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Supporting Women in PhD
Programs: Scholarships and
Resources to Optimize Success

Don’t let financial barriers hinder your academic potential. Our guide features the best financial aid, scholarships, and resources for women pursuing PhDs. Keep reading to discover your options!

Written By

Venus Lockett

Meet the Expert

Dr. Jolie

Last updated

Mar 30, 2023

Although women are joining the ranks of the country’s most educated, they are still grossly unrepresented in certain PhD programs. Prestige segregation, a term describing the phenomenon in which certain prestigious professions discriminate against specific demographics, is common within the PhD sector. According to Inside Higher ED, mathematics is the most segregated field, is approaching a male overrepresentation factor of 1.5, and has a 6% male advantage in elite representation in the average program.

Mathematics is just one example of the various fields with barriers limiting the number of women entering certain prestigious career paths. To allow for more equity in these fields, they first need to be identified. Then, options must be created to allow women opportunities that bridge the gaps in these sectors. This guide aims to do this by focusing on providing scholarships and related resources to help optimize success for women in PhDs. 

Scholarships for Women: Funding Your PhD

Funding is essential for PhDs. With the average cost of a doctorate nearing $100,000, paying for it out-of-pocket is impossible for most women. This means that in addition to grants, loans, and out-of-pocket funding, many PhD students rely heavily on scholarships to pay for their degrees. 

Scholarships provide women with the much-needed funding to propel their education forward. The Conversation says this is primarily because many women who wish to obtain PhDs are also mothers or have other duties that force them to make generating income a top priority. The list below can empower women to pursue doctorate degrees more easily by leading them to the funding they need. 

AAUW American Fellowships

  • Amount: $8,000-$50,000
  • For women completing full-time post-doctoral research, dissertations, and/or research for a publication project, this fellowship funds only graduate-level degrees.

AAUW Research Publication Grant

  • Amount: $10,000-$35,000
  • This grant is for women doing research who have doctorates in medicine, engineering, or the physical/ biological sciences. Applicants must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.2. 

AWIS Distinguished Doctoral Research Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • Meant to help fund highly valuable dissertation projects that could significantly impact the recipient’s chosen sector, this program is specifically for those pursuing doctorate degrees. Applicants must be members of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). 

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Diversity Fellowship 

  • Amount: $40,000
  • This scholarship is for women, LGBTQIA+, or BIPOC students pursuing MBAs in business with a priority going to those in investment banking or finance. It is for graduate-level students only. 

BHW Women in STEM Academic Scholarship

  • Amount: $3,000
  • This scholarship is for women seeking undergraduate or master’s degrees in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics. Graduate and undergraduate students may apply.

Chicana Latina Foundation Scholarship Program

  • Amount: $1,500
  • For powerful Latinas in pursuit of various degrees, this scholarship is for students in graduate and professional programs completing a course, thesis, or dissertation or for those who have been accepted into graduate or professional school. Must have a cumulative college GPA of 2.7.

Chris Andersen WomanLead Scholarship

  • Amount: $3,000. 
  • Funding for Christian women of diverse backgrounds who want to become leaders. They need a minimum 3.0 PGA and must be involved with their communities. 

This scholarship is for women enrolled in an accredited post-graduate institution or a U.S. theological university while earning a master’s or doctoral degree. 

Chronic Boss Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $1,000.
  • This scholarship is for women who have overcome challenges to earn degrees in higher education. It’s available to undergraduate and graduate students.

Chrysalis Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,000
  • For geoscientist moms whose educational efforts were interrupted due to motherly duties or other personal, related issues, this scholarship is specifically for women pursuing graduate degrees.

Dr. Jade Education Scholarship

  • Amount: $300 and $200
  • For African American women attending graduate school while also working full-time. 

Eitel Scholarship

  • Amount: $500
  • For female students pursuing higher education at a Baptist college, this award is based on need and ambition. Graduate and undergraduate students may apply. 

Erin Aaberg Givans Memorial Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,000
  • This graduate scholarship is for women who are full-time students in pursuit of master’s degrees in public administration, public policy, or public health at a California University. They must have at least a 3.0 GPA in college.

Ethnic Minority and Women’s Enhancement Graduate Scholarship

  • Amount: $10,000
  • This scholarship is for female student-athletes with an undergraduate minimum GPA of 3.2. Must be applying for graduate-level programs. 

Congressional Fellowships on Women & Public Policy

  • Amount: $3,500/month
  • This scholarship is for female students of any major who may potentially get involved in advocacy and public policy. Applicants must have completed at least twelve graduate credits. 

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • Women wanting to advance their careers and who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada or the U.S. are eligible for this scholarship. They must be studying graduate-level statistics full-time by July 1st of the year they apply. Those in the early stages of their degrees are especially encouraged to apply. 

Graduate Women in Science National Fellowship Program

  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Women graduate students pursuing careers in natural and social sciences are eligible for this fellowship, and they must be in hypothesis-driven careers in America or abroad.

Graduate Women International 

  • Amount: Various 
  • This scholarship is for women all over the world who are seeking funding to pursue higher education. These fellowships are for PhD students only. 

Helga Henry Scholarship

  • Amount: Up to $2,500
  • Master’s-level women pursuing theological- or graduate-level education are eligible for this scholarship. They must be recommended by staff based on their brilliant leadership potential. Only female graduate-level students who attend Trinity International University may apply.

Ida Foreman Fleisher Fund

  • Amount: $2,000-$8,000
  • This scholarship is for women, preferably Jewish, from or who attend school in the Greater Philadelphia area, New Jersey and Delaware included. Must be pursuing graduate degrees. 

INSEAD Women’s Scholarship

  • Amount: About $10,500
  • For women seeking to earn their MBAs in finance, this scholarship is available to international graduate students only. Applicants must enroll at INSEAD business school.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

  • Amount: $5,000
  • This scholarship is to help women succeed in business programs and is for women seeking undergraduate or master’s degrees in business management. 

APA Judith McManus Price Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,000-$4,000
  • Created to support minority women pursuing an urban planning graduate degree and in financial need, this scholarship is for minority women applying to graduate-level urban planning programs.

Laurels Fund

  • Amount: $1,000-$5,000
  • This scholarship is for women pursuing PhDs in accounting. Selection of award recipients is based on academic achievement, research activities, scholarship, service work, and financial need.

Microsoft Research Graduate Women’s Scholarship

  • Amount: $25,000
  • This scholarship is for PhD students enrolled at a university in the U.S. or Canada in their fourth year or beyond. The proposed research must be closely related to a focus area at Microsoft. Applicants must identify as a woman and/or be in another minority group.

National Women’s Studies Association Graduate Scholarship

  • Amount: $1,000
  • This is a scholarship for female graduate students crafting their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation in women’s studies. Their research must promote the mission of NWSA.

Paybotic Women in Finance and Technology Scholarship

  • Amount: $2,500
  • Undergraduate and graduate women pursuing degrees in STEM-related fields are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

PEO PCE Program for Continuing Education

  • Amount: $3,000
  • This one-time grant is for U.S. or Canadian women pursuing graduate degrees. Applicants must be nominated by a current PEO member.

PEO Scholar Awards

  • Amount: $20,000
  • This scholarship is for women nominated by a local chapter of the Philanthropic Educational Organization. Must be a U.S. or Canadian citizen within two years of completing a doctoral degree.

Society of Women Engineers Scholarship 

  • Amount: Various
  • This scholarship is for women seeking degrees in engineering technology, engineering, or computer science. It is for graduate students only. 

Taylor Coleman’s “More than a Conqueror” Scholarship Award

  • Amount: $500
  • This is for women pursuing health science, science, or creative arts who have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Undergraduate and graduate students may apply.

How to Find & Apply for PhD Scholarships

If you are interested in finding and applying for PhD scholarships, take the time to refine your research process to find the best scholarship possible for your needs. Also, learn how to properly complete and submit your application. Those with the most complete and well-written applications optimize the odds of being awarded a scholarship. Below are tips to help you find and apply for PhD scholarships. 

Researching Scholarships & Funding Options

  • Start early and use multiple resources. Some scholarships require essays and letters of recommendation with specific requirements. Use multiple resources to optimize your chances of winning. 
  • One of the best scholarship resources is your university or department. They’ll likely know about the most relevant scholarship options and how to navigate the application process. 
  • Use online scholarship databases to find graduate scholarships. These resources offer a quick and easy way to search for specific types of scholarships. 
  • Search for scholarships related to your field of study. Whether you’re using Google, scholarship databases, or another tool, use a specific criterion to search for scholarships. For instance, if you want to get a scholarship for a science-related field, make sure you include “science” as one of your keywords. 

Preparing Your Application

  • Read and follow the scholarship guidelines carefully. Show you are taking the process and your education seriously. 
  • Make sure you meet all the application requirements. If you miss even one requirement, you are unlikely to be awarded the scholarship.
  • Customize your application to fit the scholarship criteria. You should apply for as many scholarships as possible. However, be sure to customize the application to highlight the aspects most pertinent to each scholarship. 
  • Highlight your achievements, skills, and experience when applying for scholarships. This is essential especially if you have unique achievements or skills for your chosen sector. Doing so will help you stand out among the competition. 
  • Secure strong letters of recommendation. This means finding someone with impressive credentials capable of relaying how deserving you are of the award.

Maximize Your Chances

  • Apply for as many scholarships as possible. This maximizes your chances of receiving an award. Doing so may even result in winning multiple awards. 
  • Aim for high-quality. Pay attention to details and submit high-quality applications to ensure your scholarship is of high quality. Take the time to edit, revise, and create a checklist to ensure all aspects of the application are completed properly. 
  • Demonstrate your enthusiasm and commitment to your field of study. Those who are enthusiastic and dedicated to their fields are more likely to be selected. 
  • Don’t underestimate the power of your network. Network and build relationships with faculty, professionals, and peers in your field to maximize your chances. Your circle can inform you of upcoming opportunities, encourage you to apply, and help you find resources to improve your applications. 
  • Look for guidance. Seek feedback and guidance from mentors and advisors since they are familiar with scholarship processes and programs and know what it takes to win. Ask them to review your application and make suggestions for improving them. 

Resources for Female Ph.D. Students

When searching for the best funding options for female PhD students, resources are essential. The quality of your resources directly impacts the types of scholarships you’ll find, so take sufficient time to investigate an array of resources. Here are some of our top choices to get you started.

Blogs

  • Personal Finance for PhDs: This blog, created by Emily Roberts, PhD, focuses on empowering early-career PhDs to maximize their finances. It includes a section for tax preparation, a podcast, and more. 
  • The Pretty PhD: Created by Allie, a scientist with a PhD in Toxicology, this fashion, science, and lifestyle blog includes an array of stem resources, a free budgeting spreadsheet, and more. 
  • Student Debt Warriors: This blog provides tips to those struggling to repay student loan debts. Created by Tim, a college graduate, it candidly shares his firsthand experiences with repaying student loan debt. 
  • The Thesis Whisperer: Created by Professor Inger Mewburn, Director of Researcher Development at the Australian National University, this blog focuses on providing resources and guidance to those pursuing PhDs. 

Podcasts

  • BiggerPockets Money Podcast: This podcast, created by two successful real estate investors, focuses on teaching unconventional financial tips that most people don’t learn in school. 
  • Personal Finance for PhDs: This podcast, hosted by Emily Roberts, PhD, focuses on the unique financial challenges that are caused by earning low stipends/salary while earning your graduate degree in school as well as during postdoc training.
  • Planet Money: A podcast focused on providing information to allow college students and others to better understand all aspects of the economy, the information it provides can help you make better financial decisions for your future. 

Websites

  • Cait Flanders: Run by a college graduate with an admitted spending problem, this website explores the “shopping ban” she used to fuel her ability to repay her student loans and credit card debts quicker.
  • Federal Student Aid: This website, part of the U.S. Department of Education, provides access to most college financial aid in the U.S. It includes information on various loans and grants as well as other suggestions to enable students to finance college. 
  • Investopedia: This general finance website enables you to make better, more informed financial decisions. It includes articles and resources to empower students to invest, save money, and finance college. 
  • Mad Fientist: Created to help anyone achieve financial independence, this website offers tips that enable you to save, invest, pay debts, and retire early.
  • Nerdwallet: This website empowers people from all walks of life to make smarter financial decisions. It includes tips on how to pay for grad school, pay off loans, find resources, and more. 

Books

Organizations

  • Scholarship America: This organization provides resources for students seeking to finance college on all levels. It also offers substantial scholarships for grads. 
  • Scholly: This mobile app makes finding and applying for scholarships simpler for students at every level. It also allows students to find college grants. 
  • Unigo: This organization helps high school students, undergraduate, and graduate students with ways to find the best scholarship and other funding options for school. 

Interview with a (Female) Ph.D. Funding Expert 

We sat down with Dr. Jolie, a three-time tenured California State University Professor to ask for her input on funding a PhD. Here is what she had to say: 

What factors do scholarship and grant committees usually consider when awarding financial aid to Ph.D. students?

Committees consider many things. Some of the top categories are potential for success, forward momentum, and promise.

What are some tips for preparing a strong grant proposal or research project proposal to secure funding for Ph.D. research?

Applicants should select research that is not only relevant and problem-solving but also that will center the researcher as the expert in the field five years down the road. Address the assumptions.

Are there any unconventional or lesser-known sources of financial aid and scholarships for women that a student should consider when looking for funding for Ph.D. studies?

Yes, there is discipline-specific funding. For example, there is a demand for women in the business PhD fields (e.g., business, marketing, etc.). There are even fully funded opportunities for women and minorities in some of those areas. Look for forgivable loans: a promise to work in the industry at the institution UC/CSU for a minimum number of years and the loan is forgiven.

What are some tips for networking with other Ph.D. students and professionals to learn about potential scholarship and funding opportunities?

Ask questions and join discipline-specific research forums and discussions. Ask a lot of questions!

How can students negotiate for additional financial support if a scholarship or grant does not cover all academic or personal expenses?

Graduate assistantships often exist for students to conduct research with professors in their discipline for pay.

Are there any scholarships or funding opportunities specifically targeted toward women from underrepresented or marginalized groups in academia?

Yes of course, mostly discipline-specific and in areas where women are in demand.

Can you recommend any strategies for reducing the overall cost of pursuing a Ph.D., such as seeking out low-cost or free research materials or travel options?

It is never only about where you go; it’s about where you go and who will support you academically, mentally, and financially. Select a program and campus that offers support, forgivable loans, and graduate assistantships.