Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences

To contribute to the scientific strength and welfare of the Nation through the promotion of basic research and education in the social, behavioral and economic sciences and through monitoring and understanding the resources invested in science and engineering in the United States.

Supported activities

include research and education in the following disciplines: Anthropological and geographic sciences; cognitive, psychological and language sciences; economics, decision risk and management sciences; sociology, political sciences; innovation and organizational change, measurement methods and statistics, law and social science and science and society.

Other SBE grants build infrastructure, and develop methods, support science and technology centers, including climate change and science of learning centers, and fund research workshops, symposia, and conferences.

Educational activities include awards to improve the quality of doctoral dissertations in the behavioral and social sciences; grants for graduate traineeships and postdoctoral fellowships; and grants to promote K-12 education in the SBE sciences.

Support is also provided for junior faculty and mid-career development opportunities, undergraduate student research, and for research opportunities for women, minorities, and the differentially abled.

The Directorate also funds science studies; studies of scientists and engineers, R&D funding and expenditures, and educational attainment in science, mathematics and engineering.
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Topics of recently funded research include: brain activity associated with truth and deception; the influence of fear on perceptions and decision making; network modeling; rebuilding from disasters; and the effects of terrorist assaults and natural disasters on people removed from physical harm but emotionally engaged with those who have directly suffered.

With major support from the SBE-managed Human and Social Dynamics priority area and SBE's core programs, NSF recently announced new Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) awards to study the impact of Hurricane Katrina on people and social systems in the hard-hit Gulf Coast region.

SGER awards are limited in size and support exploratory, high-risk research and have proven to be especially well-suited for rapid-response situations in which the need for timely response is crucial in order to capture time-sensitive and perishable data.

SBE previously used SGERs effectively to field research teams in the aftermath of both the September 11th terrorist attacks and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Other recently funded projects investigate the human dimensions of ecological issues such as climate change and the social and ethical issues that surround advances in nanotechnology.

SBE also provides statistical data for critical analyses of the role of foreign citizens in the U.S.

science and engineering workforce.

In addition, SBE awards foster the development of new information technology systems and software, the sharing of data within and across disciplines, the development of new social research infrastructures, and education at all levels in the SBE sciences.

Agency - National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation is an independent Federal agency created to promote the progress of science, to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare and to secure the national defense. The NSF annually funds approximately 20 percent of basic, Federally-supported college and university research.

Website Address

Relevant Nonprofit Program Categories

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, 4,284 competitive proposals were received and 1,143 awards were made, and in fiscal year 2008 approximately 4,250 competitive proposals are expected to be received and about 1,148 awards will be made.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Programs in social, behavioral and economic sciences and in science resources statistics provide funds that may be used for paying costs necessary to conduct research or studies, such as salaries and wages, equipment and supplies, travel, publication costs, and other direct and indirect costs.

Primary responsibility for the supervision of grant activities rests with the grantee institution; the project director or principal investigator is responsible for the execution of the research activities, as well as for submitting progress and final reports on research activities.

Grants are made on a competitive basis.

Funds must be used for purposes specified in the proposal.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Public and private colleges and universities; Non-profit, non-academic organizations; For-profit organizations; State and Local Governments; and unaffiliated scientists under special circumstances.

See the Grant Proposal Guide for a full description of eligibility requirements.

Beneficiary Eligibility

See the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.E. for a full description of eligibility requirements.


Proposals must be signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in business and financial affairs and who can commit the organization to certain proposal certifications. Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular Nos. A-21 for colleges and universities and A-122 for nonprofit organizations. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

For some competitions, a preliminary proposal may be required.

If applicable, the program solicitation will provide specific information.

For all programs it is suggested that an initial inquiry be made before a proposal is submitted to determine whether a potential project qualifies for NSF support.

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No.


This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.


Application Procedures

Project support requires the submission of a formal proposal, signed electronically by an official authorized to commit the institution or organization in financial affairs, fully documenting the planned activity and proposed amount of award. Guidelines are contained in publications, "Grant Proposal Guide," and "2004 Guide to Programs," NSF 04-009. This program is subject to the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-110.

Award Procedures

NSF staff members review and evaluate all proposals. To assist them, they usually obtain the advice of scientists and engineers who are specialists in the field covered by the proposal. Proposals are supported on the basis of merit to the extent permitted by available funds.


Many NSF programs accept proposals at any time. Other programs, however, establish due dates for submission of proposals. NSF utilizes Target Dates, Deadline Dates, and Submission Windows. Consult the Grant Proposal Guide, Section I.F. for a further description of these types of due dates.


National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended, Public Law 107-368, 42 U.S.C 1861 et seq.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

The normal duration is from 5 to 9 months with most decisions being made within six months.


The project director or principal investigator may request, in writing, that the Foundation reconsider its action in declining any proposal, renewal, or continuing grant proposal.


Proposals for renewal of awards, containing the same type of information as the original proposal, should be submitted 6 to 9 months before the expiration of the original award. Renewals are treated in competition with pending proposals.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Cost sharing is normally not required. The Grant Proposal Guide (GPG)(Sec. II) and the Grant Policy Manual (Sec. 330) provide additional information on the general NSF policy on cost-sharing.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Up to 5 years.

Post Assistance Requirements


For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the PI must submit an annual project report to the cognizant program office at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period.

Within 90 days after the expiration of a grant, the PI is required to submit a final project report.

For travel grants, a travel report is required.

Quarterly Federal Cash Transaction Reports are required.

Other reporting requirements may be imposed via the grant instrument.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


Grantees are expected to maintain separate records for each award to ensure that funds are used for the general purpose for which the award was made. Records are subject to inspection during the life of the award and for 3 years thereafter.

Financial Information

Account Identification



(Grants) FY 07 $214,540,000; FY 08 est $215,130,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

$1,100 to $4,980,000; $85,395.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

48 CFR Chapter 25; 45 CFR Chapter VI; "2004 Guide to Programs," NSF 04-009 (; and "Grant Proposal Guide," (

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office


Headquarters Office

Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 905, Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-8700. Division of Science Resources Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-8780. Division of Social and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 995, Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-8760. Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Suite 995, Arlington, VA 22230. Telephone: (703) 292-8740.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The National Science Board approved revised criteria for evaluating proposals on March 28, 1997 (NSB 97-72). All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of two merit review criteria: Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts (see Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) chapter III.A). In some instances NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities. On July 8, 2002, the NSF Director issued Important Notice 127, Implementation of new Grant Proposal Guide Requirements Related to the Broader Impacts Criterion. This Important Notice reinforces the importance of addressing both criteria in the preparation and review of all proposals submitted to NSF. Chapter II of the GPG specifies that Principal Investigators must address both merit review criteria in separate statements within the one-page Project Summary. This chapter also reiterates that broader impacts resulting from the proposed project must be addressed in the Project Description and described as an integral part of the narrative. Effective October 1, 2002, NSF will return without review proposals that do not separately address both merit review criteria within the Project Summary. While proposers must respond to both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which they are qualified to make judgments. Below are considerations that help define the two merit review criteria. These considerations are suggestions; not all will apply to any given proposal. (1) What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity? How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources? (2) What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity? How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society? Additionally, in making funding decisions NSF will also give careful consideration to integrating research and education, and integrating diversity into NSF programs. One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. This supports these institutions in their efforts to provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports and enriches research through the diversity of learning perspectives. Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects,andActivities. Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

Social Entrepreneurship

The Social Investment Tax Relief

The proposed Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) has UK civil society and social organizations stirred up this season. The supposed tax relief on investment in social impact bonds will support the UK social economy.

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