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Scholarships, Awards and Prizes

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In addition to the awards, prizes, and scholarships offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, we recognize the achievements of our undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni through numerous scholarships, awards, and prizes every year. Many prizes and scholarships honor esteemed faculty and alumni whose contributions have built and sustained the department over the years.

Students may apply for more than one award and faculty may nominate students for more than one award if eligibility requirements are met. Consult faculty and the department office for more information. Please note that this listing includes the Hugh Jameson Graduate Student Essay Prize but does not include other opportunities for graduate student funding.

Applications for scholarships must be made via NIU's online scholarship application system, Academic Works. Nominations for other awards should be made directly to the department by emailThe deadline for papers and applications is March 1, annually.

Currently we offer these scholarships, awards and prizes.

Scholarships

Awards and Prizes



Jeannie A. Hainds Scholarships (2)

The late Jeannie Amstrong Hainds was a long-time supporter of NIU and the humanities. She established an endowment to benefit undergraduate education in the Department of History in 1982. The two scholarships given in her name honor her wish to support academic excellence in our department. The scholarships are awarded to two students exemplifying past and potential academic achievement through their outstanding credentials and/or through overcoming a significant physical, financial, academic or other obstacle.

  • Monetary Award: $500
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors
  • Application: Students who wish to apply should submit the application form, two letters of recommendation by Department of History faculty sent by the letter writer to the department of history, and a 500-750 word personal statement to the department office at history@niu.edu. The personal statement should explain how and why the student became interested in history, career goals, a description of the obstacle overcome (where applicable), or any other information the applicant feels important to be considered. Students may also apply through Academic Works

J. Patrick White History Education Scholarships (2)

J. Patrick White (1926-2006) began teaching American constitutional law and politics at the NIU Department of History in 1961. His interests in this field centered on the role of judges and courts as policymakers in a democratic society. While at NIU White also served in a number of administrative positions, among them director of Foreign Study programs and assistant chair of the Department of History. In more than thirty years at NIU his dedicated style of teaching influenced the careers of numerous students, and he received the NIU Excellence in Teaching Award in 1986. Patrick White generously contributed to many educational efforts, and when he retired from NIU in 1993 he established and funded an endowment through the NIU Foundation to provide financial assistance to students in the teacher certification program. The J. Patrick White History Education Scholarships recognize teacher certification candidates in History and the Social Sciences at the beginning of student teaching who have exhibited excellence in their discipline, curriculum planning, scholarship, and potential as a teacher. The scholarships are awarded for the semester of student teaching.

  • Monetary Award: multiple awards, $300-$3000
  • Eligibility: Students admitted to the Educator Licensure Program, completing all requirements
  • Application: Student must be nominated by the Teacher Certification Program
  • Deadline: Nominations are made during the fall and spring semesters.

Oscar Matasar History Scholarship

Oscar Matasar (1915-1996) was an alumnus of the NIU Department of History. After finishing high school he had to work for two years in order to finance his further education. Mr. Matasar's ambition was to become a teacher of history. He began his studies at NIU in 1939, and after serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, returned to NIU to complete his degree. He received an M.A. in Latin American history from the University of New Mexico and went on to become a high school history teacher for almost thirty years. Oscar Matasar cared deeply about education, social responsibility, and altruism. He volunteered his talents and contributed generously to many causes, especially adult education. The scholarship in his honor is given to recognize a student of high academic achievement with financial need. Students from a non-traditional background or those belonging to an underrepresented group are especially encouraged to apply.

  • Monetary Award: $1000 and a book prize
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors who have completed at least six hours of history courses at NIU, financial need
  • Application: Students who wish to apply should submit the application form, two letters of recommendation by Department of History faculty submitted by the letter writer to history@niu.edu, and a two to three page personal statement to the department office at history@niu.edu. The personal statement should explain how and why the student became interested in history, career goals, or any other information the applicant feels important to be considered. Applicants should also demonstrate financial need. Students may also apply through Academic Works

Marvin Rosen Undergraduate Scholarship

This scholarship is given in honor of Marvin Rosen (1934-2001), who taught history at NIU for almost forty years, and who was known for his strong dedication to teaching and connecting with students, especially undergraduates. Rosen's ability to engage students sometimes involved delivering impassioned lectures standing atop his desk, and unapologetically standing by his often non-conformist views without ever expecting students to agree, but challenging them to examine their own beliefs instead. His dedication to mentor student's interests and achievements in history went far, in one case as far as claiming not to be able to drive, so that he could hire a student as his chauffeur and thus provide him with financial assistance as he continued to educate him on the road. The Department of History established an endowment in Marvin Rosen's memory that honors his spirit as a teacher and recognizes a student whose desire to learn history extends beyond the classroom. Students who recently developed a strong interest in history, and especially freshmen and sophomores in survey classes, who show motivation and initiative to be challenged further by more intense study of historical questions, and whose academic record speaks to these developments, are encouraged to apply.

  • Monetary Award: $500
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors or minors who have completed at least six hours of history courses at NIU
  • Application: Students who wish to apply should submit the application form, one letter of recommendation by a Department of History faculty submitted by letter writer to history@niu.edu, and a 500-750 word personal statement to the department office at history@niu.edu. The personal statement should explain how and why the student became interested in history, career goals, or any other information the applicant feels important to be considered. Applicants may also apply through Academic Works.

James P. and Mary Clare Sczepaniak Scholarship 

  • Monetary Award: $250 per awardee renewable up to three times. Up to three awards will be made per academic year. Funds are subject to availability.
  • Eligibility: To qualify for this scholarship, initial applicants must be undergraduate history majors who have completed at least 15 but no more than 45 total credit hours and have a 2.75 or higher cumulative undergraduate GPA.
  • Application: Students who wish to apply should submit the application form and a one page personal statement in a PDF format to history@niu.edu. The personal statement should explain how and why the student became interested in history, outline career goals, address financial need, and provide any other information the applicant believes to be relevant to the application. Applicants should also solicit one letter of recommendation from a history faculty person. The letter of recommendation should be submitted by the letter writer directly to the department in electronic format to history@niu.edu
  • Renewals: Candidates for renewal will be reviewed by the department each spring. Renewals will be based on maintaining a 2.75 GPA and demonstrating progress towards the degree. The department may ask for additional materials as necessary. 
  • Deadline: The application form and personal statement must be received no later than March 1st annually. Letters of recommendation should also be received by the March 1st deadline. Hard copies are not required. 

Hugh Jameson Graduate Student Essay Prize

Hugh Jameson (1897-1980) served as professor of history at NIU for thirty-five years. He specialized in early American history with a concentration on military and constitutional history. Beyond his life as a historian Jameson was a skilled gymnast and maintained a lifelong enthusiasm for theater and the circus. Dressed in a starched clown costume, he led the annual Homecoming parade during his tenure at NIU. For almost two decades Jameson was the head of the Social Science Department, which included History. Under his administration the department grew into one of the largest and most significant at the university. Jameson worked to extend the study of history from teacher training to a degree in liberal arts and was involved in initiating graduate studies at NIU. After his retirement he received the Outstanding Service Award of the NIU Alumni Association and an auditorium in Cole Hall was named after him. In honor of Hugh Jameson, the prize recognizes the best research essay submitted by a graduate student in a history research seminar during the previous two semesters.

  • Monetary Award: $250
  • Eligibility:  Graduate students
  • Application: Faculty who would like to nominate a student should submit his or her essay to the Department of History office. Students can also nominate themselves by submitting the application form, an electronic version to history@niu.edu in addition to the paper essay.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Award

The award recognizes a history student for outstanding overall academic performance.

  • Monetary Award: $250
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors
  • Application: Faculty who would like to nominate a student should submit a statement in support of the nomination to the department office at history@niu.edu.

HIST 495 Research Paper Prize (2)

This prize is awarded to the two research papers written in the HIST 495 Research Seminar that demonstrate the most significant scholarly achievement. This course is a requirement for all history majors and the prize considers papers completed during the previous two semesters.

  • Monetary Award: $250
  • Eligibility: Students who have successfully completed HIST 495
  • Application: Faculty who would like to nominate a student should submit his or her paper to the department office. Students can also nominate themselves by submitting the application form, an electronic version to history@niu.edu in addition to the paper essay. 

Outstanding History Student Award (2)

The award recognizes two students who demonstrate superior academic performance and have a record of voluntary pursuits or services benefiting the academic or non-academic community.

  • Monetary Award: $250
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors
  • Application: Faculty who would like to nominate a student, should submit a statement in support of the nomination to the department office at history@niu.edu.

James R. Shirley Undergraduate Essay Prize

James R. Shirley (1925-1993) joined the Department of History in 1962 as a specialist in Chinese history. He was renowned for his teaching, and Asian history became a popular subject for students during the thirty years he taught at NIU. Shirley also served as faculty adviser for the local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international honor society in history. The Shirley family established an endowment in honor of James R. Shirley. This prize is given for an outstanding essay submitted by an undergraduate student in any NIU history course other than HIST 491 during the previous two semesters.

  • Monetary Award: $250
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors or minors
  • Application: Faculty who would like to nominate a student should submit his or her essay along with the instructions for the writing assignment to the department office. Students can also nominate themselves by submitting the application form, an electronic version to history@niu.edu in addition to the paper essay.

James R. Shirley Award in Asian History

James R. Shirley (1925-1993) joined the history department in 1962 as a specialist for Chinese history. He was renowned for his teaching, and Asian history became a popular subject for students during the thirty years he taught at NIU. Shirley also served as faculty adviser for the local chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the international honor society in history. The Shirley family established an endowment in honor of James R. Shirley. The award recognizes a student who wrote an essay of unusual academic distinction on any topic in Asian history. Considered are essays written in any Asian history class during the previous two semesters.

  • Monetary Award: $500
  • Eligibility: Undergraduate history majors and minors
  • Application: Faculty who would like to nominate a student should submit the student's essay to the department office. Students can also nominate themselves by submitting the application form, an electronic version to history@niu.edu in addition to the paper essay. 

Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award

Each year the Department of History recognizes one alumnus/alumna with distinction in a chosen career, whether in academe, public service, self-employment, or any other field. The award winner is invited back to NIU for a celebration and to give a presentation to faculty and students.

  • Monetary Award: $200, travel expenses to visit NIU
  • Eligibility:  NIU Department of History Alumni (B.S., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.)
  • Application:  Faculty and students who would like to nominate an NIU graduate should submit a short statement in support of the nomination to the department office at historyawards@niu.edu.

Contact Us

Northern Illinois University
Department of History
Zulauf 715
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-753-0131
history@niu.edu
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