Starting your NEH Proposal

Guidelines for proposal preparation

NEH Grants is the National Endowment for the Humanities grants home page. Go there to learn more about grant opportunities, application guidelines, and resources for managing your funded grant project.

All applicants to National Endowment for the Humanities are required to use Depending on the opportunity, institutions or individuals can apply.

As an Institution

(as in the case of challenge grants, digital humanities projects, or enduring questions):

  • Carleton is registered with, with the Office of the Provost and Grants Office personnel designated as the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR). 
  • Grants Office personnel submit applications on behalf of Carleton and the Provost.

As an Individual

(as in the case of fellowships or summer stipends):

  • If you are applying as an individual, the guidelines for the program to which you are applying will have specific instructions for registering with
  • Note that Grants Office staff often do the registering of an individual with, though an individual can register themselves on the Applicant Registration page. As of 2/21/2022, users must sign in to with credentials; Create and link your account now; find step-by-step instructions to create an account for If registering yourself, please notify Quinn Arnold (qarnold) in the Grants Office.

Step-by-step instructions to begin a proposal

At Carleton, the two most common NEH asks are for 1) a fellowship, or 2) a summer stipend.
[To learn of other opportunities, explore NEH’s Match Your Project to a Grant Program.]

The guidelines are detailed and easy to follow: for any application reading through the guidelines is essential (for an example, at NEH Grants Fellowships, choose “Fellowships Notice of Funding Opportunity (PDF)” under “Step 1: Review your application package”). 

For a Fellowship

For a Summer Stipend

  • Follow this NEH Summer Stipend link to see deadline date (mid-September annually), a brief summary, program statistics, and contact information.
  • On the page are links to resources of application guidelines and the application package. Also available are program resources such as FAQs, recently funded fellowships, sample application narratives, a 2021 webinar, and resources.
  • (Note again that new or updated information is published a couple of months previous to proposal submission due date.)

Components of common NEH proposals

The Fellowship and Public Scholars programs provide a stipend of $5,000 per month for periods of six to twelve months, with a maximum stipend of $60,000 for a twelve-month period. The Fellowship award period must be continuous and full-time; the Public Scholar work must be continuous and worked on at least half time through the performance period.

Starting in 2024, a Summer Stipend will provide $8,000 for two consecutive months of full-time research and writing on a humanities project. Summer Stipends support projects at any stage of development and are awarded to individual scholars.

A few FORMATTING particulars

  • Font size is to be no smaller than 11 points. Most documents use single-spacing with one-inch margins. Recommended fonts include Arial, Georgia, Helvetica, or Times New Roman.
  • Submission via requires attachment of PDF files. The Grants Office staff will convert your proposal pieces to PDF after proofing the documents and before attaching them to the application package.
  • File names for attachments must be limited to 50 or fewer characters, not use accent marks or special characters, and be named as indicated in the guidelines.

Required application components

For either a Fellowship or Summer Stipend proposal, the application includes four key elements: Narrative, Work plan, Bibliography, and Resume. Additionally, two letters of recommendation are required.

For a Public Scholar application, in addition to the four key elements of Narrative, Work plan, Bibliography, Resume, and two letters of recommendation, there is a required Writing sample, and recommended Publisher letter.

1. Narrative 

In no more than three single-spaced pages with one-inch margins, describe the project’s

  • Significance and contribution
  • Organization and methods
  • Competencies, skills, and access
  • Final product and dissemination

2. Work plan

In no more than one single-spaced page with one-inch margins, provide a work plan (in increments of three months or fewer) describing what will be accomplished during the period of performance (full-time commitment), where you will be, and how you will spend your time. If you do not anticipate finishing the entire project during the fellowship period, discuss your plan for doing so.

3. Bibliography

In no more than one single-spaced page with one-inch margins, list key primary and secondary sources that relate directly to the project.

4. Résumé 

In no more than two pages, provide information on

  • current and past positions
  • education
  • awards and honors
  • publications
  • other relevant professional activities and accomplishments
  • level of competence in any relevant foreign languages

(Note that a conventional academic curriculum vitae is not acceptable.)

5. Two Letters of Recommendation (required for Fellowship, Summer Stipend, and Public Scholar)

Provide the names, email addresses, and affiliations for two reference letter writers.

  • The NEH will contact the letter writers about two weeks after the proposal deadline with information about how they can submit their letters online.
  • The deadline for the writers to submit their letters is often around 3 weeks after the deadline.
  • Applicants are notified by email when NEH receives their letters of reference.
  • Missing letters will not disqualify an application from review.

6. Writing Sample (required for Public Scholar)

In no more than 20 double-spaced pages (typescript sample) or no more than 8,500 words (reproduction of published pages), submit a draft chapter or partial chapter of the proposed book if possible. If a draft chapter is not available, a sample in the style of the proposed book is acceptable. See the funding opportunity for specifics.

7. Publisher’s letter of interest or commitment (optional for Public Scholar)

If you have already explored publication arrangements, you may submit a letter of interest or
commitment from a publisher. See funding opportunity for specifics.

8. Appendices (conditionally required)

In one single-spaced page per item, IF proposing an edition, translation, database project, or project involving visual materials, submit an attachment as described below:

  • Editions or translations: provide a sample of the original text (one page) and the edited or translated version (one page). If you plan to include annotations, your sample of the edited or translated version should include examples.
  • Database projects: provide a sample entry (one page).
  • Visual materials: provide a sample (one page) saved as a PDF (do not use .jpg or other common graphic formats).


Needed for the application form

For either a fellowship or summer stipend, the application form asks for items beyond basic contact and demographic information:

  1. A “project title” that is both descriptive and informative to a nonspecialist audience – that is, members of Congress and their staffs, as well as the general public. The title may not exceed 125 characters, including spaces and punctuation. Longer titles will be detected by the NEH’s application system, which will then reject the application.
  2. A “project description” (akin to an abstract, 1000-character limit) that
    • summarizes your project for a nonspecialist audience (such as members of Congress and their staffs, as well as the general public), and
    • connects the proposed work to larger issues in the humanities.

      The project description cannot exceed 1,000 characters, including spaces. Longer descriptions may cause to reject the application or will be truncated by the NEH’s application system, marring legibility.

  3. Start and end dates for the proposed project (must start on the first day of the month and end on last day of the month), which correspond with the particular program’s requirements as to earliest or latest start dates and the duration of the grant (at least 6 months, no more than 12 months).
  4. Up to three discrete “fields of project” and one “project director field of study.” These choices – listed on this NEH Project Fields page – are used by NEH staff to assure that an application is read by the appropriate reviewers.
  5. Identification of the Project/Performance Site Location – name the primary location and any other locations where the project activity will occur during the period of performance.
  6. Contact information for letters of reference writers – two required for Summer Stipends, Fellowships, and Public Scholars. Information needed for each letter writer: full name, email address, title, department name, and institution. (After submission of the application, the NEH emails the letter writers with instructions for uploading their letters by a date that follows the application deadline by about a month.)

Compliance specifics

What do I need to do to be compliant with federal requirements?

Each organization receiving funding from a federal agency needs to certify that the institution and individuals are following specified federal guidelines.

Carleton asks all primary investigators (PI and coPIs) involved in a proposal to a federal governmental agency (e.g., NSF, NIH, NEH) to read and sign a Compliance and Disclosure form via this Link to OnBase Form (log in using your Carleton credentials). The form addresses college policies and provides a checklist with links addressing I) financial conflicts of interest, II) human or animal subject involvement, III) responsible conduct of research, and IV) environmental health and safety issues. 


How do I submit my proposal via

All applications to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) are submitted through The Grants Office will walk you through the submission process.

Where do I find more information?

NEH Division of Research Programs for a summary of annual funding opportunities

NEH Funding Opportunities for a searchable list of current and upcoming deadlines

NEH Fellowships

NEH Summer Stipends

NEH-Mellon Fellowships for Digital Publication

Funded Projects Query Form for a searchable database of funded projects