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.

Full List

Many topics offer both a cluster and certificate option. See a full list of our opportunities below.

Name Type
African American and Diaspora Studies Certificate
African Studies Cluster and Certificate
Asian Studies Cluster and Certificate
Biotechnology Certificate
Biotechnology, Systems & Synthetic Biology Cluster
British Studies Cluster
Cancer Biology Cluster
Cell and Molecular Biology Cluster
Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery Cluster
Classics Cluster and Certificate
Clinical and Translational Research Certificate
Cognitive Neuroscience Cluster
Cognitive Science Certificate
Comparative and Historical Social Science Cluster and Certificate
Comparative Race and Diaspora Cluster
Contemporary Issues in Health Services and Outcomes Research Certificate
Critical Studies in Theatre and Performance Cluster
Critical Theory Cluster and Certificate
Design Cluster
Developmental Origins of Lifespan Learning, Well-Being, Health and Disease Cluster
Developmental Systems and Stem Cell Biology Cluster
Education Sciences Certificate
Energy and Sustainability Cluster
Gender and Sexuality Studies Cluster and Certificate
Genetics and Genomics Cluster

Global Avant-garde and Modernist Studies

Global and Ecological Health Engineering Certificate
Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology Certificate
Healthcare Quality and Patient Safety Certificate
Hierarchical Materials Cluster
Immunology and Microbial Sciences Cluster
Integrated Data Science Certificate
Jewish Studies Cluster
Latin American and Caribbean Studies Cluster
Medical Humanities and Bioethics Certificate
Medieval Studies Cluster and Certificate
Middle East and North African Studies (MENA) Cluster and Certificate
Native American and Indigenous Studies Cluster
Poetry and Poetics Cluster
Predictive Science and Engineering Design Cluster and Certificate
Religion and Global Politics Certificate
Reproductive Science Cluster
Rhetoric and Public Culture Cluster and Certificate
Science Studies Cluster
Society, Biology, and Health Cluster and Certificate
Structural Biology and Biophysics Cluster
Transdisciplinary Developmental Sciences Certificate