Graduate school scholarships can help cover the costs of grad school. There are thousands of scholarships available to anyone pursuing a Masters or a PhD. Of course, you won’t be eligible for all of them, but you should still look for ones that fit your profile, background, educational interests and career goals. How to get a graduate school scholarship is something you want to think about when thinking about how to pay for and how to get into grad school. Graduate school tuition in the US and Canada can range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so getting all the financial help you can is crucial. This article will provide you a list of graduate school scholarships in the US and Canada, along with essential tips for how to make yourself eligible for the most scholarships possible. 

>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<

Article Contents
8 min read

Graduate School Scholarships: List of Scholarships Graduate School Scholarships: Scholarships in the US Graduate School Scholarships: Scholarships in Canada Strategies for Getting Graduate School Scholarships FAQs

Graduate School Scholarships: List of Scholarships

As with any other type of scholarship, from medical school scholarships to scholarships in Canada for international students, there are too many to list here, but we’ll give you a small sampling of the different awards available to graduate schools from different sources. There will be a mix of internal (offered by a specific institution) and external scholarships (offered by private, non-financial groups), as well as a few public options open to citizens of the US or Canada.

Want to know some of the top tips for your graduate school interview preparation? Watch this video:

Graduate School Scholarships: Scholarships in the US

1. Harry Truman Foundation Scholarships 

The Harry Truman Foundation offers scholarships to graduate students with an interest in public service, although “public service” is used broadly so that many types of majors are accepted. However, you must have an idea of what you want to do with your graduate degree and education, as submitting a research proposal is part of the application. You also have to be nominated by your accredited institution in the US and be an American citizen.

2. The Cobell Scholarship

This award is solely for members of a federally recognized Native American tribe who are planning to pursue any type of degree, Masters or a PhD, but also, bachelor’s and associate degrees at US institutions. The scholarships are divided into four separate categories:

  • Cobell Scholarship Academic Year
  • Cobell Scholarship Summer
  • Elouise Cobell Summer Research Fellowship
  • Cobell Scholarship Vocational

You can submit an application online and you will be matched to any of the four scholarships based on your student profile. There are no academic requirements and you do not have to submit official or unofficial transcripts, although you may be asked for one after you submit your application. However, the scholarship foundation does suggest having a 3.5 GPA or higher if you are applying for a graduate-level scholarship.

3. Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in ocean science or ocean-related studies, you should apply to this program. The scholarship is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the federal agency responsible for studying, regulating and advocating for maritime life and science. It’s important to know the mission of NOAA, as scholarships are typically awarded to those applicants whose research interests coincide with the agency’s projects.

The scholarship is open to graduate-level students, but they must be pursuing a degree in the following disciplines:

  • Oceanography
  • Marine biology
  • Maritime archaeology

Although, a degree program closely related to any of these (for example, ocean engineering; coastal societies and culture; resource management) will also be accepted. Aside from the educational requirements, all applicants must also be US citizens and currently enrolled in a graduate program at recognized and accredited colleges in the US. You must also have a minimum GPA of 3.30 and maintain it throughout the duration of your studies.

4. SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program

This program combines a full-tuition scholarship with a service commitment to work with the Department of Defense for up to one-year after graduation. However, the scholarship is only available to students (undergraduate and graduate) who are pursuing degree in 24 different STEM disciplines from chemistry and civil engineering to mathematics, mechanical engineering and oceanography. To be clear, the position with the DoD after you graduate is a civilian one and you will not be enlisted in the military of any branch of the armed forces.

Despite the service requirement, you can apply if you are a non-US citizen, but only from other English-speaking countries, such as Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The length of your service commitment depends on how many years you receive financial assistance, which can range from a minimum of one year to a maximum of five years.

5. National Sciences Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

The federally funded GRFP is aimed at giving financial assistance to students who wish to pursue a research-related graduate degree at either the Masters or doctorate-level. The program is open to current and prospective graduate students who are interested in pursuing research mainly in STEM fields. Fellowships, scholarships and grants are not awarded to students in any other fields. This fellowship program is one of the oldest in the US for graduate STEM students and includes many notable alumni.

You must be a US citizen to be eligible for a fellowship, while also having never obtained a graduate-level degree prior to applying. You are not eligible if you plan to pursue a combined degree with a profession-based degree, such as an MD/PhD, or MD/MPH. But there are several application pathways (being a current undergraduate student, a current graduate student, or a returning graduate student) and you have to choose the one that most applies to you,

Graduate School Scholarships: Scholarships in Canada

1. Canada Graduate Scholarships

The Canadian government funds several graduate school scholarships primarily for Canadian citizens and permanent residents, although it also funds many different scholarships in Canada for international students. The Canada Graduate Scholarships are offered to students in several disciplines as the funds are distributed through three distinct agencies, who also select award recipients:

  • the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

You have to apply through your graduate school, or the one you want to apply to, but either way, one of the requirements for the scholarships is that you must have spent at least 12 months in graduate-level program. You can also apply shortly before transitioning to a doctorate-level program, but you cannot apply as an undergraduate going into graduate school.

2. Vanier Scholarships

The Vanier Scholarships are also funded by the Canadian government, but its eligibility requirements extend to non-residents or non-citizens. However, you cannot apply as an individual applicant. You have to be nominated by the graduate school where you are either currently enrolled or where you plan to enroll to complete your studies. But like the other nomination-only scholarships on this list, you do have to apply to be nominated. Vanier Scholarships also cover the same three fields as the Canada Graduate Scholarship program, which covers natural sciences/health research, engineering, and the humanities.

3. Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

These fellowships are geared more toward PhD applicants who want to pursue a specific research question and require financial support, not necessarily for students who want to complete their degree. The Banting Fellowships are well-known throughout academia as one of the major funders of post-doctoral research in Canada and there are close to 70 fellowships awarded annually. As with the Vanier Scholarships, you have to seek the nomination of your current institution and submit all your application materials to them first. The Banting Fellowships also cover the three fields of study covered by the other public, graduate school scholarship programs.

4. Burstow Scholarship for Studies in Activism from the Margins

The Burstow Scholarship is for University of Toronto students who want to perform research into the emerging field of mad studies, which tries to research and advocate for marginalized groups because of mental illness, poverty, immigration status, gender identity or any other category that has typically been underrepresented or ostracized in conventional academic studies. The scholarship is available only to current U of T graduate students either in a master’s or doctorate program.

5. Adel S. Sedra Distinguished Graduate Award

This award is exclusively for PhD students in their second or third year of study – the award is not open to master’s students. There are no program requirements to apply so students from fields as diverse as natural sciences and the humanities are encouraged to apply. The selection criteria for the award are based on both academic performance and commitment to extra-curricular activities, so you must be in good academic standing within your doctoral program to be eligible.

Strategies for Getting Graduate School Scholarships

1. Do Your Research

Doing your research can mean a lot of things, but the research you have to do to get graduate school scholarships is knowing that these opportunities exist. Knowing how to fund your studies is a fundamental step of how to get into grad school, so, before you start sending out applications make sure you know about all the ways you can pay for your studies and whether you qualify. Once you have an idea of how much it will cost to get your degree, you can then start applying for graduate school scholarships, while also preparing your graduate school application.

2. Don’t Put all Your Eggs in One Basket

What this means is that you should not rely entirely on one source of funding to get your through grad school. In the US, close to half of all federal student loans are given to graduate students, which leaves a huge gap to cover, even if you do qualify for federal student loans. Public loans may not be enough to cover all your costs, which is why it is important that you explore as many different funding possibilities to cover the shortfall. You should apply to a variety of different scholarship programs, even if it seems excessive (try applying to anywhere between 5 or 10 different graduate school scholarships) because even if you win a particular scholarship the amount may not be enough.

3. Get Good Metrics (GPA, test scores)

Not all graduate school scholarships will have a GPA requirement or a preferred test score from a standardized test, such as MCAT scores, LSAT scores or GRE scores, but many are merit-based so it helps to have the best possible GPA or standardized test score, regardless of where you are applying. Having a high GPA or standardized test score is something important to have when you are applying to graduate schools, as well, but if you have a low GPA or low-test scores, you should still apply to as many scholarship programs as possible; they may give you a scholarship based on other factors. The Cobell Scholarship does this, as it encourages applicants, especially from non-traditional backgrounds to apply even if they have a low GPA and are worried about how to get into graduate school with a low GPA.

4. Be Aware of Deadlines and Prepare Your Applications in Advance

It’s true - you often have to put the same amount of time and effort into applying for graduate school scholarships as you would for your graduate school program. That’s why you have to be aware of scholarship application deadlines and give yourself enough time to gather all these materials. You are often asked to submit the same types of materials (research proposal, personal statement, letters of recommendation, etc.) for graduate school scholarships as for your grad school application, and you can’t rush them or recycle other statements you’ve used, as many personal statements for PhD scholarships have specific requirements that means you have to write an original piece. Include the application deadlines for graduate school scholarships in your graduate school application timeline so, you don’t miss out on opportunities that can help pay for school.


1. What are graduate school scholarships?

Graduate school scholarships are monetary awards that you do not have to pay back that can help you offset the costs of pursuing a graduate-degree. They can come from various sources (public, private, non-profit) and award varying amounts to graduate students in many different fields.

2. How can I get a graduate school scholarship?

You can get a graduate school scholarship either by applying directly to the awarding organization or being nominated by your host institution for a particular award. For the nomination-only awards, you have to be enrolled in a school that participates in the scholarship program and allows a certain number of students to be nominated.

3. Is it hard to get graduate school scholarships?

It can be as hard to get a graduate school scholarship as it is to get into grad school, but it is not impossible. If you have great metrics (GPA, test scores), a long list of relevant extracurricular activities, are active in a variety of academic pursuits, and fit the eligibility requirements of the program, then you have a chance. 

4. How do you apply to a graduate school scholarship?

The application process is different for every graduate school scholarship, so you have to follow the application instructions for every scholarship program that you apply to. 

5. How much money can I get from a graduate school scholarship?

The award amounts for each graduate school scholarship differs and is usually based on the amount of money remaining in the scholarships after funds have been disbursed. 

6. Are there any spending or academic rules or regulations?

Every graduate school scholarship program governs the use of funds differently. Some will disburse the scholarship directly to your institution so you never have control over the money. Some scholarships will provide funds for various things, such as health insurance or covering degree-related expenses, but they usually do not have spending rules. 

7. Can I get government loans and graduate school scholarships?

Yes, many graduate students find they have to apply for graduate school scholarships, as public funds and loans often have limits that only cover a specific period of time or only give you a specific amount. You should combine any financial assistance you get from a public source, with institutional, external or any other type of graduate school scholarship. 

8. Should I apply for a graduate school scholarship?

Yes, you should apply for graduate school scholarships, especially if you cannot cover the costs of your degree with your personal finances or government loans. A graduate school scholarship does not have to be paid back so you it can help cover your costs without adding a financial burden. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Want more free tips? Subscribe to our channels for more free and useful content!




Apple Podcasts




Like our blog? Write for us! >>

Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!