Skip to main content

Ryan Fellowship

The Ryan Fellowship, made possible by a generous donation from Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan, supports graduate students dedicated to the exploration of fundamental nanoscale science and to advancing this knowledge into practical applications of benefit to society. 

The fellowship, created in 2007, supports the finest graduate students in the country and provides them with the education and experience to assume leadership roles in the realm of nanotechnology. 

Ryan Fellows participate in a variety of activities including, lectures, symposia, team building events, and opportunities to engage in collaborative discussion and research with domestic and international partners. 


Applications are by program nomination only. Current students should consult with their Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) for the program's internal deadline. The deadline for  receipt of nominees' applications is Monday, May 6, 2024, 11:59 pm. Programs must notify TGS of the names of their nominees as early as possible, but no later than Thursday, May 2 to allow enough time for application submission.


Applications are by departmental/program nomination only. Current PhD students in their third (or second) year, who have shown exceptional scientific talent and who have committed to a specific research project in the area of nanoscience and technology, may be nominated by their program. (Typically, students in their third year are preferred, but the committee will consider outstanding second year students.)

The inherent interdisciplinarity of nanotechnology makes the Ryan Fellowship applicable to gifted students from a broad spectrum of programs and schools, including:

  • Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences
  • Feinberg School of Medicine
  • TGS Interdisciplinary Programs including: Driskill Graduate Program in Life Sciences (DGP), Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program (IBiS), and Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program (NUIN)

Students receiving graduate assistance must adhere to the regulations governing recipients of University assistance.


  • The Ryan Fellowship includes a maximum two-year $12,500 award/year: $10,000/year as an additional stipend (divided evenly across 12 months each year) and a $2,500/year research award.
  • Current PhD students will receive Ryan Fellowship funding in addition to their current funding for up to two years. Students are eligible for Ryan Fellowship funding through their fifth year of enrollment in the PhD program or until they graduate, whichever comes first.

Application instructions

Since programs may have earlier application deadlines and additional requirements and eligibility criteria, students should speak with their program’s DGS for additional information. Applicants must be nominated by their program of study. Programs must notify The Graduate School of the names of their nominees as early as possible, but no later than Thursday, May 2.

The following items must be submitted to the online application tool directly by students who have been nominated by their programs. A link to submit the application will be provided to those students nominated by their program:

  1. Description of the proposed research project: Not to exceed five pages, double-spaced. Endnotes, references, and/or images do not count toward the 5-page limit, but these may not exceed a total of two additional pages.
  2. Sample(s) of previous research or a published paper: Dissertation proposals, dissertation chapters, and qualifying exams are not acceptable samples. There are no maximum or minimum length requirements for each research sample, but a maximum of two samples (combined into one PDF) will be accepted. Excerpts are also acceptable.
  3. Curriculum vitae
  4. Unofficial Northwestern transcript
  5. Letter of recommendation: One letter of recommendation from a faculty advisor, not to exceed two, single-spaced pages. When submitting the application via the online application tool, applicants will invite a faculty member to submit a letter of recommendation. (Note: The faculty member must be invited using their email address.) Applicants should notify the intended letter-writer well in advance of entering their name in the online application tool.  


Email for more information.