I am interested in furthering my understanding of the process of applying for grants (funding) for graduate students and pursuing Engineering (STEM) Career. I am located in the United States and I am a U.S. Citizen.

My understanding of the process: funding opportunities for graduate students are more 'project' based (to pursue a certain line of thought or experiment) while undergraduate scholarships are more based on student achievement and designated major.

I received a few scholarships while an undergraduate, and my question is, what are the significant differences between funding for graduates and scholarships for undergraduates?

  • Note that the answers depend somewhat on what field you're in, and very much on what country you're based (or interested) in. Specifying those will make the answers much more helpful.
    – E.P.
    Jul 2, 2016 at 0:45
  • @E.P. - Good Point, Thank you and I have added this information to the post. Jul 2, 2016 at 0:51

1 Answer 1


Eligibility: some scholarships are awardable only to undergraduates and never to graduates, or vice versa.

As a graduate you'll have access to more scholarships and awards, and lose access to others.

Also note that most graduate funding is merit-based rather than identity-based. Thus, it will focus more on academic achievements (published papers, presentations, GPA) etc. rather than being a Welsh American or something like that. (There are some external scholarships for minorities but far more of the funding is not based on this).

Specificity: at the undergraduate level, many scholarships are particular to a programme or degree, but can be awarded to anybody studying that programme or degree.

For example, a science scholarship could be awarded in chemistry, physics, biology, maths, geology, astronomy, and so on. An arts scholarship could be for literature, sculpture, photography, art history, or other areas.

Graduate scholarships are often more focused, not just on a programme or degree, but a particular field. This gets more particular at higher levels where scholarships almost morph into small grants.

For example, instead of being for sciences, it may be for science research related to a specific industry. Instead of being for art, it may be for work done in or about a particular style and technique.

This answer is a community wiki. Please add additional points of difference and a succinct description of them, as above.

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