National Geographic Society Awards Grant

Primary Sponsor: National Geographic Society


Applying for a Grant

The National Geographic Society (NGS) awards grants for scientific field research and exploration through its Committee for Research and Exploration. All proposed projects must have both a geographical dimension and relevance to other scientific fields. Applications are generally limited to the following disciplines: anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, biology, botany, geography, geology, oceanography, paleontology, and zoology.

In addition, the Committee is currently emphasizing multidisciplinary projects that address environmental issues (e.g., loss of biodiversity and habitat, effects of human-population pressures).

Funding is not restricted to United States citizens. Researchers planning work in foreign countries should include at least one local collaborator as part of their research teams. The Committee will not consider applications seeking support solely for laboratory work or archival research. While grants are awarded on the basis of scientific merit and exist independent of the Societyís other divisions, grant recipients are expected to provide the Society with rights-of-first-refusal for popular publication of their findings.

This grant program does not pay educational tuition, nor does it offer scholarships or fellowships of any kind.


Applicants are expected to have advanced degrees (Ph.D. or equivalent) and be associated with an educational organization or institution. Independent researchers or those pursuing a Ph.D.-level degree may apply, but competition is keen and awards to non-Ph.D. applicants are rare. As a general rule, all applicants are expected to have published a minimum of three articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Back

Grant Amounts:

While grant amounts vary greatly, most range from U.S. $15,000 to $20,000. There is no set quantity of grants awarded, but budget constraints keep the number to approximately 250 per year. As NGS grants are generally intended to function as complementary support, the Committee strongly encourages applicants to seek additional, concurrent funding from other agencies. Back

Grant Restrictions:

Society grants may not be used for expenses that are not directly related to the project: Fringe benefits for any individual or institution are excluded, as are salaries for those with faculty status, or any other paid professional affiliation. Funds may not be used for travel to scientific/professional meetings or conferences, nor to publish research results.

Society funds may be used for transportation, supplies, and daily subsistence. Capital equipment (generally defined as any item costing more than U.S. $500) must be individually justified, and in certain circumstances, returned to the Society upon the projectís conclusion. Only in unusual cases is funding allowed for computer equipment or vehicles. Laboratory expenses are acceptable, provided the laboratory work is a logical extension of the field research. Back

Obtaining an Application Form:

Before receiving an application form, each potential investigator must submit a short project preproposal (500 words maximum). This should explain the significance of the research, who will be participating in the project, and where it will occur. It should also include a schedule for the fieldwork portion of the project, as well as an estimate of total anticipated expenses. Please include a curriculum vitae for each principal investigator, along with a list of his or her scholarly publications. Those whose projects are deemed appropriate for the Committee will receive an application form.

The Committee meets six times a year to review applications. While there is no deadline for applications, it typically takes about eight months from receipt of application for processing. Due to the high volume of preproposals and applications already received, the Committee is currently not looking at any projects with a start date prior to February 1, 2002.

Previous NGS grant recipients must first comply with all prior report and financial accounting obligations before submitting applications for additional support.

Preproposals and curricula vitae should be submitted via e-mail to, or via post to the following address:

Committee for Research and Exploration
National Geographic Society
P.O. Box 98249
Washington, D.C. 20090-8249