This guide is made to help social work students find scholarships. The guide is broken down into steps and covers when to start your search, where to search for social work scholarship information, and provides a list of the current social work scholarships available.
Scholarship searches can be long and tedious, but hopefully this guide makes the process easier. Some of the key details covered include:
- Eligibility: Different scholarships have different requirements. Understanding those requirements will make filtering your scholarship search easier.
- Directions: When and where to look for social work student scholarships
- Undergrad versus grad: Understanding the differences between undergraduate social work scholarships and master in social work (MSW) scholarships.
When to start searching for a social work scholarship
Begin your scholarship search as early as possible! There are undergraduate social work scholarships, for example, that you may apply for (or only can apply for) while you are still in high school. It is good to get an early start in your search to be aware of similar opportunities. Students who begin searching early also learn what is needed to be eligible for scholarships. The student can spend a lot of time gathering the materials they need for eligibility. It is good to start early to save time and stress in your search for a scholarship.
Basic eligibility and grade point average (GPA)
In all cases an applicant for any scholarship must meet a long list of requirements.
The majority of scholarships require a GPA of a 3.0 to be held wherever the applicant is academically. This 3.0 must be held throughout the remainder of their education after receiving the scholarship. If an applicant’s GPA falls below a 3.0 the applicant can lose the funds from the scholarship.
Transcripts and references
All scholarship applications will ask for your references and transcripts. In the beginning of the search you should brainstorm possible references for your application. It is good to reach out to your possible references before applying and see if they are willing to write an extensive letter of recommendation for you. Typically scholarship references come from teachers, community leaders, or people practicing social welfare that can attest to your underlying strength of character and commitment to the underlying principles of the profession.
Be sure to double-check the instructions for submitting materials such as references, letters of recommendation, and transcripts to each scholarship organization. Each scholarship committee will have their own process and paying attention to details like this will improve your chances of getting your application looked at and evaluated.
Where to find social work scholarship information
The best place to begin your scholarship search is the internet.
There are plenty of websites out there that are geared towards making your scholarship search an easy process. One example of a great place to begin a basic web search is Scholarships.com is a site that contains over 3.7 million scholarships for students to search for.
Another great place to begin your search is at the university (or universities) where you are applying for admission. Simply call the social work department during business hours and inquire about your scholarship search. This way of searching could open you up to a list of scholarships that are specifically available to that university.
Undergraduate social work scholarships
This is a list of scholarships available for students pursuing or attending an undergraduate program.
Davis Putter Scholarship Fund
A David Putter scholarship is for undergraduates that are involved in the progressive movement. The scholarship is usually awarded to students that are involved in movements for social and economic justice. This includes movements that are for the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia and any other types of oppression. The applicants have to be involved in these activities in the United States.
- $15,000 is the highest amount awarded to applicants
- Applications available from January 1st to March 31st every year
- Applications due on April 1st, applicant informed of decision in July
The applicants must submit a 1000-word statement that is about their involvement in the progressive movement. Include the dates you were involved and the types of participation. Letters of recommendation and your financial information must be provided in the application as well. Visit https://davisputter.org for more information on the scholarship.
Ron Brown Scholarship
The Ron Brown Scholarship is for African Americans who seek to attend college after finishing high school. Applicants for the scholarship have to be graduating seniors in high school when they apply for the scholarship. The scholarship is not limited to a particular field but is typically awarded to those who seek to work in public service, community engagement, and global citizenship. The winners of the scholarship receive $10,000 per year for a total of $40,000 in funds for their four-year college degree.
- Applicants complete and submit forms from August-January.
- In March the finalists attend an event in Washington where the scholarship winners are determined.
- The winners of the scholarship will be informed in April
Visit https://www.ronbrown.org to learn more about this scholarship.
Aging Matters Scholarship
The Age Matters Scholarship is for students who plan to work with the elderly population, or who are currently taking care of an aging loved one, or working in the senior community. The scholarship can be received by any student in any level of their undergraduate degree. Those who are about to begin their undergraduate degree may also apply for the scholarship. The scholarship is for $1,500 and is awarded to the applicant who writes the best essay on the topic: Why does aging matter to you? This is focused on how the aging population will rise over the next thirty years.
- Applicants may apply between June-May
- Winner is selected in June
- Scholarship money can be used for tuition, books, board and other costs.
The scholarship is awarded to one applicant per year and is a one time received amount. Visit https://www.seniorcare.com for more details on the scholarship.
Social work scholarships for graduate students
This is a list of scholarships available for social work students pursuing or attending a graduate program.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation: Truman Scholarship
A Truman scholarship is for those who plan to attend graduate school. Students that are undergraduates in their junior or senior year of college are eligible to apply for the scholarship. When these students finish their undergraduate, they must go straight to their graduate program. The scholarship is typically awarded to those who hope to improve or work in non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions. The applicant should be willing to commit to working in public service for the first three to seven years after finishing their degree.
- Receive up to $30,000 for graduate school
- Must be in junior year of undergraduate
- Submissions due in early February
Applicants should have a history of public and community service, great communication skills and strive to be a great leader. These factors greatly impact the people that are chosen to receive the scholarship. For more info about this scholarship visit https://www.truman.gov.
National Association of Junior Auxiliaries Inc: NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program
The NAJA Graduate Scholarship is intended to support students pursuing a graduate degree. The scholarship is awarded to those who plan to work directly with children. The program has awarded over $1,349,504.00 for graduate students who work with children and youth since 1962. A recipient who is awarded the scholarship receives funds for one year of tuition, but recipients are eligible to apply again to cover additional educational expenses.
- The applicant must be a United States citizen and be a resident of: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, or Tennessee.
- Applications and re-applications are offered between September first and February first.
- In addition to the above criteria, you must be enrolled in full-time or part-time graduate program to be eligible for the scholarship.
Visit https://www.najanet.org/naja-scholarship/ for more details on this scholarship.
Verne LaMarr Lyons Scholarship
The Verne LaMarr Lyons Scholarship is for graduate social work students who work or want to work in the health and mental health field. The applicant must also have a commitment to work in the African American community. The scholarship funds the students usually between $4,000-$6,000. Past scholarship winners now work in environments giving service and treatment to African American patients. Applicants must also have or obtain a National Association of Social Workers membership as well. Applicants can apply for a membership on the NASW website.
- Applications are to be submitted between January-March
- Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA
- Must be a NASW member before applying
During the application process the applicant must provide a biographical essay, two reference letters, their transcript and a signed release of information. More information about the Verne LaMarr Lyons Scholarship can be found on https://www.naswfoundation.org/Our-Work/Scholarships-Fellowships-Awards
Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship
The Consuelo Memorial Scholarship is for those seeking a masters who plan to work with American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations. Those who have worked with local grass groups and voluntary non-profit agencies are eligible for the scholarship as well. The scholarship provides the student between $2,000-$4,000 for school expenses. The applicant also must have or obtain a National Association of Social Workers membership before applying.
• Applications are to be submitted between January-March
• Student must maintain a 3.0 GPA
• Must be a NASW member before applying
Applicants must provide an essay, a statement merit and their financial needs. Two letters of reference, a transcript and a signed release of information are required as well. Visit https://www.naswfoundation.org/Our-Work/Scholarships-Fellowships-Awards for more information on the scholarship.
Payne Fellowship Program
The focus of the Payne Fellowship is international work. This is an opportunity usually for those interested in international social work. The Payne Fellowship Program gives up to ten fellowships at around $48,000 each year. The funds help graduate students pay for tuition and all other school expenses they encounter. Those who become new Payne Fellowship members must attend an orientation at Howard University in Washington D.C. The applicant has many universities around the U.S to choose from and is not limited to attending Howard University for their studies. The fellows must also do two summer internships focused on international work that are for the Payne fellowship.
- Applicants must plan to enter graduate school in the fall to begin a two-year master’s program
- Applicants can apply in their last year of their undergraduate or if they have already graduated with a bachelors
- Must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher when applying
The online application requires the student to provide background information, two statements, two letters of recommendation and more. Visit https://www.paynefellows.org/graduate-fellowship-program to learn more about this program.
Bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, online degree, and books scholarships
The following two scholarships offer plans that cover undergraduates, graduates, online and offline options. The last scholarship is to help cover book expenses for students.
National Association of Black Social Workers Scholarship
A NABSW scholarship is for African American social workers in their undergraduate or graduate program. The applicant can enroll in an online or campus-based courses. The applicant also must be an active member of NABSW when applying. Participation in community service in the past and interest in research on the black community is required as well. Applicants can be involved in any area of social work to be eligible for scholarships.
- Applications must be submitted by late June
- Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA
- Must be a full-time student
Applicants must provide a statement of purpose letter, proof of volunteer work and two letters of recommendation when applying. Visit https://www.nabsw.org to learn more about scholarships.
Pride Foundation Scholarship
A scholarship from the pride foundation is for those who plan to work with LGBTQ community. The scholarships are available to those who are pursuing their undergraduate or graduate degree online or offline. The scholarship is usually awarded to students that are economically, racially, socially, geographically or politically disenfranchised and are able to show a need for financial aid. Applicants also must be a resident in Northwest America, this includes Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon or Washington. The applicants are not limited to studying at a university in these states and may attend universities in other states.
- Applications are due in early January
- Application reviews and interviews are completed in March
- Final decisions are in May
The Pride Foundations website provides links to alternative organizations that provide similar scholarships. For those who may not qualify for this particular scholarship visit https://pridefoundation.org/ to see a list of other options. Visit the link to also learn more about qualifications for a scholarship from the Pride Foundation.
Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund Scholarships
The Carl A. Scott Fund gives a $500 scholarship to social work students for their books. This scholarship is not for tuition but can help social work students with the funds they need for books for their studies. The scholarship is awarded to students in the last year of their undergraduate or the last year of their graduate degree. The scholarship is usually awarded to those in social work who focus on working towards equality and social justice.
- Applications open in the summer
- Applicants must have a 3.0 or higher
- Must be a full-time student
The scholarship can only be obtained one time and is target for minorities but anyone can receive the scholarship. Visit https://www.cswe.org/Centers-Initiatives/Initiatives/Scholarships-and-Fellowships” for more details on the scholarship.
Bethesda Lutheran Community Scholarship
A scholarship from the Bethesda Lutheran Community is for those who are active members of a Lutheran Congregation. The scholarship is designed for seminary students and university students, the university students must be a Lutheran Congregation member. The scholarship is typically received by social work students who want to work with clients that have intellectual and developmental disabilities. Applicants must be undergraduates and in the junior or senior year of college.
- Applicants must apply by May
- Scholarship winners will be informed in July
- Must have a 3.0 to be eligible for the scholarship
Applicants must also submit an essay, provide four letters of recommendation and their transcript. The applicant must also submit pictures of themselves working with those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more about this scholarship visit https://bethesdalc.org/get-involved/scholarships.
Let the search begin
If you are not eligible for the scholarships that have been provided above, do not let this discourage you.
The good news is that there are a number of really great scholarships available to help support social work studies. The scholarships mentioned above are just a few examples of what is out there and available.
These scholarships can be competitive and getting a head start on the application process can help increase your chances of winning the scholarship.
We hope this guide helped steer you in the right direction in selecting a scholarship that is right for you. If you are close to meeting the criteria for a scholarship do not hesitate to reach out to the organization providing the scholarship.