Scholarships and Grants that Pay for Doctoral Degrees
By Jill Gardiner
, last updated October 16, 2011
One of the hardest things about getting a doctoral degree is figuring out how you’re going to pay for it. The higher the degree, the higher the tuition, but luckily there are scholarships and grants available that can assist you with funding your doctoral studies. There are many different types of scholarships and grants available, each one coming from a different source and designed to assist a variety of students. Some are specific to the subject being studied, some are designed to help low-income, minority, or female students achieve their academic goals, but most are merit-based, meaning that they require a degree of academic excellence or other demonstration of exceptional ability. This makes getting scholarships and grants that pay for doctoral degrees extremely competitive, but funding for a doctoral degree is certainly worth the work. Here are some of the many scholarships and grants worth a look when you’re researching doctoral degree funding possibilities.
A common source to which virtually all students in degree programs turn to when exploring educational funding opportunities is the federal government. With a vested interest in promoting excellence among its citizens, the federal government offers many merit-based scholarships to promote research and advancement in certain key fields. For instance, the U.S. Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship awards a significant stipend to those pursuing doctoral studies in a field related to national security, including, but not limited to, aeronautics/astronomy, bioscience, chemistry, neural and behavioral sciences, and physics. Some, such as the U.S. National Institutes of Health Predoctoral Graduate Fellowship for Minority Students, are both subject-specific and student-specific. Most federal grants and scholarships are not institution-specific, however, and allow you to attend any number of approved schools.
Private sources also offer several grants and scholarships that pay for doctoral degrees. Again, these are merit-based and most are either student-specific or subject-specific, although they’re sometimes both. Two subject-specific funding opportunities include the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral Fellowships in Biological Sciences and the Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship offered to students who are pursuing a doctoral degree in either applied physical or engineering sciences. The Ford Foundation offers awards to students committed to a career in teaching and research at the university level and also offers stipends and awards to students pursuing either Ph.D.s or Sc.D.s. These fellowships are awarded based on a national competition administered by the National Research Council. The American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program is both subject and student-specific, while the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is not limited by field of study, but open to anyone considered a “new American,” meaning either that they’re a resident alien, naturalized citizen, or the child of naturalized citizens.
The vast majority of scholarships and grants available to help pay for doctoral degrees are specific to a university or school as well as being department-specific and/or student-specific. Harvard Medical School’s Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy is both subject and student-specific, for instance. Once you’ve been accepted to a school, it’s likely you’ll find out if you’re eligible for any fellowships, scholarships, grants, or other financial assistance.