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Financial Aid

Students will receive guaranteed Graduate School support for 5 years in the form of two years of fellowship and three years of teaching assistantships during years 1 through 5; students will have additional fellowship support for four summers.

Students may apply for research fellowships and dissertation fellowships available from Northwestern as well as funding from external foundations and organizations during years 4 and 5. After year 5, students are expected to compete for external funding (e.g., Fulbright IIE, Fulbright-Hays, Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Field Research Fellowship, Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Humanities Program, Josephine De Karman Fellowship, AAUW American Fellowships, etc.).

Students needing additional funds to pay for their education may wish to apply for loans. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are enrolled at least half-time are eligible for federal loans. There are alternative loan options for part-time students and for international students.

Eligibility for Financial Aid

To be eligible for all forms of financial aid, continuing graduate students must remain in good academic standing and demonstrate satisfactory academic progress toward their respective degrees. 

Summer Language Grant

The Summer Language Grant (SLG) is intended to assist PhD students with expenses related to language acquisition during the summer. The grant is intended for students who require language training for their research.

For details, deadline, eligibility and additional information, please check the TGS page.

Conference Travel Grant


The Conference Travel Grant (CTG) provides funds to assist PhD and MFA students traveling to conferences and/or seminars to make presentations on behalf of the University. The award is not intended to support attending courses at other schools, research or general educational travel.


Please carefully read the detailed award information and application instructions.


Presidential Fellowships




The Presidential Fellowship is funded by the President of the University and awarded by The Graduate School. This highly competitive award is the most prestigious fellowship awarded by Northwestern.  Presidential Fellows are students who combine outstanding intellectual or creative ability with the capacity to play an active part in the life of the Society of Fellows: distinguished faculty members and previous Presidential Fellows. The Society creates future leaders who embrace and support Northwestern’s broad scholarship. All Presidential Fellows participate in the Society of Fellows functions (except for students not in residence at the time of meetings). View the current Fellows.


Please carefully read the detailed award information and application instructions Students should also speak with their program’s Director of Graduate Study for additional information, since departments may have additional requirements and eligibility criteria.


For additional information, contact Kate Veraldi.

External Fellowships for Minority Students 

Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois (DFI )

Applicants must be residents of the State of Illinois and intend to seek faculty positions in the State of Illinois upon completion of their degrees. To be classified as an Illinois resident, an applicant must have received a high school diploma or post-secondary degree from an educational institution in Illinois or be a registered voter in Illinois with three or more years of residency in Illinois.
New and continuing eligible underrepresented minority students in master's or doctoral degree programs in any department within The Graduate School may apply for DFI awards.  Professional School (i.e., Medill School of Journalism, Medical School or Law School) students are not eligible for DFI awards.  DFI awards are need based and renewable for up to three years. The Graduate School provides tuition scholarships for full-time students who have received DFI awards.


DFI applications are submitted to The Graduate School by mid-February. For further information, contact Mario Craigen, Coordinator af Multicultural Affairs.

Dependent Care Grant

The Dependent Care Grant provides funds to assist PhD and MFA students with dependents so that they may participate as fully as possible in professional development opportunities such as learned society meetings, academic conferences, workshops or other Northwestern University events that extend beyond the normal academic responsibilities of the student’s home department or of The Graduate School.


Graduate students (PhD and MFA) with one dependent or more may apply for a grant to pay for the cost of dependent care (either at the conference site or at home) while traveling to conferences, while participating in professional development outside the normal course of instruction, or while doing short-term field work. To apply for the grant, students must:

This grant is considered a separate grant from the Conference Travel Grant. Students may apply for both grants simultaneously. 

Questions: Please contact with any questions.

Covered Costs: The Dependent Care Grant will only cover the cost of dependent care (travel of dependent and/or dependent caregiver; care at home; care at a conference site;  or care at a daycare center) while the graduate student is traveling to/from and participating in the professional development event.  Grants are subject to required tax withholdings/implications and will be grossed up by 15% to assist with the potential tax liability.

Application Deadline: The Dependent Care Grant is awarded on a rolling basis throughout the academic year (September 1 – August 31), or until funds are depleted. Students should apply as far in advance as possible, but no less than two months in advance, of the professional development event. Retroactive approval will not be given after an event.

Award Notification: Each student will receive notice of a decision in a timely manner after receipt of application. An email will notify the student and the home department of the dollar amount of the award.

Submitting a Dependent Care Grant application:  Applications should be emailed to


External Funding

TGS External Award Policy Effective 2011-12

Since The Graduate School (TGS) considers funding to be a cooperative venture between the student, the department, and TGS, every student is required to apply for funding from a source external to the University sometime prior to the end of their fourth year. While TGS understands that some disciplines and students may have fewer opportunities for external funding, we still expect PhD students in all programs to exert a “good faith” effort at applying for external awards. In addition to possibly providing larger stipends, outside awards also offer students opportunities to hone grant-writing skills, enhance their curriculum vitae, and make invaluable academic contacts for the future. 

TGS will provide the following to students enrolled in PhD programs in the School of Education and Social Policy; the Bienen School of Music; the School of Communication (social sciences and humanities programs); and Divisions II and III of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences (the social sciences and humanities), Mathematics, and Statistics:

This policy applies to students who are within their first five years of study at Northwestern. Jacob K. Javits fellowships are the sole exception to this policy. Since this award is need-based, TGS will provide $5,000 per year in research funds through the students’ home academic program for the four-year award period. These funds can be used for travel and research expenses in consultation with students’ DGS or advisor.  

To request a supplement, the department chair, director of graduate studies, or program designee must send a copy of the external award notification detailing the amount and award period to Pat Mann via email. Following a thorough review of the external award details, TGS will determine the amount and length of supplementation.

This policy is effective beginning in academic year 2011-2012. Retroactive requests will not be approved. Any current agreements in effect with particular students will continue as agreed.

Office of Fellowships

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Fellowships for assistance in securing outside funds.

The Office of Fellowships maintains a Graduate Fellowships Website to serve graduate fellowship seekers and applicants. This site identifies external fellowships that students in each Northwestern graduate department have won in the past—those you may be best positioned to win. There are also listings for diversity-based fellowships, awards available to international students, and links to selected national fellowships databases.

The Office of Fellowships also publishes an e-newsletter for seekers of external fellowships (twice per quarter and once in the summer).  The Graduate Fellowships webpage provides profiles of N.U. students who succeeded in previous award competitions, tips for writing outstanding grant applications, and descriptions of select fellowship opportunities. 

Please direct questions about external fellowships or the above resources to Stephen Hill at the Office of Fellowships.

Boren Fellowships

Boren Fellowships provide up to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study, or increased language proficiency. Boren Fellowships support study and research in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.  For a complete list of countries, check the Boren Awards website.

Boren Fellows represent a variety of academic and professional disciplines, but all are interested in studying less commonly taught languages, including but not limited to Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili. For a complete list of languages, check the Boren Awards website.

Boren Fellowships are funded by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), which focuses on geographic areas, languages, and fields of study deemed critical to U.S. national security. Applicants should identify how their projects, as well as their future academic and career goals, will contribute to U.S. national security, broadly defined.  NSEP draws on a broad definition of national security, recognizing that the scope of national security has expanded to include not only the traditional concerns of protecting and promoting American well-being, but also the challenges of global society, including sustainable development, environmental degradation, global disease and hunger, population growth and migration, and economic competitiveness.

To view the Program Basics of the Boren Fellowships, check the 
Boren Awards website.