LGBTQIA+ students face unique financial challenges, making scholarships and grants crucial in financing their graduate degrees. “It is true that as members of a marginalized population, LGBTQ-identified individuals may experience frequent discrimination and microaggressions,” the American Psychological Association reports, acknowledging how navigating the graduate school process can be more complicated and challenging as a result.
A 2013 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 39% of LGBT respondents have annual family incomes of less than $30,000. Still, they’re more educated than the general population with 32% of Pew Research LGBT respondents having bachelor’s degrees or higher. In addition, LGBTQ respondents have $112,607, on average, in student loan debt. This exceeded the general population average by $16,000 and is in addition to the added costs of moving out of state “to seek a more welcoming climate,” according to the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute. Additionally, 2.1 million students ages 15 and older live in states that lack statutory protections against sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination in education.
To help in the financial and social struggles LGBTQIA+ master’s students face, this guide provides a comprehensive list of graduate-level scholarships along with additional resources to help with community building, networking, mentorship, and more.
30 Scholarships for LGBTQIA+ Master’s Degree Students
When it comes to financing a master’s degree, many organizations provide financial assistance through scholarships, grants, and awards to LGBTQIA+ students. Many take an intersectional approach and focus on specific demographics, ethnicities, and gender identities, while others have geographical limits. The list below highlights thirty scholarships to help lessen the burden of financing your master’s degree.
APF Wayne F. Placek Grants
Eligibility: Wayne F. Placek grants encourage and support empirical research from all fields of the behavioral and social sciences on any topic related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender issues. The initiative is open to graduate and doctoral students
Alexander G. Gray Jr. Scholarship
Eligibility: Each year, the Massachusetts LGBTQ Bar Association awards this scholarship to one current second, third, or fourth-year law student who demonstrates a commitment to and involvement in the LGBTQ community. The awardee is someone who shows leadership, maturity, and responsibility.
American Atheist Gay/Lesbian Scholarships
Amount: Up to $1,000
Eligibility: This scholarship is open to students of all ethnicities and genders enrolled in U.S.-based institutions. There are no citizenship or residence requirements, but applicants must identify as atheists and have GPAs of 2.5 or higher.
Andrea M Taylor Future Doctors Scholarship
Eligibility: This scholarship helps low-income, African-American students pursuing degrees of any level in the medical field to counteract the racial discrimination that runs rampant in the medical system.
Eligibility: The APIQWTC scholarship is intended for API women and transgender people working towards technical/professional training or higher education. It focuses on applicants who are active in the community and display leadership skills.
Eligibility: Established by fashion retailer Aritzia, applicants must identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and show a commitment to work in fashion design, retail management, and mental health or social justice advocacy. The Aritzia Scholarship is open both to graduate and undergraduate students. Applicants must respond to three short essay questions and provide letters of recommendation and transcripts from their latest academic institution. There is no minimum GPA requirement, but excellence and creativity are leading factors.
Audre Lorde Scholarship
Amount: Starts at $1,000
Eligibility: This scholarship is for Black lesbian students who are 50 years old or older and attending any technical, undergraduate, or graduate school located in the U.S.
Bill McKnight Legacy Scholarship
Eligibility: Established in honor of designer Bill McKnight, this scholarship supports LGBTQ+ students in the field of arts and humanities with special consideration for residents of Kitsap County/Bainbridge Island, Washington. Open to graduate and undergraduate students
Amount: Up to $1,500
Eligibility: The Point foundation’s BIPOC Scholarship is intended for individuals at the intersection of LGBTQ issues and systemic racism and aims to provide support, community resources, and professional development. Apply September through October.
Bisexual Foundation Scholarship Award
Amount: Up to $1,000
Eligibility: The Bisexual Foundation Scholarship Award recognizes the importance of advancing the studies and research in bisexuality and supports graduate students who are emerging scholars in the field.
Bold Art Matters Scholarship
Eligibility: In the face of the ongoing cuts to already underfunded grad programs, this scholarship supports LGBTQIA+ students pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees who are passionate about art. Apply with an essay about your favorite piece of art and why you’re drawn to it.
Brown and Caldwell LGBTQIA+ Scholarship
Eligibility: The Brown and Caldwell Scholarship supports undergraduate and graduate students identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning who are interested in pursuing careers in environmental professions. Candidates must declare majors in civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical, or environmental engineering or one of the environmental sciences (e.g., geology, hydrogeology, ecology, etc.) Applicants must submit resumes, 250-word statements of purpose, written recommendations, and official transcripts.
Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund
Amount: Up to $15,000
Eligibility: The Davis-Putter Scholarship provides need-based grants to students both at the graduate and undergraduate levels actively working for peace and justice. Examples include the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, and economic justice and the creation of peace through international, anti-imperialist solidarity. Applicants must provide personal statements detailing progressive social activity, letters of recommendation, and their Student Aid Report from FAFSA.
Deloris Carter Hampton Scholarship
Eligibility: Sponsored by the Pride Foundation, the Deloris Carter Hampton Scholarship is open to both graduate and undergraduate students and women of color pursuing degrees in education, dance, and women’s health with demonstrated leadership and activism roles in LGBTQIA+ organizations. It is intended for residents of Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska, but candidates might study elsewhere.
eQuality Scholarship Collaborative
Eligibility: This scholarship honors students pursuing medical degrees at accredited medical schools in California and for their service to the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community.
Eligibility: The Flagship Scholarship, organized by the Point Foundation, awards this scholarship to graduate and undergraduate students with a proven track record in community involvement, academic achievement, LGBTQ advocacy, and demonstrated financial need. Applications are accepted October through December.
Gina Ogden Curatorial Scholarship
Eligibility: This fellowship, organized by Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, supports scholarly work on the #metoo movement and the way social justice is practiced in today’s sex research, including therapy regarding underserved populations. Application materials are submitted via email.
Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship Award
Eligibility: The Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship provides funding to journalists enrolled in graduate or undergraduate degree programs who can demonstrate their commitment to the profession and awareness of the issues facing the LGBTQ community
Maylon Smith Scholarship Research Award
Amount: Up to $1,000
Eligibility: Organized by the Society for the Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, the Maylon Smith Scholarship Research Award requires applicants to be graduate students in psychology researching gender identity
Minority Fellowship Program
Eligibility: The Council on Social Work Education organizes the Minority Fellowship Program for master’s candidates who can identify and document mental health and/or substance use disorder service delivery to racial/ethnic minority populations as their focus. They must also show their commitment to seeking employment in mental health and/or substance use disorder services or prevention with the target population immediately after graduation and for at least two years. An in-person, two-day training session in Alexandria, VA is mandatory for accepted fellows.
Out to Innovate™ Scholarships
Eligibility: This scholarship is open to undergraduate andgraduate students pursuing degrees in science, engineering, mathematics, or technology-related disciplines. It requires a minimum of two years of post-secondary education and a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Reaching Out ROMBA LGBTQ+ Fellowship
Eligibility: This scholarship grants fellows the scholarship along with access to exclusive leadership programming. There is also a retreat to kick off the Fellowship.
Roy Scrivner Memorial Research Grants
Eligibility: This program aims to encourage the study of LGBT family psychology and therapy. Candidates must demonstrate that their research is oriented toward issues in this general area, and preference is given to advanced students who have demonstrated their commitment to this area through their dissertation research plans.
Bold Science Matters Scholarship
Eligibility: This scholarship supports LGBTQIA+ students with a proven interest in science and scientific discoveries.
Solgaard Scholars: Access Oceanic Studies for LGBTQ+ Students
Eligibility: This scholarship supports members of the LGTBQ+ community pursuing education in the fields of ocean preservation, conservation, or any related to oceanic health.
Amount: Up to $60,000 over 4 years
Eligibility: The Tang Scholarship is open to students with minimum 25% Asian/Pacific ancestry who are involved in the LGBTQ+ community and who reside in California’s nine Bay-Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara County, Napa, Sonoma, and Solano.
Tom Steel Post Graduate Fellowship
Eligibility: The funding of the Tom Steel Fellowship is intended for the development of an innovative, public-interest law project that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. Inquiry about this fellowship is via email.
Transgender Research Award
Eligibility: The Transgender Research Award is open to anyone conducting psychological research using transgender participants or studying issues affecting trans people and communities
Traub-Dicker Rainbow Scholarship
Eligibility: Established by Peggy Traub and Phyllis Dicker, this scholarship supports lesbians in their pursuit of higher education. Academic achievement, community service and leadership, and commitment to impacting LGBTQ issues are deciding factors when assessing applications. Applicants must respond to three short essay questions and submit letters of recommendation and transcripts from their latest academic institution. There is no minimum GPA required. Join the scholarship’s mailing list to receive application information.
Women in Medicine Leadership Scholarship
Eligibility: This scholarship is open to female medical students enrolled in their first, second, or third year of allopathic, osteopathic, or naturopathic medical schools in the U.S. and Canada with a focus on LGBTQ+ leadership.
How to Land Scholarships for Graduate School
Even if you have a high GPA, you still want to submit a top-notch application to increase your chances of obtaining a scholarship or grant. The application process is both time and labor-intensive and involves many steps that include gathering letters of recommendation, replying to specific essay prompts, and creating solid personal statements that help make your case. On top of quality content, being mindful of deadlines is also essential. The following tips on landing a graduate school scholarship will help make your application the best it can be.
Show What Makes You Unique
Some variation of the “Tell me about yourself” or “How would you describe yourself?” prompt is present in most scholarship applications. This gives you a chance to show what makes you unique. Be sure to set the scene and illustrate your academic and non-academic interests through anecdotes and specific examples. Emphasize any soft skills you have — a proven track record in community activism, leadership skills, etc. — especially those referenced in the application material.
Apply to More Intensive Scholarships
The more intensive the scholarship, the fewer the applicants. Devoting time and resources to a more intensive scholarship seems daunting at first, but with planning, you can take the necessary proactive steps. Those steps could include raising your GPA, improving your writing skills, and homing in on how your project proposals fit the scope of the scholarship or grant. Don’t forget to complete the administrative part, too, which might include contacting your school’s admissions office and completing any necessary paperwork.
Apply for Every Scholarship You Qualify for
Obtaining scholarships is often a numbers game, and there’s a balance between applying for too many and devoting all your resources to one. Avoid spreading yourself too thin or putting all your eggs in one basket. Use tools like College Data’s Scholarship Finder to help you narrow the field. Pay particular attention to regional, age-related, and demographic restrictions in application materials.
Great Recommendation Letters
Most scholarships ask for recommendation letters. Make sure you ask the right people who will can not only say positive things about you but can also directly vouch for why youare the right person for that funding. Consider asking instructors or faculty with whom you struggled since they might be able to explain how good you are at handling setbacks. Good letters contain sufficient details about your achievements and merits. Also, make sure you give prospective recommenders enough advance notice.
Write a Solid Essay
A scholarship essay shows reviewers and adjudicators what makes you unique. It also paints a clear picture of your thought process by how well you respond to prompts, if you use appropriate language and grammar, and if you use a coherent train of thought. It also helps determine your fit for the scholarship.
Turn Application in On Time
Applications generally have deadlines. If your application still requires hard copies, make sure you mail them well before the deadline date so they arrive on time. Also be mindful of internal deadlines for specific components of applications. For example, some might have you complete your FAFSA by an earlier deadline while others might want you to turn in your GRE, LSAT, or GMAT scores by a certain date.
LGBTQIA+ Additional Resources
In addition to scholarships and grants, resources for students who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community can help with community building, leadership training, mentorship, education, professional development, and networking. These resources are not specific to individual institutions, and most universities have their own LGBTQIA+ resource center. UNC’s LGBT Center and UCLA’s LGBTQ Campus Resource Center are examples. Below are additional LGBTQIA resources that are helpful regardless of where you earn your master’s degree.
- American Psychological Association: The American Psychological Association has taken the lead in removing the mental-health stigma surrounding gender and sexual orientation. APA also funds a series of scholarships for LGBTQIA+ students and scholars.
- Campus Pride Index: Supported by the Campus Pride Q Research Institute for Higher Education, the Campus Pride Index is a benchmarking tool measuring the institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive policy, program, and practice on college campuses and universities.
- CenterLink: With more than 200 locations in 46 states and five countries, CenterLink builds sustainable LGBTQIA+ centers focused on community outreach, networking, technical assistance, and training.
- Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals: A member-based organization working towards the liberation of LGBTQ people in higher education, the Consortium supports individuals who work on campuses to educate and support people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. It advocates for more inclusive policies and practices through an intersectional and racial justice framework.
- Federal Student Aid: Federal Student Aid is the largest provider of financial aid for college students in the U.S. Though not specific to the LGBTQIA+ community, it contains resources to help you find and apply for student aid as well as manage your student loans.
- Glaad: The largest LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization, GLAAD increases media accountability and engagement for authentic LGBTQIA+ stories to be seen and heard.
- GSA Network: This nonprofit organization provides students with resources to start gay-straight alliances to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools. While it started in California, it’s now a nationwide initiative.
- Horizons Foundation: This foundation is the first community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people. It houses many scholarships and fellowships supporting the LGBTQ community in higher education and training in the SF Bay Area and beyond.
- Human Rights Campaign: The Human Rights Campaign is the largest LGBTQIA+ political lobbying organization within the U.S. with three million members and supporters. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is its educational branch.
- It Gets Better Project: Started in response to students ending their lives because of bullying, columnist and author Dan Savage created this initiative to show how things can, indeed, get better. Resources include educational content and initiative pledges.
- Lambda Legal: Lambda Legal works towards the full recognition of the civil rights of members of the LGBTQIA+ community and everyone living with HIV. It operates through impact litigation, education, and public policy work.
- Lavender Health: Lavender Health provides reliable health information and resources pertaining to LGBTQIA+ to healthcare professionals, educators, policy-makers, and consumers.
- LGBTQ+ Bar: The LGBTQ+ Bar Association, affiliated with the American Bar Association, hosts the Lavender Law Conference, the largest LGBTQ+ legal conference in the country with approximately 1,700 attendees annually.
- NAFSA: The world’s largest and most diverse nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange, NAFSA has resources specific to the international LGBTQIA+ student population studying in the U.S.
- National Center for Transgender Equality: The National Center for Transgender Equality advocates for policy changes and increased understanding and acceptance of transgender people in society. It also is committed to racial justice and a trans legal service network.
- Out in STEM: oSTEM is a non-profit professional association for people in the LGBTQIA+ community active in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. It has more than 100 student chapters at colleges/universities and professional chapters in cities across the U.S. and abroad.
- Point Foundation: This is the largest scholarship-granting nonprofit for LGBTQ students on a graduate and undergraduate level. It supports over 500 schools by providing financial support, offering a community for connection, and providing leadership training and mentorship to U.S. college students around the world
- Stonewall Community Foundation: This public foundation makes values-driven investments by funding hundreds of nonprofits in more than 30 issue areas that advance queer liberation and racial, social, and economic justice. It also has six unique scholarship programs.
- Trans Students Educational Resources: The only national organization led by trans youth, Trans Student Educational Resources transforms the educational environment for trans and gender non-conforming students through advocacy and empowerment. It offers workshops, scholarships, and fellowship programs.
- Trevor Project: The Trevor Project focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQIA+ youths by providing a trained counselor via toll-free phone assistance. Part of The Trevor Project is Trevor Space, an affirming international community.