Webmail   |  @U E-Mail   |  CAESAR   |  CMS/Blackboard   |  Dept. Directory
Office of Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Language Grants

See video

Video of previous grant winners who studied in Germany, Syria, Egypt, and Russia.

Undergraduate Language Grants (ULG) support the intensive and experiential learning of foreign languages during the summer.  The Office of Undergraduate Research will award grants to help defray the costs of intensive language study abroad or in the United States.  Grants are for up to $5,000 and can cover up to 75% of total expenses.  Study programs must be at least six weeks in duration, and language instruction must be the predominant (if not the sole) aim of the program.  In particular, the grant committee seeks to fund students who will be using this language training to help them achieve specific academic and professional goals. 

The next proposal submission deadline is January 30, 2015 for Summer 2015 study.



  • The Undergraduate Language Grants program is open to all undergraduates who will be returning to Northwestern in the fall following their summer language program. Students cannot receive ULG funds to participate in language programs following graduation from Northwestern.
  • ULGs can be used toward the study of any language at the school or program of the student's choice, providing that it meets the criteria below.
  • Summer language programs should provide the equivalent of a year's worth of college-level language instruction. Typically, programs must be at least six weeks in duration, and language instruction must be the predominant (if not the sole) aim of the program.  In exceptional cases, programs shorter than six weeks may be eligible; however, such programs must be approved by the appropriate NU language faculty.  Additional criteria include:
    • An “immersion” or “intensive” format to study and engage with the language approximately 3-5 hours/day, 4-5 days/week.
    • A clearly defined curriculum or instruction plan for a significant proportion of those hours.
    • Instructors with training or credentials in teaching (e.g “conversation partner” activities or experience with untrained native speakers cannot constitute the bulk of the program).
    • A focus on the multiple modalities for language use (not just speaking/listening or writing/reading, but speaking, listening, reading AND writing).

Travel Restrictions

  • Students are not permitted to travel to a location that has been rated as high (H) or extreme (E) risk by International SOS. This policy is university-wide and is non-negotiable. To check the rating of a country and areas within a country, go to the International SOS member website using NU's group account number: 11BCAS000003. 
  • In general, undergraduates are not permitted to travel to a country subject to a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning. However, if the ISOS security rating of the location is Insignificant, Low or Moderate, exceptions may be made in certain circumstances when the student’s experience is facilitated, sponsored, monitored or controlled by Northwestern faculty or staff. The supervising faculty or staff (not the individual student) must apply to the Study Abroad Risk Assessment Committee (SARAC) on the student's behalf for permission to travel at least eight weeks prior to the student’s planned travel. For details please see the University Undergraduate International Travel Policy and Procedures. Requests for travel permission should follow the guidelines provided in Appendix B of the Travel Permission Application Process.
  • If safety issues exist in a study locale to which travel is permissible, the applicant should address in the grant application steps that will be taken to ensure personal safety.

Selection Process

Applications are reviewed by the Northwestern Undergraduate Language Grants Committee.  Grant recipients are selected on the basis of merit with consideration for:

  • Academic record and potential to successfully complete and benefit from the summer language study
  • Appropriateness of the chosen language program for the student's goals
  • Plan to continue studying the language
  • Plan to use the language in pursuit of specific academic goals or in future career

Information for Grant Recipients

  • Students should accept the award via the online system as soon as they are able, so we may begin the administrative processing of the award. 
  • All grant monies are distributed through the Northwestern Payroll system.  Grant recipients must complete the forms and follow the instructions on the Payroll Forms page in order to receive the grant money.  Grants are paid out once a month at the end of the month with a mid-month deadline for the submission of completed paperwork.  There are no exceptions.
  • ULG recipients must provide the ULG Coordinator with proof of registration in the language program before grant funds will be released.
  • Students travelling internationally are required complete a number of additional steps, outlined HERE.  Grant funds cannot be released until you send proof of these to the Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • In the fall after the end of the language program, ULG recipients must provide the ULG Coordinator with a copy of their transcript showing successful completion of the program

Information for Faculty

Faculty Role

ULGs are intended to enhance and facilitate on-going academic and professional training.  Within the application, students must make a clear and compelling argument for the ways in which language immersion will specifically help to achieve academic goals at Northwestern and future professional aims.

Students are encouraged to consult with language faculty to identify quality summer language programs.  Faculty guidance is also tremendously beneficial for applicants as they work to articulate their goals and specific ways in which summer language study will benefit them.

Guidelines for Faculty Endorsements


  • Students need two faculty endorsements:
    • one from a language instructor with whom the student has taken language coursework, and
    • a second from a faculty member who can address the ways which an Undergraduate Language Grant will contribute to the student’s academic and/or career goals
  • Outside faculty may be used as recommenders; graduate students and post-docs are not eligible, unless they are the student's primary language instructor.  If a recommender falls into one of these categories, contact the ULG Coordinator (uradvisor@northwestern.edu) prior to the deadline for details, as additional steps are required to get access to the system. 
  • Faculty endorsements are due within four days after the student deadline. The Northwestern Review Committee meets to vote on proposals soon after the deadline, and proposals cannot be evaluated until faculty endorsements are received. If you need more time to complete your assessment, you should make arrangements with the student to receive copies of the application materials well in advance of the deadline. Un-endorsed proposals will not be considered.
  • All endorsements are submitted online after the student submits her/his application.  Once the student completes her/his portion of the online application, the system will generate an email to you containing instructions for online submission of the endorsement. 
  • The committee asks that your endorsement address the following questions:
  1. Please offer your opinion on the language proficiency and abilities of this student. (For language instructors.)
  2. How, in your opinion, will this language learning fit into the student’s overall academic/career goals?
  3. Do you feel that this program/country is a good match for this student at this time?
  4. Please offer your opinions on the student.  How long have you worked with the student, and in what capacity?  How confident are you that the student will successfully complete the proposed program?
  • On the endorsement submission page, you will find each of these questions followed by separate text fields in which to write your response.  Please answer these questions in place of a standard letter of recommendation as they help the review committee fully assess each candidate. Each field has a limit of 4,000 characters, which is equivalent to 1 ½ single-spaced pages.

How to Apply

Basic Info

 All students must apply through the online application system. Applications are due by 11:59 pm on the due date.


 A complete application consists of:

  •  online application form, including estimated budget
  • a two page, single spaced proposal
  • a resume
  • Information about your chosen language program 
  • two faculty endorsements
  • an official academic transcript

Instructions for submitting the parts of the application:

  • The proposal and resume must be uploaded as a single document.  There is a separate field to upload documentation about your chosen language program (required if you wish to attend a non-NU language program). All documents should be .pdf or .rtf format.
  • In the online application form, you will enter the net ids of your faculty recommenders (aka "sponsors"). Once you have submitted your application online, your faculty recommenders will receive an email containing instructions for their online submission of the endorsements.  
  • Official transcripts can be ordered online from the Office of the Registrar.  Electronic transcripts are preferred and should be delivered to uradvisor@northwestern.edu.  If you order a paper copy, it must be sealed and delivered to the Office of Undergraduate Research, Rebecca Crown Center, 633 Clark Street, West Tower, Room 1-225.

Requesting Faculty Endorsements

All applications require two faculty endorsements. One must be from a language instructor with whom you have taken courses. The second should be from a faculty member who can address how a ULG would contribute to your academic and/or career goals.  

You should request endorsements from faculty at least four weeks prior to the deadline.   Ask your recommenders to review the "Information for Faculty" section and provide them with a draft of your application materials (proposal and resume) well in advance of the deadline  so that they have sufficient time to prepare their endorsements.

Outside faculty may serve as recommenders; graduate students and post-docs are not eligible, unless they are your primary language instructor.  If a recommender falls into one of these categories, contact the ULG Coordinator (uradvisor@northwestern.edu) prior to the deadline, as there additional steps required to arrange access to the system.

You have the option of adding a third, supplemental endorsement if you feel it would significantly enhance your application.


Your first step should be to discuss your ideas with faculty members and/or advisors who may be able offer insights on summer programs you might want to do, how you might benefit from summer language study, and what options you have for using your language skills both while at Northwestern and in the future.

There will be special information sessions dedicated to Undergraduate Language Grants- see Calendar for dates and locations.  The sessions will be led by ULG Advisors who will go over the application process and answer questions.

As an additional resource, you may seek feedback from a ULG Advisor, by email (uradvisor@northwestern.edu) or in an arranged meeting, once you have written a draft application. ULG Advisors can offer useful writing assistance in shaping your proposal for the ULG Review Committee.

Jana Measells - ULG Coordinator/ Advisor

     847-467-0501     uradvisor@northwestern.edu

Peter Civetta - ULG Coordinator/ Advisor

    847-467-0499     undergradresearch@northwestern.edu

Gretchen Oehlschlager - Administration

     847-491-6720     adminur@northwestern.edu

Preparing the Application

The Application Form

The online application form asks for basic information about you and the program that you are interested in attending. We realize that at the time of application you probably will not have received formal acceptance and that you may have more than one program in mind. For the purposes of the ULG application, include information only about the program that is your first choice. (If you are awarded a grant and afterwards learn that you have not been accepted, or have been accepted into a better program, contact the ULG Coordinator for approval of the program change.) You will need to supply information about the program and an estimated budget. You may open an application at any time, save it, and return later to complete/submit it.

The Proposal 

ULGs are intended to enhance and facilitate on-going academic and professional training.  The main part of your application is a two page, single spaced proposal that connects the importance of your anticipated summer language study with your academic and long-term professional goals.  Please see our proposal writing guide for more advice/instructions.  Your proposal should include:

  • A discussion of your academic and professional goals and how advancing your skills in the target language this summer will help you achieve them.
  • A description of the language program you would like to attend, and your reasons for choosing it.  What does the program offer, and what strategies and activities have you planned to make full use of its offerings?
  • A description of any specific coursework or research experiences you plan to undertake following your completion of the program for which the language training is relevant.



Who can help me choose a program?

Seek out advice from language instructors that you have previously had and/or the Study Abroad Office. If you are looking to study a new language with which you have no previous background, seek out instructors in that language through departmental web sites and set up appointments to discuss possible programs. Finally, do web research. However, remember not to take program promotional materials at face value; find out what others say about a program.

The program that I want to do is only a month long. Can I still apply?

No. Programs typically must be a minimum of six weeks. In exceptional cases, five-week programs may qualify, but these must be pre-approved by the appropriate NU language department.  For languages where three- or four-week programs are common (such as German), students may apply for a ULG if they will be enrolled in sequential programs that total at least six weeks of immersive language study.

I want to study Kiswahili (or some other language not taught at NU). Is that possible?

Yes. It is a great use of a ULG to study a language not currently taught at Northwestern. We also recognize that formal programs in smaller languages may be more difficult to find. The Review Committee will remain open to smaller programs as long as the language work is intensive and rigorous. It will be your responsibility to make that case in your application.

Do I automatically receive academic credit for my program, even if it is not run by Northwestern?

Not necessarily.  If you're interested in receiving academic credit at Northwestern from a Non-NU Summer Program, review this section of the Study Abroad Office's website. Study Abroad Advisers are happy to review the application and credit transfer processes with you.

What happens if my country goes on the Travel Warning list after I have been accepted?

If you have already received an ULG and are unable to obtain approval for an exception from the Study Abroad Risk Assessment Committee, we will work with you to locate another program where you can pursue your language study.

Who should I get to write my faculty endorsements?

Normally, you should ask a language teacher who knows your work well and an advisor/mentor who has a sense of your overall goals.

My favorite language instructor is a graduate student. Can s/he write for me?

Yes. Your second endorsement, however, must come from a faculty member.

I studied abroad and want a faculty member from there to write for me. Is that possible?

Yes. You may use faculty members from outside Northwestern. Contact the ULG Advisor (uradvisor@northwestern.edu) for details, as outside people will need to obtain net ids to access the online application system.

Hey, that budget list on the application is long? What is up with that?

We want you to consider all expenses involved in such programs, and not merely tuition/fees. This way you can make an informed decision about your ability to finance the experience.  The maximum ULG will fund is 75% of your total budgeted expenses up to $5,000.

Gasp, have you looked at how expensive these programs can be?

Yes. The costs of these types of programs are often significantly more than the support that we can offer. We encourage you to pursue additional support, including from departments/programs and other outside sources.

Can I get some feedback before I submit my application?

Certainly. Contact one of the ULG Advisors (uradvisor@northwestern.edu) to set up a meeting to discuss your ideas/application draft.

What do they really want to know in that proposal?

The Review Committee wants to know that your program is top-notch and that pursuing this study will help you significantly in some way.Take advantage of our proposal writing guide.

How long will it be before I find out?

Initial grant recipients will be contacted within 4-6 weeks of the grant deadline. The Review Committee will also approve a ranked waiting list. Grant recipients will have a month to accept or decline the award (often depending on their acceptance to the program involved), and people on the waiting list will be notified as soon as either a slot becomes available or the final recipients have accepted the award.