Photograph by Brendan J. Haigh
The National Geographic Society 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 and be of broad scientific interest.
Applications are generally limited to the following disciplines: anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, biology, botany, geography, geology, oceanography, paleontology, and zoology.
In addition the committee is 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 Society's other divisions, grant recipients are expected to provide the Society with rights of first refusal for popular publication of their findings.
Grants to PIs in Developing Countries: While the first priority of the CRE is to fund high-quality scientific research, there is also a particular interest in funding projects that promote the growth of scientific infrastructure in geographic locations where such infrastructure is lacking.
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 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.
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 National Geographic Society funds are intended to function as complementary support, the committee strongly encourages applicants to seek additional, concurrent funding from other funding agencies. Committee grants tend to act as seed money and are given for one year's research.
Sometimes, but rarely, the committee will fund a maximum of two years of research. If the project director in your project feels that there are distinctive and substantive reasons for submitting a two-year application, he or she should understand that competition is keen, and awards for two years are scarce.
National Geographic Society grants may not be used for indirect costs, overhead, and other expenses not directly related to the project. Fringe benefits are also excluded, as are salaries.
Funds may not be used for travel to scientific/professional meetings or conferences, legal actions, land acquisition, endowments, construction of permanent field stations, or publishing research results.
Grant recipients are expected to provide the National Geographic Society with rights of first refusal for popular publication of their findings.
Obtaining an Application Form
Applying for a grant from the Committee for Research and Exploration is a two-step process.
Step 1: Pre-Application
Before receiving an application form, each project director must submit a pre-application form online. There are a few things you should know before doing so:
- The pre-application form can be completed in multiple sessions. You will be allowed to save your work and complete it at another time.
- You will be asked to upload an electronic copy of your curriculum vitae (CV) while completing the form. Instructions will be provided.
- Please make sure that your browser is configured to receive cookies.
- This system works best on Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape 6.0 or higher.
- If you have any questions about the online pre-application form, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Committee for Research and Exploration accepts pre-applications throughout the year. Please submit your pre-application at least ten months prior to anticipated project dates.
Within eight weeks, the committee will send a decision to the project director. If the pre-application is approved, the committee will send the project director an email with a link to the full application online.
If you are a resident of Northern Europe please apply to the Global Exploration Fund. Find out more and submit an application here.
Step 2: Application
After receiving the application, the project director must complete and submit his or her application online. There are a few things he or she should know before doing so:
- The Committee for Research and Exploration accepts applications throughout the year. However, please allow eight months from the committee's receipt of your application for the committee to formally review and consider it.
- Previous grantees must first comply with all prior reporting and financial-accounting obligations before submitting applications for additional support.
- Grants funded by the committee are generally for one year's work in the field and laboratory.
We strongly encourage electronic submission of all documents. If this is not possible, please submit your information to the following address:
Committee for Research and Exploration
National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20090-8249
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