Several of Northwestern's affiliated study abroad programs provide the opportunity to do an independent study or research project while abroad. Participating students conduct original research, often using a combination of fieldwork methods, such as interviews and archival research. This research abroad is a good foundation for a senior honors thesis or post-graduate research; it also strengthens applications for post-graduate grants, such as Fulbright, Rhodes and Marshall scholarships.
Tips for choosing a research topic
Start thinking about a topic before you leave campus.
Most programs that offer research options require you to provide them with project proposals either as part of the application process or before leaving the U.S. Even if they don't, it's important to start thinking about what you would like to research well before departure. Use the following resources as you prepare:
- Departmental/school advisers: If you wish to receive major, minor or distribution credit for your research, be sure to discuss your plans with advisers in the relevant department/school.
- Faculty members: If you know you are interested in a particular subject, meet with faculty members who study that subject to discuss your ideas. Use the NU Global Opportunities database to identify faculty who share your interests.
- Northwestern’s library: Do some initial research into possible topics.
- Chicago locals with international contacts: Network with people in the Chicagoland area who have connections in the place you hope to study.
- Northwestern Institutional Review Board: Will your research project need approval? Look into this well before leaving because submitting a research proposal to the IRB can be a lengthy process. For help, contact an adviser in your major department (or in the department most relevant to your topic) or contact the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects at 847-467-1723.
Choose a topic covered in Northwestern undergraduate curriculum
When choosing a topic, remember that Northwestern will not grant credit for courses - including research - that cover subject matter not taught in its undergraduate curriculum. Our Choosing Courses webpage explains this in greater depth.