Research Grants

Every year, The Nonfiction Writing Program and the University of Iowa offer competitive awards to help graduate students pursue their research and writing projects.

The Herodotus Awards

Herodotus was the first writer who became widely known for collecting research material systematically, testing its accuracy (to a certain extent), and arranging it in well-constructed and vivid narratives. Named in his honor, ten Herodotus Awards are given annually to students in The Nonfiction Writing Program. The awards can be used for any research-related travel that results in new work by the end of the semester granted. Recipients of the awards will be honored at a public event at the end of the semester at which they will be expected to present an excerpt from their research of at least 1,500 words.

Recipients must complete their research trips before being reimbursed. The awards may be combined with the annual research travel grants that are offered to each graduate student in the English Department (see below), and all currently registered graduate students of the NWP are eligible to apply.

To apply for an award, compose a 250-300 word double-spaced proposal that explains your writing project and details specifically how you would use a Herodotus Award, as well as what work if any you have already completed on the project. Specify when exactly your travel research will take place, where you will go, and who (if anyone) you will be meeting on your trip.

Proposals should be submitted electronically to Corey by the deadline. Include the title of your proposal in the top lefthand corner of the page. Your name should not appear anywhere on the proposal as all proposals will be read and judged blindly by the faculty of The Nonfiction Writing Program. Proposals are generally due at the start of each academic semester. (Note: In 2021-22, the Herodotus Awards will be given in spring semester, with a deadline in Feb 2022.)

Buckley Fellowships

Every winter, a group of talented high school students from Los Angeles travels across the country to spend a few days with us in The Nonfiction Writing Program. While they're here they take a number of intensive master classes with our graduate students, learning how to develop their ideas and experiences into beautiful and intriguing prose. Four Buckley Fellowships are given each year to the NWP students who lead those courses.

To be eligible, you must have taught an Outreach Master Class in the previous Fall or Spring semester. Submit a Buckley master class proposal which includes: a course description, short bio, descriptions of two specific class activities, and a clear explanation of what each student will leave the class knowing that they hadn't known before. Submissions are due in early February, and the classes usually occur in mid-March.

The Englert Nonfiction Fellowship

The Englert Nonfiction Fellowship grants its recipient free access to performances at The Englert Theater in downtown Iowa City, plus a sizeable research fellowship as well as work-space in an office in downtown Iowa City. Funded by The Englert Theater, a unique professional venue for the performing arts in Iowa, the fellowship is open to all students in the program. Recipients are selected by the staff of The Englert.

(The deadline for the 2022 award is 3PM Friday, September 30. To apply, email Corey: a 500-word statement both describing your work in relationship to the arts in general and exploring how your work may benefit from greater interaction with artists and performers in Iowa City; plus a 1000-2000 word writing sample.)

The Carl Klaus Teaching Award

Carl Klaus helped found The Nonfiction Writing Program back in the 1970s. His vision for the program and his legend as an inspiring and rigorous teacher is still felt today in The Nonfiction Writing Program.

Named in his honor, The Carl Klaus Teaching Award is given annually to an NWP graduate student who demonstrates exceptional talent as a teacher of creative writing. Traditionally awarded to a third-year student, the award is granted by The Nonfiction Writing Faculty and announced at the end of each spring semester. (There is no formal application process for this award.)

The CLAS Visiting Writer Fellowship (formerly the Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer Fellowship)

One award is granted annually to an exceptional third-year student in The Nonfiction Writing Program. The award provides a post-graduate year of writing and teaching at the University. In addition to advancing their own writing project and teaching in the Department of English, the CLAS Visiting Writer is charged with contributing to the writing environment for UI undergraduates, graduates, and members of the writing community in Iowa City.

Past recipients of the CLAS Visiting Writer Fellowship (formerly Provost's Postgraduate Visiting Writer) have gone on to publish work in The New Yorker, Harper's, and The New York Times, have published award-winning books, and teach full-time in MFA programs around the country.

Applications for the fellowship are due in early February and require: the proposal of an undergraduate writing course, a 10-page writing sample, teaching evaluations, a CV, and a statement with ideas about enriching the undergraduate creative writing community. Only third-year NWP students are eligible to apply. Recipients are selected by The Nonfiction Writing Program faculty in consultation with the Department of English, the Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of the Undergraduate English & Creative Writing Major. (Note: the link for submitting materials will be posted in January.)

The Magdalena Award

The Magdalena Award is funded by an alumna of The Nonfiction Writing Program and is named in honor of her mother who emigrated from Cuba to help her pursue her interests in creative writing and law. The award is given each fall to an essay by a student in The Nonfiction Writing Program. Submissions are judged anonymously by various alumni of the program. The deadline for submissions is usually in November.

The Roxanne Mueller Reviewing the Arts Award

Named in honor of an alumna of the University of Iowa who served as a staff writer and editor of the University's award-winning daily paper, The Daily Iowan, the Roxanne Mueller Reviewing the Arts Award is given to one student each year whose interests in the arts is in keeping with Roxanne's own passion as a writer for the visual, performing, and literary arts. The award is granted by the faculty of The Nonfiction Writing Program during the spring semester, and is open to any current students in The Nonfiction Writing Program, regardless of previous wins.

(To submit, email an unpublished essay of no longer than 3,000 words to Corey by the deadline, which usually falls in late March. Note that the essay may be written on any subject and in any form.)

The Prairie Lights Nonfiction Prize

The Prairie Lights Nonfiction Prize, funded by the legendary local bookstore Prairie Lights Books, is given every spring to an essay by a student in The Nonfiction Writing Program. Submissions are judged anonymously by various alumni of the program. The deadline for submissions is usually in March/April.

The English Department Research Travel Grant

For each of your three years in The Nonfiction Writing Program, the Department of English will provide you with a guaranteed grant to help you travel to a conference or to do research somewhere. The travel funds cannot be rolled over from year to year, however, so it is important to use them each year you are in the program. To apply, fill out the English-NWP MFA Travel Funding webform found here (or here: well before your scheduled trip.

Please note: The award will be available for reimbursement with the proper receipts. Contact Cherie at, if you’re unsure if your research project will qualify. Contact Mandy McAllister at if you’re unsure of what reimbursements receipts will qualify.

Graduate Student Senate Travel Awards

The Graduate Student Senate at the University of Iowa offers funding assistance in the form of small grants to graduate students to help you travel to conferences, meetings, symposia and similar professional or academic gatherings.  Applicants for the awards are accepted throughout the year. For more details:

Graduate Student Senate Supplemental Travel Awards

The Graduate Student Senate at the University of Iowa also offers funding assistance to graduate students to help pay a portion of either domestic or international travel expenses in order to help you complete a research project. This includes visits to archives, renting equipment, interviewing subjects, investigating book projects, etc. Applicants for the awards are accepted throughout the year. For more details:

Stanley Awards for International Research

Each year, the University of Iowa's office of International Programs offers twenty substantial grants to help graduate students conduct international travel and research. The Stanley Graduate Awards for International Research vary in size and require a grant proposal. International Programs typically offers a workshop each year to help you draft a successful application, however. Their website is very helpful: