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. Several of these options specifically target students interested in the biological sciences.

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How Do Biology Majors Find and Apply for Scholarships?

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.
  • Undergraduate scholarships and graduate and postdoctoral fellowships for biomedical African American students through the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and The Merck Company Foundation.

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. The National Science Foundation funds these scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students based on financial need. STEM assistance programs and scholarships benefit biology majors and can be found through a school's financial aid office.

Association for Women in Science STEM Scholarships

The Association for Women in Science receives donations from its members and supporters, awarding more than 20 scholarships yearly for undergraduate and pre-doctoral students in STEM programs. Certain scholarships contain specific requirements, and students should review eligibility and submission processes for the desired scholarship (www.awis.org).

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.

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 society members, microbiology faculty and microbiologists. Each award has its own eligibility requirements and application procedures, and students are offered discounted rates on society membership (www.asm.org).

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholarships

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers grants and scholarships to many schools across the country for biology undergraduates. As of 2013, more than $80 million in graduate fellowships have been awarded to graduate students providing research in such fields as microbiology, cellular biology and genetics (www.hhmi.org).

Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory REU Program

Undergraduate students receive an allowance, travel assistance, accommodations and tuition assistance as part of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer education program. REU candidates 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).

Biology Degree Overview

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, biological and biomedical sciences was one of the most popular doctoral degree fields in the 2009-2010 school year. Of the degrees awarded, 7,700 were conferred in this major (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 of which biology majors may take advantage.

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