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Waivers and Financial Aid

In order to maintain flexibility in the graduate program, and, in particular, to accommodate exceptional cases, the Graduate Committee will consider written requests from students’ advisers to waive or modify requirements. However, it is expected that such requests will be granted only rarely.

There are several types of financial aid awarded by the department and the University on the basis of merit. According to regulations of the United States IRS, all awards are taxable. Financial aid is typically offered to graduate students for five academic years. The Graduate Committee decides whether to renew a student’s support based upon their progress from year to year. For a first year student, progress will be determined fromcourse grades and reports solicited by the Graduate Committee; for this purpose, a GPA of 3.0 or lower is not considered adequate preparation for further study. Students are expected to pass the Preliminary Examination by September of the second year and the Qualifying Examination by the end of the first quarter of the third year.

Financial aid from Northwestern consists of a mixture of research fellowships and graduate (teaching) assistantships. A student’s entire 5th year consists of four fellowship quarters. The student, in consultation with their dissertation advisor, may request to use these fellowship quarters as early as in their 4th year, subject to approval by the Director of Graduate Studies and the Department Chair. A student with a non-English speaking background may be required to demonstrate fluency in spoken English before he or she can hold a graduate assistantship. Failure to do so may result in academic probation, loss of funding, and even exclusion from the program. See Graduate Assistantship  for the precise requirements. 

It is a policy of the Graduate School that teaching assistants and University Fellows may not undertake other employment without the prior permission of The Graduate School. This includes any stipend or fellowship at other institutions. Such exceptions require explicit permission of the student’s adviser and the departmental graduate committee.