Scholarships for Biology Majors: How to Find and Apply
Federal financial aid and private student loans make up a large part of a student's college funding. Students may also receive assistance though grants, scholarships and fellowships that do not have to be repaid. Several of these free-money options specifically target students interested in the biological sciences.
How Do Biology Majors Find and Apply for Scholarships?
According to a study by the Department of Education, ten percent of the 60,600 doctoral degrees earned in the 2006-2007 school year were in biological and biomedical sciences. Biological and biomedical sciences were also among the most popular majors for undergraduates during 2007-2008, with over 77,000 degrees awarded in these fields of study (nces.ed.gov).
Biology degrees open a wide range of career options for graduates. Biology majors often enter lucrative fields as biomedical, environmental, educational, technological and zoological workers and researchers. The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of biotechnology is the most progressive branch of scientific research (www.bls.gov). Many companies, universities, foundations and organizations offer financial aid and research opportunities for students interested in biology. The scholarships listed in this article make up only a few of the free-money options biology majors may take advantage of.
Online Database for Biology Scholarships
CollegeScholarships.org lists scholarship options for a number of majors, including biology. Established in 1999, the site is an independent, women-run resource providing free information on a wide variety of scholarships. Typically, students complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or similar application, a written essay, proof of eligibility and recommendations from teachers or professionals who are aware of your scientific aptitude. Biology scholarships and financial aid found throughout the site include the following:
- A research fellowship for biology undergraduates through the American Physiological Society to aid microbiology students.
- Internships and fellowships from the American Museum of Natural History for students interested in evolutionary biology.
- Annual scholarships through the American Chemical Society for minority students pursuing degrees in biology.
- The Paul and Ellen Ruckes Scholarship, which awards financial aid to graduate and undergraduate biology students.
- A total of 37 scholarships for undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral biomedical African American students through the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and The Merck Company Foundation.
We Believe Biology Major Scholarship
Local businesses and residents donate funds to the We Believe Biology Major Scholarship to help biology majors with tuition and other costs at the Iowa Lakes Community College. Each applicant must submit an essay and a formal application, and the winning student must earn an overall 2.5 GPA while attending the program (www.ilcc.cc.ia.us).
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholarships
Scholarships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are available through STEM programs, with 'STEM' being an acronym for the four disciplines. STEM assistance programs and scholarships benefit biology majors and can be found through a school's financial aid office. The National Science Foundation funds these scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students based on financial need (www.nsf.gov).
The Association for Women in Science STEM Scholarships
The Association for Women in Science receives donations from its members and supporters, awarding around 25 scholarships yearly for undergraduate and pre-doctoral students in STEM programs. Students must be in their second or third undergraduate year, or they must be graduate students accepted into a Ph.D. program. Certain scholarships contain specific requirements, and students should review eligibility and submission processes for the desired scholarship. Students submit applications online, attaching transcripts and references for review (www.awis.org).
The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Scholarships
Researchers pursuing Ph.D. degrees in biological sciences, such as cellular biology, physiology or zoology, may apply for research grants and scholarships through the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology. Some prizes require completion of an online application, while others are given to students who present research findings at the organization's annual meetings (www.sicb.org).
The SICB also awards the Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship to first- and second-year graduate students or to exceptional undergraduates in the field of marine biology. The scholarship funds field research or academic studies for students enrolled in graduate biology courses.
The American Society for Microbiology Scholarships
The American Society for Microbiology funds several awards, grants and research fellowships to students actively engaged in microbiology research and studies. Fellowship opportunities offer research projects to minority or highly motivated students. Each award has its own eligibility requirements and application procedures, and students are offered discounted rates on society membership (www.asm.org).
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholarships
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers grants and scholarships to many schools across the country for biology undergraduates. Since 1985, over $10 million in graduate fellowships have been awarded to graduate students providing research in such fields as microbiology, cellular biology and genetics (www.hhmi.org).
The Kathleen S. Anderson Award for Promising Biologists
Biology students of all ages may apply for the Kathleen S. Anderson Award for Promising Biologists through the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. One or more scholarship winners receive an annual financial award. The award funds research in avian studies, such as endangered species, bird conservation projects and migratory habits (www.shorebirdworld.org).
Rocky Mountain Biological Lab REU Program
Undergraduate students receive an allowance, travel assistance, accommodations and tuition assistance through the National Science Foundation to participate in a research project at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Colorado. Candidates for the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program are judged by need, minority status and determination. The 10-week research programs provide students the opportunity to work with scientists to complete a senior thesis or an independent research study (www.rmbl.org).
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