Do you want to study in the U.S. as a graduate student with a scholarship?

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Graduate school is very expensive for most students and American universities are well known for their high costs.

Whether you're a domestic or international student, graduate programs can be expensive. To minimize the costs, you'll need to find and apply for the right scholarships for graduate students in the U.S.

Who can apply for graduate scholarships?

How do you know if you qualify for a scholarship? Almost anyone can apply for a scholarship because of the wide range of requirements. You can find one that fits your situation.

Scholarships often have many requirements in order to apply, such as:

  • Grades/GPA (grade point average)

  • GRE scores

  • Degree or field of study

  • Status of study (full-time, part-time student)

  • Cultural background or nationality

  • Women in particular fields (STEM, IT, computer science, etc)

  • Financial hardships

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What are the different types of scholarships?

A student picking up a book from a library shelf to read.

Institutional scholarships

Institutional scholarships are offered to students of a specific university or college. Students applying to study a specific degree within a university or college can also apply for institutional scholarships.

These scholarships aren't given to all students, so remember to contact the university's financial aid office for specific information on scholarships for graduate students.

Local scholarships

Local scholarships are often "less competitive than national scholarships." Some options for local scholarships:

  • Your employer or company of employment

  • Local organizations, interest groups, and professional associations in your field

  • Places of worship such as churches

What are merit-based and need-based scholarships?

Kimmy Schmidt says,

Merit-based scholarships

  • Based on your academic or extracurricular achievements

  • Scholarships may be offered by non-profit organizations, private businesses, etc.

  • GPA and standardized test scores are very important

  • Usually offered by smaller colleges and not larger universities

Prestigious merit scholarships for graduate students in the U.S. are:

Need-based scholarships

  • Based on your financial need

  • Most common type or scholarship available

  • Include institutional grants and scholarships

  • The U.S. government and state governments often award need-based scholarships and grants, tuition waivers, and work-study programs

The Pell Grant for U.S. students is the most popular need-based grant.


If you're applying for a merit-based scholarship, what might be expected from you? Select all that apply:

Where can you find graduate scholarships?

Private colleges and universities offer more scholarships for graduate students than public universities in the U.S, so aim to apply for scholarships from the private colleges and universities that you'd like to attend.

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Graduate students can search for institutional scholarships by contacting the universities and colleges they are interested in applying to and speak to their financial aid office for financial support and more information.

It's important to know that the term "scholarship" is sometimes used to describe scholarships only for undergraduates and "fellowships" are used in place of scholarships for graduate students. Remember to search for fellowships too!

Below are some helpful websites and resources to start your search for scholarships, grants, and fellowships:


An international graduate student requires a scholarship to cover tuition, as they come from a low-income background. What should this student do? Select all that apply:

When must you apply for graduate scholarships?

Deadlines for scholarships and grants are all different and it's best to look at the deadline as soon as you find a scholarship that suits your needs. Many scholarships and grants come up year round, so keep an eye out for new ones.

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It's recommended that you start applying for scholarships early — the sooner the better. Scholarships are competitive and can be gone as quickly as they come.

What can you do to get a graduate scholarship?

An owl with a graduation cap perched on a branch with a sign.

Here are some of the things you can do to make sure you have a better chance of getting a scholarship or grant as a graduate student:

  • Start your scholarship search early.

  • Get all the required documents ready.

  • Be honest and share why you need the scholarship and how it will help you.

  • Ask friends, family, college advisers, or professors to look over your application for proofreading.

  • Review, edit, and finish your application early and before deadlines.

Take Action

Leonardo DiCaprio as the Great Gatsby raising a glass in celebration. He says,

You can now confidently apply for grants and scholarships for graduate students! Here are some things you can do next:


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