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Northwestern Increases Support for Graduate Students

Northwestern has launched a program that will increase financial resources for its Graduate School by 50 percent to enhance quality of life and research support and opportunities for its students.

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February 13, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University has launched a program that will increase financial resources for its Graduate School by 50 percent to enhance quality of life and research support and opportunities for its students.

"Education and research at the graduate level are a key to the nation's future in facing the challenges posed by economic competitiveness and innovation throughout the world; a significant dedication of resources to doctoral education ensures Northwestern will be a key player in training elite students to meet these challenges," said The Graduate School Dean Andrew Wachtel.

Other countries have increased investment in graduate education and are competing for the world's best students, Wachtel said. "Universities such as Northwestern, along with government and the business community, must play a role in strengthening graduate education in the United States to meet that challenge," he said.

Northwestern has committed extensive resources to enhance and support opportunities for students enrolled the School's PhD programs.

Additional support will be provided to PhD students across all disciplines. In nearly all social sciences and humanities (as well as mathematics and statistics), students will receive five-year funding guarantees that include two years of fellowship, three years of assistantship, four years of summer fellowship and full tuition scholarships. This guarantees five years of study for nearly every PhD student at Northwestern, regardless of discipline. The School will also make targeted investments to support student research in science and engineering. Health insurance is also fully subsidized for all PhD students at the University.

Wachtel said, "PhD students spend five to seven years of their lives with us. We need to provide the community, quality of life, and research support to make sure students can focus squarely on their academic work."

A key component of this plan, which distinguishes it from initiatives of other schools, is that Northwestern will upgrade the aid packages of current students to be similar to those offered to incoming students. The Graduate School will also provide more resources for students to attend conferences, conduct independent research on or away from campus, and participate in language immersion programs.

Funds will also be dedicated to community building activities, service learning, and emergency childcare subsidies. "Funding and research support should never be in question for our PhD students from this point forward," Wachtel said.

Plans also call for expansion of opportunities for students to study and conduct research in foreign countries. Last summer Northwestern PhD students took part in research and language immersion programs in Mali, the Philippines, Tehran and Martinique. Language skills are now critically important as scholars collaborate across the world on academic and research projects, Wachtel said.

Northwestern already has exchange programs in place with Brazil and France (Sciences PO, Ecole Normale Superieur). Northwestern students identify a faculty member or research group in that country and spend from one academic quarter to a full year on that assignment. Similar programs are being developed in countries around the world, based on student and faculty research interests.

This emphasis on international study and research helps prepare our students to meet career objectives in the global economy, Wachtel said.

The Graduate School enrollment also will be expanded from the average 2,500 students by adding from 50 to 75 students over the next five years, with an emphasis on students pursuing interdisciplinary studies.