Zina Kumok Image Written By: Zina Kumok | Edited By: Kevin Ladd | Updated: July 22, 2024

Graduate School Scholarships

Key takeaways:

  • Those with a Master’s degree earn a median salary of $81,848, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Bachelor degree holders earn a median salary of $69,368, about 15% less than Master degree holders.
  • Many scholarships and grants are awarded exclusively to Graduate School students.

In an era in which many employers require that you have a graduate degree to get hired or promoted, going back to school can be a necessity for advancing your career. Paying for that degree can get expensive. According to Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a graduate degree is $62,650, and some programs can cost more than $100,000 in total. And if you already have student loans from your undergraduate degree, then getting into more debt seems impractical.

Even though the majority of scholarships are available to undergraduate students, graduate students have plenty of scholarship opportunities - if they know where to look. In this article you will learn where to find graduate school scholarships, how they work and how to apply.

What is a graduate school scholarship?

Graduate school scholarships are given to students who have completed their bachelor's degree and are looking for funding for graduate or professional school.

If you want to avoid graduating with tens of thousands in student loans, then applying for graduate school scholarships should be a primary strategy.

You can start by contacting your prospective school's financial aid department and asking them how to apply for grants, scholarships, and fellowships. You may be automatically considered for scholarships when you complete the initial application, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check.

Many graduate students can work as teaching assistants or research assistants to help cover their tuition. This work often entails grading papers, teaching intro-level courses, developing quizzes or exams, and more. However, this work can be time-consuming and make it harder for students to focus on their studies.

That’s why applying for graduate school scholarships is a better idea. You can use the funds for almost any education-related expense, and you don’t have to trade your valuable time for money.

How to apply for a graduate school scholarship

Graduate school scholarships are less common than awards for undergraduate students, so you need to be more strategic when looking for scholarship opportunities. Start the scholarship application process early, as soon as you decide you're going to apply to graduate school.

Scholarships.com helps you find graduate school scholarships you are eligible for. After you receive your personalized list of scholarship matches, you can mark your favorite scholarships and begin applying. Remember to set goals. For example, apply to 2 scholarships per week for 8 weeks. It’s never too late to apply for scholarships, so even those in their last year of grad school can still find awards.

If you're still working while you’re in school, you may be able to get a scholarship or tuition assistance from your employer. For example, Chick-fil-A’s True Inspiration Scholarship awards $25,000 to current team members who will be attending undergraduate or graduate school and who have demonstrated financial need. You must have worked there for at least 12 months and be an employee in good standing.

Some scholarships are open to all graduate students, whereas others are designed for those in a specific major or career path. Some scholarships may be available for both undergraduate and graduate students, while others may only be given to graduate students.

For example, the Gloria Barron Wilderness Society Scholarship is only given to graduate students interested in protecting the wilderness. There will be two awards given, each worth $25,000. Applicants must be attending an accredited graduate program in the U.S.

Graduate students can still benefit from filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the only way to receive federal student loans, which are always better than private student loans.

A helpful tip - graduate school students are eligible for Federal Work-Study benefits to help pay for education expenses. Federal Work-Study is administered by schools participating in the Federal Work-Study Program. It provides students with part-time employment while you are enrolled in school. You’ll receive a paycheck that can be used for tuition, textbooks, living expenses, and more.

Remember that many scholarships require that students submit the FAFSA to be eligible. This is another important reason why you should always complete the FAFSA.

Submitting the FAFSA does not mean you have to take out federal student loans. It just means that you are sending your financial information to the schools you apply to, so they can decide what kind of financial aid you’re eligible for.

Below is a list of scholarships to help you pay for Graduate School.

Continue reading the article below the scholarship list.

25 Graduate School Scholarships with Approaching Deadlines

Frequently asked questions about graduate school scholarships

Graduate school scholarships can be similar to other types of scholarships. Here are the most common questions you might have about these awards:

Professional school is typically defined as post-graduate studies for professional training, including medical school and law school. This is slightly different from graduate school.

There are many types of scholarships for professional school students. For example, the Earl Warren Scholarship is given to a current law school student interested in civil rights. This $15,000 annual award can be renewed for three years, for a $45,000 total. Only U.S. citizens attending an accredited law school are eligible to apply. Only those in their first or second year of law school may qualify.

Those studying medicine can also qualify for scholarships. For example, the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program is awarded to students pursuing a career in the healthcare industry, including those in medical school. You may receive a monthly stipend for living expenses, as well as funds for tuition, expenses and more.

You must be planning to work as one of the following:

Scholarship winners have to work in an underserved area for a few years after graduation. These areas are known as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA), and they may be in rural or urban settings.

Some graduate school scholarships are available to anyone pursuing a degree other than a Bachelor's or associate's degree. This includes graduate and professional degrees, as well as a Ph.D.

If you're currently getting your Ph.D., there are plenty of scholarship opportunities available. For example, the Ford Foundation Fellowship program is open to predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral students. Students who are still in graduate school, who are working on their Ph.D. and who are doing postdoctoral research, can apply.

A fellowship is a special kind of merit scholarship that often covers all tuition expenses. Fellowships are usually granted by the school itself, not a third-party provider. They often have competitive applications and a limited number of spots. There is usually no work component to a fellowship, unlike a teaching or research assistantship.

Fellowships are similar to graduate school scholarships in that students can use the funds for the same kinds of expenses.

Many graduate students attend school part-time so they can keep working and take out fewer loans for living expenses. Some graduate school scholarships require full-time attendance to qualify, but many will still accept part-time students.

If you can’t find enough scholarship funding as a part-time student, you can still qualify for federal student loans. Just make sure you don’t drop below part-time status or you will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid, like federal student loans.

If you are an undocumented student but have DACA status, you may still find scholarships that you're eligible for.

Also, there are still several states that provide local students with in-state tuition. Attending an in-state school is often less expensive than going out-of-state, especially if your state still provides grants to graduate students. And some states will offer grants to graduate students, though there may be fewer opportunities than for undergraduate students.

Some Master's programs may be fully funded, meaning students will have fewer expenses to worry about. However, this often depends on the specific program.

For example, if you're getting a Master’s in English, you will likely have trouble finding a degree that is completely funded. But if you're getting a STEM graduate degree, you’ll probably have better luck.

Some schools also provide more funding to students. Before you start applying to graduate school, do your research to see which schools provide more generous funding.

Many graduate schools recruit international students by providing an in-state tuition waiver, which essentially gives students the lower in-state tuition rate instead of the higher out-of-state tuition rate.

In many cases, graduate students may qualify for financial aid if they have demonstrated financial need. They may have to submit an application that shows their family’s income and assets to prove their financial status.

For example, the University of California-Berkeley provides international students with two types of grants, including one special grant for students who are also parents. The grants do not cover the full cost of tuition or living expenses.

If you're currently employed and plan to keep working while you’re in school, you may be able to receive tuition reimbursement through your employer. Tuition reimbursement is when you take classes and your employer then pays for part or all of the tuition costs.

While this option isn’t available for everyone, it is one way to save on graduate school tuition. One of the cons is that you have to wait for your employer to pay you back. This means you’ll have to pay for the classes yourself, wait for the semester to end, and then be reimbursed.

Most employers also require that you receive a certain grade to qualify for reimbursement. If you don’t get the grades, you won’t get the money. The exact qualifying grade will depend on the employer, but is often a B or higher.

Also, working full-time while going back to school can be challenging. If you struggle academically or professionally, then it may be difficult to do both just to receive employer tuition reimbursement.

Another downside is that your employer may not offer tuition reimbursement unless your degree program is relevant to your current job. For example, if you’re a graphic designer getting a master’s in psychology, you may not be eligible for tuition reimbursement. Not all employers have this rule, but it’s a common requirement.

Also, some employers may require that you work at the company for a certain period of time after your tuition has been paid for. If you leave before that timeframe, you may have to repay part or all of the reimbursed costs.

When you're a college student, state and federal grants are some of the best types of financial aid you can get. Like scholarships, they don’t have to be paid back after graduation, but they often have fewer application requirements.

However, state and federal grants are often limited to undergraduate students. For example, you can only get a Pell Grant as an undergraduate student.

However, state grants may be different, depending on where you live. To see what your state offers, visit their specific bureau or department of education website. You should be able to search through grants to see what the criteria are.