Doctoral Scholarships & Grants
For anyone considering the road of a doctoral program, one thing should always remain on the radar: scholarships will be needed to help fund the cost.
Doctoral programs sit at the end of a long academic career as the next step for those who want to finalize their graduate academics into a bona fide research status.
They are also the key ingredient necessary for those who want to move into higher education teaching and potentially a professor position in academia.
That said, doctoral programs are not cheap. Many require thousands of dollars to participate in, while at the same time they also require significant energy, time and effort.
This leaves little time for someone to also work and earn a paycheck. As a result, scholarships and related grants for doctoral students, as well as their research, provide critical lifelines to continue living while studying.
The FAFSA and Program Availability
There is no shortage of doctoral programs in the U.S. Every major college or university has a doctoral program within some or all of its main study programs, offering candidates a PhD upon successful completion. In this regard, for those candidates who are accepted into a school’s doctoral program, the college or university is the first place to start for scholarships and grants.
High-level education institutions actively draw philanthropic as well as government funding for study and research. These funds then get farmed out in the form of specific school scholarships to the students attending a particular school. Thus, anybody looking for additional financial support has to at least consider applying for his own school’s financial program before trying anything else.
The starting process, of course, is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, before starting a particular school term. This federal form provides a standardized input of a student’s information into both the federal government and school’s databases to determine eligibility. As a result, it is a basic entry and practical financial requirement for any doctoral student.
Universities and schools also provide their own private grants and scholarships as well. For example, the Stevens Institute of Technology provides the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Doctoral Fellowship, intended to support high-performing students pursuing research that show promise in innovation and science-based disruptive technology advancement.
The George Mason University School of Public Policy funnels the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship for post-doctorate candidates seeking positions in overseas governmental roles, as well as various dissertation and research grants for ongoing doctorate work. As expected, candidates need to already be doctorate students working towards degrees in George Mason University.
Within each doctoral program, specialties exist. As a result, many have the potential to generate a large amount of financial support as various private and public interests want to see advancement of research in a given specialty. Many universities also couple with government programs to farm out federal and state funds for research goals as well. The grants and programs also see much of their administration within a particular school’s program.
The program chair and professors end up being the decision-makers as to which doctoral candidates will receive specific program financial aid in the form of program scholarships. Again, the FAFSA application is necessary before any review can occur. Additionally, the doctoral student needs to be both accepted, enrolled, and actively working in a given school program for eligibility.
Governmental programs provide direct support to doctoral candidates in specific areas of study. These can range from social studies to health. For example, the federal government has a variety of agency-specific grants available both for study support and research ventures.
The Housing and Urban Development Agency supports doctoral studies in housing and urban design improvement. Students seeking support for related research work can find financial support from the federal agency as long as the benefits of the research are shared with the government in the form of reporting. HUD support can cover research, school costs, and living support if the student meets all the necessary requirements.
The Fulbright Program in general is a grant-providing organization that promotes international education sharing and is paid for by the U.S. government. While the organization does not provide general doctoral candidate support per se, it does finance a number of programs that could be used to help a doctoral student’s academic career. Further, once the student achieves his degree, the program can also expand post-doctoral activities with similar grant support.
The Fulbright Program has a number of categories that address specific student groups as well. For example, there is the grant program for Israeli doctoral students that provides 16 different grants to eligible candidates. These funds are distributed on an annual basis to students working at a US-accredited university or research institute. The funding pays up to $37,500 to provide partial living help for students in their first year of research within the US at an eligible institution.
There is no specific field for grant eligibility; in fact, recipients can apply from health, engineering and even agricultural fields. That said, those in health programs with direct patient contact won’t be able to apply. Recipients also get to enjoy health insurance coverage paid for by the grant through the duration of covered study in the US.
Many grants are set up and designed to promote the work of underrepresented groups in society. As such, these programs can be taken advantage of by doctoral students that fall into specific groups. While most students want to be recognized on the basis of their skill and performance, those who are eligible are being given an opportunity to move ahead with added preference.
While it is fundamentally favoritism based on a demographic, such students can use the funds to help balance out the spectrum of doctoral degrees held by their demographic if successful. Some of the best well-known doctoral grant programs include the following:
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund (www.hsf.net)
- Association for Women in Science (www.awis.org)
- Society for Women Engineers (societyofwomenengineers.swe.org)
- United Negro College Fund (www.uncf.org)
Additionally, private foundations will also target specific demographic candidates as well, as discussed below.
Private Foundation Assistance
Many private foundations are also a good source of grant and scholarship support via direct applications. These entities represent private companies or wealth individuals interested in seeing further advancement in particular research.
The Eileen Blackey Doctoral Fellowship is funded by the NASW Foundation and provides partial financial support to approved applicants working in welfare issues and policy development. A successful applicant receives $2,000 per annual award. The student’s dissertation has to cover a topic directly associated with welfare policy.
The KPMG Foundation pushes the PhD Project which targets doctoral candidates who are also African-American, Hispanic, or Native American and seeking business degrees. Ideally, such candidates will be working towards a career in business academia and related professor positions.
The Ford Foundation Fellowship Program provides 60 grants for pre-doctoral work. Candidates must either be working in a field of philosophy or a field of science and related doctor degree. Those who are successful candidates will be awarded a $20,000 grant for financial living support during the research period. Additionally, candidates receive a $2,000 reduction of tuition for a year as well.
For those studying in the medical field or related sciences, a number of grants and scholarships are available. Students via online research can find many of them by simply inputting their field of study and the word “scholarship” in a search engine. A couple of examples are provided below, some with some significant amounts of support available for successful candidates who apply.
The Oncology Nursing Society Foundation seeks to broaden the work of nursing doctorates and provides two grants for eligible applicants. Eligible applicants are those seeking a doctoral degree in nursing oncology either as a clinical doctoral degree or a research degree. Successful candidates can receive a grant of $3,000 or $3,500 per year.
The American Cancer Society provides a doctoral degree scholarship in cancer nursing with successful candidates receiving two years of support financing $15,000 per year in nursing science. The awarded candidate will be working in cancer research and seeking support for a dissertation in cancer nursing academic work.
The Foundation for Physical Therapy seeks to advance the science of physical therapy with new research and techniques as a result of research. To this end, the Foundation supports doctoral candidates with the Florence P. Kendall Doctoral Scholarship which awards annual grants of $5,000. The funds can be used for any direct cost associated with a related doctorate program, including tuition and school fees.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics funds the CDR Doctoral Scholarship, seeking candidates who are registered dieticians also working towards a doctor’s degree in a related study field. Those who are successfully awarded will receive a scholarship of $10,000. Those who are eligible can be seeking doctorates in research, education, public health, or clinical nutrition.
Doctoral students and applicants have plenty of opportunities to find financial support both from private and public sources, and these sources are all in addition to the normal academic financial help from government-funded student loans and generic federal grants. However, with so many students seeking support, competition can be fierce in some cases. Many of these programs are competitive, and many schools or foundations administering the grants are looking for star students showing great promise and unique research ideas that promise significant advancement in an area. So doctoral candidates need to plan both for their financial need as well as continuously market their proposals to secure the best possibilities from scholarship supporters.