Obtaining a graduate degree in psychology can prepare students for jobs as counselors, social workers, forensic psychologists and other careers that concentrate on an enhanced understanding of the human mind. But getting to that level via higher education is definitely not cheap, and many students graduate with piles of debt. The purpose of this guide is to highlight scholarship opportunities and other financial resources for current and prospective students looking to graduate with a psychology degree.
A great source for obtaining scholarships are colleges themselves, which can provide their students with direct assistance and link them to financial aid sources. Colleges are definitely not the only place to look, however, as there are many other sources for psychology scholarships, grants and other financial assistance. Here are some current scholarships available to psychology students.
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According to the American Psychological Association, 43 percent of psychology students in a master’s program receive some sort of funding, and up to 10 percent earn full funding through tuition waivers and stipends. Meanwhile, 80 to 100 percent of students in PhD programs receive partial funding and 60 to 90 percent receive full funding. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see that it is possible to graduate debt-free. Here are some ways to get that funding:
Psychology scholarships can come in many forms from many sources, so potential students should research all their options. Awards specific to psychology can be given by professional psychological organizations, state agencies, school alumni, private donors and others. These awards can be earmarked for graduate research, books, travel expenses or just about anything, but they all add up.
At the beginning of the scholarship search, make sure the awards are tailored to your demographic. Scholarships can be filtered by state or college, academic level, ethnicity, renewability, GPA or a host of other criteria.
Try to only include experience relevant to the field of psychology. Recent and relevant volunteer, internship or professional experiences are good additions to any scholarship application.
Highlight relevant mental health/therapy and academic honors you have received. Include anything that shows your dedication, motivation and responsibility in your studies.
Applicants should discuss not only their personal and professional background but also their career goals. But keep it professional rather than personal. And outline specific goals rather than broad ones.
Before starting your essay, think about who will be reading it. If visualizing doesn’t come easily, look again at the question being asked and the funding organization itself. Ask yourself: “Who do they want to give money to?” Then write an essay that you think will get their attention.
Psychology is an academic discipline that requires a lot of writing. Scholarship committees aren’t going to give their money to people who can’t write well. Start with an enticing introduction, pack the body of the essay with descriptive words and concrete examples, and end by making a case for why you deserve to be funded.
All other things being equal, a scholarship committee will choose a candidate that doesn’t misuse modifiers. Read your essay aloud and have it proofread. Keep changing it until it is practically perfect.
Besides the basic options of financial aid or grants, there are many other ways to fund an education that are often overlooked. Here are some ideas to save or earn money toward an education:
Many people don’t realize how quickly their expenses add up. By tracking expenses and income for one to three months, they can see their broad spending patterns and create a realistic budget that allows them to pay for what they need while setting aside money for things they want. They should also be able to see where spending is higher than necessary and reduce expenses in these areas. Any savings can then be placed into an education fund.
One benefit of pursuing higher education is a tax break for college expenses. Students should keep receipts and, come tax time, claim these expenses as tax deductions, which lowers their overall tax burden.
Some, but not all, schools count relevant work experience toward college credit. Knowing this can affect both the schools one applies to as well as the work that person chooses to do, so it’s best to start researching work experience credits as soon as possible.
Some companies and organizations offer complete reimbursement or tuition assistance for their employees to gain a college degree at a university, particularly if the degree is relevant to an employee’s current or future job. Many employers see it as a benefit not just for employees but for them as well because in return for their investment they get a better-educated employee.
There are many professional organizations, associations and clubs that provide funding to students pursuing their education in psychology. Here are a few sites that feature scholarships:
The APA awards over 650 scholarships, grants and awards to psychology majors annually. Students can search for scholarships by deadline, topic or demographic.
APF specifically works to provide financial support to students or early-career psychologists looking to make a difference in someone’s life. Its website is a good resource for students looking for funds in specific fields, like human reproductive behavior psychology.
For those interested in psychological science, this site has an abundance of funding opportunities for both APS members and nonmembers to conduct psychological research and pursue other projects in this field.
This site seeks to increase the participation of black students in the field of psychology by offering awards specifically to students who want to focus on the unique historical experiences and cultural expressions of African American identity. For many of the scholarships, students have to be a member to apply.
The International Honor Society in Psychology gives away over $400,000 annually to undergraduates, graduates and faculty members for psychology research, conventions and travels. Most are available to members only.
Offering psychology scholarship resources specifically for women, this site allows users to sort scholarships by everything from family background to religion. It is an essential resource for women looking to pursue their studies in psychology as it offers a comprehensive list of awards in subdisciplines such as psychology in sports medicine, politics or religion.
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