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Conference Travel Grant

The Conference Travel Grant (CTG) provides funds to assist PhD and MFA students traveling to and attending conferences on behalf of the University. The grant may not support travel unrelated to a student’s research, attending courses at other schools, or general research costs.

This grant is considered a separate grant from the Dependent Care Professional Development Grant. Students may apply for both grants simultaneously.  


  • Students must apply at least 14 days prior to the first date of travel, but no more than 3 months in advance of the first date of travel. Under no circumstances will approval be granted if the application is initially submitted less than 14 days prior to the first date of travel. If submitting the application more than 3 months in advance of first day of travel is necessary, please email to explain the circumstances.
  • Funds for travel in the 2019/2020 academic year (fiscal year 2020) are available between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020 (or until all available funds have been awarded).  Funds for travel after September 1, 2020 cannot be awarded until the next fiscal year (after September 1, 2020). Students who are attending conferences in early September must still apply at least 14 days in advance, with the understanding that funds for travel starting on or after September 1st cannot be accessed until after September 1, 2020.
  • Under no circumstances will approval be given retroactively if an application is submitted after the conference/seminar 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.
  • Students must provide a copy of the invitation to present at or confirmation of registration for the conference.
  • Funds will not be awarded retroactively.
  • Students who do not submit a Conference Travel Grant application at least 14 days prior to the first day of travel are not eligible for the award.
  • Students travelling abroad are required to submit a Travel Disclosure to the Office of Global Safety and Security and enroll in Northwestern’s GeoBlue health insurance, per the independent traveler requirements outlined here.


The maximum amount for each Conference Travel Grant is:

  • $600 for students in science, engineering, and math.  This includes programs in McCormick, Feinberg, WCAS Division I (Chemistry, Earth and Planetary Sciences, IBiS, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy, Statistics) and related interdisciplinary programs
  • $800 for students in social sciences and humanities

Awards must be expended prior to the end of the fiscal year in which they are awarded. Expense reimbursement requests not submitted by the end of the fiscal year (August 31) cannot be approved. 

Conference Travel Grants may be used for expenses directly related to traveling to/from and participating in a conference/seminar/workshop.  Eligible expenses include:

  • Airfare/airline fees at the most reasonable and economical rate: Travelers are strongly encouraged to book well in advance of travel to secure the lowest fares.
  • 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, 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/seminar/workshop.

The Graduate School reviews all expense reimbursement requests and may deny requests if they do not comply with the University’s policies/procedures or with CTG use 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 traveling to 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 in advance of the first date of travel.


For more information, please email:

Graduate student international conference travel

Students traveling internationally for conferences, research or other professional activities should review the Global Safety and Security Graduate Student Travel Policies