While less common than undergraduate scholarships, scholarships for graduate students are available. Graduate students rely heavily on fellowships or assistantships - especially in high-need areas like nursing or teaching - but these aren’t available to everyone and don’t always cover a graduate student’s living expenses. Thankfully, a number of scholarship providers are willing to help graduate students finish the last leg of their educational journeys by providing a bit of extra funding. Consider all of the options you already would when you were funding your undergraduate education (essay scholarships, merit-based awards, student and career-specific scholarships, etc.) but expand your search to organizations and sponsorship opportunities. Already lodged in a profession? Find out what incentives your employer offers for employees pursuing an advanced degree: Many employers offer some form of tuition reimbursement and while you’ll probably need to remain at that company for some time once you’ve complete your graduate degree, it could be a good deal if you were planning to do so anyway.
Do your research, because you don’t necessarily need to add to that student loan debt you incurred during your undergraduate career. Check out our examples of scholarships and financial aid opportunities targeting graduate students and for more information on scholarships based on other criteria, conduct a free scholarship search because many scholarships are open to both undergraduates and graduates.
Colleges know graduate school is expensive and many are willing to help. In addition to traditional grant and fellowship opportunities to graduate students interested in being teaching assistants or pursuing research, some universities aid their alumni through tuition discounts on graduate programs and additional certification and training. St. John’s University. allows laid-off alumni to attend its graduate programs at half price. Manchester College allows students who fail to find a job within six months of graduate a year of free coursework. You may be surprised by what your alma mater can offer you, so explore all of your options.
Many organizations will offer graduate scholarships to those pursuing a particular field. Nursing and teaching funding for graduate students is the most plentiful but other career paths could be just as rewarding if you look hard enough. The Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) awards the annual Foster G. McGaw Graduate Student Scholarship to students enrolled in their final year of a healthcare management graduate program. Each scholarship is worth $5,000 and, alongside other awards for those pursuing healthcare fields, the ACHE awards 20 scholarships each year. Be sure you’re not only looking to your college for graduate school funding opportunities, especially if you’re interested in a high need or growing field.
If you’re pursuing a field of study where research is particularly important, you could be eligible for a generous amount of funding from both your college and organizations in your field of study that lead research you’re probably interested in. The National Science Foundation offers a Graduate Research Fellowship Program offers opportunities to graduate students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines. Fellows are expected to become experts who can contribute to research, teaching and innovations in science engineering. Consider research fellowships if you’re interested in improving the research base of your chosen field.
Do you belong to a professional organization? Chances are that group has scholarship opportunities available to its members interested in pursuing graduate study. National Political Science Honor Society Pi Sigma Alpha awards five members the annual Howard Penniman Scholarships for Graduate Study. Each scholarship is $2,000, and must be used for graduate studies in political science. The Emergency Nurses Association awards its members scholarships to pursue advanced degrees. Look to the groups you already belong to because you could be missing out on generous funding opportunities.
Are you more of a social butterfly? Don’t be dismayed. The North American Interfraternal Foundation awards a number of scholarships to former fraternity and sorority members (honors organizations included) pursuing graduate school. The Jack Anson Fellowship, for example, is awarded annually to those interested in graduate study in student personnel, college administrative work, or contemplating work for their sorority or fraternity professional staff to be eligible for the $1,000 award. The Lloyd G. Balfour Fellowships are based on scholastic achievement and community involvement. Up to 10 fellowships ranging between $1,000 and $5,000 are awarded annually. Take advantage of your undergraduate Greek experience to supplement your graduate school financial aid package.
The Fulbright Program looks to strengthen relations between Americans and other countries, and gets its funding from an annual appropriation from Congress. There are about 1,500 of the student awards to go around, and those awarded the State Department-sponsored fellowships are able to study, conduct research, or teach English in 140 countries. Grants are awarded in all fields and disciplines through the Institute for International Education. Applicants should hold a bachelor’s or the equivalent before the start of the grant, although those with extensive professional experience in the field they’re interested in may be eligible for an award.
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