Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Small Awards in Behavioral Economics

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Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be advanced doctoral students or post-docs/junior (non-tenured) faculty members who have been out of graduate school for up to two years. There are no restrictions with regards to the applicant’s nationality or geographical location.

What do we support?

Projects must contribute to the Foundation's mission to improve the social and living conditions in the United States. Priority will be given to experiments that connect with topics of interest under our other core programs and special initiatives.

Appropriate projects will demonstrate explicit use of psychological concepts in the motivation of the research design and the preparation of the results. Experimental projects which do not have substantial behavioral content (such as market experiments testing neoclassical ideas) or substantial economic content (such as psychology experiments with no economic choices or strategic or market implications) will not be funded.

Do you fund projects in other countries?

No. In line with the foundation's mission, all projects must focus on the United States. In some exceptional cases, the foundation may consider an experiment in another country if the researcher can demonstrate that the experiment is not feasible in the U.S. (e.g. data needed for the project is not available or collectable) but using international data has direct and strong relevance to issues relating to improving social and living conditions in the U.S.

Do I have to submit a letter of inquiry before submitting an application?

No, applications do not require an initial letter of inquiry.

Are there deadlines for submitting an application?

No, applications are accepted on a rolling basis (conditional on funding availability).

What should my application include?

  • Completion of the online forms
  • The proposal
  • The budget using the RSF budget template
  • Applicant CV(s)
  • A letter from your home institution stating that they will act as a fiscal agent for the proposed project
  • A letter of recommendation from faculty advisor (doctoral students only)
  • Official transcripts (doctoral students only).

How long should my proposal be?

The maximum length for the text of a proposal is 1,000 words, excluding budget and bibliography.

What should my proposal substantively include?

Proposals should discuss the rationale of the research, the question(s) under study, and the methods and analytic approach to be employed. You should also include a brief project work-plan and a budget justification or narrative that succinctly explains and clarifies the budget. The proposal should also briefly discuss how the project fits with the Foundation's mission priorities.

What are the budget restrictions?

There is a $7,500 lifetime limit of support. No overhead or indirect costs will be paid on these grants. The small grants are meant as 1-year grants.

Representative categories of expenditure include the acquisition of data, the purchase of data sets, research assistance (but not including payment to any researchers who will be co-authors on the project), payment to subjects in experiments, miscellaneous expenses (such as copying, telephone, postage). No funds will be granted for researchers' time. No more than $500 can be allocated to miscellaneous expenses. No funds can be spent on computer hardware or software.

A budget that appears to be excessive will be grounds for rejecting a proposal.

How long does the application review take?

Proposals will only be reviewed once all application components have been received. Applications are generally reviewed within 8 weeks (conditional on funding availability).

If my application gets rejected, can I revise and resubmit?

No, applications will be accepted or rejected with no possibility of subsequent negotiation.

Do I have to use the online application system?

Yes. If you have any questions or problems, please contact us at

Is there a time limit in which I must submit my proposal once I start an application online?

Yes. If a new application is not electronically submitted within 6 months, the application will automatically be deleted from the online system and you will need to restart the process.

Click here for detailed information about eligibility requirements and guidelines.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


The Russell Sage Foundation offers grants and positions in our Visiting Scholars program for research.


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