Master’s degree grants are different that grants available to undergraduate students. Not only are fewer grant opportunities available for students seeking master’s and professional degrees, but they also focus on factors besides financial need. In general, grants are like scholarships — they don’t have to be repaid. However, grants are usually awarded based on financial need, while scholarships are awarded based on merit. Grants at the master’s degree level combine factors like merit, financial, research interests, and industry demand. But like traditional grants, grants for master’s degrees are usually funded by federal organizations or private and nonprofit organizations.
Few need based grants exist at the master’s degree level. However, some financial need grants are available, mostly through university funding and federal funding sources. Grants based on topic research and industry demand are more common for graduate and professional school. For example, some grants target students seeking professional training in nursing, teaching, or other high demand field. The amount of funding you can receive from a master’s degree grant can vary considerably. Many have a maximum award amount for the year, and this amount may fluctuate depending on the amount of funding available for the year.
Graduate school grants can come with unique eligibility requirements. Some will require that you pursue training for a specific career, such as teaching or nursing. Otherwise require that you pursue research in a specific niche that benefits the organization or business funding the grant. For example, the TEACH Grant is a non-need based grant awarded to students completing a master’s degree in specific education disciplines. In addition to these requirements, some grants will be awarded only to those candidates with outstanding academic records and/or those demonstrating significant financial needs. State-funded grants usually require that you be a resident of the state in order to qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Types of Master’s Degree Grants
- Northwestern University Graduate Research Grant: Northwestern University offers grants of up to $3000 to PhD and MFA students pursuing fields that are historically under-funded at the graduate level.
- UC San Diego Graduate Grant-in-Aid: This grant funded by the University of California system is available to students at UC San Diego. It is a need based grant for graduate students with a maximum award of $12,000 per year.
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: The TEACH grant is a federal grant of up to $4000 for students pursuing graduate education in select education fields.
- OAR Graduate Student Grants: The Organization for Autism Research awards grants for students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees and planning to pursue research interests that focus on the daily challenges of autism.
- Fulbright Grants: Sponsored by the U.S. government, this international educational exchange program offers funding to students, scholars, teachers, and professionals to engage in graduate study, advanced research, and teaching at the university, elementary, and secondary levels.
- California State University Grant: The State University Grant (SUG) administered by California State University offers need-based awards to eligible graduate students who are California residents and have an expected family contribution (EFC) of $4,000 or less.
- Montana Academy of Sciences Student Research Grant: Research grants of up to $500 are offered to undergraduate and graduate students involved in scientific research at any Montana University, 4-year College, or Tribal College.
- Graduate School Diversity Enhancement Grant: With the purpose of promoting diversity at the graduate level at North Carolina State University, the Diversity Graduate Assistance Grant program offers up to 4 semesters of support to full-time minority applicants. Stipends of up to $3,000 are awarded per academic year depending on financial need.
- University of Phoenix Project REACH Grant: University of Phoenix’s Project REACH program offers grant funds to Master’s in Education students who are pursuing teaching careers in high-need areas following graduation. $5,000 tuition stipends are awarded to approved recipients who commit to teaching for 3 years in a Project REACH approved high-need school.
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP): The NSF awards Graduate Research Fellowships to students pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees within scientific and engineering fields. Selected students who have demonstrated significant potential in their research fields are supported for three years of their graduate education.