Photo: Archaeology students looking for artifacts

Sifting rubble from the Cursus—a Neolithic earthwork half a mile from Stonehenge—archaeology students look for small artifacts.

Photograph by Andrew Henderson

The GEF—Northern Europe Research grants must have hypothesis-based scientific research as a primary focus and are awarded based on potential for new advances in field sciences. All proposed projects must have a geographical dimension and be of broad scientific interest.

Applications are generally limited to the following disciplines: anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, biology (including fields such as botany, behavioral ecology and zoology), geography, geology, oceanography and paleontology. In addition, the advisory board is emphasizing multidisciplinary projects that address environmental issues (e.g., loss of biodiversity and habitat, effects of human-population pressures).

Researchers planning work in foreign countries should include at least one local collaborator as part of their research teams. Applications seeking support solely for laboratory work or archival research will not be considered. 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.

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


In order to be considered for funding, the applicant must be a resident of one of the following countries: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, or the United Kingdom.

Submissions must be made in English if they are to receive timely consideration by the Advisory Board.

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.

Researchers planning fieldwork outside of Northern Europe should include at least one local collaborator as part of their fieldwork team.

Grant Amounts

While grant amounts vary greatly, the average award is €20000.

As National Geographic Society funds are intended to function as complementary support, applicants are strongly encouraged to seek additional funding from other funding agencies. GEF Research grants tend to act as seed money and are given for one year's research.

Grant Restrictions

National Geographic Society grants may not be used for indirect costs, overhead or 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.

What We Fund

Please visit the What We Fund page to read more about the types of research projects we fund.

Obtaining an Application Form

Applying for a grant from the Global Exploration Fund is a two-step process.

Step 1: Pre-Application

Before receiving an application form, each principal investigator 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.
  • If you have any questions about the online pre-application form, please email GEFNEurope@ngs.org.
  • The Global Exploration Fund accepts pre-applications throughout the year. Please submit your pre-application at least eight months prior to anticipated project dates.

The principal investigator will be notified with a decision within eight weeks. If the pre-application is approved, the principal investigator will receive an email with a link to the full application online.

Fill out pre-application. You will be asked to create an account.


Access your saved pre-application form.

Step 2: Application

After receiving the application, the principal investigator must complete and submit the application online. There are a few things you should know before doing so:

  • The Global Exploration Fund accepts applications throughout the year. However, please allow up to six months from the receipt of your application for the GEF Advisory Board 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.

The Advisory Board meets biannually to make funding decisions. Full applications should be submitted no later than June 19, 2016 in order to be considered at the next grant meeting in the autumn of 2016.


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