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Graduate Funding Opportunities

Travel and Research Grants

Please note, these grants require an application before the travel/research occurs awarded. See the application details in the dropdown below.

SoC Travel Grant

The School of Communication Humanities PhD Travel Grant is designed to assist humanities doctoral students in presenting their work publicly and to provide opportunities for students to interact with disciplinary and interdisciplinary scholars at conferences and other professional venues. The maximum amount awarded for an SoC Travel Grant is $500.

Please read the grant guidelines before beginning your application:


  • SoC Research Grant

    The School of Communication Humanities PhD Research Grant is designed to assist humanities doctoral students with basic research costs. The maximum amount awarded is $500.

    Please read the grant guidelines before beginning your application:


TGS Conference Travel Grant

The Conference Travel Grant (CTG) provides funds to assist PhD and MFA students attending virtual (remote) conferences or traveling to*/attending in-person conferences on behalf of Northwestern University.

*All travelers must adhere to the University’s travel guidelines.


  • Students must apply prior to the first date of the virtual conference or conference travel, but no more than 3 months in advance. Under no circumstances will approval be granted if the application is submitted late. If submitting the application more than 3 months in advance is necessary, please email to explain the circumstances.
  • Funds for travel in the 22/23 academic year (fiscal year 2023) are available for use until August 31, 2023. Funds awarded in the current fiscal year do not carry forward (are not available for use) in the next fiscal year (after August 31, 2023). 
    • Funds for travel after September 1, 2023 cannot be awarded until the next fiscal year (after September 1, 2023). Students who are attending conferences in early September 2023 must still apply in advance, with the understanding that funds awarded for travel starting on or after September 1 cannot be accessed until the next fiscal year.
  • Under no circumstances will approval be given retroactively if an application is submitted after the conference has begun.


  • Students must be active (not discontinued, graduated, or on leave) in PhD or MFA programs administered by The Graduate School (TGS) and within their degree time limitation at the time of the conference travel.
  • Students may utilize CTG funds only while active PhD or MFA students in The Graduate School at Northwestern at the time of the conference. Should students graduate or otherwise depart the University prior to travel and/or expenditure of funds, funds will not be available.
  • Students are eligible for a maximum of two grants, each up to $600/$800 (depending on discipline, see below), over the entire course of their graduate career in The Graduate School.
  • Students traveling outside of the United States must adhere to all graduate student travel policies.  Failure to do so could result in revocation of the conference travel grant.


  • The maximum amount for each CTG is:
    • $600 for students in:
      • all PhD programs in McCormick School of Engineering and Feinberg School of Medicine
      • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences PhD programs of Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Physics, and Plant Biology and Conservation
      • interdisciplinary PhD programs of IBiS, Applied Physics, and NUIN
    • $800 for students in:
      • all PhD programs in Bienen School of Music, Kellogg School of Management, and School of Education and Social Policy
      • all PhD and MFA programs in School of Communication
      • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences PhD and MFA programs not listed above
      • interdisciplinary PhD programs of Computer Science & Learning Science and Technology & Social Behavior
  • Awards must be expended prior to the end of the fiscal year in which they are awarded. Expense reimbursement requests not properly submitted and approved by the end of the fiscal year (August 31) cannot be processed.
  • Conference travel grants may be used for virtual conference registration fees or expenses directly related to traveling to/from and participating in an in-person conference.  Eligible expenses include:
    • Conference registration fees
    • Airfare/airline fees at the most reasonable and economical rate: Travel for Northwestern purposes should be booked through a preferred provider.
    • Ground transportation: Taxi fares or ride shares (e.g. Uber, Lyft), including tips, are reimbursable where public transportation is not practical. Rail transportation is reimbursed if it does not exceed the cost of the least expensive airfare. Private automobile transportation is reimbursed per mile at a rate set by the University for trips up to 300 miles.
    • Meals: Travelers should use reasonably priced restaurants and dining rooms. Alcohol is never an allowable expense.
    • Commercial rental vehicles: Commercial rental vehicles (economy, compact or subcompact) should be used only when it is impossible to use other forms of ground transportation, and when car rental does not exceed the cost of the least expensive airfare.
    • Lodging: Travelers must book standard accommodations in reasonably priced, commercial class hotels,  motels, and Airbnbs. Conference-site hotels will be reimbursed at the actual cost. To verify the conference site hotel rate, attach the conference literature to the expense report when requesting reimbursement.
    • Tolls and parking fees: Tolls and reasonable parking charges will be reimbursed.
  • Ineligible CTG expenses include (but are not limited to):
    • First class, business class, or economy plus airfare
    • Airline, hotel room, or car upgrades
    • Alcohol
    • Books, magazines, newspapers
    • Childcare, babysitting, house sitting, pet-sitting (see the Dependent Care Professional Development Grant for information on funds for dependent care during conference travel)
    • Clothing, gifts, luggage, haircuts, laundry, dry cleaning
    • Passports, vaccinations, visas
    • Personal entertainment (in-flight movies, headsets, social activities)
    • Meals during local (Chicago/Evanston area) conferences
    • Other expenses not directly related to traveling to/from and participating in the conference
The Graduate School reviews all expense reimbursement requests and may deny requests if they do not comply with CTG use guidelines or The Graduate School’s current expense guidelines.

Application instructions

Students must submit a Conference Travel Grant application by the deadline.

Review process

The Graduate School will review Conference Travel Grant applications within three to five business days.  Students will receive a notice via email once a decision is rendered.  If a Conference Travel Grant is awarded, the student’s program will be copied on the email notification.


For more information, please email:


TGS Graduate Research Grant

The Graduate Research Grant (GRG) is intended to help PhD and MFA students and postdoctoral fellows in historically underfunded disciplines meet expenses related to scholarly research and creative endeavors.

Note:  All travelers must adhere to the University’s travel guidelines.  Students traveling outside of the United States must adhere to all graduate student travel policies.  Failure to do so could result in revocation of the award.


  • Monday, October 17, 2022, 11:59 pm (letters of recommendation due by Friday, October 21, 11:59pm)
  • Monday, January 23, 2023, 11:59 pm (letters of recommendation due by Friday, January 27, 11:59pm)
  • Monday, April 17, 2023, 11:59 pm (letters of recommendation due by Friday, April 21, 11:59pm)


PhD students, MFA students, or postdoctoral fellows in the following schools/disciplines:

  • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (humanities and social sciences projects)
  • School of Education and Social Policy
  • School of Communication (humanities and social science projects)
  • School of Music
  • Kellogg School of Management (social science projects)
  • Clinical Psychology (social science projects) 

At the time of application, PhD students must have completed at least 3 quarters of full-time, full tuition registration. (An exception may be made for students who will commence working on the project in the summer after their first year). MFA students must have completed at least 1 quarter of full-time registration.

Postdoctoral trainees must have at least a one-year appointment at Northwestern University.

Students who have exceeded the time limitation for their degree are not eligible.

A student may receive only one grant equivalent to $3,000 (or multiple grants whose cumulative total may not exceed $3,000) under this program during his or her graduate career at Northwestern. Applicants who have applied before and have not received an award may apply again.


  • The maximum award amount is $3,000.
  • Awards are for a twelve-month period (beginning from the date funds are awarded). Unused funds do not roll-over past the end date of the award and are not available for use after the award end date listed in the award notification.
  • Awards will not be granted for retroactive payments.
  • Awards will not fund projects/expenses that don’t relate to the applicant’s research/creative work, nor will they fund seminars/skills-building not related to the dissertation or overall scholarly project.
  • Students may utilize grant funds only while active students in The Graduate School at Northwestern. Should students graduate or otherwise depart the University prior to completion of the project and/or expenditure of funds, funds will no longer be available for use. 
  • Postdoctoral fellows may utilize funds only during their appointment at Northwestern. Once an appointment ends, unused funds must be returned to The Graduate School.
  • This award only provides funding for non-compensation expenses (i.e., no expenses are permitted on Northwestern payroll such as salary, add pay, special pay, temp pay, etc.)
Awards are typically announced at the end of the quarter and available starting the quarter following the application deadline.

Review process

Recipients of grants are determined at the quarterly meetings of the Graduate Research Grant committee. All applications are reviewed by a faculty committee. Decisions are based on the committee’s final evaluations and the availability of funds. This is a competitive award. More applications are received than can be funded.

Applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Impact and significance of project. 
    • The impact of the project on the field and the impact on the author’s own research or creative work
    • The likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence in the field
    • For creative projects, plan and aims for the medium-specific impact (ways in which the work will reach and affect audience, community, and/or field) 
    • How the project addresses an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field
    • Potential for knowledge, technical capability, and/or practice to be improved
    • Potential for successful completion of project to influence the concepts, methods, technologies, or interventions that drive this field 
    • For creative projects, contribution to artistic field and place of the project in the applicant’s current work and future trajectory
  • Approach and innovation of the project: 
    • How the project challenges and seeks to shift current research paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches/methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions
    • Refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions
    • Originality of the project
    • Is the research design sound and are the overall strategy, methodology, and/or analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
  • Feasibility of project:
    • Feasibility of work plan, budget, schedule and project outline
    • Potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success are presented 
    • Applicant is capable of completing the proposed work given their level of training and as evidenced by prior work and letters of recommendation 
    • If required, has IRB approval been granted?
  • Letters of recommendation indicating academic/research performance and potential.
    • Recommendation letter addresses the specific proposal/project

Application instructions

Please note that grantees are responsible for obtaining all regulatory approvals. TGS does not check compliance and funding does not imply any approval of research practices (such as those involving human subjects or animal care and use.)

The materials described below must be submitted by the deadline via The Graduate School online grant/fellowship application tool.

  • Description of the project: Must be in PDF format and may not exceed five pages, double-spaced:
    • The description should present the conception, definition and organization of the work and plan of study. Include information about sources used, the thesis and the interpretive stance of the research.
    • The applicant should include a statement that articulates the anticipated impact of the work (on the field, community, and/or audience).
    • If the grant is for work on the dissertation, include a chapter outline and a summation of progress to date, such as research already completed or chapters already drafted. If the grant is for work leading to the MFA thesis, include an overall project plan and summation of progress to date.
    • The description of the proposed project should be written in plain language, free of jargon. Committee members who may not have specialized knowledge of an applicant’s area of study.
    • The applicant must provide a clear and compelling description how the use of the awarded funds would materially benefit the student’s progress through their program and/or what role the results of this funding would play in the larger research project.
    • Applicants proposing a research project that requires IRB approval must include approval confirmation OR a statement of where in the process IRB approval is.
    • Artists submitting a proposal for a creative project must also include work samples from the artistic medium in which they normally work.  These samples may be either from past work or from the creative work in progress (for which a proposal is being submitted). The proposal should illuminate what the grant reviewer is meant to note when looking at these samples.  See the guidelines below for submitting samples of creative work. Creative work samples do not count toward the 5-page limit, but carry their own limitations, outlined below.*
    • Endnotes, references, IRB approval confirmations, or pictures do not count toward the 5-page limit, but may not exceed three additional pages.
  • Itemized budget: Itemize the estimated expenses using the budget worksheet. Budget worksheet must be saved as a PDF in order to upload to the online grant/fellowship application tool.  The applicant must make clear exactly what expenses the GRG would cover. Allowable costs include:
    • Acquisition of research materials unavailable locally or via microfilms, photographs, photocopies, etc.
    • Travel costs for travel necessary for successful completion of the project/research. This includes airfare, ground transportation, commercial vehicle rental, lodging, and meals while traveling.
    • Payment for services through a vendor or external consultant/independent contractor.
      • On rare occasions, funds may be approved to reimburse subjects from outside the University for tests and experiments or to pay technical or clerical aides if their services are essential to the research project. Decisions about whether payment for services will be permitted will be based on the justification provided by the applicant for why the service is essential and why the work cannot be done by the applicant themselves.  The budget should include specifics of how the individuals providing services will be identified, who they are, how they will be selected, and the specific rate of pay.
      • Payees may not be employees, faculty, or students on Northwestern’s payroll, because the funds cannot be used for add pay, temp pay, special pay or other forms of payroll. It may be possible to pay those individuals with “stored value cards” instead.) Contact The Graduate School’s Financial Team with questions.
    • Artistic supplies beyond what would be considered normal and customary in the field.
    • Construction, rental or purchase of special equipment not available on campus. The possibility of renting or leasing (rather than purchasing) such items as audiovisual and photographic equipment should be explored. All merchandise purchased with University funds is the property of the University.
    • Non-Allowable Costs:
      • Payroll expenses through Northwestern such as salary, additional pay, temp pay, or special pay
      • Travel expenses not directly related to the project
      • Tuition fees
      • Costs of preparing the dissertation
      • Travel to consult with members of the dissertation committee
      • Retroactive charges for expenditures incurred or committed prior to review and approval of the GRG application
      • Computers or other electronic devices. Such devices are generally used for many different activities/projects and/or for personal use and therefore are not allowable.  In specific situations, the purchase of computers or other electronic devices required specifically for the conduct of the proposed research may be allowed.  In such cases, the proposed cost must be well-justified in the budget and proposal and the applicant must indicate how the device will be used solely or primarily for the research/project in question.

Applicants must list any other applications, either funded or pending, to support the proposed project.  Any changes in the status of pending funding must be communicated to

  • Curriculum vitae (PDF)
  • Unofficial Northwestern transcript (PDF)
  • Letter of recommendation: Submitted by a faculty member best qualified to comment upon the student’s academic/research performance and potential (typically the advisor/mentor).
    • The letter of recommendation must address the specific proposal.
    • When submitting the application via the online application tool, applicants will have an opportunity to invite a faculty member to submit a letter of recommendation. (Note: Faculty member must be invited using their primary Northwestern email address.) See the “Deadline” section, above, for recommendation letter deadlines. Applicants should notify the intended letter-writer in advance of entering their name in the online application tool.  Applicants can check the status of the recommendation letter or change the recommender via the online application tool. 

Applicants resubmitting an application

If your application was denied in a previous cycle, include the following:

  • Include a point-by-point response to the reviewers’ comments. This can be up to one page included in the research description, but does not count against the page limitation. 

Resubmitted proposals that do not conform to these requirements will be returned without review.


Email for more information.

Departmental Awards

Presented to graduate students who over the academic year or over the course of their time in the department have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to performance practice and scholarship. Students are nominated by Performance Studies Professors.

Presented to an outstanding graduate student; established in 1992 to honor the memory of Robert S. Breen — a School of Communication alumnus (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees), member of the performance studies faculty from 1947 to 1978, and professor emeritus from 1978 until his death in 1991 — and his wife, Gertrude B. Breen, who earned her bachelor’s degree from the school and was closely linked to the University until her death in 1992.

Presented to a graduate student in performance studies who best upholds Conquergood’s commitment to critically engaged pedagogy

Presented to a graduate student in performance studies; established in 1984 by Mrs. Chester L. Heston in memory of her daughter, Lilla Heston, an exemplary Northwestern student who became a highly respected and much-loved faculty member and chaired the department from 1979 until her death in 1984.