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Financing Your PhD: Scholarships & Resources for Black Students

If you are on the hunt for ways to fund your PhD, look no further. Our guide to scholarships and resources for Black PhD students has everything you need to get started looking for scholarships and grants. 

Written By

Ellery Weil

Last updated

Apr 17, 2023

Historically speaking, minorities, including Black people and other people of color receive PhDs at significantly lower rates than white people in the US. While the number of annual PhD graduates is rising, only 8% of total PhDs issued in the ‘20/21 Academic year go to Black students. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, one of which is access to funding and resources.

The Journal of Higher Education found in 2022 that Black graduate students were disproportionately burdened with student debt in programs between 2000 to 2016. While many PhD programs are fully funded by the university, enabling students to earn their living expense stipends by working as teaching assistants (TAs), not all of them are. Additionally, stipends can be modest, and if your school is in a major city with a high cost of living, you may struggle to make ends meet.

That’s where scholarships and grant funding come in. Luckily, for Black doctoral students, there are a variety of scholarship opportunities to help fund your PhD studies. Read on to learn about some opportunities that can enable you to graduate with less student debt, and find resources specifically geared to Black students or even none at all.

Scholarships for Black and African American Doctoral Students

Whatever doctorate subject you’re pursuing, applying for scholarships is a good idea and can even be a critical one for your studies. There are a variety of scholarships available both for doctoral students in general and Black students in particular that you can take advantage of. While the monetary value of scholarships can vary from full funding for your entire degree to one-time small grants, it’s always a good idea to apply. Not only will any financial support be helpful, but winning a scholarship can be a major boost to your resume. Here are some scholarship opportunities to consider:

AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Doctoral students in anthropology who have reached the dissertation-writing (ABD) level are eligible for the Association of American Anthropologists’ (AAA) dissertation-writing fellowship, which awards grants of $10,000 to racial and ethnic minority students.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 15

AACAP Jeanne Spurlock Research Fellowship

  • Amount: Up to $4,000
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) offers this summer research fellowship opportunity to racial and ethnic minority graduate and medical students studying family health, addiction, and more.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 3 

Accounting Doctoral Scholars (ADS) Program

  • Amount: $20,000
  • If you are a CPA pursuing a doctorate in accountancy, you may be eligible to become an ADS scholar. This program seeks to encourage qualified accountants to pursue their doctorates and careers in academia.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: September 10

Agnes Jones Jackson Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,000
  • This scholarship, offered by the NAACP, is open to any Black or African American student under the age of 25 at the time of application pursuing an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree. GPA and financial need requirements apply.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA 

AICPA Minority Doctoral Scholarship

  • Amount: $12,000
  • Students from recognized racial and ethnic minorities, including African Americans, pursuing a doctorate in accounting are eligible to apply for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) scholarship, which grants 25 students per year awards of $12,000.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: May 31, 2023

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority PhD Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) offer PhD scholarships for racial and ethnic minority students enrolled in STEM PhD programs at one of their partner universities.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: Varies

AMA Valuing Diversity PhD Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $2,500
  • The American Marketing Association (AMA) offers PhD scholarships for students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds pursuing doctoral studies in marketing or advertising. Past applicants are encouraged to reapply.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA

APA Doctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse

  • Amount: Varies
  • Doctoral students pursuing a career related to mental health and mental health services are eligible to apply for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) doctoral fellowship in mental health and substance abuse. Applicants of color are especially encouraged to apply.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: Varies

ASM Future Leaders Mentoring Fellowship

  • Amount: Varies, $1,000 minimum
  • Graduate students from underrepresented minority groups pursuing degrees in microbiology are eligible for the American Society of Microbiology Future Leaders Mentoring Fellowship. Applicants must apply with a mentor.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 10

Barrow Minority Doctoral Student Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • Students from racial or ethnic minority backgrounds pursuing a doctoral degree in communications are eligible for this scholarship. Applicants must demonstrate their potential to contribute to communication theory.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: May 1

Beinecke Scholarship

  • Amount: Varies
  • The Beinecke scholarship supports talented graduate students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Applicants must be current students applying for graduate study and must be nominated by their school, which will have been invited to select a nominee.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA 

Cox Enterprises Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Any minority student in a full-time, degree-seeking program at a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) member institution is eligible to apply for this scholarship. Preference will be given to students in STEM and related fields.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: April 3, 2023

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Varies
  • Doctoral students in oceanography, marine biology, marine archaeology, and other ocean-related fields are eligible to apply for this scholarship, which is sponsored by NOAA. Women and racial minorities are especially encouraged to apply. 
  • Apply Here
  • Deadline: December 2023

Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

  • Amount: $27,000 per year for three years
  • The Ford Foundation offers this prestigious fellowship to 75 students annually. Applicants must be accepted into a doctoral program with a research-based dissertation aspect. Applicants must be members of underrepresented racial or ethnic minorities.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: September 1

Frank L. Greathouse Government Accounting Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Graduate students in accounting and accounting-related studies are eligible to apply for this scholarship, which is geared toward accounting students planning to pursue a career in public service.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA

GEM PhD Fellowship Program

  • Amount: $16,000
  • PhD students in engineering or other applied sciences from underrepresented minority backgrounds are eligible to apply for the National GEM Foundation’s PhD fellowship program. The program provides a stipend and internship and networking opportunities.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: Varies

George Willie Ethnically Diverse Student Internship and Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Graduate students and final-year undergraduates from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds who are studying accounting may be eligible to pursue this scholarship, which includes internship placement. Applicants must be pursuing CPA licensure.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: April 15

Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship

  • Amount: $20,000
  • This scholarship is open to any and all full-time graduate-level students studying in a field related to state and local government finance. Applicants must be planning a career in state and local government finance after graduating.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA

Hubertus W. V. Willems Scholarship

  • Amount: $3,000
  • This scholarship, offered by the NAACP, is open to any Black or African American male student pursuing an accredited undergraduate or graduate degree in a STEM field. GPA of 3.0 or higher and financial need requirements apply.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA

John L. Carey Scholarship Award

  • Amount: $5,000
  • For those pursuing graduate studies in accounting and CPA licensure after completing undergrad studies in the liberal arts or humanities, the John L. Carey scholarship award provides support to those switching to a career in accountancy as a CPA.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 15

MassMutual Close the Gap Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Alumni of HBCUs entering their first year of graduate school are eligible to apply for the MassMutual Close the Gap Scholarship for first-year graduate students. Applicants must file a FAFSA and demonstrate financial need.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 30, 2023

McKnight Doctoral Fellowship

  • Amount: Up to $17,000 per year
  • The Florida Education Fund (FEF) offers a doctoral scholarship for African American and Hispanic students at participating Florida universities. Scholarships provide a tuition waiver and living stipend. STEM and business students are particularly encouraged to apply.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: January 15

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Graduate students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds planning to pursue a career in government finance are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be studying a relevant field and have demonstrated a commitment to public service.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: TBA

Napa Valley Vintners Scholarship Program

  • Amount: Varies
  • Students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds studying at any degree level, including graduate students, are eligible to apply for this scholarship. It’s open to students attending any of a selected list of schools which offer wine-related courses of study.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: May 1, 2023

Ruth D. Peterson Fellowship for Racial and Ethnic Diversity

  • Amount: $6,000
  • Students from racial and ethnic minority groups pursuing doctoral studies in criminology are eligible to apply for this fellowship, with up to three awards given per year. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and interest in criminal justice.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 1

SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program

  • Amount: Varies
  • Doctoral students from minority backgrounds studying and residing in the Southern United States are eligible to apply for the SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program, whose stated mission is to increase racial and ethnic diversity in higher education and academia.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 31

Stephen C. Rose Scholarship for Psychology Research on African American Youth

  • Amount: $1,000
  • The Association for Black Psychologists offers this scholarship to its members, both undergraduate and graduate, to support their studies, as well as provide a travel stipend to attend their annual conference. Applicants must be current ABPsi members.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: April 13

UNCF/National Cooperative Bank Charles E. Snyder Memorial HBCU Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $2,500
  • Students enrolled at any degree level at a UNCF partner institution or other accredited HBCU are eligible to apply for this grant, which can be used across any field of study and/or degree level.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 16, 2023

William (Bill) Ezzell Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Accounting professionals returning to school after at least three years of professional experience to pursue doctoral studies are eligible to apply for this grant, which provides a one-time scholarship to doctoral students. Professional registration is required.
  • Apply here
  • Deadline: March 31

PhD Scholarships: Finding Them & How to Apply

While you may be excited to apply for scholarships, finding the right opportunities and submitting your applications takes time and dedication. There are several steps involved, from deciding which scholarships to apply for to submitting the application itself, that can maximize your chances of receiving a scholarship. Breaking it down into a step-by-step process can make it easier. Here are some starting tips on how to proceed:

Step 1: Research Scholarships & Funding Options

  1. Start early and check as many sources as possible: Since scholarship applications often have firm deadlines, starting your search as early as possible and checking as many different places for application opportunities can ensure you don’t miss out. 
  2. Look for university funding: Your school likely has its own opportunities specifically for currently enrolled students. Talk to your financial aid office about internal scholarship opportunities you might be eligible for. 
  3. Use online databases: While you’ve certainly got the brains to search for scholarships on your own, online databases make it so much easier. Many even allow you to filter by type of program, course of study, and more when searching for opportunities. 
  4. Seek scholarships in your degree field or specialty: If you’ve got a smaller pool of competition, you have greater odds of winning a scholarship. Searching for funding in your specialty, rather than generic scholarships with larger applicant pools, can help your chances of success. 

Step 2: Prepare Your Applications

  1. Follow the scholarship guidelines carefully: Even the best application can fall victim to administrative error. Be sure to read the guidelines carefully and follow any and all instructions to the letter.
  2. Meet all of the application requirements: Is this scholarship only for students in a certain region? Perhaps it’s geared towards STEM or STEAM PhDs. Make sure you meet all the requirements before spending time on an application. 
  3. Customize your applications to fit the individual scholarship submission: The scholarship committee wants to know why their particular program should fund you. Be sure to customize any essays and statements to fit a given application. 
  4. Focus on your achievements, skills, and experience: Many people are applying for any given scholarship, but there’s only one you. Build an application that highlights all you’ve accomplished and what makes you unique. 
  5. Obtain letters of recommendation: If the scholarship you’re applying for accepts letters of recommendation, be sure to reach out to colleagues, professors, and advisors well in advance to make sure your letters arrive on time. 

Step 3: Increase Your Chances of Winning a Scholarship

  1. Apply for as many as possible: The more chances, the better your odds. Applying to as many scholarships as your schedule allows increases the chances that you will succeed in getting an award from at least one of them.
  2. Be detail oriented and focus on quality: Don’t rush. A high-quality application is an application with a higher chance of success. Be sure to carefully craft and edit your application to maximize its potential and your odds. 
  3. Show your passion for your work: You chose your PhD program because you care about your work, and now it’s time to let the scholarship committee know that. Explaining why your research is so important to you shows that you’re a candidate worth supporting.
  4. Build professional relationships with others in your field: From fellow PhD students to early-career academics to senior professors, your colleagues in your field can be great resources. Be sure to ask them about scholarship opportunities you might be eligible for.
  5. Seek help from mentors and advisors: Feeling lost? Reach out to a trusted advisor or official at your school if you need help finding scholarships to apply for, completing your applications, or any other steps in the process. 

25 Resources for Black PhD Students

We know that when it comes to navigating academia, you can use as much help as possible. That’s why we compiled this big list of online resources to help you in your PhD journey, both academically and socially. Here are a few resources for Black PhD students for you to check out:

  • A Black Woman’s Guide to Earning a PhD: Surviving the First 2 Years – For Black women beginning their PhD journey, this book offers advice and an outline to meet the challenges of the first two years in a doctorate degree program.
  • BGSA – Check if your school has a Black graduate student Association, like this one offered by Rice University. There are similar organizations at many schools.
  • Black Doctoral Network – Founded in New York in 2012, BDN aims to help Black and Latino/a PhDs and graduate students connect with each other.
  • Black Future Dr. – This podcast out of the U.K. showcases the experiences of Black doctoral students studying different disciplines in Britain.
  • Black Girl Does Grad School – A blog chronicling one student’s personal grad school journey and its aftermath, along with book recommendations, commentary, and more.
  • Black N’ Phdish – A lifestyle podcast, offering tips on health, work-life balance, study skills, and productivity geared towards African American PhD students.
  • Blk + In Grad School – This podcast, by a Black woman doctoral candidate, provides advice and shares experiences with women and people of color pursuing grad degrees.
  • Black Student Union Podcast – One school’s BSU hosts a lighthearted podcast looking at school issues from the Black student perspective.
  • Cohort Sistas – This podcast focuses on the life stories and experiences of Black women with PhDs, including their doctoral journey and their lives and careers after earning their doctorates.
  • GradCafe Forums – This online space for grad students allows students to share and create discussions, including those specific to PhD students of color.
  • Hooded: A Black Girl’s Guide to the PhD – The author of this book shares her experiences as a Black woman who completed a STEM doctorate and discusses navigating the unique challenges Black women face in U.S. academia.
  • Journey to the PhD: How to Navigate the Process as African Americans – This guide to the unique experiences of African American PhD applicants and students is aimed at those involved in the graduate school process, from students to professors. a 
  • NAACP – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s website offers scholarship opportunities and other resources for grad students of color.
  • NABAInc – The National Association of Black Accountants provides support for aspiring Black finance professionals at every step of their education and career journey.
  • National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering – Black PhD students in engineering can make use of funding opportunities and more provided by NACME.
  • NBGN – A Canadian initiative, the National Black Graduate Network seeks to connect Black graduate students and professionals in a network by and for them.
  • NBGSA – The National Black Graduate and Professional Students Association connects Black students in graduate and professional programs across the country.
  • NBSA – The National Black Student Alliance provides a safe space for Black and Brown students at all levels of education to connect and share experiences.
  • Our Doctoral Journey: A Collection of Black Women’s Experiences – This volume of essays explores, in their own words, the experiences of 24 African American women who have earned, or are in the process of earning, a doctorate.
  • r/PhD – In this popular reddit forum for current and aspiring PhD students, African American students often share threads regarding their specific experiences.
  • Rooted Podcast – The Association of Black Psychologists’ Student Circle hosts this podcast on history, mental health, the student experience, and more.
  • The African American Student’s Guide to Surviving Graduate School – This comprehensive volume covers the grad school process, from applications to graduation, from an African American perspective.
  • The Black Oval – An eclectic podcast about the Black experience, with a focus on student leadership and other topical issues.
  • The Black Researchers’ Forum – A monthly online forum for Black students pursuing graduate studies, including both doctoral and masters’ students.
  • UNCF – The United Negro College Fund is dedicated to helping Black Americans access higher education, and their website has many resources for students.