psychology scholarships

The 15 Best Scholarships for Graduate Psychology Students in 2021-2022

Psychology is one of the most popular degrees in the world. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 110,000 psychology degrees are conferred to graduating students annually. After graduating from an undergraduate program however, the stark reality of paying for a Master’s program and/or a PhD program thereafter represents an overwhelming challenge. In this article, we review some of the most impactful scholarships for students considering these programs–either due to the sheer magnitude of the scholarship prize or due to the low effort needed to be considered eligible.

The Unique Strengths of Psychology Scholarships

One of the most difficult aspects of landing an ideal scholarship is the challenge of meeting application requirements. Many scholarships today are built around niche areas of research or subject matters meant to encourage and promote these topics at a broader scale within academia. For a student in biochemical engineering for instance, it can be incredibly difficult to branch out from graduate curricula in order to meet the topic-criteria of these scholarships.

This is where the freedom and flexibility of psychology education really begins to provide a return on investment. Because many specific topics can be viewed through the lens of analytical psychology, psychology students have the unique opportunity to specifically target certain research topics which offer favorable scholarship options.

Of course, while the caveat here is that students will need to ensure that they can confer a level of quality and competitiveness to their work on the topic, so as to be worthy of said scholarships, the freedom to do so is still of notable value.

Scholarship Ranking Metrics

While we will not be ranking these scholarships by any numerical value, the simple act of including certain scholarships and excluding others acts as a ranking method in itself. So our criteria for including scholarships in this article comes down to the following factors:

i. Whether the program offers an impactful reward commensurate with the effort involved.
It will be safe to assume that when a program offers a smaller prize, the level of effort required to apply and be considered eligible is also relatively low. Similarly when the prize is enormous, one should expect a tremendous amount of effort involved–the kind of effort and preparation that requires years of planning.

ii. Whether the program offers particular value to graduate psychology students.
Scholarships that reward students in meaningful ways–such as by providing professional connections and academic development–are heavily weighted. We have only included a handful of programs that simply offer the chance at prize money alone.

iii. Whether the program rewards niche topics in research psychology.
While some psychology students are free to branch out in their studies, others enjoy less freedom to do so. With this in mind, we have included scholarship programs that benefit psychology students who might be pursuing one of these more rigid routes of study.

iv. Whether the program provides special reward to psychology graduate students seeking doctoral candidacy.
Some of the included scholarships reserve their prizes for psychology students who have successfully earned a doctoral candidacy. We have included these scholarships since actively targeting these prizes will require groundwork to be set while enrolled in a Master’s Program or even before.

The American Psychological Foundation

The American Psychological Foundation offers about 21 annual scholarship programs that range in prizes from $2,000 to $5,000 for graduate psychology students. These programs typically all require applications to be completed by a deadline of June 30, 2022. The scholarships on offer are as follows:

$5,000 awarded in the Harry and Miriam Levinson Scholarship
$3,000 awarded in the
William and Dorothy Bevan Scholarship
$5,000 awarded in the Charles and Carol Spielberger Scholarship
$5,000 awarded in the Peter and Malina James & Dr. Louis P. James Legacy Scholarship
$3,000 awarded in the Ruth G. and Joseph D. Matarazzo Scholarship
$2,500 awarded in the William C. Howell Scholarship
$2,000 awarded in the Clarence J. Rosecrans Scholarship
$2,000 awarded in the Raymond K. Mulhern Scholarship
$2,000 awarded in the Dr. Judy Kuriansky Scholarship
12 additional scholarships of $2,000 awarded to runner-ups

These scholarships are awarded to applicants based on a number of factors, the foremost of which is the clarity and strength at which students present their desired area of research. Students with organized designs and research methods and strong visions for the utility of their research will be most likely to succeed. We have included this batch of scholarships first, because most graduate psychology students will be eligible for at least one of these.

Special priority is given to applicants who apply to these scholarship programs to fund their speculative research project, as opposed to applicants seeking the funds for tuition, travel, or school-related expenses. While the direction, scope, and overall organization of one’s presented research goals will act as the primary criteria for evaluating applicants, students’ backgrounds will act as secondary criteria.

Secondary criteria includes:
– The breadth of classes taken throughout one’s academic career
The grades earned both in-major and out-of-major
Any distinctive academic achievements such as previous publications, awards, or presentations
Recommendations offered by faculty of the Psychology Department of the school of the applicant

How to apply:
For more information on how to apply, please visit this page. Please note that all applicants must be active members of the American Psychological Association. More information on these membership requirements can be found on their web page.

Benton-Meier Scholarships

Up to two annual rewards of $2,500 will be rewarded to one graduate psychology student who demonstrates success in neuroscience. Applications close on June 1, 2022.

This program requires applicants to be full-time graduate students enrolled in a neuropsychology program who have completed a doctoral candidacy. Applicants will be evaluated by the distinctions earned within their particular specialty. Priority is given to applicants who are able to demonstrate how the prize money would enable a specific project within the field of neuroscience, as well as how that project might further the field as a whole, or the applicant professionally.

The application must be co-signed by the applicant’s faculty director and/or mentor.

Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship

The American Psychological Foundation (APF) sponsors up to four fellowships of $25,000 to graduate psychology students working to further the field of Child Psychology with two runner-up fellowships of $5,000 each. Applications must be completed and sent in by November 15, 2022.

Applicants must have successfully completed their doctoral candidacy while also having demonstrated a commitment to the field of Child Psychology. Special priority is given to students who demonstrate success in the following fields: child-clinical psychology, pediatric, school psychology, and/or developmental psychopathology.

Similarly, candidates will be evaluated by the scale of incremental contribution of their work towards the broader field of Child Psychology. With this in mind, prospective applicants will want to pay close attention to the APF’s special interest in Child Psychology, such as is represented by the Foundation’s most successful research initiatives and funded projects. In other words, interested students will want to work toward participating in exemplary research projects with real, trackable results.

The F. Edward Hébert Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP)

The United States Army offers one of the most extensive scholarships available in all of healthcare, and thankfully students of the behavioral sciences are included in its scope of eligible applicants. Interested students will want to follow the above link in order to find more specific information on deadlines and application requirements.

Generally, however the requirements are surprisingly loose for the reward on offer–namely a full-ride and a monthly stipend, on top of paid-for academic supplies. Applicants must simply be a U.S. citizen, qualify for the position of a commissioned officer in the United States Army, and maintain full-time enrollment throughout their time in the program. Applicants must also hold a baccalaureate degree from an approved and accredited school and hold either an acceptance letter or proof of enrollment in a medical school or graduate school of the behavioral sciences.

This scholarship provides one of the most robust prizes of any of the scholarships on this list and offers the following:
– Full tuition of up to four years based on the applicants specialty
Full expense coverage of all books, equipment, and other education supplies
– $2,000 or more monthly stipend
A whopping sign-on bonus of $20,000
– An officer’s salary provided during the span of student breaks
Monthly allowance afforded for food and housing
– And additional salary increases commensurate with cost of living, time-in-service, and promotions

The DoD National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Program

The DoD NDSEG Fellowship Program offers an incredibly extensive fellowship program for students seeking advanced education in behavioral science or engineering–with plans to award 500 new graduate fellowships each fiscal year consisting of three-year support packages. Interested applicants will want to keep an eye on the deadline window of August 16, 2022 – November 19, 2022.

Sponsored by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, the DoD NDSEG Fellowship Program was created in 1989 to incentivize the professional development of individuals who might contribute to the defense of our nation. Since then the program has successfully administered a jaw dropping number of 4,000 fellowships.

Applicants need not have any previous relationship or experience in the military or related organizations, with the most prominent requirement being the acceptance or enrollment into a graduate level program. Applicants will be further evaluated as to whether they successfully demonstrate an aptitude in topics related to national defense, as outline in the Department of Defense’s Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs).

Those awarded this fellowship will receive the following extensive benefits:
– Pays for the full tuition of the program, as well as an mandatory fees over a period of three years
– A monthly stipend that totals out at an annual sum of $38,4000
Up to $1,200 a year in health insurance
$5,000 in travel expenses paid for over the course of the fellowship’s tenure

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

This merit based fellowship program provides one of the few payouts of any scholarship to reach a six-digit sum, and is awarded to exceptional graduate students in a variety of scientific studies, including the field of psychology. It should be noted though that research-focused STEM programs are excluded from this fellowship’s eligibility guidelines. Prospective applicants will want to note that applications for 2022 opened as of October 2021 (follow the link above for additional information on application timelines).

Applicants are required to have completed no more than one academic year of their graduate education tenure, which applies both to Master’s and PhD programs. Applicants must also be enrolled at an accredited graduate program within the United States. Students will be evaluated on the strength of their academic performances and the overall distinctiveness of their professional backgrounds.

Those who succeed in landing this fellowship will experience tremendous financial support consisting of three annual stipend payments of $30,000 combined with a cost-of-education payment up to $10,500 and a travel allowance of $1,000. Perhaps most importantly, students will be provided the freedom to study at any accredited graduate program in the United States or on foreign soil, as well as be given access to the TeraGrid Supercomputer.

Predoctoral Fellowship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services – American Psychological Association

This fellowship is awarded to students enrolled in an APA-approved graduate institution that provides an education based on the delivery and improvement of mental health services. Applications for this fellowship open on October 1, 2021 and close January 15, 2022.

Permanent residents, U.S. citizens, and non-citizen nationals are all considered eligible for this fellowship. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created this fellowship by grant-funding in order to offer fellows full funding of graduate education over three years, in addition to other stipends and financial support. But what makes this scholarships one of the best available is its investment in the professional futures of its fellows.

Those lucky enough to land this fellowship will receive numerous avenues of professional training, networking, and academic development–and in some cases, will even receive support in the development of a dissertation. In other words, this fellowship does what few programs do–and provides its fellows with a substantive network of support, rather than just financial support, though that is by no means lacking either.

Fellows of this program might very well find that the resulting internships and professional opportunities far outweighed the financial incentives offered.

The Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) Psychology Summer Institute – American Psychological Association

This fellowship provides an accelerated, short-term avenue for professional and academic development to minority graduate students in the form of an APA sponsored Summer Program that takes place over one week in Washington, DC. The deadline for applications is in July 2022.

Fellows of this program work closely with mentors to further projects relating to issues faced by ethnic minority communities. Graduate students may work with mentors to develop their thesis, dissertations, or to design a study to be published. In other words, fellowship mentors meet students wherever they are and help to move them successfully into the next stage of their careers–be they academic or professional.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity of this fellowship program is the opportunity to network at the summer conference where fellows can mingle with industry leaders, federal contacts, and specialty experts.

The Rachel Tanur Prize for Visual Sociology

The Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology is designed to encourage students of social sciences to represent their findings in a visual medium. Prospective applicants will want to use the following contact information to learn more about applications and deadlines: Phone: 212-377-2700 Email: [email protected]

The contest is open to both undergraduate and graduate students, and the challenge is to present some findings on the social phenomenon of human existence through visual techniques and/or technology. The work of applicants will be judged by the Research Committee on Visual Sociology of the ISA and will award prize money accordingly.

The first place winner will earn $2,500, the second place winner will earn $1,500, and the third place winner will earn $500. This scholarship, while not tremendously impactful to all graduate psychology students, represents a great opportunity for students to present their research in a creative way to earn money towards tuition or living expenses.

The SMART Scholarship Program

The SMART Scholarship Program provides an avenue for the Department of Defense to invest in promising graduate students who are willing to accept a civilian position of employment with the DoD after graduation The application period for this Scholarship closes in December 2021.

The SMART Scholarship Program is open to all graduate students pursuing advanced education in STEM-related fields including behavioral sciences. The proportion the of requirements to attain eligibility status to the proportion of scholarship rewards in this program is highly seductive, and makes it an excellent option for any student open to working in a prestigious civilian capacity for the United States Department of Defense after graduation. Students simply need to maintain a 3.0 GPA and maintain enrollment in an accredited university. Follow the link in the header to learn more about how to become a SMART Scholar.

As a SMART Scholar you will not only be setup with a highly beneficial career trajectory that leads into employment with one of the world’s most prestigious agencies, but you will also receive one of the most generous financial support packages of any scholarship program.

Here is a breakdown of the benefits included in becoming a SMART Scholar:

Full education expenses paid, including parking, meals, and school supplies
A whopping stipend of $25,000 to $38,000 a year based on degree level
Summer research internships that last 8 to 12 weeks
Health insurance allowance of up to $1,200 a year
An expert mentor provided by a sponsored facility
– Employment at a prestigious DoD facility after graduation

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to a graduate psychology student whose work is recognized for reducing the prevalence and the impact of stigmas against mental health disorders. The application period for this scholarship program ends in May 2022.

Through the generosity of the psychologists Violet Franks, PhD, and Cyril Franks, PhD, full-time graduate psychology students can be awarded up to $5,000 for their scholarly work in the field of mental health. Specifically, projects will be evaluated on how well they either educate others on the issues of mental health and resulting stigmas, or how how well they actively work to reduce the impact of such stigmas.

While this scholarship is not particularly supportive in the long term, it is a scholarship that many psychology graduate students can be eligible for without any real efforts–that is, if there work is already in a related at least. Simply put, for psychology graduate students working on a related subject, this scholarship could be a great way to lessen the financial burden of graduate school.

APF Professional Development Awards for High School Psychology Teachers

The American Psychological Foundation awards a cash prize to those who teach at least one high school psychology class with plans to teach at least one in the following year. The application period for this award ends in April of 2022.

While this program is not particularly rewarding, it is another case where many psychology graduate students will be eligible for this award simply by the nature of common graduate level psychology curriculums. Specifically, many graduate psychology students pursuing a degree in an education-related field will often find themselves teaching a class for either college or high school students.

In this case, doing so could earn up to $500. Eligibility requirements are simple and have more to do with the school where one teaches the class more so than anything else.

Dissertation Research Grant in Developmental Psychology

This grant awards exceptionally functional and progressive graduate dissertations with a cash prize. Prospective applicants will want to pay close attention to the deadline of March 15th, 2022.

This program is another example of low-hanging fruit for the typical doctorate psychology student. If one is pursuing a particularly lucrative line of study or research design, then one should consider applying to this grant. Students who display a particularly successful dissertation will find themselves receiving more than a score at the end of their program–specifically, the best dissertations receive a cash prize of $500.

And as doctorate students will tell you: every single penny counts.

APA Congressional Fellowship Program

This fellowship provides an incredibly unique opportunity for graduate psychology students to learn the inner workings of public policy, while also training to better educate government officials on the troves of knowledge contained in the psychological sciences. Those interested in this fellowship will want to note the program’s deadline of January 3, 2022.

The Congressional Fellowship Program is sponsored by the APA’s Advocacy Office and provides psychology graduate students with the incredibly unique opportunity to pursue a career built around the interactions between government and psychology. Qualified candidates will find themselves working for a member of Congress or congressional committee for the span of a year, a prestigious opportunity that is typically reserved for experienced congressional staff.

This program represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for academic psychologists to make the jump into the public health and government sector, all in the space of one year. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) provides fellows with tasks and training operations meant to familiarize them with the comings and the goings of the executive branch of the United States government.

Not only will students receive such an incredible career-launching experience, but they will also benefit from a generous financial package consisting of $75,000 to $90,000 depending on the experience level of the candidate.

For additional questions about this incredibly unique program, contact Ben Vonachen, MA, APA Advocacy Office.

APF Queen-Nellie Evans Scholarship

This scholarship awards a graduate psychology student who demonstrates financial need and is committed to fighting the disparities between races and societal structures. Students interested in this scholarship will want to complete their applications by the deadline of January 31, 2022.

This scholarship is designed to support a distinguished graduate student who meets several criteria–namely the designation of financial need and having come from an underrepresented population. Additionally the student must be committed to combatting the issues that impact communities of color, particularly African American communities.

While this scholarship might only provide short-term financial support, it is a program which many students potentially qualify for with relatively little or no special efforts needed to apply. Additionally, this Program can work as an effective means of networking to introduce one to like-minded professionals and industry-leaders.

APF Walter Katkovsky Scholarships

This Scholarship Program awards first-year graduate psychology students who enroll in an APA-Designated Psychopharmacology Program. Interested students will want to complete their applications by the deadline of March 1, 2022.

This program is designed specifically for post-doctoral licensed psychologists who are seeking additional education in psychopharmacology. While this is undeniably a narrow slice of the population of graduate psychology students, this represents low-effort financial reimbursement for those that qualify.

Melanie Merola O’Donnell Memorial Scholarship

Psychology graduate students who work in the area of the community and domestic violence may qualify for this cash-reward scholarship. Interested students need to send in their applications by the deadline of March 4, 2022.

Psychology graduate and doctorate students who explore the link between mental illness and community violence can qualify for this cash-award Scholarship. This program was instated due to the sincere generosity of its founder, Ms. O’Donnell. While the Scholarship’s primary method of award is a cash scholarship of $2,500, the beneficiary of this prize also becomes a representative of the Foundation’s mission–to educate and to prevent community violence.

As such, beneficiaries of this Scholarship can expect to make lifelong connections with like-minded professionals and community leaders. So while the cash scholarship is certainly valuable to any student, the professional mentoring and networking that follow might be the truly valuable reward.

Conclusions and Tips for Finding a Graduate Psychology Scholarship

One of the biggest takeaways here is that graduate students should maintain memberships to both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychology Foundation. Many of the best scholarships available to psychology graduate students will only be accessed through a membership to these organizations.

Additionally, one of the best strategies for targeting a specific scholarship and preparing to win it, is to attend the conferences of these organizations to see what topics and lines of research are most successful within the organization and without. What’s more is that students will be able to track which students were able to land these scholarships in previous years if they maintain active memberships and pay attention.

The final major point or suggestion is that students might be unaware that their area of research is one that is heavily supported in a grant, scholarship, or fellowship. Graduate psychology students should schedule the time to speak with academic advisors and mentors to see if they know of any related opportunities, and even if they don’t–it is best to check for yourself because there are many more opportunities than we were able to list in this one article.