It’s that time of year! The semester is in full swing for college students. If they’re considering attending graduate school, then they’re also identifying which schools to apply to and more importantly, what funding can help pay for it.
The application process for graduate school is similar to the high-school process in terms of one critical aspect: Students should be exhaustively applying for graduate funding opportunities. If you are interested in pursuing a STEM graduate degree, then there is a ton of money available. The key is ensuring your package is competitive and exhausting your search.
Here’s a quick blurb on some of the most common funding types and some links on where to apply for them.
Graduate fellowships are similar to undergraduate scholarships, in that they require no repayment. However, they will usually have academic requirements (minimum GPA, credit hours, etc.). Depending on the funding opportunity, they may also include other commitments, such as working for an organization for a specific number of years after graduation.
Fellowships are offered from a number of organizations. The great thing about them is that they are external to the university. This means that, they will be applied to any institution you attend.
Teaching Assistantship (TA)
TA positions are awarded from a university department. You will be required to assist a faculty member with his/her courses, which could include grading, office hours, lab implementations, etc. TA positions usually require an hourly commitment per week.
Research Assistantship (RA)
RA positions are also awarded from a university department. You will be required to assist a faculty member with his/her research. This will often be the faculty advisor that you work with on your research. RA positions will have commitments that are set by both the department/faculty member you work with.
Employer Tuition Assistance
If you are currently employed, then your employer may provide tuition assistance for graduate studies. You should note that this usually requires a work commitment after completion of the degree, and you may be limited to the number of hours per semester you can complete.
We won’t even discuss this topic here, because the goal is for you to NOT pay
Since fellowships are the least restrictive, below are links to several of the most popular ones. Note the deadlines and requirements vary.
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
STEM Fellowships for Minority Students
Department of Defense Fellowships
Note that the above is not an exhaustive list of graduate funding opportunities. You can also do simple Google searches, check the department websites of the universities of interest, and also search scholarship/fellowship databases such as FastWeb, Scholarships.com, and Scholly.