Awards & Honors: NEH Collaborative Research Grants

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Collaborative Research Grants support interpretive humanities research undertaken by two or more collaborating scholars, for full-time or part-time activities for periods of one to three years. Support is available for various combinations of scholars, consultants, and research assistants; project-related travel and archival research; field work; and technical support and services. All grantees are expected to disseminate the results of their work to the appropriate scholarly and public audiences.

Note: Fully updated guidelines will be posted at least two months in advance of the December 6, 2017 deadline. In the meantime, the NEA requests that applicants use the guidelines for the previous deadline to get a sense of what is involved in assembling an application.



  • Preliminary Proposals: October 15, 2017
    • Prospective applicants may submit a draft of their proposal for staff review (submission of draft proposals is optional)
  • For Projects Beginning October 2018: December 6, 2017


The Collaborative Research program accepts applications from both institutions and individuals without an institutional affiliation (who may apply as unaffiliated project directors). Note that all projects must include at least one other staff member in addition to the project director.

Eligible projects include

  • research that significantly adds to knowledge and understanding of the humanities;
  • conferences on topics of major importance in the humanities that will benefit scholarly research; and
  • archaeological projects that emphasize interpretation, data reuse, and dissemination of results.

Sample narratives from successful grant applications are available on the program resource page.

Award Information

  • Upper $100,000 USD
  • Awards are made for one to three years and rarely exceed $100,000 per year. Awards for conferences do not exceed $65,000 per grant. Indirect costs (if any) are included in the awarded amount. Successful applicants will be awarded a grant in outright funds, matching funds, or a combination of the two, depending on the applicant’s preference and the availability of funds. Federal matching funds are released on a one-to-one basis when a grantee secures gift funds from eligible third parties. (Note that agencies of the federal government are not eligible third parties.)
  • Cost sharing consists of the cash contributions made to a project by the applicant, third parties, and other federal agencies, as well as third party in-kind contributions, such as donated services and goods. Cost sharing also includes nonfederal gift money raised from third parties to release federal matching funds. Although cost sharing is not required, the Collaborative Research program is rarely able to support the full costs of projects approved for funding. The balance of the costs is to be borne by the applicant’s institution or other sources. Previously funded projects seeking further support should expect a progressively larger share of the costs to be assumed by the host institution or third parties.

Application Resources

To prepare a strong application, applicants are encouraged to take the following steps:

  • read the guidelines carefully, noting what information needs to be provided in the application;
  • review the sample narratives, which are available on the program resource page;
  • consult the program’s evaluation criteria, which are listed immediately below;
  • read the Frequently Asked Questions, which are available on the program resource page;
  • contact the program staff (at 202-606-8200 or to discuss your project and raise any questions you may have about the application; and
  • submit an optional draft proposal (by October 15, 2017), to which program staff will respond with suggestions and advice.

Applicants whose projects have received NEH support may apply for a grant for a new or subsequent stage of that project. These proposals receive no special consideration and will be judged by the same criteria as others in the grant competition. In addition, such applicants must substantially update their proposals and must include a description of the new activities and a justification of the new budget. Such applicants must also describe how the previously funded project met its goals.

Evaluation Criteria

Evaluators are asked to apply the following criteria in assessing applications:

  1. The intellectual significance of the project, including its value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both; the merit of the resulting interpretive study and its potential to stimulate new research; its relationship to larger themes in the humanities; and the significance of the material on which the project is based.
  2. The clarity of the research questions being posed, the appropriateness of research methods or conference design; the appropriateness of the technology employed in the project; the feasibility of the work plan; and the appropriateness of the field work to be undertaken, the archival or source materials to be studied, and the research site.
  3. The qualifications, expertise, and levels of commitment of the project director and collaborators, and the appropriateness and value of the collaboration.
  4. The soundness of the dissemination and access plans, including benefit to the audience identified in the proposal and the strength of the case for employing print, a digital format, or a combination of media; the sustainability of the print and/or digital dissemination. For projects producing digital materials, all other considerations being equal, NEH will give preference to those that provide free access to materials produced with grant funds.
  5. The likelihood that the proposed project will be completed within the stated time frame; and the reasonableness of the budget in relation to the proposed activities and plan of work. For previously funded applicants, the project’s productivity, and the clarity of the application’s account of work completed in relation to the project’s previous goals and of the work to be accomplished during the grant period.

Application Elements

Your application must consist of the following parts. (See Collaborative Research Guidelines for a full description of each part.)

1. Table of contents (one page)

  • Provide a list of all parts of the application and corresponding page numbers.

2. Statement of significance and impact (one page)

  • Provide a project statement written for a nonspecialist audience, stating the significance of the proposed work, its relation to larger issues in the humanities, and the impact of the project results on its intended audience and on future scholarship.

3. List of participants (one page)

  • Provide a list, in alphabetical order, surnames first, of all participants and collaborators on the project, designating the project director and if applicable the co-director. NEH expects the lead scholar on the project (not an institutional administrator) to serve as the project director. The project director must also devote a large percentage of time to work on the project. Include any institutional affiliations for all listed participants. For those who are not affiliated with a nonprofit educational institution, provide occupation and employer; if none, list city and state of residence.
  • The names on this list must match the names mentioned in the Collaborators section of the project’s narrative description, as well as those listed in the budget. After you list the participants, provide a separate list of advisory board members, if any. Foreign nationals may participate in the project, and payments to them may be included in the budget.

4. Narrative (maximum of 25 pages)

  • In the narrative applicants must provide an intellectual justification for the project and a work plan. Applicants should write their proposals with the evaluation criteria in mind, describing the project’s intellectual significance, research questions and method, qualifications of collaborators, dissemination plan, and the likelihood of completion. The narrative should not assume any specialized knowledge on the part of readers, and it must be free of jargon.
  • The narrative must be introduced with a project title that describes the proposal. The project title must be no more than 125 characters, and it should be informative to a nonspecialist audience.
  • Narratives are limited to twenty-five double-spaced pages. Applications with narratives that exceed the page limit will be rejected. All pages should have one-inch margins, and the font size should be no smaller than Times New Roman eleven point. Applications with narratives that do not follow this formatting will also be rejected. Use appendices to provide supplementary material.

5. Project budget

  • Using the instructions and the sample budget, complete the budget form (MS Excel format) or a format of your own that includes all the required information. (You can find links to the budget instructions, sample budget, and budget form on the program resource page.) You can customize the form to suit your project. Enter explanations for any unusual circumstances directly on the form. Include any subcontracts. Note that budgets cannot include expenses for travel to professional conferences, meals at conferences, professional development, and publication subventions.
  • For institutional applicants only: If the applicant institution is claiming indirect costs and has a federally negotiated indirect-cost rate agreement, submit a copy of the agreement. Do not attach it to your budget form. Instead you must attach it to the Budget Narrative Attachment Form (also known as the Budget Narrative File). (See the instructions for this form in the Application Checklist near the end of this document.) Alternatively, you must attach a statement to the form, explaining a) that the applicant institution is not claiming indirect costs; b) that the applicant institution does not currently have a federally negotiated indirect-cost rate agreement; or c) that the applicant institution is using the government-wide rate of up to 10 percent of the total direct costs, less distorting items (including but not limited to capital expenditures, participant stipends, fellowships, and the portion of each subgrant or subcontract in excess of $25,000).
  • Indirect costs are computed by applying a negotiated indirect-cost rate to a distribution base (typically a portion of the direct costs of the project). If the applicant institution is claiming indirect costs and has a current federally negotiated indirect-cost rate agreement, include on the budget form the following information: a) the indirect-cost rate; b) the federal agency with which the agreement was negotiated; and c) the date of the agreement.

6. Appendices (maximum of 35 pages—except for U.S. archaeology projects)

  • Use appendices to provide essential supplementary materials. Appendices must not exceed thirty-five pages (not counting the information that U.S. archaeology projects must submit to comply with Section 106 of the NHPA). Applications with appendices exceeding the page limit will be rejected.

7. Statement of history of grants (one page)

  • If the project has received previous support from any federal or nonfederal sources, including NEH, provide a one-page list of the sources, dates, and amounts of these funds. List the NEH grants already received, year by year. Include fellowships and individual awards received by project participants. If there is a long history of support, the sources and contributions may be grouped and summarized.

Preliminary Proposal Submission

  • As noted earlier, before they submit a proposal applicants are encouraged to contact program officers, who can offer advice about preparing the proposal and review preliminary proposal drafts.
  • Applicants may submit by e-mail ( a draft of their proposal no later than October 15. Do NOT submit your draft through
  • A response cannot be guaranteed if the draft arrives later than October 15.
  • Draft proposals are optional; submitting a draft enables an applicant to receive staff comments about the substance and format of the application. The more complete the draft, the more helpful the response can be.
  • A draft proposal should include the statement of significance and impact, the narrative, and the budget.

Staff comments on draft proposals are not part of the formal review process and have no bearing on the final outcome of the application, but previous applicants have found them helpful.

Final Application Submission

All applications to this program must be submitted via


For questions or more information, contact NEH’s Division of Research Programs at 202-606-8200 or