to USA individual authors and scholars for writing nonfiction books that promote a deep understanding of the humanities for a broad readership. Applicants are advised that required online registration may take several weeks. Funding is intended for well-researched, humanities-based books that explore subjects of general interest through a humanities lens.

The program is intended to: a) encourage non-academic writers to deepen their engagement with the humanities by strengthening the research underlying their books; and b) encourage academic writers in the humanities to communicate the significance of their research to the broadest possible range of readers. NEH especially encourages applications to this program from independent writers, researchers, scholars, and journalists.

The program welcomes projects in all areas of the humanities, regardless of geographic or chronological focus. The resulting books 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 written in a readily accessible style, must clearly explain specialized terms and concepts, and must frame their topics to have wide appeal. They should also be carefully researched and authoritative, making appropriate use of primary and/or secondary sources and showing appropriate familiarity with relevant existing publications or scholarship. Applications to write books directed primarily to professional scholars are not suitable.

The program supports projects at any stage of development. Applicants may seek support for the creation of digital or web-based products intended to supplement the book that they propose.

Upon completion of their book projects, Public Scholars award recipients are encouraged to serve as ambassadors for the humanities by participating 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.

NEH Areas of Interest:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177811

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Up to 25

Estimated Size of Grant:

Successful applicants receive a stipend of $5,000 per full-time month. The maximum stipend is $60,000 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. The minimum award is $30,000, corresponding to six months of full-time work or the equivalent.

Term of Contract:

The period of performance is six to twelve months, with a start date no earlier than September 1, 2020, and no later than September 1, 2021.

Applicants may not propose a period of performance shorter than the equivalent of six full-time months, and doing so may result in disqualification. Recipients must work at least half-time on their projects during the period of performance. The period of performance may not exceed twelve months, whether full- or part-time. 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 period of performance. Applicants should request periods of performance that suit their schedules and the needs of their projects. Requesting a period of performance shorter than twelve months will not improve an applicant’s chance of receiving an award.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

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. Foreign nationals who take up permanent residence outside the United States any time between the application deadline and the end of the period of performance will forfeit their eligibility to hold an award. (Leaving the U.S. on a temporary basis is permitted.)

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

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 or 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.

Other Eligibility Information:

Funding Restrictions:

Pre-proposal Conference:

A free online information session for anyone interested in the program will be offered on Thursday, December 12 at 2:00 PM Eastern.

Registration Link:

This information session will explain the goals of the NEH’s Public Scholars program, the eligibility requirements, how to apply, how your application will be reviewed, and how to write an effective application. There will also be time for questions. Anyone interested in the Public Scholars program is welcome to participate. The session will be recorded and will remain on the NEH website until the application deadline. After you register, you will receive a confirmation email explaining how to join the session.

Pre-Application Information:

NEH strongly recommends that you complete your registration at least two weeks before the application deadline. If you fail to allow sufficient time to complete registration with, you will not be eligible for a deadline extension or waiver of the online submission requirement.

The due date for applications under this announcement is February 5, 2020 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

Letters of reference must be submitted online not later than Wednesday, February 26, 2020.

Applicants will be notified of funding decisions by e-mail in August 2020.

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For a list of relevant application documents, go to the Package tab (press Preview) on the link above.  

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
400 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20506


CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

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