Clusters and Certificates
The Graduate School’s interdisciplinary clusters and certificates facilitate connections between doctoral students and faculty who share research interests yet may not be in the same department or program.
These initiatives enable participating graduate students to join a cohort of students not only in their degree program but also potentially in many other departments, labs, and research traditions who are working on a common set of problems. In this way, many TGS students experience “dual citizenship” in both a degree program and interdisciplinary area. Many draw upon these experiences when designing their research projects, preparing for qualifying exams, and selecting dissertation committees.
Participating students take core and elective courses and participate in co-curricular and extra-curricular symposia, lectures, seminars, mini-conferences, and other events that bring together students and researchers from Northwestern and beyond. These events broaden students’ training opportunities and widen their networks of contacts and colleagues, provide additional intellectual stimulation, and ensure exposure to cutting edge inter- and multi-disciplinary research.
Students must fulfill all the requirements of their doctoral program, but in addition are credentialized in the topical area of the cluster or certificate. Funding support is available for all degree programs.
See How to Apply for the necessary procedures to join a cluster or certificate program.
Students and cluster directors are also encouraged to visit the cluster FAQ page for a list of frequently asked questions.
What is the Difference Between a Cluster and Certificate?
While both clusters and certificates provide opportunities for interdisciplinary research and an intellectual "home" outside your department, they differ in completion requirements:
- A cluster typically requires three courses for completion (in addition to cluster specific requirements) and does not appear on your official transcript.
- A certificate typically requires five courses for completion (in addition to certificate specific requirements) and does appear on your official transcript.
Many topics offer both a cluster and certificate option. See a full list of our opportunities below.