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Scholarships for Master’s Students with Disabilities

Getting a master’s degree as a student with a disability means having to overcome unique obstacles, and paying for school can be one of the hardest. Keep reading to discover scholarship opportunities that can help you tackle the cost of an online graduate education.

Author: Kenya McCullum

Editor: Staff Editor

A young man in a white shirt sitting and reading a book in a library aisle, with a woman browsing books in the background.

As the Americans with Disabilities Act has successfully broken down many barriers for students with disabilities to attend college, organizations that award scholarships are also increasingly recognizing the need to provide much-needed money to help these students pursue their degrees. The result: Many scholarships are now designed specifically for students who learn and think differently.

If you’re a student with a disability ready to enter a master’s program, you don’t want financial challenges to stand in the way of building upon your undergraduate successes and achieving your career goals.

To help you avoid the financial barriers that could prevent you from continuing your education, keep reading to learn about 30 funding opportunities for students with a variety of disabilities. This guide also includes useful tips to help you impress scholarship committees and increase your chances of winning these awards.

Scholarships for Master’s Students with Learning Disabilities

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, learning disabilities are conditions that can affect someone’s language and mathematical abilities, as well as the degree to which they can pay attention or coordinate the movements of their bodies. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to how these disabilities affect learning, so the following scholarships are designed to help students whose learning disabilities manifest in different ways.

AAHD Scholarship Program

This award from the American Association on Health & Disability is for students with disabilities who have community service or volunteer experience. People pursuing an academic discipline related to disability and health are given preference.

  • Amount: Under $1,000
  • Eligibility: Applicants must have a disability as outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and be a United States citizen or legal resident.
  • Deadline: Varies

ALA Century Scholarship

Offered through the American Library Association, this scholarship is designed to help students in a library science master’s or doctoral program pay for accommodations that aren’t required by law or offered by their school. By providing these accommodations, the scholarship helps students complete their coursework so they can successfully pursue a library or information science career.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Eligibility: Applicants should provide medical documentation related to their disability and the accommodations they need to help with their studies. Scholarship is available to residents of the United States or Canada.
  • Deadline: Varies

BMO Capital Markets Lime Connect Equity Through Education Scholarship

Since 2005, Equity Through Education has been providing scholarships to help students with disabilities reach their goals. This scholarship is awarded to students interested in pursuing a financial services career focusing on capital markets, and who are enrolled in a business, commerce, math, computer science, engineering, or statistics degree program.

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Eligibility: Students must be enrolled in a four-year university in the United States or Canada. Applicants with visible and non-visible disabilities are eligible to receive this award.
  • Deadline: April 9

INCIGHT Scholarship

This scholarship is for students with a disability based on ADA standards, which includes conditions such as autism, orthopedic impairment, traumatic brain injury, and deaf-blindness.

  • Amount: $500
  • Eligibility: Applicants should be a resident of Oregon, Washington, or California to win the award.
  • Deadline: Varies

Learning Ally’s National Achievement Awards

This award is provided to students who have print and learning disabilities.

  • Amount: $3,000 to $6,000
  • Eligibility: Students should demonstrate high academic performance and commitment to the local community.
  • Deadline: Varies

Scholarships for Master’s Students with Physical Disabilities

The term physical disability describes conditions that cause physical limitations or inhibit function of certain limbs. Examples of physical disabilities include cerebral palsy and spina bifida, as well as spinal cord and musculoskeletal injuries — among others. The following are examples of scholarships available for students with physical disabilities.

180 Medical Scholarship Program

The 180 Medical Scholarship was created to help decrease the financial load of students with physical disabilities. The award is designed for students who are receiving medical care for spina bifida, ostomy, a spinal cord injury, neurogenic bladder, and transverse myelitis.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Students must be legal residents of the United States who have been accepted into a graduate school program.
  • Deadline: June 1

ABC Law Centers Cerebral Palsy Scholarship

ABC Law Centers awards this scholarship annually to a student with cerebral palsy who is enrolled in a college or university.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: To be eligible, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA. Applications should include an academic transcript and essay describing their relationship with cerebral palsy.
  • Deadline: July 31

ABC Medical

Students with disabilities who participate in adaptive sports can win this award from ABC Medical. There are three categories of scholarships offered: the Adaptive Sports scholarship for those who demonstrate good sportsmanship; the Scholar-Athlete, which is provided to students demonstrating financial need; and the Making a Difference scholarship, offered to students striving to improve their lives along with their community.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Applicants should submit answers to essay questions, a recommendation letter, and supplemental information to demonstrate why they should win the award.
  • Deadline: September 30

AvaCare Medical Scholarship

This award is for students earning a degree in a medical field, such as dentistry, medicine, nursing, or laboratory science. All students can apply, but preference is given to those with physical disabilities.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Applicants should be enrolled in an accredited college or university in the United States and have a 3.0 minimum GPA.
  • Deadline: December 15

Karman Healthcare Mobility Disability Scholarship

Provided by Karman Healthcare, Inc., this scholarship is for students who have a disability that impacts their mobility and who regularly use mobility devices.

  • Amount: $500
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college or university in the United States and have a minimum 2.0 grade point average.
  • Deadline: September 1

NCJW NY Jackson-Stricks Scholarships

Students in the New York Metropolitan Area who have a disability affecting their mobility, vision, or hearing can receive this award from the National Council of Jewish Women New York.

  • Amount: $5,000 to $10,000
  • Eligibility: Applicants must submit a letter from their physician describing their disability, as well as an academic transcript and essay discussing their goals.
  • Deadline: Varies

Powering Education Scholarship

This award, which is offered by Alpha One, is for students in Maine who have a documented disability.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Eligibility: People applying for this scholarship should have at least a 3.0 GPA. They are required to submit an essay detailing how their disability has affected their life.
  • Deadline: Varies

SpinLife Innovation in Motion Scholarship

Full-time students with physical disabilities can receive this award.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Students should have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Deadline: Varies

Scholarships for Master’s Students with Psychological Disabilities

Psychological disabilities refer to persistent conditions that can severely impair people’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, as well as their ability to function in interpersonal relationships, school, and the workplace. These are often considered hidden disabilities because they don’t always manifest in a visible way. This type of disability includes conditions like schizophrenia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and eating disorders. The following list includes scholarships available to students with psychological disabilities.

Baer Reintegration Scholarship

Recognizing the challenges that people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorder may have with attending school, this scholarship from the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation is designed to help students with these conditions as they work toward a successful future.

  • Amount: $5,000
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be diagnosed with and receiving treatment for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or schizoaffective disorder. Also, students must be participating in rehabilitation and reintegration services.
  • Deadline: Varies

Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. Disability Scholarship

Michigan personal injury firm Buckfire Law offers this scholarship to help provide educational opportunities to students with different types of psychological and physical disabilities.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Applicants should be United States citizens who have been diagnosed with a disability. Also, they should be enrolled in an accredited college or university.
  • Deadline: October 1

Drug, Alcohol and Mental Behavioral Treatment Scholarship

This scholarship, provided by the Addiction Recovery Centers Humanitarian Scholarship Program, is provided to students who want to use their education to make a difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction. Students should be pursuing degrees to enter social services or behavioral health fields.

  • Amount: Up to $1,000
  • Eligibility: Students should be enrolled in a college or university and working toward a degree.
  • Deadline: Varies

Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship

The Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship is designed to help people struggling with the effects of depression, substance abuse, and anxiety. The founder of the award, whose mother committed suicide after struggling with mental health problems, is using this scholarship to not only help students, but also to raise awareness about this issue.

  • Amount: $500
  • Eligibility: Applicants should have a history of mental health challenges and be enrolled in a college or university in the United States.
  • Deadline: April 30

Jared Monroe Foundation Scholarship

Offered by the Jared Monroe Foundation, this award is for students who are being treated for bipolar depression.

  • Amount: $500 to $2,300
  • Eligibility: Students should be enrolled in a college or university full time and have at least a 3.0 GPA. Applicants are required to verify that they are being treated for bipolar disorder.
  • Deadline: May 1

Overcoming Disability Scholarship

The Law Offices of Coats & Todd provides this scholarship for people with a psychological or physical disability as they’re working toward their degree.

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Eligibility: Applicants should provide proof of enrollment in a degree program and submit a video discussing how their disability has affected their life and education.
  • Deadline: October 5

The Ability Center

The Ability Center provides scholarships to people with different types of disabilities who live in the Ohio counties of Ottawa, Lucas, Defiance, Wood, Williams, Fulton, and Henry, and the Michigan counties of Lenawee and Monroe.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Eligibility: Students are required to be enrolled in a college degree program and have a 3.0 minimum GPA.
  • Deadline: Varies

The John Lepping Memorial Scholarship

The Lep Foundation for Youth Education offers this scholarship to students with psychological and physical disabilities who want to pursue a degree.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Eligibility: Students who are permanent residents of New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania are eligible for this award. Applicants should provide documentation of their disability and submit an essay describing how winning the scholarship will help them overcome their challenges.
  • Deadline: May 1

The Quell Foundation Fighter Scholarship

Quell Foundation’s Fighter Scholarship is provided to students who are being treated for a mental health condition.

  • Amount: $1,500
  • Eligibility: Applicants are required to submit proof of their mental health condition, along with an essay and academic transcript.
  • Deadline: Varies

Scholarships for Master’s Students with Sensory Disabilities

Sensory disabilities are conditions that impact the way people process information from the five senses, although this term generally refers to visual and hearing impairments. Below are scholarships available to graduate students with sensory disabilities.

AER William and Dorothy Ferrell Scholarship

This scholarship is provided to graduate students who are visually impaired or blind.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Eligibility: Students should be enrolled in a program that will lead to a career providing services to people who are blind or visually impaired.
  • Deadline: May 15

American Council of the Blind’s Scholarship Program

Since 1982, the American Council of the Blind (ACB) has been providing this scholarship to help legally blind students pay for their tuition, room and board, and college fees.

  • Amount: $2,000 to $7,500
  • Eligibility: Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be involved in school and community activities. Students should submit medical proof of their legal blindness, along with letters of recommendation and school transcripts.
  • Deadline: Varies

George H. Nofer Scholarship

Full-time graduate students who have hearing loss can win this award.

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Eligibility: Students should have hearing loss and use listening and spoken language as their primary mode of communication. Also, applicants should be enrolled or accepted in a master’s or law degree program.
  • Deadline: Varies

Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship Program

This award is designed to help military families by providing funding for children, spouses, and grandchildren of blind and low-vision servicemembers or veterans. Students can use this scholarship to pay for academic expenses like tuition and books.

  • Amount: $2,000
  • Eligibility: Students should be enrolled in, or accepted to, an accredited college or university, as well as a vocational, business, or secretarial school on a full-time basis.
  • Deadline: April 28

National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Program

The National Federation of the Blind offers scholarships to blind students who are involved in community service and leadership activities, and who have achieved academic excellence.

  • Amount: $8,000
  • Eligibility: To receive this award, students should be legally blind residents of the United States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico.
  • Deadline: Varies

Student Award Program of FSD

Offered by the Foundation for Science and Disability, this award is for graduate students with a disability who are earning science, math, technology, engineering, pre-medical, and dental degrees.

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Eligibility: Students must be a United States citizen with a disability to receive this award. Applicants should include recommendation letters and an essay detailing how the scholarship will help them achieve their career goals.
  • Deadline: Varies

5 Tips to Land that Master’s Scholarship

After reviewing our list, you likely have an idea about which of the 30 scholarships you want to apply for — hopefully many of them! That’s great, but identifying the right opportunities is only the beginning. Now it’s time to win these scholarships with a stand-out application. Just as you had to impress schools to earn your spot in a master’s degree program, you must also put your best foot forward to win scholarships. Below is a list of tips that can help.

Tip 1: Find as many scholarships as possible

Chances are, you didn’t apply to just one school when looking for an undergraduate program. You probably even applied to multiple schools when you considered getting a master’s degree. The same is true for scholarships. It’s best to keep your options as open as possible, and to identify as many awards as you’re eligible for. Whether they come from schools, private companies, academic societies, or disability-related organizations, it’s best to have multiple scholarships in mind to increase your chances of winning funding.

Tip 2: Carefully review eligibility requirements and prepare application materials

When applying for scholarships, the last thing you want to do is waste time. Every award has its own eligibility requirements, so be sure to review them carefully before putting in an application. Scholarships may have requirements related to the type of disability applicants have, their academic achievements and extracurricular activities, or personal traits like race and gender. Paying close attention to eligibility requirements gives you a great opportunity to find scholarships that match your strengths and interests. It also helps you avoid the awards for which you’re not the right candidate.

After identifying which scholarships are right for you, it’s time to put your application materials together. Read the instructions carefully to ensure you don’t miss anything. Don’t end up being disqualified because you overlooked something the scholarship committee requested.

Tip 3: Apply on time (or early if you can!)

Make submitting your scholarship applications on time a priority, and try to apply early if you can. In some cases, submitting the application early can actually give you an advantage over your competition if there is a rolling deadline. Be sure to track the deadlines of every scholarship you’re interested in, as being late will disqualify you — making all your hard work done in vain.

Tip 4: Shoot for the stars

If you qualify for an award, go for it! It doesn’t matter how many people you think you’re competing against; every year, scholarships go unawarded due to a lack of applicants. Remember that all scholarships are intended to go to someone, and there’s no reason to convince yourself it can’t be you.

Tip 5: Get feedback on your essays and personal statements

Essays and personal statements are often weighted heavily by scholarship committees, so getting feedback from people you trust can be extremely helpful. If you can get the opinion of a professor or a student in your degree program, that’s even better. In addition to finding spelling and grammatical errors you may have missed, getting feedback from others can reveal areas in the content you can improve.

Advice for Writing an Effective Scholarship Essay

Let’s take some time to dig deep into that last tip above, as the importance of writing a great scholarship essay cannot be overstated. In fact, this is probably where you should spend the majority of your application time. A great essay can really let the judges know who you are and why you deserve to win an award. To help you impress any scholarship committee, we’ve put together some tips for writing an effective essay below.

Highlight your strengths and growth

The scholarship essay is your time to shine, so really talk about what makes you the perfect candidate for an award. But even though you’re selling yourself, it doesn’t mean you can’t show vulnerability. For example, talking about the challenges you’ve overcome personally and academically is a great way to demonstrate how you’ve grown as both a student and a person. People love a success story, so use scholarship essays to highlight yours.

Connect to the scholarship's theme and mission

Understand the theme and mission of the scholarship and make a case for why you are the embodiment of them. You may need to do additional research about the organization offering an award to do this. As much as possible, show how your qualifications and goals relate to what the scholarship is all about and what the organization does. Remember both the essay prompts and the audience as you craft your compelling narrative.

Focus on honesty and authenticity

It’s important to sell your qualifications, but you also need to show your authenticity. The essay is where you’re really going to connect with your readers and allow them to see why you’re the best candidate for a scholarship. Be honest and be real. Although it’s tempting to tell some tall tales to make yourself sound as impressive as possible, lying will not help your cause. In fact, making up stories may disqualify you if the scholarship committee performs research on its applicants — which is common.