Graduate Research Grant

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


The third week of each fall, winter and spring quarters:

  • Monday, April 10, 2017, 11:59 pm (letters of recommendation due Friday, April 14, 11:59 pm)


PhD and MFA students 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
  • 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.

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.

Awards will not be granted for retroactive payments.

Students may utilize grant funds only while 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 must be returned to The Graduate School.


The maximum award amount for a student over the course of his or her graduate career at Northwestern is $3,000. Awards are for a twelve-month period (beginning from the date funds are awarded) and require that a final report be submitted at the end of the award period. Recipients of grants are determined at the quarterly meetings of the University Research Grant Committee (URCC). Decisions are based on the committee’s final evaluations and the availability of funds. Awards are announced at the end of the quarter and available starting the following quarter.

This is a competitive award. More applications are received than can be funded.

Review Process and Criteria

All applications are reviewed by a faculty committee. Applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Impact of project. The likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field should be well articulated.
  • Significance of the project: Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will knowledge, technical capability, and/or practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, or interventions that drive this field?
  • Innovation of the project. Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?
  • Approach of the project. Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?
  • Letters of recommendation indicating academic/research performance and potential.

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.

1. Description of the research 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.
  • 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.
  • The description of the proposed study should be written in plain language, free of jargon. Committee members who may not have specialized knowledge of an applicant’s area of study.
  • Endnotes, references, or pictures do not count toward the 5-page limit, but may not exceed two additional pages.

2. 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. Allowable costs include:

  • Essential travel. Travel must be for well-defined research, creative and/or field work related directly to the proposed project, using the least expensive mode of transportation and accommodation. Airfares must be for economy class travel. Per diem and lodging should be listed separately.
  • Acquisition of research materials unavailable locally or via microfilms, photographs, photocopies, etc.
  • Payment for services. 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.
  • 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:

  • Tuition fees
  • Costs of preparing the dissertation
  • Travel to professional meetings, including symposia, conferences, colloquia, summer institutes, and seminars
  • 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

3. Curriculum vitae (in the format specified by this template, saved as a PDF)

4. Unofficial Northwestern transcript (PDF)

5. Letter of recommendation

Submitted by a faculty member best qualified to comment upon the student's academic/research performance and potential (typically the advisor). 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 Kate Veraldi for more information.