With advancements in the internet and technology, I think that I can learn anything from internet with requirements of time and interest. I am very interested in quantum computing technology, but after finishing the learning process, I should do some research to find new things in that field. I am not aiming to get money or anything like that, I want only to get knowledge and have fun.

But in that stage, I guess that I will need a funding to build a lab and fulfill my needs to finish research. My writings above are my plan, I didn't mean any isolation,but I think that self-learning is the best way for me because I don't have enough money to get a degree and one of the reasons of plan is that. I also think that the internet can fulfill any needs for research except money.

Therefore,The aim of that question is asking you about your thoughts about my plans. Also,I want to ask about funding, is it possible to find research grant as a non-degree, self-taught person?

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    If you want to do some serious research, you'll need a degree. So, the first step you need to tackle is "I dont have enough money to get a degree". That is not an unsurmountable hurdle.
    – user9482
    Jun 23, 2020 at 12:08
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    If you want to convince grantgivers that you will do something useful with the grant, you need a track record that shows you're able to pull that off. Such a track record is usually acquired while completing a PhD. Jun 23, 2020 at 12:44
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    Funding to pursue a PhD may be easier to get.
    – GoodDeeds
    Jun 23, 2020 at 17:23
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    Furthermore, many grants I have seen have explicit eligibility requirements. One of these is usually "The PI is a faculty at a public university or research centre in Country X / European Union". Jun 24, 2020 at 12:40
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    Many universities will pay you for pursuing a MSc or PhD in quantum computing. So no, it's not expensive. The issue is that you typically need a BSc degree to start these but some universities have an exception to that rule -- i.e. if you convince the university that you'd make an excellent researcher -- how you convince them is up to you.
    – Joooeey
    Jun 24, 2020 at 16:44

9 Answers 9



Without a degree and a position at a university or research institute, it is highly unlikely you can get any kind of funding for research.

You can try to get a job at a company that does research in such topics (which requires who to have the background knowledge, not necessarily a degree), but this will also be hard to get.

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    It's the job, not the degree, that is critical. Jun 24, 2020 at 1:36
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    For private persons without institutional or academic background there's Patreon and GoFundMe as funding sources. YouTube "researchers" like NileRed, William Osman or Linus Sebastian get funding from Patreon I believe, in addition to sponsorships on videos. After William Osman's "lab" (i.e. garage) and house burned down he could get a six digit figure funding to relocate. This is more of an exception though and less of a rule, but is a nice fit with OPs idea of "I want only to get knowledge and have fun." Jun 24, 2020 at 10:05
  • I wouldn't absolutely shut down the idea. OP may have extraordinary networking skills and charisma - it's not impossible that they could privately persuade some VCs to part with some money. This is how the entire private sector works, recall. I don't think OP has any chance at applying for normal grants targeted to academic and research institutions for fundamental research, but I wouldn't say it's crazy that they try to seek private funding to finance R&D for a startup, for example. The only requirement is that a sellable product has some sufficient probability of coming out the other end.
    – J...
    Jun 24, 2020 at 15:17
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    @J... VCs (which I really don't like as a funding source) are extremely hard-nosed. They only invest if there's a very good prospect of a pretty fast turn around on their investment to a large profit. Charisma and networking skills might get you a hearing, but the only thing that gets you a cheque is a solid business plan that doubles their money in a matter of no more than five years. I've seen VCs sell up and effectively ruin profitable businesses simply because they're not profitable enough and they want to get their money back immediately. Avoid them if possible, IMO. Jun 25, 2020 at 2:15
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    @StephenG I don't think I suggested this route would be easy, if that's what you read from my comment. OP is looking for free money. The options will all, naturally, come with heavy caveats.
    – J...
    Jun 25, 2020 at 8:46

To add to J. Fabian Meier's answer, there is more to getting a research grant than just the research part and having a good idea.

There are many requirements in terms of financial aspects (turning your proposed budget into something the research funder will accept), rules and regulations about what can and can not be funded, legal issues (Most research funders will have requirements that you be affiliated with a university/research institute), and regulations on how the money used is reported which may also include requiring financial audits.

Also many funders will require someone else to also commit to partial funding, I.e the funding body only pays 50% of some costs while the rest comes from, say, a university.

This makes submitting a grant application almost impossible without a university/research institute backing you.

Even if you got all that, when you apply for the research grant you will need show that a) you are capable of doing the research b) you are the person they should fund c) your research ideas are plausible and exciting enough for them to spend money on you. All of which is much easier once you have a degree and have done research first in a research group with another person (who has their own money) before you start applying for money yourself.

Also you say you can learn anything from the internet, well the point of research is to do something new, thus by definition it wont be on the internet yet. If you want to learn over the internet have a look into some online degrees, just be careful some places are scams but there are some quality institutions out there that give degrees based on partial or fully online courses. These can be cheaper than a traditional in-person degree.

  • In the U.S., there is the Small Business Innovative Research program (Google). A Phase 1 award is (last time I looked) about $500KUSD which expects a very convincing detailed plan (think Ph.D. thesis proposal); if a Phase 2 is awarded, it is up to a USDmillion or so, to produce a proof of concept; Phase 3 requires the proposer to have an industrial or Federal government partner who formally commits to teaming with the proposer (with their own money as well as with the Phase III money) to productize the project. I know a 2-person company that made it up to Phase II. Jun 26, 2020 at 23:47
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    "you can learn anything from the internet" evidently means you think you can learn anything that is on the Internet (i.e., the WWW, which is a subset of the Internet). That is implausible. Moreover, so much essential information in any field is not on the Web, and quite a bit on the Web is poorly documented and even outright wrong. Jun 26, 2020 at 23:51

You can't get your own research grant, but if you start your own business you can be part of a research consortium.

I worked on a Horizon 2020 project. Those are big, international projects, where the funding agency (European Commission) requires that the partners are from different countries and some are small or medium enterprises. One of our partners was a company with just one employee apart from the founder. If you are really good at something that partners from academia need, and they know and trust you and your business, they may well invite you. You won't be leading the project (or maybe you can — I'm not actually sure, but it would seem uncommon and unlikely), but you will be getting a part of the grant. I'm pretty sure the business partners are not required to have degrees (some had roles that weren't research), so this way could, at least in theory, be a way in.

However, you'd have to be really good at what you do, network with the right people, and win their trust. None of this is remotely easy, but there is no formal rule blocking you.

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    I was just going to point out exactly this, when I saw your answer. As opposed to what several other answers claim, research grants are not exclusively given to research institutions, but they may well be given to industrial partners, as well - although the funding modalities may be different in that case, such as an obligation to pay an equal part oneself in addition to the grant (i.e. the grant funds 50% of the work). Although, if you're at that point, the closest thing to a "research grant" might rather be one of the investment programs for startups. Jun 24, 2020 at 7:48
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    I've worked on multiple Horizon 2020 grants, and IIRC it's common to include key personnel CV's in the grant application. Academic degrees and relevant publications are useful but not strictly necessary - prior business success in the sector is also a valid way to show competence. "Self-learned from the internet" is not. It's just a subjective claim, not objective proof.
    – MSalters
    Jun 25, 2020 at 11:17
  • @MSalters True, the reviewers may raise their eyebrows if a one-person company with a self-learned person is on the application, but if the senior professor PI with a stellar CV then declares that they vouch for the high quality work of this partner, I think it may well work — which should happen only if OP is indeed very good at what they're doing (if they are, they will probably have business success).
    – gerrit
    Jun 25, 2020 at 12:06

In most cases, research grants are not awarded to people. They are awarded to research institutions. So no, an individual cannot get those grants on their own, no matter what degree they have or do not have.

There is no rule preventing eligible research institutions from hiring someone who has no degrees and having those people apply for grants on behalf of the institution. But generally there are plenty of people who have degrees, so they get hired.

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    Even for grants awarded to research institutions it's somewhat common to have specific requirements for the research team e.g. having the principal investigator without a doctorate degree may mean automatical disqualification.
    – Peteris
    Jun 24, 2020 at 19:20
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    If an institute hired someone without qualifications to a position applied for by people with qualifications it would likely be bombarded with law suits from people who lost out. I just don't see how any institution would ever risk doing this. Jun 25, 2020 at 2:05
  • @StephenG It depends on what you mean by qualifications. Publications and prizes are often preferred over PhDs. Typically, if the person's qualifications match the job ad, then there is no risk of litigation. There is no requirement to advertise that a PhD is required, though it often is advertised. Jun 25, 2020 at 2:18
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    Yeah, sorry, you are correct. Although I'd like to stress that the actual application is done by the PI, not by the institution (even though, legally, the institution is the recipient of the money). Jun 25, 2020 at 23:27
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    @BlueElephant I think both "awarded to institution" and "awarded to person" are simplifications. Both the PI and the institution are necessary pieces for a grant such as ERC to be award - the PI because they are the one promising specific research results, and the institution because they are tasked with administering the money. Neither of those sides can choose to cut out the other (but the PI may change to a different eligible administrating organization).
    – xLeitix
    Jun 26, 2020 at 9:43

"With advancements in the internet and technology, I think that I can learn anything from internet with requirements of time and interest."

So why don't you just "learn from the Internet" how to make money? Seriously, to achieve your goals, you don't necessarily need research grants, you just need money. Note that, e.g., Einstein, Fresnel, Tsiolkovsky, and Grassmann made history in science when their jobs had nothing or little to do with their discoveries. Note also that people in academia often spend time and effort on teaching and/or raising funds that are at least comparable to those spent on their research.


Fabian and Rob have explained well why you can't get an academic research grant without a degree, relevant experience, a track record of success, an institutional affiliation, and a substantial part of the required equipment, space, personnel etc.

On the other hand, there are plenty of public competitions, some substantially funded such as the x-prize, that are geared towards private individuals and small companies. The downside is you get paid only if you win, but if you win, it is not out of the question that you could be funded to continue working on a specific research topic.

For example

It is quite common for private consultants to do research for hire. They won't get funded from academic sources, but corporations and government agencies pay for such research all of the time. You'd be surprised what kind of equipment some people have in their garages. Others rent shared user facilities at national labs or universities.


I'd say it's very unlikely, but not impossible.

Most fields/companies value experience more than a degree. AFAIK there is a quantum computer you can access for free, so you can get experience. You can use this to get a job, and then - with a company behind you - it'll be easier to to what you want.

Crowdfunding could be a way as well for research (instead of a grant). Thunderf00t financed his research by his Youtube subscribers that later lead to some interesting papers. (the idea to do a research on alkali metal+water reaction also came from there)


Not all grant programs have the same requirements. Recently, the OpenStreetMap Foundation's microgrant program closed (where "micro" is still thousands of euros, depending on what you need) where you could apply for funding if you want to do OpenStreetMap-related projects or research, and it's not as if only Dr. Ing. Male White PhD could apply to those.

NLNet is another organisation that funds various projects. They also have theme funds: if you want to do research that fits within one of those themes, it should be possible to get funding there. A related organisation is NLNet Labs, which helps find funding for projects like looking into the security of some important software. Which organisation may be able to help you depends on what you want to do and whether someone finds that important enough to fund it.

I happen to know of these two since they were pointed out to me, but there are many more organisations that spend money on all sorts of things. You may need to do part of the work beforehand to, like others already said, prove that you can actually pull it off, at least until you have some kind of track record, but you needn't simply accept that without a silly piece of paper you can't ever get funding for research you're enthusiastic about.

That said, I did interpret your question in a broad way: a research grant without a degree in general, but I'm not sure if that's what you meant. If you don't merely want to do a few projects for the good of all, but really want to make academia your career, then universities is typically where the money is at, and they indeed generally require you to have completed a university study before considering you worthy of a position in a university.


I say Yes. I did something very similar when I was a teenager but on a smaller scale.

You don't say what country you are in. I live in Britain. Many years ago I was learning classical guitar. I discovered a comprehensive guide to guitar playing that was only published in Spanish. I decided that I should translate it into English. The problem was that I spoke no Spanish. I applied for and received a grant to spend eight weeks in Spain at a language school. In the end I did not translate the book but there was never any requirement that I report back to the grant-giving body. I can now play the guitar and speak Spanish.

If you are enterprising enough and convincing enough, pretty much anything is possible. You just have to be willing to find the right channels.

In your situation (but assuming you live in Britain) I would do the following:

Search for a charitable institution that provides funding for the advancement of individuals. There are surprisingly many.

Preferably find one that has some connection to the field you are interested in. If you can't, there are more general ones.

What are these charities? They are almost all a result of a very wealthy individual who has left a sizable trust fund in their will. Usually these are for funding "young" people but not all. Surprisingly some of these funds are underused - they have money sloshing around but they don't get enough applicants.

Note: If you fail with one, keep going - they don't keep in touch with each other.

Now comes the bootstrapping process. Firstly you must come up with plans for a feasibility study. This will require some work but you usually need to convince a committee not a panel of scientists (although sometimes one expert will be asked to look over the proposal). If successful, this limited grant will be enough to get you started on a small scale. When you have a very convincing and well-researched plan with preliminary results, you go back, declare your success and ask for further funds to progress to the next stage. The charity will be delighted that the money has been put to such good use and will likely fund you again for the next phase. At the end of this, if you are successful, there are a number of ways to go. If you want to get into academia rather than go it alone, then at this point you can go to a university and say, "Look I have self-funding for the next X years and I have all these original results, can you help me to publish my work, can I register as a student and make use of your facilities? Unis always like funding from outside, whatever the source and if your early results are really convincing, they are likely to find you a supervisor.(See note at end) If you don't want to be in academia then continue independently. Maybe you can sell a patent to a big company and/or work for them. Maybe you can form your own company.

There are plenty of millionaires and billionaires in the world who never had a degree. You just have to be made of the right stuff.

By doing it gradually this way, you discover whether you are actually any good and whether your enthusiasm is lasting. There is a heck of a lot of work going it alone, but exceptional individuals have done it throughout history.

Note: I personally got into music college without the necessary exams. I worked hard and got a teaching job at the end of it. After teaching guitar for 7 tears I got bored. I got into a postgraduate computer science course at Cambridge University without having a first degree. This was on the basis that I had taught myself to program and then got a job as a programmer. Experience counts - even with academics provided they can see beyond the ends of their noses. It is even possible to get huge exemptions from an undergraduate degree course and still be awarded the degree if you can demonstrate actual working experience.

If you (cliche coming) think outside the box and appear confident, it's surprising how many people will be generous enough to help you. If you don't get a grant then at least you have tried so what's to lose?

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    what's to lose is your time and energy that could have been spent on strategies with higher success rates. also note that OP is not talking about translation or something else that is a "one person job." they are talking about quantum computing research that require enormous capital investments (easily in the millions of dollars). There is 0% chance that anyone would give a random single individual this kind of funding. The legal liability alone for issues like OSHA would preclude granting to an individual without an organization behind them. Jun 24, 2020 at 1:59
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    It is good to hear that you were successful in securing a grant for 2 weeks journey to Spain. Unfortunately, the research environment became much more competitive in the last decades. There are more people asking for support and less funding overall. Also, quantum computing is way more expensive than language courses. Jun 24, 2020 at 8:13
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    @roger-reject - I suppose I should have known better than to post this solution on the Academia website! It presumably is full of people who only know the conventional way of doing things. Jun 24, 2020 at 9:07
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    @chaslyfromUK It's not about conventional or not. It's of course possible to break into quantum computing research in unconventional ways, nobody's disputing that (other answers mention grants to attend school, or other step-by-step approaches). But the OP is specifically asking about getting grant money to directly fund research they'd carry out in their garage. It isn't plausible to expect that even a crazy rich guy is going to give a random person with NO experience and NO support structure millions of dollars in funding. You'd have better success getting your millions from the lottery. Jun 24, 2020 at 9:34
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    A budget for PhD research student would be much more than a few thousands per year. Whether or not there are "students begging for money", Universities have strict rules on how PhD projects are done. Even if you bring in funding, University will appoint a superviser from their permanent staff, and you won't be allowed to "dictate" your research program. PhD students are not "servants" of the funder. Jun 24, 2020 at 11:39

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