Partner University Fund

Supporting transatlantic partnerships around research and higher education

Established in 2007 as a collaboration between the French government, American private donors and the FACE Foundation, the Partner University Fund (PUF) is dedicated to amplifying the potential of the brightest French and American scholars by supporting educational and research partnerships between higher education institutions in both countries.

Applicants are expected to develop new or deepened partnerships through intense collaboration.


Only French and American not-for-profit institutions of higher education and/or research may submit applications to the Fund.

Institutions must be accredited by the relevant authorities (typically, ministries in France, accredited agencies, or regional authorities in the United States). Not-for-profit research institutions that are not officially linked to universities, such as the National laboratories in the United States, or EPST (Etablissement Public a Caractere Scientifique et Technologique) in France, may also apply to PUF.

Other organizations, sponsors, companies, universities from other countries may be part of the project, but will not be funded by the Partner University Fund. Only the lead institutions are allowed to receive grants from PUF.

Eligible Activities

Partnerships must focus on advancing both research and education. They may develop the following areas :

  • Faculty, postdoctoral, student mobility and exchanges
  • Joint research initiatives
  • Joint classes and curricula
  • Creation of joint and dual Master and PhD degrees

PUF supports partnerships developed in the field of the Humanities.

PUF and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation define the Humanities as those academic disciplines that study the human condition through the experience of human subjects, both individual and collective, using methods of analysis and interpretation that characterize much of the work in such academic fields as classics, history, art history, literature, musicology, and philosophy—which is to say, fields that are commonly distinguished from the natural and social sciences by the breadth and variety of perspectives they mobilize, by the assertion of moral and aesthetic values that they ascribe to humanity, and by their insistence on framing statistical analyses of empirical data with narrative accounts of human experience.

Examples of the fields or disciplines embraced by the Humanities include the study of ancient and modern languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, the visual arts, the performing arts (music, theater, film, dance), as well as some dimensions of anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, and linguistics.

In cases in which the lines separating the Humanities and the social sciences are blurred, the final selection committee will determine which laureate projects are eligible for the higher level of funding enabled by the grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Projects must be submitted jointly by the partnering institutions. A Letter of Intent from the President, Chancellor, Head of the International Relations Office, Provost, or any comparable representative must be submitted by each institution, together with the application form. The letter template is available for download on the PUF website. The letter will confirm that the applying institutions meet PUF eligibility criteria.

Composition of a PUF Partnership

PUF supports partnerships between American and French institutions. Each partnership must be led by one project leader at each institution. These 2 people will be responsible for planning, implementing and coordinating the partnership.

The PUF Grant Review Committee encourages partnerships that incorporate an equivalent number of students and faculty and create balanced exchanges between the French and American partner institutions throughout the project. These exchanges may take place through virtual learning experiences or physical faculty, student, and researcher exchanges.

Duration of Financial Support

PUF offers grantees an annual grant that is renewable for a total of three years, and is subject to a renewal process each year. A concise statement on the planned evolution of the partnership over the 3 years is included in the application form, to allow for monitoring and evaluation.

Amount of Award

Thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, PUF funds up to 60% of the cost of a project in the Humanities, amounting to up to $100,000 annually per project. The exact grant amount awarded each year depends on the outcomes of a yearly progress review.

Partner institutions are therefore required to obtain “in kind” and “in cash” contributions that amount to at least 40% of the project cost for projects in Humanities, and 70% for other fields.

PUF provides co-funding for projects, aiming to support the following expenses:

  • Mobility: Because mobility is a key tool in nurturing partnerships, PUF may cover travel, housing and living expenses for faculty, students and post-doctoral fellows.
  • Research and Training Costs: The purchase of supplies, equipment or services may be covered by PUF when these are essential to the new collaboration proposed. These costs must be detailed in the application. The portion of a PUF grant assigned to one partner institution may not be used to pay for services provided by the other partner institution.
  • Salaries can be paid using funds from the PUF grant in the case of research and teaching assistants that are specially hired for the purpose of the partnership, either in a research or technical capacity (post-doctoral scientists, graduate students, technicians) or in a teaching capacity (language assistants, tutors helping students involved in distance learning activities, etc.).
  • Conferences, Communication, Publishing Expenses: Expenses associated with conferences or aimed at promoting work and initiatives executed by the partnership (flyers, etc.) and disseminating the results of the PUF project are allowed.
  • Unallowable expenses: PUF cannot fund coordinators or project leaders for their work in setting up or implementing partnerships. PUF will not fund the work of permanent administrative staff involved in PUF partnerships. No general overhead or administrative costs will be covered by the PUF Grant.
Application date
Up to 3 years
Social sciences