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Guide to Scholarships for Accounting Graduate Students

An advanced degree represents a significant investment of money and time. If you are in the process of applying to or completing your master’s, you are likely considering the return on investment for a master’s degree in accounting–and looking for ways to improve it.

There are many scholarships and grants available for students pursuing a master’s in accounting, though it is rare for these to cover the full cost of a graduate education. Most students at least partially fund their education through other means such as stipends and student loans; therefore, it’s best to be aware of the salary, career growth, and cost of living expectations for accounting professionals in your state so that you can estimate how much you can afford to pay for your education. The following recommendations and resources for accounting scholarships can help you make your graduate education more affordable.

Sources of Accounting Scholarships

While the list of accounting scholarships below is extensive, it is by no means complete. There are various school-based, local, state, regional, and national scholarships that may or may not be listed on the various scholarship databases. Sources of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and other aid include:

  • Every college and university has its own scholarship programs. To maximize your opportunities, work closely with the financial aid and career counselors at your school.
  • Local companies and national corporations will often support colleges and universities through endowments, grants, and scholarships, knowing that the graduates who they help finance are likely to seek accounting careers at their organizations.
  • Professional associations, civic groups, and government agencies also award scholarships to students at various levels of education, including opportunities geared towards students seeking master’s degrees in accounting.
  • Check with research and education foundations associated with any medical condition you might have for resources that can help you with your education as well as your well-being. There are special scholarship funds for students who are visually or hearing impaired and for those diagnosed with chronic conditions such as epilepsy or diabetes, for example.

Scholarships may have even further eligibility requirements; some are designed specifically for full-time students, while others may be open only to part-time students. Scholarships may also be specific to students who are completing an online accounting degree program. In addition, many scholarship programs allow online applications while others must be routed through your school.

Scholarships Offered on a Nationwide Basis

State-Specific Scholarship Opportunities for Students

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a scholarship, a grant, and a fellowship?

A scholarship is an award of financial aid, typically paid directly to the school a student is attending. Scholarships may be need-based (based on income and assets), merit-based (based on academic or professional performance), or a combination of both. A grant is a financial aid award that is typically disbursed based on merit, frequently by state and government programs (vs. scholarships, which are often run by private entities). Both scholarships and grants are considered “gift” aid, meaning that they do not need to be paid back, unlike a loan. A fellowship can also be gift aid, or it can be structured like an assistantship, in which a student works in return for direct aid (often called a stipend) and/or discounted tuition, such as becoming a teaching assistant or performing research.

Will paying for a scholarship, membership, or other participation increase my chances?

As a general rule of thumb, if you have to pay for a scholarship, it’s probably a scam. There are exceptions, however: many CPA societies and associations only offer scholarships to their members, in which case, as long as you can verify the reputation of the association, it may be worthwhile to join. Most state and national CPA associations offer students discounted membership.

What other financial aid opportunities are there for graduate accounting students?

One frequently overlooked need-based form of aid is federal work-study. In order to qualify, you must have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and meet income requirements. If you do qualify, you will need to arrange for a qualifying job (typically on-campus). The federal work-study program will then subsidize your pay in order to allow you to contribute more towards your education. Even if you do not qualify for federal work-study, your college or university may have institutional work-study opportunities.

Federal student loans are also available to graduate students. Federal student loans are typically recommended over private loans as they have more borrower-friendly terms for most applicants.

How can I maximize the amount of aid I qualify for?

One of the most important steps to qualifying for financial aid is filing your FAFSA as early as possible. Many aid programs fill up early, even those that are need-based. You should also work closely with your school’s financial aid department as well as your departmental advisors to ensure that you are applying for each scholarship or other forms of aid for which you qualify. It also helps to focus your time on scholarships that are a close match to your qualifications and goals. For even more advice from established professionals on making the most of your accounting education and career, see our collection of career interviews.

Accounting School Information by State