Graduate school is a great way to advance your career, but the cost stops many from applying. Women in particular face additional financial burdens when pursuing higher education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earned 82% of the average male salary in 2019. Education Data also found women hold over 58% of all student loan debt. With more student loan debt from their bachelors’ degrees and a lower average salary, women are less likely than their male counterparts to be able to afford graduate school.
Luckily, gender-specific scholarships provide a way to ease the financial burden and fund graduate school. These scholarships are particularly common in fields that generally lack female representation, such as STEM, medicine, and business. This guide highlights 30 scholarships for women, tips to stand out when applying, and additional scholarship resources you can use when applying to graduate school. Take note of which women-centered scholarships you should apply for.
Available Scholarships for Women
Scholarships help remove some of the financial stress of grad school and allow you to focus on your studies. Some offer additional benefits, such as networking opportunities with members of their organization or valuable work experience. When applying for gender-specific scholarships, consider the scholarship amount, eligibility requirements, and if the scholarship is open to graduate students only or undergrads as well. Here are 30 scholarships to get you started on your search:
AAUW American Fellowships
This program provides funding and resources to women pursuing doctoral degrees. It’s awarded based on academic merit, commitment to helping girls and women, and dissertation originality and impact. The award amount ranges from $6,000 to $13,000.
AAUW Career Development Grants
This scholarship is for women with a bachelor’s degree who are applying for a master’s or different bachelor’s degree in the fields of education, social sciences, or health and medical sciences. Award amounts vary from $2,000 to $12,000 and must be used toward tuition and fees, supplies, local transportation, and/or dependent care.
AAUW International Fellowships
If you’re not a US citizen but want to attend graduate school in the states, this fellowship might be for you. It provides $18,000 to $30,000 in aid for female international graduate students. To apply, your bachelor’s degree must be from a college or university in the United States and you must return to your home country after earning your master’s degree.
AAUW Selected Professions Fellowships
This $5,000 to $18,000 fellowship is designed to provide funding to women pursuing master’s degrees in fields with low female participation. To apply, your graduate degree should be in computer science, engineering, architecture, or mathematics. Women of color may also be pursuing degrees in medicine, business, or law.
Amelia Earhart Fellowship
If you’re applying to or are currently enrolled in a doctoral program in aerospace engineering, consider this $10,000 scholarship. You must be enrolled in a full-time doctoral program at the time of your application and cannot be a member of or related to a member of Zonta.
AMWA Medical Education Scholarships
Each year the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) gives out four $500 scholarships to women currently in medical school. Awards are based on merit, although financial need is also considered.
AWIS Distinguished Doctoral Research Scholarship
This $10,000 scholarship helps fund a dissertation project that provides significant contributions to the recipient’s discipline. To apply, you must be a predoctoral student in the life sciences, physical sciences, behavioral sciences, mathematics, or engineering. You also must be a member of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS).
AWMF Ford Emerging Voices Scholarship
This $5,000 scholarship is awarded to a female graduate or undergraduate student working toward a degree in media. Candidates must create a video about why women’s voices in the media are important. The winner also receives mentorship from a board member of the Alliance for Women in Media.
AWMF Ford Empowering America Scholarship
This $5,000 scholarship is intended to aid one student working toward a media career in front of the camera or as an on-air radio personality. To apply, candidates write about a female role model who serves as a leader in their community. The selected candidate will also have the opportunity to conduct on-air interviews for the Faces of Ford Fund.
Each year, five female students working toward an undergraduate or master’s degree in accounting are awarded this $5,000 scholarship. To be considered, you should show significant leadership skills and academic achievement in accounting.
Bank of America MBA Diversity Fellowship Program
This $40,000 scholarship is awarded annually to women, LGBTQIA+, or BIPOC students pursuing an MBA in business. The award prioritizes those earning an MBA in investment banking or finance.
CREW Chicago Scholarship
CREW provides a number of scholarships to female graduate and undergraduate students interested in careers in commercial real estate. Despite the name, award recipients can be from anywhere in the United States and must be U.S. citizens. Award amounts vary from $1,000 to $25,000.
The ESPN Scholarship
If you’re a Black woman interested in sports broadcasting, consider applying to this scholarship. Each year two $3,750 educational scholarships are awarded; one scholarship goes to a graduate student and one to an undergraduate. The award recipients also have the opportunity to write two blogs for AWM’s website.
Haffizulla Family Scholarships
This $1,000 award is granted to women enrolled in medical school who show commitment to disease prevention and nationwide health and wellness. To be eligible, you must be actively involved in AMWA for at least two years.
INSEAD Groupe Galeries Lafayette Endowed Scholarship for Women
If you’re interested in earning your MBA in France, this award can help fund your degree. To apply, you must be a woman enrolled at INSEAD business school who demonstrates financial need and merit-based excellence. The award is for 15,000 euros toward your degree and is open to women from around the world.
The Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys’ Scholarships
Each year, this organization provides five $3,000 scholarships to women of color who are enrolled in law school. You must have completed one year of law school and be a U.S. citizen to apply.
Leslie Andree Hanna Medical Scholarship
This $5,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a female student attending medical school. To be eligible, you must be in medical school at the time of application with a GPA higher than 3.25 on a 4.0 scale.
Loreen Arbus Foundation & AWMF Scholarship
This scholarship provides $2,500 to one undergraduate or graduate female student pursuing a degree in media. The award is determined based on financial need, past achievements, contributions to the equitable media coverage of people with disabilities, and an essay submission. The winning essay will be displayed on AWMF’s website, and the scholarship recipient receives a ticket to an upcoming AWMF networking event.
Microsoft Dissertation Grant
Each year, Microsoft provides grants up to $25,000 to doctoral students in the field of computer science. To apply you must be a woman, person of color, or member of the LGBTQIA+ community with a dissertation that will have a significant impact on the technology industry.
Mike Eidson Law Student Scholarship
The Women Trial Lawyers Caucus awards this $5,000 scholarship to a female law student who intends to be a trial lawyer after graduating and passing the bar.
NCTA & AWMF Scholarship
Open to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in media, this scholarship provides $5,000 toward tuition. To apply, female media students must create an original video, digital short, or multimedia project for NCTA and AWMF’s media channels. The student whose project is chosen will also receive a ticket to the Gracies Leadership Awards, where they can network with leaders in the media industry.
Parisa Tabriz PrinSWSIS Scholarship
This scholarship is intended to help fund the graduate or undergraduate studies of a woman entering the field of information security or cybersecurity. To apply, you must be enrolled in a master’s program for information security or be in your junior or senior year of an undergraduate degree. Award amount varies from $5,000 to $10,000.
P.E.O. International Peace Scholarships
If you’re an international student interested in attending graduate school, consider this scholarship. The amount varies, with a $12,500 maximum award. To apply, you must be an international student accepted into or currently enrolled in a graduate program in the United States or Canada.
P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education
This program provides one-time grants to U.S. or Canadian women pursuing graduate degrees. The maximum award is $3,000, though the amount varies. While you don’t need to be a P.E.O. member to apply, you must be nominated by a current P.E.O. member. To be eligible, you also must reside in the U.S. or Canada for the entirety of your degree and must not have been a student for 24 consecutive months.
P.E.O. Scholar Awards
If you’re pursuing a doctoral degree, this scholarship might be a good fit. This merit-based award provides a yearlong $20,000 scholarship to a woman in a doctoral program. To apply, you must have a bachelor’s degree, be a US or Canadian citizen, and have at least one year left in your doctoral degree.
Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship
if you’re a woman who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this scholarship might be a good fit. Each year, Point provides scholarships to members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are pursuing graduate or undergraduate degrees and working toward better representation and equity within their community. This is a “last provider” scholarship, meaning it fills the gaps left by other scholarships, so the amount varies.
Rebeca Gurley Bace SWSIS Scholarship
This $5,000 to $10,000 scholarship is awarded annually to a woman with financial hardship who is pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree in information security. You must be a junior or senior or a master’s student and a U.S. citizen to apply.
Stephen L. Squires SWSIS Scholarship
This award is for women pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in cybersecurity. Successful candidates must have overcome adversity, such as a learning disability, bullying, or discrimination. The award amount varies from $5,000 to $10,000. You must be a U.S. citizen to be eligible.
Women in Business Scholarship
Zonta provides 37 international scholarships to women pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in business. Each scholarship is $5,000 and can be used at any accredited business school worldwide. If you or a family member are a member of Zonta, you are not eligible. To apply, you must be nominated by your local Zonta chapter.
Women in Defense Scholarship
This scholarship provides funding to female graduate and undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in national security or defense. To apply, you must show how your degree relates to national security. The award amount varies from year to year.
Tips for Standing Out on Your Application
If you want to rise to the top in a sea of scholarship applicants, pay attention to the details and customize each scholarship application. A general rule of thumb is to highlight what sets you apart as well as how your background and future goals align with the values of the scholarship committee. Carefully answer each section, from listing your extracurriculars to writing a thoughtful essay, to submit a top-notch application. Here are specific strategies to stand out in each section of your applications:
Beef up your extracurriculars:
Don’t just list your extracurriculars. Explain what you learned and how you grew from your participation. For example, if you were president of your sorority as an undergrad, don’t just list your title. Instead, list the specific philanthropic events you organized and how those relate to your master’s degree and to the scholarship committee’s values.
The more scholarships, the merrier:
Like graduate school applications, receiving scholarships is a numbers game. Unlike graduate school applications, applying doesn’t stop once you’re in a graduate program. One of the biggest mistakes students make is only applying at the beginning of their degree. Instead, set aside time each semester to apply for scholarships. You’ll have more experience with each semester too, making you a more competitive candidate.
Apply to scholarships with more eligibility requirements:
While it’s great to apply to as many scholarships as you can, prioritize the ones with more eligibility requirements. The more specific the eligibility requirements, the fewer qualified applicants there will be and the better chance you have of getting the scholarship. For example, winning a scholarship for Jewish women from Cleveland, Ohio, who are getting their master’s in engineering will be less competitive than winning a scholarship for all women in the United States going into a STEM field.
Collect stellar letters of recommendation:
A common misconception is that your letters of recommendation are out of your control. This could not be further from the truth. When someone agrees to write you a letter of recommendation, give them a brief overview of the values of the scholarship committee and the experience you have that relates to these values and your professional goals. This makes it easy for your recommenders to incorporate specific accomplishments in their letters.
Wow with your essay:
Your essay shouldn’t just tell the scholarship committee why you’re the right choice. It should paint a picture of how the scholarship would contribute to your education, local community, and academic discipline. If you tell the story of the day you fell in love with education and decided to get your master’s, your essay will stand out more than if you just reiterate a laundry list of extracurriculars.
Turn your application in as early as possible:
Try to be the first in line for turning in your scholarship applications, especially for ones with rolling acceptance. Even for those that don’t have rolling acceptance, turning your application in before the deadline demonstrates initiative. A great tip to make sure you turn applications in on time is to mark the due dates in your calendar and set up notifications or reminders for application due dates.
Apply locally and regionally:
Local and regional scholarships will be easier to get than national or international scholarships because the pool of applicants is smaller. With these applications, highlight your tie to your local community. Consider writing an essay about how your community impacted you or how you give back to your city or region.
Additional Scholarship Resources for Women
Many people start their search for scholarships on Google. While this works, you may also run into scholarships with questionable legitimacy or that you aren’t eligible for. Instead, look at specific organizations that support educational advancement for women. To get you started, here are 20 organizations that serve as resources throughout your search for gender-specific scholarships.
Alliance for Women in Media
This organization helps female media professionals at all stages of their career, from undergrads to professionals in leadership and executive positions. Along with providing gender-specific scholarships, the organization also has networking opportunities and resources for women pursuing graduate degrees in media.
American Association for Justice
This professional organization supports women and minorities who are committed to justice and fair trials. They also provide a variety of resources and scholarships for female law students.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
This organization is committed to providing funding, scholarships, and resources for female students in the United States. AAUW is particularly interested in creating equal opportunity in the workplace and removing biases in education.
American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)
While membership is open to anyone of any gender, AICPA has specific resources and scholarships for women entering the field of accounting.
American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA)
AMWA is committed to the career advancement of women in medicine. The organization provides scholarships, free subscriptions to courses for exam preparation, and events for women in the medical field.
Association for Women in Science (AWIS)
AWIS provides funding, resources, and networking opportunities for women learning and working in STEM fields throughout their careers.
Bank of America Campus
Bank of America’s educational nonprofit is committed to diversity and gender equity in the fields of banking and finance. Learn about resources, scholarships, and internships.
CREW Chicago is a networking organization for women in commercial real estate. The organization provides resources, funding, and career advancement opportunities for women interested in careers related to commercial real estate across the country.
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)
This organization honors the heritage of American women while also advancing female equality in the modern era. DAR provides a variety of scholarships for women in medicine, education, politics, business, and other disciplines.
This nonprofit is committed to justice and equality in the private sector. While not solely devoted to female equality, the foundation offers internships, networking opportunities, and funding for women.
This nonprofit organization works to create a new generation of empowered female leaders. Find STEM resources and opportunities for girls and women from elementary through graduate school.
Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys
This group provides mentorship, networking, and scholarship opportunities to women of color who are interested in careers in law.
Microsoft Academic Programs
Microsoft is committed to providing funding to women looking to get graduate degrees in computer science and related disciplines. The company also provides other professional development opportunities to help advance gender equity in the technology sector.
National Organization for Women (NOW)
NOW is one of the oldest nonprofits committed to female empowerment. Along with working on other gender-based issues, NOW provides resources for women pursuing graduate degrees.
P.E.O. International is a philanthropic organization with chapters across the United States and Canada. Their mission is to empower women through advanced education. Along with providing scholarships, the organization also provides loans, grants, and resources to help women pursuing higher education.
This organization offers resources and funding to LGBTQ students across the United States. Point Foundation is committed to fighting LGBTQ inequality within education.
Scholarships for Women Studying Information Security (SWSIS)
SWSIS provides funding for women in graduate and undergraduate information security programs. To apply to any of their scholarships, you must be a U.S. citizen in a master’s program or in your junior or senior year of an undergraduate program at a U.S. university.
Women in Defense
This professional group provides networking opportunities, resources, and scholarships for women interested in careers related to national defense.
Young Women’s Project
This D.C.-based nonprofit provides resources for young women so they can start their careers and create more gender equity in the United States. This is a great resource to connect female graduate students with scholarship opportunities.
This organization provides scholarships, resources, and networking opportunities to women around the world to close the international education and pay gap.