Admission and Financial Aid

Application Procedures

This year's application season begins on September 26, 2016. You will not be able to submit an application before that date. The deadline for receipt of applications and all supporting documents is December 1, 2016. All admissions are for Fall 2017.

To apply to the Ph.D. program, go to the "Admission" page of the website of the Graduate School.

If you have any questions not answered by this website, write to Tricia Liu, our Graduate Coordinator. You can also directly contact faculty you are interested in working with. Faculty descriptions and e-mail addresses are available in the Faculty section of this website.

Required Application Materials

  • Application Form (online)
  • Application Fee
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Two (max. three) Letters of Recommendation
  • Original Transcripts from all College/University Work
  • TOEFL or IELTS Scores for Foreign Applicants
  • Writing Sample (approx. 15–35 pp.)

We do not require the GRE for Admission.

All application materials must be submitted eletronically to the Graduate School.

Financial Aid

General regulations concerning admission and financial aid can be found at the Graduate School Website.

Since financial awards for doctoral study are based on academic merit rather than need, applicants for admission should request funding in all but extraordinary cases. All first-year students who do not have external financial awards (federal, state, or private) normally receive University Fellowships and Graduate Assistantships consisting of a full tuition payment and an additional stipend to cover living expenses. The department guarantees support for the first five years of study, including four years of summer support.

The Department and the Graduate School have a variety of resources to support students in their research, writing, and professional development. These include travel grants for dissertation research and for delivering papers at scholarly conferences, grants for summer language study, and fellowships awarded on a competitive basis to support dissertation writing. For information on resources available from the Graduate School, click here. The department's faculty consider it part of their job to train students to write grant applications, and our students have an enviable record in winning external funding for dissertation research.

Because teaching is an integral part of the program, most doctoral students serve as teaching assistants in survey courses during their second and third years; their duties usually include helping the senior faculty plan assignments and write undergraduate examination questions, leading discussion sections, and grading undergraduate examinations and papers. During their fourth or fifth year of study, students who are writing their dissertations may become advanced teaching assistants who design and offer their own undergraduate seminars. In such cases, students submit their topics and reading lists for Departmental approval but ultimately organize and implement the courses themselves. A number of teaching positions also exist in Northwestern's School of Professional Studies, where advanced graduate students can teach their own broader courses.