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 interest sector.

Fellowship Overview

NUPIP Fellows are top recent graduates from Northwestern University placed at Chicago-area nonprofits or civic organizations for full-time work over a period of 9-12 months. Candidates for NUPIP Fellowships go through a rigorous screening process, which includes and application and interview process with Northwestern faculty, staff and alumni, and culminates with host organization applications and interviews. NUPIP supports regular professional development seminars, a professional mentorship program, and networking and community building 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, they become a Fellow and are entitled to all of the benefits of the Public Interest Program. Job placements begin at various points in spring through late summer based on the Fellow’s schedule and the organization’s needs.


Throughout the fellowship year, Fellows participate in a series of professional development seminars. These seminars take place roughly three times per month and explore a variety of topics related to nonprofit and public sector management, skill building, and career development. Seminars include site visits to host organizations throughout Chicago, presentations by dynamic community leaders, and collaboration with Public Interest Program Fellows from other Universities.


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.