Public Scholars

Division of Research Programs

Grant Snapshot

Maximum award amount

$5,000 per month

Funding Opportunity for

Individuals

Expected output

Book

Period of performance

Six to twelve months

Application available

Deadline

Expected notification date

Project start date

The Public Scholars program offers grants to individual authors for research, writing, travel, and other activities leading to the creation and publication of well-researched nonfiction books in the humanities written for the broad public. Writers with or without an academic affiliation may apply, and no advanced degree is required. The program encourages non-academic writers to deepen their engagement with the humanities by strengthening the research underlying their books, and it encourages academic writers in the humanities to communicate the significance of their research to the broadest possible range of readers. NEH especially encourages applications from independent writers, researchers, scholars, and journalists.

Note about Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence

This grant program is one of ten NEH programs that are part of NEH’s Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence initiative, which is encouraging research on the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI. To learn more about the initiative, please see our page about the AI initiative.

What’s New for 2024

  • The application deadline has been moved up from December to August. This new schedule will allow NEH to notify applicants of the results in April 2025, and recipients to begin their award periods as early as June 1, 2025.
  • The requirement for previous publication has been changed, adding co-authored nonfiction books to the types of publication that satisfy the requirement.
  • The rules regarding the length of the writing sample have been changed. Under the new rules, your writing sample must not exceed 20 PDF pages, regardless of format.

(See the Notice of Funding Opportunity for full details. This is a summary, not a complete explanation of the changes since the previous competition.)  

Participate in an Online Information Session for Applicants

A live online information session for prospective applicants will be held on Tuesday, July 23 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern. The session will explain the goals of the NEH Public Scholars program, the eligibility requirements, how to apply, how applications are reviewed, and how to write an effective application. The main presentation will last about thirty minutes. It will be followed by a question-and-answer period. A recording of the entire session will be posted on this site about one week later. To join the session, click here.

Review your application package

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

Application Materials
Public Scholars Notice of Funding Opportunity, 2024 and 2025 (PDF)
Public Scholars Grants.gov application package

Program Resources
Public Scholar Frequently Asked Questions, 2024 and 2025 (PDF)
List of recently funded Public Scholar projects

Sample Application Narratives
The sample applications below do not necessarily comply with the current page limits and formatting requirements. Please be sure to follow the rules in the current Notice of Funding Opportunity.

The Best Years of Our Lives (Cinema History)
Sister Novelists Before the Brontes (British Literature)
How the West was Won (American Civil War)
The Sacred Band of Thebes (Ancient Greek History)
The Doctors Blackwell (Dual Biography)
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

    Register for an account on Grants.gov

    When you are ready to apply, register for a Grants.gov account. If you already have registered, make sure the account is current. After registering, you must add an “individual applicant” profile. Click on the “My Account” link, then on “Manage Profiles” and “Add Profile.” Refer to Grants.gov’s instructions for adding a profile.

    Complete your application package

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

    Submit your application package on Grants.gov

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

    Verify you have received email messages from Grants.gov

    After you submit your application, Grants.gov 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

    The Public Scholars program staff will request letters of reference from your recommenders on or about January 9 (a little over one full month 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 Grants.gov (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 Grants.gov 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
    9 Years
    NEH received an average of
    269 Applications
    per year
    This program has a
    10% Funding Ratio
    NEH made an average of
    26 Awards
    per year

    Examples of Projects Funded by this Grant Program