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Grants for Historically Underfunded Disciplines

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and The Graduate School support two grants for postdoctoral trainees in historically underfunded disciplines to help them meet expenses related to research, creative endeavors, and professional development. Postdoctoral trainees in the following disciplines are eligible:

Postdoctoral trainees must have at least a one-year appointment at Northwestern University in order to apply for either grant. Trainees may only receive one type of each grant during an academic year.

The Graduate School's Graduate Research Grant is intended to help PhD and MFA students and postdoctoral fellows in historically underfunded disciplines meet expenses related to scholarly research and creative endeavors. This competitive award is offered quarterly and offers up to $3,000 of support for eligible projects. More information can be found here.

Professional Development Travel Grants help defray the costs postdoctoral trainees in historically underfunded disciplines incur when traveling to conferences, seminars, and other events that further their professional development. The maximum award amount is $500.  This grant is administered as a reimbursement and requires recipients to submit receipts and an expense report to receive the funds awarded.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must hold a Northwestern University-designated title of Postdoctoral Scholar or Fellow at the time of application to be considered. Applicants are eligible to receive one Professional Development Travel Grant each academic year.

Application Instructions

The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will consider applications on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that you must apply and be approved for both grants before your anticipated date of travel, although exceptions will be made for travel undertaken in Fall 2019 before the application cycle opened. If you are submitting an application outside of the open application periods, or if the grant funds have been exhausted, your application may not be approved.

Apply here before August 1, 2023. Please email Beth Healey ( with any questions.

Post-Award Instructions

An expense report through NU Financials is required in order to receive the award funds. Business administrators in the awardee's home department or center can help submit this report, or the recipient can contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for assistance.

When an application has been approved, the recipient will receive an email with instructions for processing, including the chartstring that can be used to reimburse up to $500 worth of allowable expenses (see below). Reports submitted for amounts more than $500 will not be approved. If you did not receive this email, please contact the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs to receive the chartstring.

Reimbursable Expenses

Only expenses directly related to the travel/conference are reimbursed by the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. Research supplies, personal supplies/toiletries, and entertainment expenses are non-reimbursable. Reimbursable expenses include:

  • Airfare
  • Meeting registration fees
  • Ground transportation
  • Mileage, if driving to the conference/event (must be less than the cost of airfare)
  • Rental car, if required due to conference and hotel locations (not for personal use)
  • Hotel/lodging
  • Meals while traveling (no alcohol)
  • Poster costs, if presenting a poster at the conference
Expediting the Approval Process

To expedite the expense report approval process,

  • Attach all documentation in one PDF instead of multiple PDFs.
  • Clearly indicate, either in the description, in the notes, or in the uploaded documentation, who the award is for and which award it is (e.g., Postdoc Travel Grant award for Tom Smith).
  • Make sure all expenses are line itemized, including any expenses already pre-paid/directly charged to Northwestern (e.g., airfare through Egencia, corporate card transactions, etc.). Pre-paid expenses should be marked with “Y” for non-reimbursable, and need to reflect the chartstring to which they were charged.
  • Do not include expenses for which a postdoctoral trainee paid out-of-pocket and is not requesting reimbursement.
  • Be sure to include itemized receipts for all transactions.
  • When more than one chartstring is used (i.e., one from the OPA and one from the home department), charge the entire amount of one or two items to the OPA chartstring to use up the funds instead of charging a percentage of all the line items. For example, charge the airfare and a portion of the hotel to the OPA chartstring, up to the target dollar amount, instead of charging a percentage of every line item. This is one of the biggest time savers when approving an expense report.