How to Pay for Graduate School

October 9, 2013

graduate schoolGraduate school presents the opportunity for many to advance in a particular skill or specialize in a specific area of knowledge. In some cases, a master’s degree is a career move, landing you a better job, or a raise at your current job. Depending on what you want to do, there are situations in which attending graduate school can be worth it. I know my stint at graduate school has more than paid off, even though it got expensive, so today we’ll look at how to pay for graduate school.

The good news is that I had help paying for graduate school. I received a scholarship for a portion of my tuition, and there were subsidized federal loans available for my use. If you are contemplating graduate school, here are some options for helping you pay for it:


One of the best ways to pay for graduate school is through an assistantship. My husband has been on an assistantship since he began his Ph.D. program. This has been quite helpful, since it has resulted in a tuition waiver, and in a modest stipend.

The only costs we have for his graduate schooling are student fees and books. Programs vary, but many assistantships will at at least waive tuition, or pay enough for you to cover a significant portion of your tuition. There are two main types of assistantship:

1. Teaching Assistantship: With this type of assistantship, you teach at least one class a semester. You either follow a curriculum created for you, or create your own.

2) Research Assistantship: If you are interested in research, and not in teaching, one of these assistantships might be a possibility. You assist professors in their research work, gather and analyze data and may even write portions of papers.

Graduate School Scholarships and Fellowships

Even though you won’t find as many scholarships for graduate students as you do for undergraduate students, they are still available. Check with the school to see if there are any scholarships offered, this may be one thing to consider when choosing an MBA program. You can also look online and in your community for graduate scholarships. Many professional organizations offer scholarships, and there are scholarships aimed at specific groups of people, such as different ethnic groups or military personnel.

Fellowships can also help pay for graduate school. These are programs in which you are sponsored to work on your graduate degree. These can be offered by schools, or by outside organizations. Normally, a fellowship will pay for your tuition, as well as provide an income that allows you to cover living expenses. These are often competitive, and you may be required to teach or perform research as one of the requirements.

Special Programs and Loans

There are also a number of special programs that provide funds that can be used toward graduate school. AmeriCorps, PeaceCorp and the military all have programs aimed helping you pay for school after you complete a certain amount of service. Additionally, you might have an employer with a program that will help you pay for your graduate education. Find out the requirements, and take advantage of these opportunities.

Finally, there are loan programs that can help you pay for graduate school. You can get federal student loans to help you pay, as well as private loans. There are private loans through banks, organizations like, and using the P2P model, as at You can also look on sites like Lending Club and Prosper to see about your peer lending options.

Of course, you can always save up for graduate school. You can work, and you can set aside money to pay for your schooling. You can also use investments to help you pay for your schooling. There is no one way to pay for graduate school, and with some careful planning, you can get your funding from more than one source.

Are you in graduate school? How are you choosing to pay for it? Leave a comment!

This article was originally published November 4th, 2010.


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Miranda writes about personal finance almost every day. An experienced freelance writer, she's covered your money online and in print from every angle and is always looking for new ones.

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5 Responses to How to Pay for Graduate School

  • Roger Wohlner

    Great post. With the rising cost of an undergraduate education these days (I am the father of three btw the ages of 17-22, with one in college and one going next year) kids don’t need to add debt to get a master’s degree. Back in the day Marquette University was good enough to offer me an assistantship/scholarship to pursue my MBA. There would have been no other way for me to afford this other than borrowing at the time, so I am ever grateful. There was a small group of grad assistants, we become close and did many things socially to boot. Overall in my experience a great way to have gotten the degree.


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