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Research Opportunities

Independent Study (English 399)

English 399: Independent Study is an individualized, research-based course conducted under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The course should be focused on a clearly defined subject of genuine intellectual and academic substance that is not normally covered in regular course work. English 399 is open to junior and senior English majors and senior English minors, and is a full-credit course that cannot be taken P/N. You may count one independent study as a core course for the English major.

Students interested in enrolling in English 399 must submit an application to the DUS, either via the English department office or via email, no later than the end of pre-registration week of the preceding quarter. The application must include: a rationale for the course, a detailed proposal of the work to be done, an outline of how you plan to be evaluated, and the signature of the faculty member who will guide your research.

The English Independent Study application

Research Funding

NU Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grants &
WCAS Academic Year Grants

These two types of grants provide up to $1,000 to pay for your research expenses to do an independent academic or creative project in any field. The project must be connected to an independent study or thesis seminar.

Note that WCAS grants are open only to students whose home school is WCAS, and generally require that a student first apply to the corresponding university-wide grant.

Some recent recipients:

Carly Bluth
English Literature (2015)
"Eco-criticism in Poe's Fiction"

Holland Spencer
English Literature and Gender & Sexuality Studies (2015)
"Opening The Gates"

Ezra Olson
English Literature and Creative Writing (2013)
"Wallace's Annotated 'What is Art?'"

Laura Venn
English Literature and Psychology (2013)
"Racial Shift"

NU Summer Undergraduate Research Grants &
WCAS Summer Grants

Summer URGs provide a $3,000 stipend to cover living and research expenses for eight weeks of full-time independent academic and creative work in all fields of study under faculty supervision.

Note that WCAS grants are open only to students whose home school is WCAS, and generally require that a student first apply to the corresponding university-wide grant.

Some recent recipients:

Chelsey Moler
English Literature and International Studies (2015)
"Gender and Narrative Power"

Hallye Webb
English Literature and Theatre (2015)
"Defining Modernist Children's Literature"

Caroline Dean
English Literature (2014)
"Nuclear Themes in Late Modernist Poetry"

Allison Manley
Creative Writing and Religious Studies (2012)
"Adapting Buddhist Jataka Stories"

Undergraduate Research Assistant Program 

URAP offers faculty the opportunity to hire an undergraduate student to work with them on research or creative projects. Students are paid an hourly wage ($10/hour) for their work. The application is submitted by the faculty member rather than the student, so your best bet is to approach individual faculty members directly.

Some recent recipients:

Alexander Daly
English Literature and Comparative Literary Studies (2017)
working with Professor Harris Feinsod

Lya Ferreyra
Creative Writing and Social Policy (2016)
working with Professor Brian Bouldrey

Undergraduate Language Grants

ULGs provide up to $5,000 (up to 75% of total expenses) for the intensive and experiential learning of foreign language during the summer.

Some recent recipients:

Nicole Bronniman
English Literature (2014)
German language studies

Jessica Tackett
English Literature and German (2013)
German language studies

Circumnavigators Travel-Study Grant

A once-in-a-lifetime $9,000 grant to spend the summer travelling the world, researching a topic of your choice.

Harris Sockel
English Literature and French (2009)
"American Literature's Global Circulation"

WCAS Conference Travel Grants

Each of these grants will fund 50% of your expenses (up to $500) to present your research or original creative work at a conference. Note that WCAS students may combine these grants to fund 100% of conference expenses, up to a total of $1000.

Undergraduate Research & Arts Exposition

The annual forum for original research and creative work by Northwestern undergraduates, where prizes are awarded for the best poster, oral presentation, and creative arts entry.

Williams Reynolds-Ejzak
English Literature and Music Performance (2016)
oral presentation "Hideously Incompatible: Solipsism and Gendered Selfhood in the Fiction of David Foster Wallace"

Carly Bluth
English Literature (2015)
poster presentation "Ecocriticism, Entropy, and the Gothic in Poe's Fiction"

Aozora Brockman
Creative Writing (2015)
oral presentation "The Paradox of a Global and Homogeneous Nation: Korean-Japanese in Modern Japan"

Jeong We
English Literature and Comparative Literary Studies (2013)
poster presentation "Remorse and Ethics in Ulysses"

Posner Summer Fellowship Program

This WCAS program provides summer research funds for students from underrepresented groups who are at earlier stages than students eligible for most other funding sources. Fellowship winners will typically be freshmen and sophomores, and their research plans may be more preliminary. For more information, contact Associate Dean Mary Finn (

Herskovits Undergraduate Fellowship Program

This WCAS program provides funding for research involving use of Northwestern University Library’s renowned Africana collection. Contact the Program of African Studies at 847-491-7323 or for additional information.

Lane Environmental Studies Grants

These grants provide funding for research on environmental issues, including work in the environmental humanities.

Sion Asia-related Research Grants

These grants provide funding for research on Asia-related topics. Depending on your work plan, they are subject to the same rules and deadlines as either the WCAS Academic Year Grants or WCAS Summer Grants.