Almost every field has a corresponding professional organization. Membership is usually minimal –sometimes even free – so why not join? If you decide to advance your career by pursuing a graduate degree, you’ll be glad you did: Your organization could offer scholarships exclusively to their members. Here are just a handful of the thousands out there:
- The American Bar Association’s Legal Opportunity Scholarship grants 20 incoming diverse law students with $15,000 of financial assistance over the course of their three years in law school.
- The American Institute of Graphic Arts(AIGA) has the Worldstudio AIGA Scholarship Program, which awards members with minority and economically disadvantaged backgrounds scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 toward graduate studies in art direction in advertising, fine arts, graphic design, illustration, interactive design/motion graphics and photography. Grand prize awards of $5,000 are awarded at the organization’s discretion as well as honorable mention prizes of $500 cash.
- The American Marketing Association Foundation (AMAF) awards several $1,000 scholarships to its African American, Hispanic and Native American members enrolled in Ph.D. programs.
- The National Women’s Studies Association awards the annual $1,000 NWSA Graduate Scholarship Award to a member engaged in the research or writing stages of a Master's Thesis or Ph.D. Dissertation in the interdisciplinary field of women's studies.
- The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) offers the PEG Management Fellowship, a $2,500 scholarship is designed for graduate members who are pursuing an MBA, a master's degree in engineering management, or a master's degree in public administration. (An added bonus: NSPE offers discounted membership dues to recent college graduates of ABET-accredited schools and/or programs. If qualified, recent grads will join NSPE at a discounted rate up to 80 percent off of full dues, depending upon year of graduation.)
In addition to offering scholarships, professional organizations are excellent places to network. If for some reason your particular organization doesn’t offer a scholarship, talk to your contacts there; since everyone shares the same common interest, another member will usually know someone or know someone who knows someone who has the program you’re looking for in place