Are Grants Available for Master’s Programs?

Are Grants Available for Master’s Programs?

Many graduate students have to take loans to fund their education. However, due to high interest rates, this debt can accumulate 5x the original amount. Applying for grants can help lower the cost of a higher education. If you’re wondering whether there are grants available for master’s programs, we’ve curated a list of popular grants for master’s students. 

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Are Grants Available for Master’s Programs?

Yes, grants are available for various master’s programs. You can seek grants from federal or state governments, private organizations, and corporations.

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Grants are a kind of financial aid for college students, including those in master’s programs, and are often need-based. Unlike student loans, grants don’t need to be paid back, which helps lower the total costs of attending graduate school.

As the costs of higher education go up, grants become more important. With tuition and living expenses increasing, grants help many students bridge the financial gap and pursue a degree without the stress of finances.

Types of Grants Available for Master’s Programs

Grants for master’s students can vary according to purpose, course, and requirements. Some grants are for specific programs, while others are for students from certain areas or backgrounds.

This variety means that almost every student may qualify for some grant. You can use different types of grants for your master’s program.

Federal Grants

The federal government offers the most aid to graduate students, most of it through direct student loans. However, some special government programs provide grant money for master’s students.

While Pell Grants are usually for undergraduates, there are federal programs master’s students can leverage, such as:

  • Fulbright

These grants are largely need-based yet can also be given to students in specific fields or disciplines. You have to apply for federal grants through the FAFSA. FAFSA is also needed to show proof of income for many school and state grants.

State Grants

Many states provide grants to their residents. State grants, like federal grants, are often based solely on need, like the California State University Grant.

On the contrary, some grants support specific industries or research fields unique to the state. For instance, the Ohio Geological Survey can offer you a grant if you conduct geology research.

At public colleges or universities, you may automatically be considered for some grants when you fill out the FAFSA or similar forms. However, grants for specific research areas often need separate applications. Each state funds master’s grants differently, so check with your state’s board of higher education for details.

Institutional Grants

An institutional grant refers to grants provided by any independent body. This can be:

  • An educational institution
  • A non-profit
  • A government organization
  • A private company

Many universities automatically offer students grants, you must fill out separate application forms for grants from other institutions. For example, the American Chemical Society (ACS), a non-profit organization, provides a range of grants to master’s students in chemical engineering and chemistry.

Popular Grants for Master’s Students

As a master’s student, you may qualify for a variety of federal, state, or institutional grants. Here are a few popular grants and the qualifications you need to meet to receive them.

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Teacher Education Assistance for College And Higher Education (TEACH)

To encourage students to pursue teaching degrees, the TEACH grant program offers up to $4,000 per year for individuals who wish to follow high-demand teaching careers.

You have to meet the following conditions to qualify for this grant:

  • Teach in the high-need field
  • Teach at the school serving low-income students
  • Finish four academic years (at least) as a teacher within eight years of graduating

If you get this grant and are unable to meet the obligations, it’ll turn into a “Direct Unsubsidized Loan” that you need to repay with interest.

Fulbright Grant

Fulbright grants are funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. These grants support international exchange by funding individual study or research projects abroad after you complete your bachelor’s degree.

You may be eligible for a Fulbright grant if you recently earned a bachelor’s degree or are a graduate candidate. They help cover tuition, research, books, and language study programs.

Every year, the Fulbright program awards around 8,000 merit-based, competitive grants to students. To qualify, you need to:

  • Have a four-year bachelor’s degree or a combination of a bachelor’s and master’s degree, totaling 16 years of formal education from an accredited university
  • Meet the language requirements and show proficiency to complete your project and adapt to life in the host country
  • Live in the country of nomination at the time of application

American Association of University Women

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) provides a Career Development Grant for women looking to advance or change their careers or re-enter the workforce. The grant is available to those who want to pursue a certificate or degree in education, health and medical sciences, STEM, or social sciences.

You can receive up to $20,000 to cover costs like tuition, books, local transportation, supplies, fees, and dependent care.

To qualify for the grant, you must:

  • Study education, health, medical sciences, or social sciences
  • Meet the citizenship requirements (grants are available for both international and national students, depending on the award)
  • Be a woman scholar in any field
  • Commit to serving girls and women
  • Display scholarly excellence (GPA requirements vary by award)

California State University Grant Program

California State University (CSU) offers need-based grants to master’s students. These grants are available to California residents and those who meet specific requirements, such as AB-540 eligible students.

Graduate students throwing their caps in the air

Each CSU campus has its own award policies and requirements. However, to qualify for a grant, you must:

Typically, post-baccalaureate or graduate students get $7,176, covering the entire state university fee. When you apply for financial aid through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADA), your campus will consider you for a State University Grant (SUG).

Colorado Graduate Grant

The Colorado Graduate Grant, sponsored by the Colorado General Assembly, is for eligible Colorado residents enrolled in an approved graduate degree program. The grant is included in your financial aid package.

To qualify, you must:

  • Be enrolled in (at least) four credit hours
  • Have an “Expected Family Contribution (EFC)” of $10,000 or less on your FAFSA

Texas Aggie Graduate Grant

The Texas Aggie Graduate Grant (TAGG) is a need-based award for learners at Texas A&M University’s College Station campus. To receive the grant, you must:

  • Be a Texas resident
  • Be enrolled part-time or full-time in a graduate or graduate certificate program
  • Have completed and submitted a TASFA or FAFSA

If you study full-time, you’ll get up to $2,500 per semester, while part-time students may receive up to $1,500. The maximum grant is $5,000 per academic year. You may not qualify if you receive major fellowships or scholarships in the same year.

ACS-Hach Professional Development Grant

The American Chemical Society (ACS) offers the Hach Professional Development Grant for American high-school chemistry teachers.

If you teach high school chemistry, you may qualify for up to $1,500 to fund your professional development. Also, you can use this grant to cover workshop registration or conference fees, tuition for courses, books, travel expenses, and substitute teacher costs.

Forget Your Student Debt Grant

You can also apply for’s Forget Your Student Debt Grant if you have student loan debt. You are eligible for this grant even if you are no longer in school and an adult with a career.

To qualify for this grant, you must be actively making payments on either federal or private student loans. The $10,000 grant has monthly application deadlines and is awarded in December.

ASHRAE Grant-In-Aid Award

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) offers the Grant-in-Aid Award, which provides $10,000 in financial aid to 25 full-time graduate students each year.

The program encourages outstanding students to engage with ASHRAE and contribute to its activities. This award includes:

  • $5,000 upon confirmation of enrollment
  • $5,000 after attending an ASHRAE Winter or Annual meeting and submitting a report

You must attend one of the next three ASHRAE Society meetings within 18 months of the award. Students can also apply for an extra $1,500 if they present a peer-reviewed paper or publish an article in the Science and Technology for the Built Environment.

Clara Mayo Grant Program

The Clara Mayo Grant Program is offered by the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).

This grant provides $1,000 twice a year to full-time master’s students who study psychology, sociology, or other applied social sciences. The program should be accredited, and the research must focus on racism, sexism, or prejudice in society.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be a member of SPSSI
  • Be enrolled in a graduate program in applied social science, psychology, or a related discipline
  • Be a student conducting a master’s thesis or pre-dissertation research
  • Not apply for other grants-in-aid in the same year as the Clara Mayo award
  • Submit only one Mayo application per year

How to Find the Best Grants for Your Master’s Program

Whether you are a current student or planning to pursue a master’s program soon, the following tips can help you find grants and lower your education costs.

Man signing a printed document while others are seated beside him on a table
  • Fill out the FAFSA: Complete the FAFSA before you apply for grants. This form helps the US Department of Education and colleges decide if you qualify for grants.
  • Apply for multiple grants: There’s no restriction on how many grant programs you can apply for. Check your school’s financial aid office for grants specific to your program. For state grants, contact your Department of Education.
  • Personalize each application: It’s best to tailor your applications to each grant. For instance, personalize essays to match what each grant organization values.
  • Track deadlines: Use a spreadsheet to stay organized. You should note each grant’s requirements and deadlines to stay on track and not miss opportunities.
  • Keep searching for grants: Don’t pause your search if you receive a grant. Instead, look for more grants year-round. If required, regularly check in with your program director or financial aid office for new grant possibilities.

Grants vs. Scholarships

Both scholarships and grants are financial aid you don’t have to repay. However, each works differently. Here’s a quick comparison.

SourceFederal government, state governments, non-profits, or institutionsPrivate organizations, non-profits, colleges, or individuals
EligibilityBased on financial needBased on merit (academic, athletic, etc.), sometimes need
Application ProcessOften requires FAFSA or similar formsVaries by provider, can include essays, interviews
RepaymentNo repayment is required, but if you leave school or switch from full-time to part-time, you might need to repay some or all of your federal grantNo repayment required
PurposeHelps with tuition, fees, and living expensesHelps with tuition, fees, and living costs
RenewabilityMay need to reapply annuallyOften renewable based on criteria (e.g., GPA)
AmountVaries, often needs-basedVaries, can be partial or full tuition
CompetitionGenerally less competitiveOften highly competitive

Related Questions

What Other Kinds of Financial Aid Are Available for Master’s Programs?

In addition to grant programs, you can leverage a wide variety of opportunities to help pay for your master’s program, such as scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, loans, and more.

What Is the Difference Between Fellowships and Grants?

Grants are usually given based on financial need and don’t require anything in return. However, fellowships (and assistantships) often ask graduate students to teach, conduct research, or carry out other duties. Fellowships are typically larger than grants and may include stipends for living expenses.

Can Master’s Students Get Pell Grants?

Graduate students can’t receive Pell Grants, which helps undergraduates with financial need. However, you should still complete the FAFSA because it decides your eligibility for other types of grant programs besides the Pell Grant.


Grants are an excellent option to fund your master’s program. They have relatively low competition, and you don’t have to repay the amount. Grants help alleviate financial burdens and make advanced education more accessible. Make sure you fill out the FAFSA before you start your search for grants for better opportunities.

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