Shilpee Singh
Written By - Shilpee Singh

Check MarkEdited By Gabriel D.

Check MarkReview & Contribution By Jake Wilson

With the cost of education constantly rising, students often look for ways and means to fund their studies, research, or career school. Grants are one of the many options available to seek financial assistance and alleviate the cost of schooling.

Unlike Scholarships that are typically merit-oriented, grants target specific areas of education and research or specific target groups. They are not necessarily based on a student’s academic prowess or accomplishments but on other factors generally not covered by a regular scholarship.

This article illustrates the various kinds of grants for graduate school available for a student to consider, the steps to take when applying for a grant, certain basic guidelines and tips, and much more.

Important: Several websites will offer their services to receive a grant. Not all of these websites are genuine or legal. It is, therefore, advisable to exercise caution when searching the internet for a suitable grant. Learn and understand more about Scholarship Scams before seeking any grant “service.”

Grants for Graduate School

Table Of Contents

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What are Grants for Graduate School?

Grants are considered ‘free money’ since they do not have to be paid or returned. Most Grants are awarded in the form of ‘cash’ and, as a result, can be used for an array of educational needs and related expenses of a student. This can considerably reduce the cost of education and present the flexibility to concentrate on or take up other areas of interest and pursuit.

Broadly speaking, grants are either based on complex formulae or plain and simple factors such as ethnicity, community, socio-economic status, gender, academic performance, or a particular subject/field like teaching, music, nursing, or sports. For example, there are specific grants awarded only to disabled students, some that address female students, some that address only African American students, and so on.

Grants for graduate school are also handed out by universities or colleges one is applying to, based on a wide range of criteria. Similarly, the military is another source of graduate school funding, as are corporates, private funders, and the Federal or State Governments. All in all, grant money is available from a host of sources, and it is for this reason students must explore, research, and understand what suits them and their needs the best before applying for one.

What are Different Types of Grants for Grad Students?

Hundreds of grants for graduate school are available, some for a specific school year and others for the taking perpetually. Since grants are, in broad terms, not quite academic-achievement-oriented, they tend to be unlimited by scope and reach. For every student who has a specific need, comes from a particular background, or belongs to a particular race, region, or even religion, a grant may be available for all of these and more! Since it is quite impossible to list all the grants out there, we have categorized them for easy understanding and exploration:

  1. Merit-Based Grants – Merit-Based Grants are usually awarded to students with high academic achievement in their studies or a specific subject. Credits, test scores, honors, and awards are commonly considered for these grants.
  2. Need-Based Grants – Need-Based Grants cater to ‘deserving’ students who may not necessarily have an impressive academic record. These grants are often based on a single or mixture of several factors such as ethnicity, socio-economic status, dependency status, etc.
  3. Academic Departmental Grants – Academic Departmental Grants are limited to a specific subject or domain within the larger scope of academia as a whole. Such grants focus only on department-related study, research, or work and require students to major.
  4. Corporate Grants – Corporate Grants are awarded usually to students who are connected with the vision and mission of a company, but sometimes even to students who may not necessarily relate to the company’s field of operation. Large corporations often reserve a fund for grants as a social responsibility initiative.
  5. Professional Association Grants – Professional Association Grants are typically related to a particular field of study, research, or work the student is involved in and are therefore restricted to only those within the sphere of that specific field.
  6. Federal/Public Grants – Federal or Public Grants are awarded from funds the Federal Government allocates. These grants are not necessarily limited to merit or need and, therefore, cater to a broader audience of students seeking aid.
  7. State Grants – State Grants are akin to Federal Grants, with the difference being that the State Government allocates funds for such grants, not the Federal Government.
  8. Private Grants – Private Grants are generally those given by individuals or a group of individuals. These grants may be restrictive and often limited to a specific reason, purpose, or cause.
  9. Institutional Grants – Institutional Grants are university or college-specific grants awarded to students enrolled in a particular university or college program. These grants are not necessarily merit-based.
  10. Demographic Grants – Demographic Grants typically cover certain ethnic or minority groups and communities. They could also be based on gender, marital status, and other factors that different types of grants may not cover.
  11. Other Grants – A wide range of other kinds of grants, lesser-known or relatively small, are available. Such grants tend to be highly categorized or specific and are therefore not sought after by graduate students. Some examples of such grants are Project Grants, Categorical Grants, Block Grants, Formula Grants, and Earmark Grants.

    A point to note is that grants need not be awarded only to students; they can also be given to departments, institutions, research centers, and, in rare cases, even startups.

How to Apply for Grants for Graduate School?

Many students worry about how to apply for grants for graduate school. The process is neither cumbersome nor complex; it requires patience, focus, and a keen sense of purpose. With these, one could easily apply for a grant for graduate school.

Steps on How to Apply for Grants for Graduate School

  1. Step – 1: Know the Need – At the beginning, the applicant must always know what they require, for what purpose, and how much. Knowing this in advance can save much time and hassle in finding a suitable grant. Also, trying and being specific while searching for a grant – such as grants for a master’s degree or grants for research programs, and so on, would be to one’s advantage.
  2. Step – 2: Search for a Funder – The next step is to look for grantors who match the applicant’s needs. This can be easily achieved by speaking to faculty members at the university or searching the internet for a suitable funder.
  3. Step – 3: Understand the Funder’s Requirements – If the grant is suitable to the student, they must also check to see whether the grantor’s needs are met or not, what the requirements and eligibility criteria are, and if they can be fulfilled. Keeping an eye on application dates and deadlines that may be mentioned is strongly advised.
  4. Step – 4: Draft an Application – In case the Student’s and grantor’s needs are in tune with one another, the student may proceed with applying for the grant, bearing in mind all instructions put forth by the grantor.
  5. Step – 5: Review the Application – It is good practice always to review the application and check for anything that may have been overlooked or for errors to fix and changes to be made.
  6. Step – 6: Add Supporting Documents – If required and asked for specifically, adding supporting documents to the main application is an obvious thing to do. However, one must not go overboard by attaching irrelevant documents to bulk it up.
  7. Step – 7: Submit the Application – Following the instructions as to how, when, where, and to whom the application is to be submitted is important. The submission should preferably be made early, well before the deadline.

Note: Many grants are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applying early significantly improves the chances of being accepted for funding.

Sections in an Application for Grant

Every grant application is unique, but having said that, specific points or sections are commonly required to be part of an application. These sections are, but not limited to

  1. List of Goals/Objectives – A Student applying for a grant for graduate school should begin their application by listing their academic and otherwise goals and objectives.
  2. Demonstration of Need – The next step is to show a real need for funding and why it may be beyond the reach of the applicant to fund the program, project, or research by themselves.
  3. Proposal Outline  – A brief yet informative proposal with crucial points that summarize the study or project and how it will be executed.
  4. Stating the Grant’s Impact – State why and how the grant will impact the proposal and the outcomes.
  5. Existing Resource & Capabilities – Outline existing resources, such as own funds, sponsorships, team members, etc., and capabilities of those involved in the whole operation.
  6. Budgets, Timelines & Metrics – Consider general budgets and timelines with essential milestones, phases, and metrics where possible.
  7. Inclusion of Specific Information – If the grant is specific in its scope and reach, mention relevant information and additional information that the funder may have asked for. In some instances, the applicant may be asked to submit an Essay, in which case they can get some good professional tips on how to write one.

Grants for graduate school vary depending on several factors, including the state of residency of a student and current academic pursuits. Given this fact, listing all the grants available across the country’s length and breadth is nearly impossible. However, here are a few that are popular among students falling under certain categories:

NameInnovations in Graduate Education (IGE) Program
AgencyNational Science Foundation
Brief DescriptionThe IGE Program encourages the development of bold, new, and potentially transformative approaches to STEM graduate education training.
Closing DateMarch 25, 2023
Award Ceiling$300,000
NameTeacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant
AgencyFederal Student Aid
Brief DescriptionThe TEACH Grant Program provides grants to students who are completing or plan to complete coursework to take up teaching as a career.
Closing DateOctober 31, 2023
Award Ceiling$4,000
NameJune & Wylie Selden Memorial Endowment
AgencyUnited Negro College Fund
Brief DescriptionJune & Wylie Selden Memorial Endowment is a need-based scholarship for students furthering their college education for the 2020-2021 school year. (ethnicity-based)
Closing DateMarch 25, 2023
Award CeilingN.A
NameStudent Research Grants
AgencyMontana Academy of Sciences
Brief DescriptionStudent Research Grants awarded by the Montana Academy of Sciences are to encourage students to conduct scientific research in higher education institutions in the state of Montana.
Closing DateClosed for 2020; TBA for 2023
Award Ceiling$1,500
NameThe American Fellowship Program
AgencyAmerican Association of University Women (AAUW)
Brief DescriptionAAUW supports women scholars currently involved in full-time study to complete dissertations, conduct postdoctoral research, or prepare research for publication.
Closing DateNovember 1, 2023
Award Ceiling$30,000
NameACS Grants
AgencyAmerican Chemical Society
Brief DescriptionAmerican Chemical Society offers a wide range of grants to students, as well as for research and projects. 
Closing DateVaries
Award CeilingVaries
AgencyU. S. Department of State
Brief DescriptionFulbright Scholarships, Fellowships, and Awards are available to students pursuing open study, assistantships, and research.  
Closing DateVaries
Award CeilingVaries

Top Tips When Applying Grants for Graduate School

Applying for grants for graduate school may be a simple enough affair, but there are ways to stay ahead of the game and improve the chances of being awarded one. Here is a list of tips and best practices to follow that may very well add zest to the grant application:

  1. Research the Funder – Spending considerable time researching funding options is always advisable. Several funders and funding options are available, but one must carefully note who the funders are, their requirements, and any other information that may help shortlist the grant. Moving on, the Student should eventually narrow their search to particular types of grants – merit-based, profession-related, need-based, or any other type that caters to their needs.
  2. Understand the Fund – While checking the background of the funder, among other things, one must also consider the explicit requirements of the grants being offered. The applicant must go through the eligibility criteria, check for specific questions asked, see what the fine print says, and generally understand why they think they qualify for the fund in the first place before proceeding with an application.
  3. Communicate Effectively – Being concise and driving one’s points home is the best way to convey to a grantor that one deserves the grant. Compelling reasons should be emphasized for the applicant to stand out from among the rest, with truthful and factual data to substantiate such a claim.
  4. Customize the Application – Many students overlook the additional or specific requirements a grant may demand, especially if it is not broad-based but limited in scope. The Student applying for such grants should go through the guidelines and instructions provided by the grantor and ensure that all requirements are covered well enough through the application. In other words, they should customize or tailor the application to the grantor’s needs.
  5. Connect with Faculty Members – Apart from the internet, the best way to find out about specific grants one can apply to is from faculty members of the college. Most teachers and professors will know the latest grants available, especially for their departments and subjects. Additionally, faculty members are better suited to guide the applicant, provide referrals and recommendations, and generally add heft to an application.
  6. Stay Up to Date – Students who want to specialize in a specific subject or field should always keep up-to-date with the latest in the world of scholarships, grants, and financial aid connected to their choice of subject or field. Doing so will reduce the hassle of searching for a suitable grant and an opportune moment to apply for one. After all, a Student can apply for more than one grant, so it is wise to keep one’s eyes open to newer available grants.

FAQs About Grants for Graduate School

Can you get a Pell Grant for graduate school?

No. Graduate school students are not eligible for Pell Grants; only undergraduates qualify for them.

Can you get grants for grad school?

How to get grant money for graduate school?

Are there federal grants for graduate students?

Are there any alternatives to Grants for Grad Students?

Additional Resources about Grants for Graduate School

Grants for graduate school are many, each with a unique flavor. It is pretty easy for a student to get sucked into the quagmire of endless lists of grants, which is why seeking help to locate one that fits the bill easily is always welcome. Here are a few student resources to do just that:

  • The website is the official website mainly for federal or state-funded Grants. It consists of a complete directory of grants catering to a wide range of needs.
  • Federal Student Aid An official site administered by the U. S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid contains in-depth information on Scholarships, Grants, and Funding, through the FAFSA form.

In addition to the official U.S. Government websites, other resources are equally useful to students looking to fund their education. Here are a few:

  • OMC – Online Masters Colleges Our site – Online Masters Colleges – has detailed and well-laid-out information a student needs to have about Scholarships, Grants, and other forms of financial aid. Additionally, OMC offers its own Scholarships while also awarding specific ones to women, African Americans, and disabled students.
  • Candid A student who needs to gain proper and guided knowledge to win ‘funding from funders’ should visit Candid. The site offers tools like ‘Foundation Directory Online (FDO)’ and ‘Grants To Individuals (GTO)’ that can help find a suitable funder.
  • Unigo If grants are not the only means of funding one is looking for, then Unigo can help with its long list of over 3.6 million scholarships and grants. The site also contains detailed information on student loans.
  • Fastweb Fastweb is a portal that can help students seek various forms of financial aid while looking for part-time employment.
  • Sallie Mae Through Sallie Mae, students can effectively plan for college, explore ways to save money, and apply directly for student loans to fund their education.
  • Finding a scholarship or alternative source to fund Grad School is a breeze with The site claims to provide students with funding assistance and access to about $ 19 billion in education funds!
  • Scholly Scholly is another popular website that claims to make scholarships easy. With some basic information provided and a few clicks of the mouse, Scholly lists potential scholarships to explore. The service is also available via a mobile app.