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Conference Travel Grant

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


  • 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.
  • Applications will be accepted each quarter until available funds for that quarter have been exhausted.
  • Funds for travel in the 23/24 academic year (fiscal year 2024) are available for use until August 31, 2024. Funds awarded in the current fiscal year do not carry forward (are not available for use) in the next fiscal year (after August 31, 2024). 
    • Funds for travel after September 1, 2024 cannot be awarded until the next fiscal year (after September 1, 2024). Students who are attending conferences in early September 2024 must still apply in advance, with the understanding that funds awarded for travel starting on or after September 1 cannot be accessed until the 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) in PhD or MFA programs administered by The Graduate School (TGS) and within their degree time limitation at the time of the conference travel.
  • CTG awards may only be used for voluntary attendance at academic/professional conferences in furtherance of a student’s own academic/career interests. CTG awards may not be requested or used to attend conferences that are required as part of a graduate student’s employment, or to attend courses, trainings, or extended programs.
  • Students may utilize CTG funds only while active PhD or MFA students in The Graduate School at Northwestern at the time of the conference. 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 and subject to availability of funds.
  • A student is eligible to receive only one travel grant award during a fiscal year and cannot have already received a CTG in the current fiscal year.
  • Students traveling outside of the United States must adhere to all graduate student travel policies.  Failure to do so could result in revocation of the conference travel grant.


  • The maximum amount for each CTG 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.
    • Expense reports must be submitted within 60 days of the last date of travel (or by 8/15, whichever comes first) and include prepaid expenses such as Egencia.  Failure to submit expenses within 60 of the end of travel will result in cancellation of the award, barring exceptional circumstances.
  • 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 or ride shares (e.g. Uber, Lyft), 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 for trips up to 300 miles.
    • Meals: Travelers should use reasonably priced restaurants and dining rooms. Alcohol is never an allowable expense. Per diem may be used for meals instead of using itemized receipts.
    • Commercial rental vehicles: Commercial rental vehicles (economy, compact or subcompact) 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,  motels, and Airbnbs. 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.
  • Ineligible CTG expenses include (but are not limited to):
    • First class, business class, or economy plus airfare
    • Airline, hotel room, or car upgrades
    • In-flight Wi-Fi
    • Alcohol
    • Books, magazines, newspapers
    • Childcare, babysitting, house sitting, pet-sitting (see the Dependent Care Professional Development 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)
    • Meals and hotel stay during local (Chicagoland) conferences within a 25 mile radius of Evanston
    • Non-refundable fees that result from trip cancellation
    • Fees/costs related to attending or traveling to courses, extended programs, trainings, or other meetings/events that do not fall into the category of professional or academic conferences.
    • Other expenses not directly related to traveling to/from and participating in the specific conference for which the CTG was approved
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

Students must submit a Conference Travel Grant application by the deadline.

Review process

The Graduate School will review Conference Travel Grant applications within five to ten business days.  Students will receive a notice via email once a decision is rendered.  If a Conference Travel Grant is awarded, the student's program will be copied on the email notification.


For more information, please email: