An A to Z Guide to Grants for Women in Higher Education
Women have made tremendous strides in higher education over the last three decades. A generation ago, young men filled six out of ten seats in every college classroom. By the 1980s, the tables were turning: the majority of new freshman each year were females. Today, men make up only 42 percent of America’s college students.
Yet even as the barriers to higher education for women have all but faded away, minority women and female non-traditional students are still underrepresented and under-funded. The fields of study that lead to the most lucrative post-graduate positions also continue to be dominated by men, including engineering, physical science and business (including MBAs).
Additionally, even as women in unprecedented numbers are attending college, they still face significant barriers post-graduation. Men continue to earn more than women do, even in careers traditionally predominated by women. Male teachers, for example, earn 105 percent of female teacher’s salaries. In underrepresented fields, such as mathematics, the salary differences are significantly greater: female mathematicians barely earn 76 percent of their male counterparts.
It is because of factors such as these that countless private organizations continue to fund and expand their grant programs for women in higher education. From non-traditional students who are heads of their household to international students to minority students, women have a ripe field of potential funding sources available to assist them with their undergraduate and graduate degrees.
This A to Z Grant Guide lists 22 of the need-based assistance programs currently available to American and international women seeking higher education in the U.S. While most of these opportunities seek candidates with strong academics and/or special interests and skills, all the programs listed here also share the common denominator of the student’s financial need.
Unlike federal and state government grant programs, which are available only to the most financially needy students, many of the grants in this A to Z Guide target students from middle-class backgrounds, who nonetheless are unable to afford the rising cost of an undergraduate or graduate degree.
The Altrusa International Foundation is comprised of professional men and women who volunteer their time and talents on projects that support the betterment of communities. Among its initiatives, the foundation offers grants to women from developing countries who are seeking graduate degrees at recognized U.S. colleges and universities. Awards range from $250 – $1,000 per year. Award decisions are made on a rolling basis.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) is one of the largest sources of funding for women in higher education. AAUW supports aspiring scholars around the globe, teachers and activists in local communities, women re-entering the job market, and women pursuing underrepresented professions. The AAUW currently administers four grant programs, for which graduate and undergraduate students from the United States and abroad are eligible:
- American Fellowships support American women doctoral candidates completing their dissertations and scholars seeking funds for postdoctoral research. Awards range from summer research grants of $6,000 to $30,000 for a post-doctorate research leave fellowship. The application deadline is November 15.
- Career Development Grants support women with a bachelor’s degree who are seeking to advance or change their careers through graduate education. Awards range from $2,000 – $12,000. The application deadline is December 15.
- International Fellowships are awarded to non-U.S. citizens seeking full-time graduate and postgraduate study or research in the United States. Awards range from $18,000 for Master’s Degree students to $30,000 for post-graduate fellowships. The application deadline is December 1.
- Selected Professions Fellowships are awarded to U.S. women pursuing a full-time course of study in underrepresented degree programs, including architecture, engineering, computer science and mathematics, as well as law, medicine and business (MBA). Awards range from $5,000 – $12,000 ($30,000 for the Engineering Dissertation Program). The application is January 10; December 15 for the engineering program.
The Association for Women In Science Scholarships and Fellowships offers $1,000 awards to women pursuing degrees in the natural sciences, including advanced graduate students, college sophomores and juniors studying physics or geoscience (the Lorentzen Program), and high school seniors. Deadlines and eligibility requirements vary. Please consult the AWS website for more information.
The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting administers a variety of programs to assist women pursuing accounting degrees at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Awards range from $1,000 – $16,000. Please consult the EFWA website for more information about application deadlines and eligibility requirements.
Google Anita Borg Scholarships provide a $10,000 renewable award to outstanding female students in computer science or computer engineering. Grantees must have a minimum 3.5 GPA and be entering their senior year of undergraduate study or be enrolled in a graduate program. The application deadline is February 1.
The HORIZONS Foundation Scholarship Program, sponsored by Women in Defense, supports students pursuing careers in fields related to U.S. national security. Awards are available for both undergraduate and graduate students, who are studying engineering, computer science, physics, mathematics, business, law, international relations, political science, operations research or economics. Awards range from $500 to $2000 and are renewable. The application deadline is July 1.
The Jeannette Rankin Foundation Women’s Education Fund awards $1,500 each year to non-traditional women pursuing their undergraduate education. Grants are awarded to women age 35 or older, who demonstrate academic promise and profound financial need. The application deadline in March 1.
The Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund is a program of The World Bank created to support women from developing countries who are seeking a degree in the United States.
For more information, contact the Fund at (202) 473-8751 or MMMF@worldbank.org.
The National Physical Science Consortium Graduate Fellowships for Minorities and Women (NPSC) provides annual stipends of up to $16,000 for women and minority students seeking a doctoral degree in the physical sciences, biochemistry, computer science or related fields of science and engineering. Applicants must be graduating seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA, be in their first year of a Ph.D. program or be in a terminal master’s program. The application deadline in November 5.
The P.E.O. International Peace Scholarship for Women provides grants-in-aid to women from other countries seeking to attend graduate school in North America. The maximum annual grant award is $5,000 per grantee. The application deadline is January 31.
The P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education provides need-based grants to North American women seeking to complete their education after an interruption to support themselves or their families.
Women’s Independence Scholarship Program is a privately funded foundation that seeks to assist women victims of domestic violence to overcome their substantial barriers to financial independence. The Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (W.I.S.P.) provides assistance nationally to women who have left an abusive domestic situation and are now pursuing an education to provide economic independence for themselves and their children. For more information about W.I.S.P., please see the website.
Talbots Women’s Scholarships Fund provides over $100,000 a year to women seeking to return to school to complete an interrupted undergraduate education. Each year, five women are awarded $10,000 each, and 50 women are awarded $1,000.
The Women’s Architectural Auxiliary Eleanor Allwork Scholarship Program annually grants $2500 – $7500 to undergraduate or graduate students pursuing a degree in architecture at a New York State college or university.
Zonta International‘s Amelia Earhart Fellowships annually provide $6,000 awards to up to thirty-five women pursing advanced studies in aerospace-related sciences.