Academic Year Undergraduate Research Grants

Academic Year URGs 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.


COVID UPDATE: All grant proposals should indicate in their methodology section how current or potential COVID restrictions will be addressed.  Examples could include a remote option if in-person parts of the project become impossible.  The grant committee will not be able to approve any proposal without articulated COVID planning.


Deadlines for the 2020-21 academic year are as follows:

  • Tuesday, October 13 
  • Tuesday, November 10
  • Tuesday, January 19
  • Tuesday, February 16

Before you submit, please review the Academic Year URG Submission Checklist!


All Northwestern University undergraduates. Seniors may not apply to conduct projects after graduation. Only one Academic Year URG may be awarded per student during their academic career. To receive the Academic Year URG, the student must take an independent study or honors thesis course during the academic year in which they receive the grant. It is not required that the student register for the course before submitting their proposal, but they should plan their course load to accommodate it.


If you already received an AY URG for the Office of Undergraduate Research, you may be eligible for a second grant through the Academic Year URG Advanced program.

Research Grant Proposal Writing - Grant Man, Episode 5

Undergraduate Research Grants

American Studies - Radway


What It Is: 

Up to $1000 to cover research expenses on our own research project, to be conducted during the academic year. The project does not have to be a year-long project, and you can propose projects that take place over the Winter or Spring break.

Research expenses can be any costs associated with the research: lab materials, travel to archives or field sites, study participant compensation, or something else – you decide. If you travel internationally, you can request up to 50% of your airfare in addition to the $1000.

While your project may relate to a faculty member’s research, or develop from work within a lab, you must design and execute the project independently. You faculty member provides advisory assistance. 

Projects take place within an independent study or a thesis seminar (398 or 399). Please note that a URG proposal will not be the same as your thesis proposal. You will be writing for a new audience - the URG Review Committee. You can meet with a URG advisor to learn how to make these types of revisions.

Your application will include a budget. You won’t have to turn in receipts (keep them in case we ask). You can have your grant paid directly to your lab/department.

Applications center on a two-page, single-spaced research grant proposal (1" margins, Times New Roman 12 or Arial 11), and proposals that do not meet these formatting expectations will not be considered by the review committee.  We realize that writing a grant proposal is a new experience, and we have many resources, including one-on-one advising, to help teach you this new skill:

Proposal Writing

Advising Request

How to Apply

Research involving any kind of interaction with living people (Human Subjects) may require a separate application for IRB approval.  You must have submitted your IRB application at the time of your URG application.  You do not need full IRB approval to submit your URG application, but it must be in process.  Your IRB submission number is a required part of your URG application.  If approved for funding, your award is conditional upon your forwarding to the Office of Undergraduate Research documentation from IRB showing their full approval.  If you are unsure whether your project requires IRB approval or not, please reach out to the IRB office for a consultation.  Only the IRB office can determine if you need their review (in other words, your faculty sponsor does not have the authority to determine whether IRB approval is needed).  You will also want to consider the ethical implications of your project, so please review these Principles of Ethical Research.

Once a project is approved for funding, major changes need the approval of the faculty sponsor and the Office of Undergraduate Research. Unapproved changes may result in a breech of the terms of the grant, including repalyment of grant funds.  Check with the Office of Undergraduate Research with any questions. 

You will submit a two-page final report at the end of the grant period.

What It Isn't: 

This program is for new, original research only. Projects where you are simply being a research assistant on a faculty project are not appropriate for this program.

Grants cannot be applied retroactively to cover expenses for research already completed.

The money may not be used toward tuition, program fees, or expenses normally incurred during regular coursework. Grants may not be used for the purchase of "durable equipment" such as cameras over $100, or for the purchase of books or other materials available from libraries.


You have to complete your project by the end of the academic year in which it was awarded.

Many students conduct their projects over winter break or spring break. Doing your project during a quarter or over the entire academic year is fine too.

Students receive notification of award approximately two weeks after the deadline.


Conduct your research project wherever you like: on campus or almost anywhere around the country or the world!

When you apply, you can request extra money (half your airfare) for international projects.

Read up on international projects for important travel restriction information.

Faculty Role: 

Faculty members can help you explore your research interests and develop a good project. You will identify a faculty sponsor/advisor, and this person will help you develop your application materials and oversee your project if you are awarded the grant. It is expected that the faculty will help you develop your project methodology and help you with determining the correct literature to review for the proposal/project development.  See Working with Faculty.


Your faculty sponsor/advisor must submit an online endorsement of your research grant proposal within 24 hours after the application deadline. Unendorsed projects will not be considered. Make sure you have given your faculty sponsor enough warning of the deadline, that you have discussed your project with them ahead of time, and that they have a copy of your final proposal draft. Do not leave it to the day before to ask someone to give you an endorsement!

Approval of Final Report

If your application is succesful and your project is funded, your faculty sponsor/advisor is required to approve the two-page final report which you will submit after your project is done.

See also: Info for Faculty.


Selection Process: 

Your research grant proposal will be evaluated by a faculty review committee. The committee looks for quality projects, and they can award as many grants as they want. We call this a merit-based, non-competitive process.

Students receive notification of award approximately two weeks after the deadline.

Applicants who are unsuccessful on their first attempt may be invited to revise their proposals and re-apply at another deadline. Apply early in the year if you can!

Group Projects: 

Group projects are allowed. Each additional member of a group provides you with an additional page to your proposal.  For example, a two person group is allowed a three page proposal.  You will need to explain why this project needs to be done with multiple people. Group members collaborate to create a single grant proposal that clearly articulates the different roles, responsibilities, and qualifications of each member.  Each group member submits the same proposal, and each is eligible for a $1000 grant. We recommend that all groups work with an Office of Undergraduate Research advisor.