Professional Development Grant

The Professional Development Grant is intended to support graduate and postdoctoral professional development programming that is driven by TGS students, postdocs, faculty and/or administrators of TGS-affiliated academic programs. Successful applications will propose programs that provide opportunities for TGS students and postdocs to build skills, knowledge and experience that enable them to meet academic and professional goals.


  • Faculty or staff affiliated with any academic program that falls under the purview of The Graduate School
  • Graduate students in The Graduate School
  • Postdoctoral fellows


There are two deadlines per year: 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Monday, March 19, 2018

Award Information

The maximum amount of funding available is $2000 per program/event or group. Note: Groups that collaborate on professional development initiatives can apply to the Professional Development Grant for up to $2000/group.

  • Applications to the Professional Development Grant may be for one event/program or for a series of events/programs
  • Professional Development Grants are co-sponsorship awards and applicants must have commitments or have sought commitments from other funding sources such as departments, schools, centers, student groups, etc.)

Proposal Guidelines

Successful applications will include the following:

  • Clearly articulated program goals and learning objectives. For guidance on developing learning objectives, see the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching site
  • A proposal for an innovative program/event that is not currently offered at Northwestern University
  • An explanation of how the proposed program will fill a gap in professional development offerings and provide lead-in or follow-on experiences for existing programs
  • A plan for measuring the success of the proposed event/program
  • A plan for making the event/program accessible to the widest possible range of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows (including across campuses, programs, labs, abilities, familial status and other factors)
  • A plan to gather a sufficient level of support from other sources (departments, schools, centers, etc.)

The most successful proposals will be collaborations that bring together TGS students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty and staff from across academic programs/departments, offices, etc. 

Fundable Expenses

  • Facilitator/trainer fees
  • Honoraria, speaker fees, and/or travel costs for guest speakers or alumni
  • Educational materials
  • Reasonable operational costs (non-alcoholic refreshments, food, recording costs, etc.). If more than half the proposed expenditures are to be used for food/drink, then the application will not be considered
  • Funds may not be used for any individual professional development (such as individual travel grants or conference attendance for individual students or postdocs)

Faculty or Staff Adviser Requirement

  • Student and postdocs preparing a proposal for the Professional Development Grant should identify a Northwestern faculty member or administrator who can advise on the development of the proposal and execution of the event/program
  • If you are having difficulty identifying an appropriate staff or faculty adviser, The Graduate School can provide guidance

Application Instructions

Complete the Professional Development Proposal Form and the Budget Form and upload both here by the published deadline. 

Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and and applicants will be notified of a decision within four weeks of the application deadline. 

Please contact Mearah Quinn-Brauner, Associate Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Professional Development, with any questions. 

Award Administration 

Awardees are required to 

  • Provide a chartstring and complete this form
  • Include the credit line, Supported in part by TGS Professional Development Grant, on all marketing materials and must submit events to TGS.
  • Track attendance (Name and NetID) at the program (and any applicants, if relevant). This form may be used.  
  • All TGS student organizations and TGS-funded events are expected to operate in accordance with Northwestern’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment and Northwestern’s Policy on Sexual Misconduct, Stalking, and Dating and Domestic Violence. Student organizations may not exclude any individual from membership, events, or other matters related to the organization on the basis of the protected categories listed in the University’s Policy on Discrimination and Harassment, which can be found at

Final Report

Within four weeks following the funded program, awardees must provide a brief report (upload here) that includes the following:

  • Title of funded program
  • High-level overview and highlights of the program. Were the learning objectives met? How do you know? What part of the program did the attendees find most useful? 
  • Reflections and next steps. What additional professional development needs did you identify in the course of working on this program? If you were planning this program again, what changes would you make? 
  • Final budget: how were funds used? (A list of expenses and amounts will suffice; receipts are not required). Programs/groups that do not use the grant for the purposes specified in the proposal will be asked to return the funds. 
  • Attendance (complete attendance sheets should be appended)

Failure to comply with any of the terms above will negatively impact eligibility for future funding