Where to Look for Graduate Scholarship ProgramsInformation compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated August 2010
Search Engine 101
For all the convenience it affords, the Internet is not without its drawbacks. Simple searches can yield a veritable glut of information, and scholarship queries are no exception. If you’re scouring the Net for an all-inclusive list of graduate scholarships, let us save you some trouble: there isn’t one.
Type “grad school scholarship” into a search engine, and you’ll encounter dozens of sites that claim to have the scholarship information you’re looking for. In truth, these only provide a fraction of the actual possibilities. You might also come across sites that propose to conduct a scholarship search for you, instantly cross-referencing your profile against thousands of scholarship criteria. These engines can produce some worthwhile findings, but again, they’re hardly exhaustive.
In order to target significant, attainable scholarship dollars, your best bet is to look in more than one place. Try searching out scholarships using one or more of the following qualifiers, as they pertain to you. More refined searches are beneficial because they limit the pool of applicants to a conquerable size; after all, you probably don’t want to spend two days writing an essay for an award with nationwide eligibility, but if the rules limit scholarship applications to left-handed Floridians named Carl, you might be in luck.
College and University Scholarships
Colleges, universities, and often individual academic departments offer their own compendium of in-house scholarships – including a few full rides. As you’re applying to various schools, note the scholarships and grants offered. Naturally, larger schools will have broader resources. On the other hand, more students translate into heightened competition.
In most cases, when a prospect school receives your applications for admission and financial aid, you will automatically be considered for all of the school awards and scholarship grants that match your profile. Occasionally though, institutional grants and scholarships require separate applications. This is particularly true with funds supplied by private alumni and donors. Bottom line: don’t leave potential awards up to chance. Call the department administrator of your prospective program well ahead of time. Determine what scholarships you might qualify for, and which ones require extra effort by way of specific forms and essay instructions. Some private scholarships may even have application deadlines that occur before the school’s admission application is due.
Scholarships Awarded on a Geographical Basis
Lots of students opt to hit the road when choosing a graduate school, but city and state-based scholarships can bring new definition to the term “home field advantage.” Some state and community scholarships are contingent on your plans to attend an in-state school; others allow you to take the award wherever you choose. You may also find that state-based scholarships come with a secondary qualifier, such as your field of study or your ethnic background. The St. Andrews Society of the State of New York, for example, awards 20 thousand dollars to New York students of “some Scottish descent,” who will apply the award toward a graduate program in Scotland. Professional boards are another common source of hometown hand-ups; various bars and associations offer law school scholarships, accounting scholarships, and so forth, specifically to local students. Suffice it to say, it is worthwhile to check the major search engines for graduate scholarships in conjunction with your home state.
Scholarships for Women (and Men)
There was a time, not so long ago, when women were a rarity in the halls of academia. These days, in many disciplines, they outnumber men. Still, certain fields remain male-dominated. If you are a woman preparing to study business, law, or one of the so-called STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics), you can probably find an applicable academic scholarship sponsored by a professional women’s association such as the American Association of University Women. Of course, scholarships do still abound for women studying “traditional” subjects, but you’ll have to dig a bit deeper.
And guys: don’t get discouraged! Many institutions and organizations are working to ensure diversity on the other end of the spectrum. Men are widely underrepresented in early childhood education and some human services majors. While you may not have success by simply querying “scholarships for men,” you should also investigate professional organizations for men in your field. Men Teach, for example, publishes an online list of resources for men who are interested in pursuing a teaching career. Nursing scholarships are also broadly available to men.
Students often overlook their ancestral background and minority scholarship opportunities when investigating potential sources of college funding. In many cases, students can find organizations that are specifically dedicated to the support and advancement of a particular race, culture, or national heritage. These groups frequently outline scholarship options on their websites. For example, a quick search for Latino student scholarships turns up a virtual catalogue of options on LatinoCollegeDollars.org. The requirements vary from broad to quite specific but overall the list is inclusive of most major degree areas, including scholarships for students pursuing: education, nursing, business, journalism, dentistry, medicine, and creative arts. Likewise, the National Italian American Foundation has aggregated more than 100 scholarships and grants that are annually awarded to students of Italian ancestry. Submitting one application on the foundation’s website automatically qualifies candidates for all available awards. Similar success can be found when searching for Irish American, African American, Asian American or Polish American opportunities.
Ok, so your parents don’t have excess thousands stashed away for your graduate education. Luckily, their employers do! Lots of company-subsidized scholarships are established to assist corporate employees – sometimes with very minimal tenure required. Bank of America offers its Joe Martin scholarship to the dependents of associates who have been employed for at least a year. H&R Block awards a series of scholarships to students who, “clearly demonstrate diligence and commitment to academic excellence.”
And it’s not too soon to start thinking about where you might want to work. If your parents are not employed by a large company, you might want to apply for scholarships that are provided by your future employer. CVS Pharmacy created a program to support future pharmacists by bankrolling a portion of their studies in exchange for a short-term job commitment upon graduation. Similarly, some pharmaceutical companies, like Pfizer, offer fellowship programs for chemistry and biochemistry students.
Sites that advertise free scholarship lists/services vary in terms of quality. Remember that you should never pay money or supply credit card information in order to obtain scholarship advice. Barring that, it can’t hurt to try some free scholarship searches and test different offerings. Below are a few sites that we found to be helpful.
CollegeScholarships.org involves less hassle than most similar sites because users aren’t required to register and log in with a password. The menu is easily navigable, and students can search from a variety of categories.
Finaid.org displays a good-sized list of unusual scholarships. For some lucky, niche candidates – including surfers, bowlers, marble shooters and cattle aficionados – there are fitting options to be found. These are worth checking out.
Fastweb.org offers to match student profiles against its database of scholarships and awards. We created a sample profile of an average grad student to get an idea of the opportunities students could encounter there. After bypassing a handful of commercial offers, our graduate student profile yielded 17 possible scholarship options. The list included a few interesting possibilities, and some generic-sounding “contests” that probably wouldn’t be worth the time involved. If you have an extra ten minutes, and don’t mind having to register your information, Fastweb’s service is worth a shot.
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