Requirements and Key Aspects of Scholarships for Graduate School

If you want to find scholarships for graduate school, there are many options available. Most students with  grade point averages (GPAs) of at least 3.0 meet the minimum qualifications for merit-based scholarships in graduate school programs. Diversity scholarships promote the graduation of minority students (as well as women), and most of these awards are available for students with one parent of a minority background. Using any internet browser and your favorite search engine, you can find and apply for many easy scholarships online.

Merit-based scholarship requirements overlap with many types of scholarships because you need a strong GPA for other types as well. You apply directly for most scholarships by submitting your undergraduate transcripts, a personal essay, and letters of recommendation from professors, employers (especially those of internships), and people with whom you have a personal relationship. Some programs, like the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, require nomination by your university, but these types of requirements are clearly spelled out and your university counselors can help.

For more opportunities, talk to senior professors in your degree program and find out about scholarships underwritten for your university. Successful graduates of programs often give back to the university in the form of financial aid for the next generation of students.

Diversity programs have grown greatly in the past 50 years, with hundreds of graduate school scholarships now available for students who have at least one parent of ethnic origin including African Americans and Asians/Asian Americans. Women pursuing advanced degrees in fields still dominated by men such as electrical engineering can qualify for diversity scholarships; a number of foundations underwrite partial tuition awards for women in these fields as well.

If people with advanced degrees in a given field are in short supply (and high demand), there are probably more scholarship awards available. In recent years, shortages of registered nurses and special education teachers made getting a master’s degree far easier due to scholarships offered by communities, universities, hospitals, and foundations.

Merit is not only about grade point averages, as many of the boards of trustees that award scholarships are looking for well-rounded students. In fact, a large percentage of students continuing beyond their bachelor’s degree have very high GPAs, so participation in other activities such as student government, athletics, community activism, and internships demonstrates your talents beyond books. Scoring well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) quantifies your ability to use logic while applying the education received in your undergraduate program.

When applying for a scholarship, write an essay tying your education, experience, and extracurricular background together. There are many scholarships for graduate school available for almost any program you choose and you can apply to multiples!

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