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Conference Travel Grant

The Conference Travel Grant (CTG) provides funds to assist PhD and MFA students attending virtual (remote) conferences or traveling* to/attending in-person conferences on behalf of the University.

*All travelers must adhere to the University's travel guidelines. If the situation related to the pandemic changes, the government, the University, and/or TGS may need to impose travel and event-related restrictions.


  • Students must apply prior to the first date of the virtual conference or conference travel, but no more than 3 months in advance. Under no circumstances will approval be granted if the application is submitted late.  If submitting the application more than 3 months in advance is necessary, please email to explain the circumstances.
  • Funds for travel in the 21/22 academic year (fiscal year 2022) are available for use until August 31, 2022. Funds awarded in the current fiscal year do not carry forward (are not available for use) in the next fiscal year. 
    • Funds for travel after September 1, 2022 cannot be awarded until the next fiscal year (after September 1, 2022). Students who are attending conferences in early September must still apply in advance, with the understanding that funds awarded for travel starting on or after September 1 cannot be accessed until next fiscal year.
  • Under no circumstances will approval be given retroactively if an application is submitted after the conference has begun.


  •  Students must be active (not discontinued, graduated, or on leave) and in good academic standing in PhD or MFA programs administered by The Graduate School (TGS) and within their degree time limitation.
  • Students may utilize CTG funds only while active PhD or MFA students in The Graduate School at Northwestern.  Should students graduate or otherwise depart the University prior to travel and/or expenditure of funds, funds will not be available.
  • Students are eligible for a maximum of two grants each up to $600/$800 (depending on discipline, see below) over the entire course of their graduate career in The Graduate School.
    • Note:  For the 2021/2022 academic year, students may request multiple awards totaling $600/$800 in order to attend more than one virtual and/or in-person conference if all other eligibility criteria are met. Requests may not exceed those totals for the current academic/fiscal year.

  • Students must provide a copy of the invitation to present at or confirmation of registration for the conference.
  • Students traveling outside of the United States must adhere to all Graduate Student Travel policiesFailure to do so could result in revocation of the Conference Travel Grant.


  • The maximum amount for each Conference Travel Grant is:
    • $600 for students in:
      • all PhD programs in McCormick School of Engineering and Feinberg School of Medicine
      • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences PhD programs of Astronomy, Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Physics, and Plant Biology and Conservation
      • interdisciplinary PhD programs of IBiS, Applied Physics, and NUIN
    • $800 for students in:
      • all PhD programs in Bienen School of Music, Kellogg School of Management, and School of Education and Social Policy
      • all PhD and MFA programs in School of Communication
      • Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences PhD and MFA programs not listed above
      • interdisciplinary PhD programs of Computer Science & Learning Science and Technology & Social Behavior
  • Awards must be expended prior to the end of the fiscal year in which they are awarded. Expense reimbursement requests not properly submitted and approved by the end of the fiscal year (August 31) cannot be processed.
  • Conference Travel Grants may be used for virtual conference registration fees, or expenses directly related to traveling to/from and participating in an in-person conference.  Eligible expenses include:
    • Conference registration fees.
    • Airfare/airline fees at the most reasonable and economical rate: Travel for Northwestern purposes should be booked through a preferred provider.
    • Ground transportation: Taxi fares, including tips, are reimbursable where public transportation is not practical. Rail transportation is reimbursed if it does not exceed the cost of the least expensive airfare. Private automobile transportation is reimbursed per mile at a rate set by the University.
    • Meals: Travelers should use reasonably priced restaurants and dining rooms.  Alcohol is never an allowable expense.
    • Commercial rental vehicles: Commercial rental (economy, compact or subcompact) vehicles should be used only when it is impossible to use other forms of ground transportation, and when car rental does not exceed the cost of the least expensive airfare.
    • Lodging: Travelers must book standard accommodations in reasonably priced, commercial class hotels and motels.  Conference-site hotels will be reimbursed at the actual cost. To verify the conference site hotel rate, attach the conference literature to the Expense Report when requesting reimbursement.
    • Tolls and parking fees: Tolls and reasonable parking charges will be reimbursed
    • Travel internet connectivity: Charges for Internet connections for business use at hotels, conference sites, airports and Internet cafes while traveling are reimbursable with receipts.

    Ineligible CTG expenses include (but are not limited to):

    • First, business class, or economy plus airfare
    • Airline upgrades
    • Alcohol
    • Books, magazines, newspapers for personal use
    • Childcare, babysitting, house sitting, pet-sitting (see the Dependent Care Grant for information on funds for dependent care during conference travel)
    • Clothing, gifts, luggage, haircuts, laundry, dry cleaning
    • Passports, vaccinations, visas
    • Personal entertainment (in flight movies, headsets, social activities)
    • Other expenses not directly related to traveling to/from and participating in the conference
  • The Graduate School reviews all expense reimbursement requests and may deny requests if they do not comply with CTG use guidelines or The Graduate School’s current expense guidelines

Application instructions

Complete a CTG application using the online form

Review process

  1. Program Approval: Your program’s CTG contact will receive an email once you submit the online application form. Program approval indicates that the department has vetted the application and approves of your attending the conference on behalf of the University.
  2. TGS Approval: Once your program has reviewed your application, it will be sent to TGS. A Conference Travel Grant will not be awarded unless the application is approved by both your program and TGS.


For more information, please email: