NU Public Interest Program

Building a Network of Engaged Citizens to Inspire Change



The Northwestern University Public Interest Program was started in 2005 by two undergraduate students and a faculty advisor. The program is now managed by Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement. With support from faculty, students, alumni, and community partners, the program’s unique model helps students develop their capacity to make an impact on issues they care about while introducing them to a wide range of careers in the public sector.

Fellowship Description

NUPIP Fellows are top recent graduates from Northwestern University placed at a Chicago-area nonprofit or civic organization for full-time work over a period of 10-12 months. Candidates for NUPIP Fellowships go through a rigorous screening process, which includes multiple interviews with Northwestern faculty, staff and alumni, and culminates with host organization interviews. NUPIP supports regular professional development and educational seminars, a professional mentorship program, and periodic networking activities.

Job Placement

During their senior year, students apply to NUPIP and finalists are chosen. Finalists are then paired with organizations that match their interests and experience. After interviews have been completed, organizations extend job offers to their top candidates. If the finalist accepts, s/he becomes a Fellow and is entitled to all of the benefits of the Public Interest Program. To learn about the kind of work that our current Fellows are doing, visit the Fellows section of our website.


Throughout the year, Fellows are invited to attend and participate in seminars. These seminars take place roughly three times per month explore a variety of topics relating to local public interest and professional development themes. Seminars bring together Public Interest Program Fellows from numerous universities, including Princeton, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern. Seminars include site visits to participating host organizations, and talks from dynamic local and national leaders.


Fellows are each assigned a mentor who is well-established in the public interest sphere. The mentorship experience provides the opportunity for Fellows to receive individual support and professional contacts, and to form a relationship with a compatible alumnus. Fellows also benefit from the support of a small group of “Alum Chums,” recent alumni of NUPIP.