Faculty Research Grants

Faculty Research Grants are intended to support the research and creative projects of faculty in fields where there is little or no external funding or start-up money available. Awards are restricted to those in:
  • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (social sciences and humanities)
  • School of Communication
  • School of Education and Social Policy
  • Bienen School of Music

Criteria for selection include:

  • Clarity of the proposal - must be intelligible to non-specialists
  • Academic, scholarly, or creative merit of the project and its significance to the applicant’s career
  • Impact of the project: Why is the project significant and what will be learned from the work
  • Feasibility of completing the project during the grant period
  • Potential or demonstrated productivity of the applicant


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

  • Monday, April 10, 2017

Awards are announced at the end of the quarter with funds intended to support projects that begin in the quarter following the application deadline. (For example, applicants submitting for the October deadline should plan to have access to funds, if awarded, no sooner than the beginning of the winter quarter.)


  • Regular full-time faculty, including tenure-track or tenured faculty at the assistant professor level or above. (Regular faculty is defined as voting members of the faculty of the school in which they hold their appointment. Specifically excluded from eligibility are emeritus faculty, part-time adjunct faculty, research faculty, visiting faculty, contributed service faculty, faculty whose contracts will not be renewed for the following year, and faculty who plan to resign their appointments or retire.)
  • Professional library staff members
  • Artists-in-Residence or lecturers with continuing appointments
  • Postdoctoral fellows with at least a one-year appointment at the University

For individual projects, the highest priority is the provision of seed money for new projects by new faculty in all ranks, but especially junior faculty. Awards are granted to more established senior faculty in fields for which there is little or no external funding available.

Requests for supplemental funding for ongoing projects will not be disallowed, but they will receive a lower priority than new projects and require more elaborate budgetary justification than requests for start-up money. 


  • The maximum award for individual projects is $5,000.
  • Recipients are limited to one research grant per year.
  • Awards are for a twelve-month period (starting on the date that funds are distributed) and require that a final report is submitted at the end of the award period.
  • At the end of the project period, any remaining funds in the project account revert to the URGC, unless the awardee requests and is granted an extension. Only a single one-year extension will be permitted.

Recipients of grants are determined at the quarterly meetings of the University Research Grant Committee (URGC). Decisions are based on the committee’s final evaluations and the availability of funds.  The Faculty Research Grant is a competitive award and more applications are received than can be funded.

Review Process and Criteria

Application evaluations are based on:

  • 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?
  • Extent of research or creative work already completed and the likelihood that the applicant will complete the proposed project in a timely fashion.
  • Potential or demonstrated productivity of the applicant

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

Application Instructions

Please note that grantees are responsible for obtaining all regulatory approvals. The Graduate School (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 proposed project

Must be in PDF format, not to exceed four double spaced pages. The description should be written in plain language, free of jargon and should include:

  • Conception and definition of the project. Applicants should describe the specific proposed work, explaining the basic ideas, hypotheses or questions to be explored and illustrating the approach or line of thought to be taken. In addition, applicants should explain the relationship of the proposed project to their immediate and long-range study or creative objectives.
  • Plan and methodology. Applicants should outline the plan of work, methodology and schedule. The following questions may be pertinent: What is the present state of the proposed project? What work has thus far been done for the project? What remains to be done? What makes the proposed methodology (whether scholarly or creative) particularly appropriate?
  • Significance of the project. Why is the project important and what difference will the results of the project make? What scholarly or general audiences will be interested in the results of the project? If a project is narrowly focused, applicants should explain its implications for a wider community of scholars or artists. An applicant should not assume that the project will automatically appear significant to others, but should explicitly present this significance in a clear, convincing and compelling way.

2. Proposed budget, itemized by category of expense.

List estimated expenses and total amount requested using the budget worksheet. Allowable costs include:

  • Essential travel. Travel must be for well-defined research, creative and/or field work, using the least expensive mode of transportation and accommodation. Airfares must be for economy class travel; per diem and lodging should be listed separately. (Applicants who include travel expenses in their proposed budgets should consult Northwestern’s Travel Policies and Procedures)
  • 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.
  • Art 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. (Equipment purchased with URGC funds remains the property of Northwestern University. If the awardee leaves the University, the equipment will remain at Northwestern and the awardee’s department chairperson will determine its disposition.)

Non-allowable Costs:

  • Faculty summer salary
  • Tuition payments, travel to conferences
  • Retroactive charges for expenditures incurred or committed prior to review and approval of the application

3. Curriculum vitae (as a PDF)


Email Kate Veraldi for more information.