Expert Contributor
Patty Hoban

Director of Financial Aid, Willamette University

Some scholarships only require submission of a few documents, while others have stricter criteria and, therefore, more paperwork. Finding a scholarship that addresses your interests and needs is not always easy, so we’ve compiled a handy list of psychology scholarships to help you minimize your debt so you can earn that psychology degree with fewer worries. In the end, applying for scholarships is well worth it — for you and your bank account.

Scholarships & Grants for Psychology Students

Undergraduate Scholarships

American School Health Association Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: American School Health Association (ASHA)
  • Amount: Approximately $250
  • Application Deadline: TBD

ASHA awards one scholarship each year to ASHA members majoring in fields related to the healthy upbringing of children in the school environment, including students interested in school counseling or social work.

Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Addiction Centers (AAC)
  • Amount: $2,500 – $5,000
  • Application Deadline: May 31

AAC hands out three awards annually to undergrads and graduate students interested in careers related to behavioral health and addiction. Students must be enrolled in a degree program that will lead naturally to a career in this area.

Clinton E. Phillips Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: The Educational Foundation of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
  • Amount: $4,000
  • Application Deadline: December 31

This award is for Californian scholars who plan to go into business as marriage and family therapists.

Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship Program
  • Sponsoring Organization: Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.
  • Amount: $7,500
  • Application Deadline: TBD

The Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship gives out multiple scholarships to students with financial need working toward a career in healthcare. The program rewards applicants who commit to giving back to the community and have an excellent academic record.

Jerry Greenspan Student Voice of Mental Health Award
  • Sponsoring Organization: The Jed Foundation
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: March 25

This award is given to undergrads or graduate students who are using their time in school to increase campus-wide awareness of mental health issues. Recipients should be leaders on campus who work to decrease stigma and/or improve university mental health services.

Lutheran Student Scholastic and Service Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Bethesda Lutheran Communities
  • Amount: Up to $3,000
  • Application Deadline: May 1

Lutheran undergraduates are encouraged to apply for this award. Up to two scholarships are given each year to applicants who demonstrate interest in a career working with people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Scholarship Program
  • Sponsoring Organization: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Amount: Up to $20,000
  • Application Deadline: March 14

This scholarship is designed for undergraduate students from various disadvantaged backgrounds who desire a career in behavioral, biomedical, and social science-focused research. Scholarships are offered for one academic year, but recipients can renew for up to four years. Applicants must be enrolled full time at an accredited university.

Psi Chi Diversity Article Awards
  • Sponsoring Organization: Eye on Psi Chi
  • Amount: $600
  • Application Deadline: July 1

Two awards of $600 are offered to students who have written articles pertaining to issues such as LGBTQ, mental and physical disabilities, and ethnic minorities. Applicants must be Psi Chi members.

Thelma Hunt Research Grant
  • Sponsoring Organization: Psi Chi Honor Society
  • Amount: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: September 15

Projects involving empirical research adhering to Psi Chi’s mission are highly desired. Preference is given to undergraduates, and applicants must be Psi Chi members.

Graduate Scholarships

American Psychological Foundation Graduate Student Scholarships
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Foundation and Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology
  • Amount: $1,000 – $5,000
  • Application Deadline: June 30

Graduate students who intend to earn a PhD in psychology are eligible for 16 different general scholarships earmarked for research costs. Applications are judged primarily by the strength of the submitted research proposal.

Arc of Washington Trust Fund
  • Sponsoring Organization: Arc of Washington
  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Application Deadline: August 15

Grants are awarded to students researching intellectual and developmental disabilities. Interested students can send a letter of intent to Arc accepts letters of intent explaining how they would use the grant money. If the concept fits with Arc’s mission, applicants will be invited to submit a proposal. Applicants must reside in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska or British Columbia.

Basic Psychological Science Research Grant
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Association of Graduate Students
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: December 2

Any APAGS member doing graduate-level research can apply for this award, so long as their research is innovative. APAGS awards three additional grants to psychology projects related to diversity.

Benton-Meier Scholarships
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Foundation
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Application Deadline: June 1

This award is aimed at neuropsychology students only. Two awards are given each year.

John Frederick Steinman Fellowship Fund
  • Sponsoring Organization: Lancaster Online
  • Amount: $6,000
  • Application Deadline: February 1

Students pursuing psychology, psychiatry or social work who can commit to working in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for at least one year after graduation should apply to the John F. Steinman Fellowship Fund. Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and want to become either a clinical or public school psychologist.

Mister Rogers Memorial Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Television Academy Foundation
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Application Deadline: TBD

Graduate students interested in working in children’s media are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Psychology students with coursework and/or work experience in early childhood education or child psychology are good candidates.

Nancy B. Forest and L. Michael Honaker Master’s Grant for Research in Psychology
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Association of Graduate Students
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: May 4

Graduate student affiliates of the APA who are enrolled at least half time at an accredited institutions are eligible for this grant. Applications are judged against not only academic record but also a submitted research proposal.

Psychology Graduate Student Scholarships
  • Sponsoring Organization: Wisconsin Psychology Foundation (WPF)
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: November 15

The Wisconsin Psychology Foundation offers three scholarships to graduate students enrolled in psychology programs in Wisconsin. Only student affiliates of the WPF may apply.

Roy Scrivner Memorial Research Grant
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Foundation
  • Amount: $15,000
  • Application Deadline: November 15

Graduate students who plan on researching LGBT family therapy or psychology grant should apply to the Roy Scrivner Memorial Research Grant. Dissertation candidates are given priority.

Scott and Paul Pearsall Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Foundation
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Application Deadline: October 1

This scholarship aids full-time graduate students studying stigma and discrimination faced by adults with physical disabilities. Awards will be given to applicants dedicated to lessening psychological stigma.

Scholarships for Women

American Fellowships Dissertation Fellowships
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Association of University Women American Fellowships
  • Amount: $20,000
  • Application Deadline: November 15

Though not explicitly for psychology students, this fellowship for women completing their first doctorate is specifically for women and is meant to offset the cost of living associated with the final year of completing a dissertation or publishing research.

Carol Williams-Nickelson Award for Women’s Leadership and Scholarship in Women’s Issues
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Association of Graduate Students
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: May 4

This APAGS award recognizes current female APAGS members who have performed leadership duties related to the advancement and research of women’s issues. Students must be enrolled in a doctoral program.

Career Advancement Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Business and Professional Women’s Association
  • Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: Varies

Women above the age of 24 who will be graduating with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in STEM within two years can apply through one of the BPW Foundation’s state-based legacy partners for financial help getting their careers off the ground.

Graduate Women in Science Fellowship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Sigma Delta Epsilon/Graduate Women in Science
  • Amount: Up to $10,000
  • Application Deadline: January 15

Female graduate students are eligible for this program, which hands out multiple scholarships every year to students using the scientific method to conduct their research.

NFRW National Pathfinder Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: The National Federation of Republican Women
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Application Deadline: June 1

Three scholarships of $2,500 are awarded to graduate students and undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Applicants must plan to work in the field of addiction and/or substance abuse, making this a perfect scholarship for psychology majors.

Psychology of Black Graduate Student Women Award
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society for the Psychology of Women
  • Amount: $250
  • Application Deadline: April 5

The winner of this scholarship is a black female graduate student with an innovative research paper exploring how gender affects black women’s lives. Applicants need not to have their research published prior to submissions.

Wesleyan College Findlay Scholars Program
  • Sponsoring Organization: Wesleyan College
  • Amount: Full tuition (approximately $19,750 annually)
  • Application Deadline: November 15

High school seniors should take a look at Wesleyan College in Georgia, a liberal arts college for women. The school offers two generous— and renewable — scholarships each year to students studying in the humanities or social sciences.

Minority Scholarships

CEMRRAT2 Task Force Travel Grants for Students of Color in Psychology
  • Sponsoring Organization: APA Office of Ethnic Minority Affairs
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: Rolling

This grant helps offset the cost of travel for psychology students of color at the master’s/doctoral level interested in presenting their research at conference. The work presented should focus on issues relevant to communities of color.

Diversity Fund Undergraduate Award
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society for Personality and Social Psychology
  • Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: TBD

Sophomore, junior or senior undergrads from underrepresented groups – including but not limited to LGBTQ and ethnic or racial minorities – have the opportunity to apply for this award if they are attending a school in the Southwest. Recipients are also invited to attend the annual SPSP conference.

Filipino American Psychology Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Asian American Psychological Association, Division on Filipino Americans
  • Amount: $500
  • Application Deadline: December 1

This award was created to promote the numbers of Filipino American scholars in the psychology field. The sponsor will also provide scholarship recipients guidance in researching and networking. Applicants must be a graduating senior or a graduate student pursuing a degree in psychology.

Goldstein & Schneider Scholarships by the Macey Fund
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Amount: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: TBD

SIOP affiliates researching industrial-organizational psychology or a closely related topic are invited to apply for this scholarship, which specifically supports full-time minority graduate students.

Health Professions Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Indian Health Services
  • Amount: Full tuition
  • Application Deadline: March 28

Members of federally recognized tribes who are enrolled in programs leading to a career in healthcare are eligible for this generous scholarship. Multiple scholarships are given out each year.

NASP-ERT Minority Scholarship Program
  • Sponsoring Organization: National Association of School Psychologists
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Application Deadline: November 3

This program supports the research efforts of minority students who plan to be school psychologists, rewarding multiple graduate students each year. Recipients also receive guidance from practicing school psychologists.

Predoctoral Scholarship in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
  • Sponsoring Organization: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: January 15

The SAMHSA provides scholarships to doctoral students in APA-accredited programs. Applicants do not necessarily need to be from an ethnic minority, but they must show a strong desire to work in the field of ethnic minority behavioral health services.

Ronald D. Lunceford Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: The Educational Foundation of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT)
  • Amount: $4,000
  • Application Deadline: December 31

This award is earmarked for minority students with an interest in marriage and family therapy. Applicants must choose one scholarship to apply for, or their application will be dismissed.

Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY) Fellowship
  • Amount: Up to $6,000 annually, plus travel to Washington, DC
  • Application Deadline: January 15

Though applicants do not necessarily have to be from an ethnic minority, this fellowship is reserved for doctoral students in an APA-accredited program who are committed to working with minority youth in a mental health service capacity.

Special Study Focus Scholarships

Associates in Behavioral Health Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Pride Foundation
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: January 15

LGBTQ graduate students hailing from the Northwest may apply for this scholarship. Priority is given to those with financial need.

Distinguished Student Awards in Clinical Psychology
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society of Clinical Psychology
  • Amount: $200
  • Application Deadline: November 1

Three awards are available — one each for students in the areas of research, practice and service — are made to doctoral students for contributions to the field of clinical psychology.

Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship
  • Sponsoring Organization: American Psychological Association
  • Amount: $25,000
  • Application Deadline: November 1

This award, which was established to fund graduate research on child psychology, is given to applicants who have completed their doctoral candidacy and shown a significant contribution to research in the field.

Future Counselors of America Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Datingadvice.com
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: June 30, annually

Future relationship counselors are eligible for this award, which is open to both graduate and undergraduate students. Applicants are required to write a short essay on the obstacles single people face in online dating venues and how relationship counselors can help them overcome them.

Michael Sullivan Diversity Scholarship Fund
  • Sponsoring Organization: Ohio Psychological Association
  • Amount: Up to $500 per recipient
  • Application Deadline: January 8

This fund provides assistance to full-time graduate students who are researching issues related to inclusion and multiculturalism. Funds must be used to cover project-related expenses.

NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program
  • Sponsoring Organization: National Association of Junior Auxiliaries, Inc.
  • Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: February 1

This scholarship is available to residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri or Tennessee. Applicants should demonstrate a desire to do hands-on work with children and be pursuing a graduate degree in a field such as counseling or psychology.

Routh Research and Dissertation Grant
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology (SCCAP)
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Application Deadline: March 1

This grant supports promising research into clinical adolescent and child psychology by SCCAP members. Proposed projects must already be approved by the applicant’s program faculty prior to submissions. Up to four grants worth $2,500 are available each year.

Soaring Heart Scholarship
  • Sponsoring Organization: Pride Foundation
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Application Deadline: January 15

Applicants for this scholarship must be Northwest residents — although they may study elsewhere — who are enrolled or planning to enroll in any type of postsecondary education. The Soaring Heart Scholarship was established to help students offer support services for those suffering from grief or trauma, especially if the threat of suicide is involved.

Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality Student Research Grant
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS)
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Application Deadline: February 1 and June 1

Two $1,000 grants are awarded annually to SSSS members conducting research on human sexuality, which does not necessarily have to contribute to a dissertation. There are two funding periods — spring and fall.

Transgender Research Award
  • Sponsoring Organization: Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues
  • Amount: Varies
  • Application Deadline: April 10

The Transgender Research Award was created to honor contributions to the study of transgender and gender diversity.

Q&A with Patty Hoban, Director of Financial Aid, Willamette University

How early do you recommend students start searching for scholarships?

They should start that early in the fall of their senior year. September is ideal. Earlier than that isn’t entirely effective, because the applications for the upcoming year probably won’t be quite there.

Given the competition for scholarships, what tips do you have for students hoping to receive one?

They have to certainly look everywhere. There isn’t any one database or source that is going to have access to all scholarships. The biggest tip is to talk to their high school guidance counselor. In addition, they should check with the financial aid office of the school they plan to attend. They should look online as well. There are guidelines for writing a good essay and any number of things they can do to present themselves in the best light. One good essay can be rewritten for any number of scholarships. The students who are the most successful are the ones who put a lot of applications out there and understand that applying for scholarships will require a time commitment their senior year.

Do you have any advice for students applying for psychology scholarships?

I don’t necessarily have any advice for that particular major. Obviously, it helps if people have an idea of what they want to go into, because then they can conduct a more focused scholarship search. The biggest piece of advice I give when I do presentations is not to expect that there’s going to be one silver bullet to provide all of the aid they need. Do the FAFSA. Apply for all the opportunities your school offers — between FAFSA, what the school’s going to give you, and the private awards. I have a lot of families who get admitted and think the FAFSA is going to take care of everything, but that’s not how it really works.

The High Cost of College

High college costs are an unforgiving reality for students, and as the graph indicates, those costs continue to rise every year. In fact, last year the cost of going to a four-year university increased at more than double the rate of inflation. Instead of loans, students should seek other alternatives for financial aid. Although the application process can be cumbersome, think of it this way: Even if it takes you five hours to complete a scholarship application for a $500 award, you’re still getting $100 an hour for your time. And you don’t have to pay it back.

Undergraduate Charges 2013-2015

Public Two-year in-district Public four-year in-state Public four-year out-of-state Private nonprofit four-year For-profit
Tuition and Fees
2014-2015 $3,347 $9,139 $22,958 $31,231 $15,230
2013-2014 $3,241 $8,885 $22,223 $30,131 $15,040
$ Change $106 $254 $735 $1,100 $190
% Change 3.3% 2.9% 3.3% 3.7% 1.3%
Room and Board
2014-2015 $7,705 $9,804 $9,804 $11,188
2013-2014 $7,540 $9,498 $9,498 $10,824
$ Change $165 $306 $306 $364
% Change 2.2% 3.2% 3.2% 3.4%
Tuition and Fees and Room and Board
2014-2015 $11,052 $18,943 $32,762 $42,419
2013-2014 $10,781 $18,383 $31,721 $40,955
$ Change $271 $560 $1,041 $1,464
% Change 2.5% 3.0% 3.3% 3.6%

Source: College Board, Trends in College Pricing 2014

Rising Student Loan Debt

It’s a vicious cycle — as college costs rise, so does student loan debt. Taking out loans is the default option for many students, but too often graduates are still paying off those loans decades after receiving their diploma. Not every university can offer a scholarship package to a student, so investigate other scholarship options before agreeing to loans — especially if they are unsubsidized. The graph below illustrates the rising student loan debt.

Average Debt per Borrower by Graduation Year

map

Source: Mark Kantrowitz/National Center for Education Statistics/Wall Street Journal

How to Find and Apply for Psychology Scholarships: The Steps

1 Don’t wait! Start considering your financial aid options right away.

Scholarships are competitive, so the earlier you start looking for them, the earlier you can apply for them, and the higher your chances of success. It’s good practice to begin your search the summer before senior year of high school. When visiting potential colleges, ask about scholarships specific to any aspects of psychology you are interested in, and make a point to stop by the psychology department and ask professors if they have any advice.

2 Narrow down your interests.

The field of psychology covers a wide range of divisions: clinical psychology, child psychology and so on. Organizations do exist that create scholarships and grants for specialized areas. If you already have an idea of what concentration you want to focus on, search for scholarships devoted to that field. Ask your teachers or career advisor if they have any recommendations for scholarships. When reading about scholarships, always make sure to read the fine print to determine if your area of interest is covered.

3 Compile a list of scholarships and check eligibility requirements.

Scouring the Internet for scholarships can be a pain, so where should you begin? If you already know which schools you’re applying to, check their websites for information regarding scholarships, especially those offered within the psychology department. Other databases exist as well. The American Psychological Association is a good source for students seeking financial aid information specific to psychology.

4 Gather essential documents for applying, and heed those deadlines.

Some scholarships require more documents than others, so start gathering those as soon as applications are available. If letters of recommendation are requested, determine potential writers and ask them in advance. Remember to choose individuals who can attest to both your character and your interest in psychology. Make note of the respective deadlines so you stay on track. Missing a deadline will usually eliminate your chances of being accepted.

5 Write those essays!

Essays offer applicants the chance to showcase their past accomplishments and future goals. If you’re feeling doubtful about your essay, ask a parent, close friend, or teacher to review it — their advice is crucial in helping you identify those amazing qualities that make you the ideal candidate for the scholarship.

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