Public Scholars

Division of Research Programs

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

$5,000 per month

Open to


Expected output


Period of performance

Six to twelve months

Application available

Application due

Expected notification date

Project start date

The Public Scholars program supports the creation of well-researched nonfiction books in the humanities written for the broad public.  It does so by offering grants to individual authors for research, writing, travel, and other activities leading to publication.  Writers with or without an academic affiliation may apply, and no advanced degree is required.  The program is intended both to encourage non-academic writers to deepen their engagement with the humanities by strengthening the research underlying their books and to 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.

 What’s new for 2020 and 2021

  • Changes have been made to the application format, including the following:
    • The page limit for the narrative section of the application has been reduced from four pages to three pages.
    • A new required one-page attachment indicating your plan of work.
    • A new required form indicating the location(s) where you will carry out your plan of work.  
  • The program continues to offer special encouragement to independent writers who do not have a long-term position at an academic institution.
  • The Notice of Funding Opportunity announces two deadlines (in December 2020 and December 2021).

Online Information Session

  • A free online information session will be held on November 9, 2020. Register at the link below.
  • Registration Link:
  • The information session will explain the goals of the NEH’s Public Scholars program, the eligibility requirements, how to apply, how applications are reviewed, and how to write an effective application. The main presentation will be about 30 minutes long, and it will be followed by about 30 minutes of questions from participants. The session will be recorded and posted on the NEH website, together with a transcript. The recording and transcript will remain available on the website through the application deadline, which is Wednesday, December 16, 2020.
Review your application package

Begin by reading the Notice of Funding Opportunity. You want to ensure you understand all the expectations and restrictions for projects delivered under this program and are prepared to write the most effective application. 

Download Application Materials
Public Scholars Notice of Funding Opportunity, December 2020 and December 2021 (PDF)
Public Scholars application package

Program Resources
Public Scholar Frequently Asked Questions, 2020 and 2021 (PDF)
List of recently funded Public Scholar projects

Sample Application Narratives
Ashley's Sack (African-American History)
Origins of European Genocide
A Biography of the American Architect Louis Kahn
A History of America through 100 Maps
Napoleon on Elba
A New History of Masada
American Folk Music

    Register for an account on

    As soon as you know you're ready to apply, make sure you register for a, account as this is vital to the application process. If you already have registered, make sure it is up to date.

    Complete your application package

    Follow the instructions outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and instructions.

    Submit your application package on

    You will receive a confirmation from when you've successfully submitted your application. 

    Verify you have received email messages from

    After you submit your application, will send you up to five e-mail messages confirming receipt of your application. These messages represent different stages in the application acceptance process. You should verify that you have received all confirmation messages. Please note that email filters may send these messages to your spam or junk folder.

    Monitor the status of the submission of your letters of recommendation

    NEH requests letters of reference from your recommenders approximately seven to ten days after the application deadline. You will be notified by e-mail when each of your letters of reference has been received. After you have received the fifth message from (confirming that NEH received your application), you may check the status of your letters by logging in to the secure area of NEH’s website. Enter your NEH application number and your tracking number. You will be able to see the names and e-mail addresses of your letter writers and whether their letters have arrived. If necessary, you may send reminders to your letter writers (including the upload link) from this site. You are responsible for ensuring that your letter writers have received the solicitations from NEH and submitted their letters.

    Program Statistics

    This grant has been awarded for
    NEH received an average of
    per year
    This program has a
    Funding Ratio
    NEH made an average of
    per year

    Examples of Projects Funded by this Grant Program