Scholarships for PhD Students

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What are PhD Scholarships?

PhD scholarships are ways you could find funding to earn a doctorate degree. Scholarships for PhD students may also help to offset the costs of tuition, fees and research.

Students pursue PhD programs for career reasons. PhD students do new research to resolve challenges and provide new data in their field of study. PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. As a PhD grad, you might also teach, consult, lead and research.

In addition, a doctorate degree is typically more hands on. It aims to build one’s skills in a niche area. Law, dentistry, nursing, medicine, and psychology are a few fields of study.

Data from the NCES found that 3 million students enrolled in grad programs in 2018. One third of these students earned their grad degree online.  

10 PhD Scholarships You Should Apply for in 2024

Here are 10 PhD scholarships you can apply for now!

  1. M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship
  2. NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
  3. Beinecke Scholarship
  4. Women Techmakers Scholarship
  5. The Point Foundation Scholarship
  6. Citizens Bank Graduate Scholarship
  7. National Black Nurses Association Scholarship Program
  8. Legal Opportunity Scholarship
  9. Moss Adams Foundation Scholarship
  10. ALA Century Scholarship

What Fields Could You Earn a PhD Degree In?

PhD programs explore many fields in liberal arts and sciences. Here are five doctorate and PhD fields in the USA you could study for.

Education PhD Programs

There are two doctorate programs in education: PhD and Doctor in Education (EdD).

The PhD focuses on developing new research.. Some research topics might be about sociology of education, childhood learning, development and literacy. The main goal of the research is to make the educational system better in some way. Doctor in Education programs also helps prepare students to pursue administrative and academic positions in K-12 and public institutions.

Engineering PhD Programs

Doctorate in Engineering programs grant the PhD or in some schools, a Doctor of Engineering (DEng). In these programs, engineers work to craft larger scale solutions to today’s problems. For e.g., they might invent a new green energy trend. They may also design a new device that makes a medical procedure easier.

Social Sciences PhD Programs

A broad field, social sciences include areas like law, political science and psychology. In these fields, the focus is on public policy, statistics, theory, methodology and ethics. Some of the degrees awarded are the PhD and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Humanities PhD Programs

The humanities are fields that study human society and culture. Philosophy, modern languages, religion, archaeology are a few research fields.

Apart from the Doctor of Divinity, many programs at this level are PhDs. Students may also earn a PhD to be able to pursue teaching humanities related subjects as post secondary teachers.

Life and Physical Sciences PhD Programs

Life sciences study living organisms. And physical sciences study natural objects that are not alive. Both focus on discovery and innovation rooted in science. Because of this, most research, climate and medical scientists in these fields have a PhD. Some also pursue other types of doctoral degrees such as Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT).

PhD Costs at a Glance

According to the latest data from the NCES, the average yearly tuition and fees for grad school was $11,617 in 2016-2017. The prices were also higher for private schools $26,551 (private nonprofit), and $14,784 (private for profit).

This means that for a 5 year PhD program, one might invest from $58K to $133K. And that does not include other expenses. Like books, housing, utilities, food, travel, and any costs related to research.

How Do You Get a PhD Scholarship?

Many providers offer scholarships to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. Scholarship providers may choose applicants based on academic performance as well as financial need.

Given the high cost of a PhD degree, you may face competition for any PhD scholarship program. But, if you meet the terms set by the provider, you may apply.

Assuming you meet the criteria, many providers want you to fill out a form. You may also need to submit reference letters, transcripts, an essay, resume and research proposal.

Some schools reward all new incoming PhD students with financial aid. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. So, once admitted, you may automatically receive a scholarship. In these cases, gaining acceptance into the PhD program may be the only hurdle. To put this in context, take Harvard University. All students admitted to their PhD in Engineering programs receive full financial support (regardless of need or merit).

For the Fall 2019 school year over 4,000 people applied. They admitted only 8%. Those accepted had undergrad GPAs of over 3.8. The average GRE quantitative scores were in the 90 – 95th percentile.

What is the difference between a PhD scholarship, fellowship and grant?

PhD scholarships, fellowships and grants are three common funding options for doctoral study. Some students may use a few of these sources to finance their PhD degree and research.

PhD Scholarships

Students may apply for these funds from schools, nonprofits and businesses. The money may be used to offset their tuition, books and other fees. To qualify, you must meet the criteria each provider sets. That said, many scholarships are for new undergrads. In comparison fellowships are usually for master’s and PhD students.

SMART Scholarship: SMART is Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation. Sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Defense it is a scholarship for service program. And, pays from $25k to $38K along with a range of side benefits. The program is open to STEM grad students who also sign a work contract with the DoD.

PhD Research Grants

Like scholarships, research grants are funds that students apply for. In some cases, the money may help pay to further research in an area. So, students may use a grant with other financial aid. The state and federal government and universities offer research grants.

Optometry Incentive Program: The Delaware Higher Education offers this award. It is a $4,000 forgivable loan that may renew for 3 more years. Eligible applicants must be in a program that preps for licensure as an optometrist in Delaware. They must be a U.S. citizen / eligible non citizen as well as a legal resident of Delaware.

PhD Fellowships

A fellowship is a more complete kind of funding. It may encompass a scholarship or grant. It may offset costs of research, study and teaching in the US or abroad. Some fellowships also pay full tuition and a yearly stipend. So, these coveted awards tend to go to high achievers.

Fulbright National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship: This fellowship is a part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. It is an opportunity to take part in a year of storytelling on a major global theme. The storyteller may use text, photography, video, podcasts, maps, and more. To apply, you must submit a proposal to a single country. In addition, some of the perks are funds for travel, a living stipend, health benefits and a modest salary.

Why You Should Apply for a PhD Scholarship?

There are three main reasons to apply for a PhD scholarship.

  1. Scholarships are not loans. As such, they may be a perfect way to devote time to the rigors of the PhD program. Rather than having to work part time to keep expenses and debt down.
  2. The PhD may be the entry level education in various career fields.  Licensed psychologists are one example. So, getting a scholarship may bring your career goals within reach.
  3. A PhD may boost lifetime earnings. A 2022 Bureau of Labor Statistics study found that people with doctoral degrees earned $2,604 per month more than workers with a bachelor’s degree.

What Colleges Offer Doctoral Scholarships?

Many colleges in the nation offer PhD programs and doctoral scholarships. Texas A&M, University of Iowa, and Northcentral University offer doctoral scholarships. At some of these schools, there may also be a short list of fellowships too.

Texas A& M University’s Hertz Fellowship

As a Hertz Foundation partner, Texas A&M awards the Hertz Fellowship. This prestigious fellowship includes up to five years of funding, valued at up to $250K. It also provides the freedom to pursue innovative projects. Fellows take part in ongoing mentoring, symposia and workshops too. Applicants must be STEM grad students and also, a U.S. citizen / eligible noncitizen.

University of Iowa’s PhD Programs

All of the PhD programs at University of Iowa provide funding and a stipend. In their basic funding package, those eligible get 100% covered full tuition and fees. The stipend is about $18,800 and lasts about 9 months. Some departments also offer summer fellowships, teaching or research posts.

Northcentral University’s Online PhD Programs

An online school, NCU offers online PhD programs in business, tech, education, psychology and other fields. To help offset students’ costs, they offer five full tuition scholarships. One is called the Explore for Success scholarships and eligible applicants must apply to NCU. Once a student begins their doctoral program, they submit an application form. It asks for a 500 to 700 word essay. The essay must explain how you plan to use an NCU degree to solve problems and meet challenges.

Are There PhD Scholarships or Fellowships for Minorities?

If you are an eligible minority student pursuing a PhD, you may qualify for scholarships. These scholarships help bring more diversity to various fields of study. They also enable minority groups to have more presence in doctoral programs.

Over the last decade, the number of grad students from minority groups has gone up. But enrollment is still higher among Caucasian students. Here is a a breakdown of the total number of students enrolled in a graduate program according to the NCES.

  • African American: 365,000
  • Hispanic: 292,000
  • Asian: 215,000
  • Two or more races: 81,300
  • American Indian / Alaska Native: 13,600
  • Pacific Islander: 5,800

American Psychological Association Minority Fellowship Program: The APA accredits doctoral programs in psychology once they school applies, meets standards and passes a review. As a go to member agency for psychologists, they also offer funding. The APA MFP program gets federal funds to support ethnic and racial minority students. It pays up to full tuition ($25K) and may renew if the winner continues to meet the terms. About 15 fellowships go to minority students each year.

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students: AICPA stands for American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. They offer the fellowship to ensure that people of diverse backgrounds are visible in grad school. They want to boost the number of minority CPAs who serve as role models and mentors. These annual awards pay $12K. To qualify, you must be a minority student who already has a master’s degree or at least 3 years of accounting experience. Other rules stipulate you must be in, or plan to apply, to AACSB, ACBSP or IACBE accredited accounting PhD programs. Eligible applicants must also be U.S. citizens or hold green cards.

What Kind of Scholarships or Fellowships Could Female PhD Students Receive?

There are many doctoral scholarships for female PhD students. You may wish to reenter the workforce, finish your research or fund your studies. Many of these awards pertain to doctoral study in specific fields like engineering, and accounting.

In fall 2018, 6 out 10 students in grad programs were women. And, until 2029, the NCES predicts female enrollment in these programs will continue its uptick. Still, there are certain fields where women lack presence. To change this, many providers offer PhD scholarships for women only. These awards come from many sources, including member agencies, nonprofits, gov’t, schools and businesses.

SWE Reentry Scholarships: The Society of Women Engineers, SWE, offers scholarships for female engineering PhD students. They gave out more than $810K in scholarship money in 2019 alone. These awards vary in amount and only students enrolled or enrolling in an ABET accredited program may apply. Many are only for SWE members, though there are exceptions. The Reentry Scholarship is a $1,750 award. It is open to women who want to return to school and the engineering workforce after some time. Applicants must apply through their chapter.

Amelia Earhart Fellowship: Zonta International Foundation is a global organization that works to promote women through advocacy and service. The scholarship honors Amelia Earhart who was a pilot and Zontian. About 30 fellowships of $10K each are available to women who major in aerospace science / engineering. Eligible applicants must plan to pursue, or are current student in a PhD or Doctoral program related to these fields. To apply, you must also submit letters of reference and transcripts.

List of 2024 PhD Scholarships

Check out our list of 70 PhD scholarships worth $426K.

Road to Recovery Scholarship

The Road to Recovery Scholarship is available for undergraduate and graduate students in the U.S. who submit an original essay of at least 750 words in length. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
Award Amount

Total:  $1000

Awards:  1


Deadline:  August 31

Southwestern Tack Equestrian Major Scholarship

The Southwestern Tack Scholarship program is available for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who are majoring in a field related to the equestrian industry.
Award Amount

Total:  $500

Awards:  1


Deadline:  September 01

Rangel Graduate Fellowship

The Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship is available to minority students who are pursuing a graduate degree in foreign affairs. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.2 or higher and demonstrate financial need.
Award Amount

Total:  $1200000

Awards:  20


Deadline:  September 24

Helene M. Overly Memorial Graduate Scholarship – Portland Chapter

This scholarship is available for U.S. graduate students who are majoring in a field related to transportation. Applicants must be female, must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and must reside in Oregon and southwest Washington.
Award Amount

Total:  $3500

Awards:  1


Deadline:  October 25

Beverley Swaim Staley Leadership Legacy Scholarship – Portland Chapter

This scholarship is available for graduate women in Oregon and southwest Washington who are majoring in a transportation-related field. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and must express an interest in international issues arising in the transportation industry.
Award Amount

Total:  $4000

Awards:  1


Deadline:  October 25

Gail Achterman Leadership Scholarship – Portland Chapter

This scholarship is available for women in Oregon and southwest Washington who are majoring in transportation or a related field. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and must demonstrate qualities of leadership.
Award Amount

Total:  $6800

Awards:  1


Deadline:  October 25

Taraknath Das Foundation Grant-in-Aid

This award is available to graduate students who are Indian passport holders and have completed one or more years of graduate study in the United States.
Award Amount

Total:  $3500

Awards:  1


Deadline:  October 31

HubShout Internet Marketing Scholarship

This award is for U.S. and international students who have completed at least one year of postsecondary education and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Students must have a demonstrated interest in online marketing.
Award Amount

Total:  $2000

Awards:  2


Deadline:  November 01

Alva S. Appleby Scholarship

This award is available for graduate students who are residents of Maine. Students must plan to study dentistry at a school that is accredited by the American Dental Association.
Award Amount

Total:  $750

Awards:  1


Deadline:  November 08

LAEF General Scholarship

This award is available for Colorado students of Hispanic heritage who are currently enrolled in or planning to enroll in an undergraduate or graduate program. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
Award Amount

Total:  $166500

Awards:  111


Deadline:  November 24