Kaplan Graduate Awards

The Kaplan Graduate Awards Program (KAP) was created to help develop the next generation of wild cat biologists. The program supports the conservation efforts of outstanding young biology graduate students working on wild felids in situ. We welcome applications for projects on all wild cat species in all regions. Award amounts vary; the maximum is $20,000. All Kaplan Awards are granted for one year, but renewals for subsequent years may be requested. Funding for subsequent years will be decided based on the progress and results reported for the first year’s activities and is not guaranteed.


The KAP is designed to support projects on wild cats with a conservation focus and a significant field component. Applicants must be post-graduate students pursuing a higher degree (MSc, Ph.D. or equivalent). Successful candidates will demonstrate outstanding academic credentials and conservation experience, field experience that has prepared them to undertake the proposed work, and a history of publishing work in peer-reviewed journals and/or “soft” publications such as reports, magazine articles, websites, etc.

Species and Location

The Kaplan Graduate Awards supports wild cat conservation and research projects in all areas of the world where wild cats are found. Although work on all wild cat species is considered, preference is given to species that are endangered, threatened or vulnerable on — in order of priority — a global, regional or local scale. Applications for work on species that do not meet these criteria will have a stronger chance of approval if they can demonstrate that their results can be applied to other species or other areas with greater conservation outcomes. In addition, sites with high conservation significance will be given priority.

Budget Guidelines

The KAP will consider applications for up to $20,000 annually, for both project and tuition costs. However, preference is given to projects requesting primarily field and research costs. Panthera will consider local salaries, per diems, and stipends for local field personnel only; we will not fund salaries for core administrative and management personnel. Panthera will not consider large requests for expensive first-world university tuition, except in exceptional cases where the applicants are nationals from developing countries and provide convincing rationales that the institutions will provide critical graduate training that is not available in their home country. Panthera does not support conferences, travel to scientific meetings, legal actions, overhead costs, academic exchanges or captive breeding.

Evaluation Criteria

Projects are evaluated on a competitive basis. Letters of Inquiry and applications are reviewed by Panthera staff and Panthera’s Scientific Council and may be sent for external review. Projects are evaluated in terms of the: 

  • Potential contributions to wild cat conservation; 
  • Scientific merit and value; and 
  • Qualifications of the Principal Investigator Kaplan Graduate Awards.

How to Apply

The application process opens with a call for Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) between 15 February and 15 March. The application portal is only open between these dates. The LOI asks for the title and location of the proposed project, the target species, the project budget and the amount requested from Panthera, and an abstract of the project. Qualified students who submit LOIs for projects that appear to be a good fit for the program will be asked to submit a full application and supporting documents. Both LOIs and applications must be submitted through Panthera’s grant management system, Foundant. Applicants are only permitted to apply to one Panthera grant program per intake round. If you are seeking renewal for a previous grant, please contact us directly at grants@panthera.org.

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