Photo: Tree kangaroos

Photograph by Tim Laman

The National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program funds projects that require venture capital, supporting exceptional projects while foregoing a time-consuming peer-review process. NGS/Waitt grants are able to fund "proof of concept" research for applicants at an earlier stage in their careers than other NGS grant programs. Special emphasis is placed on expedited grant processing and turnaround. The selection committee endeavors to have funding decisions made within ten weeks of application submission. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Funding is not restricted to United States citizens. Applicants planning work in foreign countries should include at least one local collaborator as part of their research teams. The selection 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 National Geographic Society's other divisions, grant recipients are expected to provide National Geographic 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 not required to have advanced degrees to be eligible for funding, though they will be required to show a commensurate level of expertise and experience. Applicants must have an affiliation with an educational organization or other institution.

Previous grantees must first comply with all prior reporting and financial-accounting obligations before submitting applications for additional support.

Grant Amounts

National Geographic Society/Waitt grants are awarded on a rolling basis and range from U.S. $5,000-$15,000. There is no set quantity of grants awarded, but budget constraints keep the number to approximately a hundred per year.

Grant Restrictions

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. Tuition costs are not allowable.

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 National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants program is a straightforward and quick process. Simply click on the link below to get started and within twelve to fifteen weeks, the selection committee will send a decision to the project director.

There are a few things you should know before doing so:

  • The application form can be completed in multiple sessions. You will be allowed to save your work to an online account and complete it at another time.
  • You will have the opportunity to upload electronic copies of your curriculum vitae (CV), publication record, maps, images, and alternative budgets before submitting your application. Instructions will be provided. A copy of your CV is required.
  • 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 application form, please email waitt@ngs.org.
  • In order to ensure quick turnaround, applicants should encourage their recommended reviewers to submit their reviews/letter of reference in a timely fashion.

Fill out an application.

Check status on an application.


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