Funding Graduate Study in North America | Top Universities

Funding Graduate Study in North America

By Staff Writer

Updated March 6, 2023 Updated March 6, 2023

Sponsored by Schulich School of Business  

If you’re looking to study a graduate level degree at a top institution in the US or Canada, competition for scholarships can be fierce.  

However, while securing a scholarship at graduate level can be challenging, it isn’t impossible.  

If you’re prepared to show a bit of perseverance and adaptability, and look beyond the most obvious avenues to see what alternative sources of funding could be out there, you will improve your chances considerably. 

Let's consider the bigger picture and the financial aid options available. 

Funding to study in Canada 

The cost of graduate study at universities in Canada is often significantly lower than those in the US, and graduate scholarships are available at both governmental and institutional level.  

The best source of funds tends to be individual universities and colleges, many of which offer a range of different scholarship types that cover tuition costs or living expenses – and sometimes both. Many awards are based solely on academic merit and therefore financial aid is not taken into account through the application process. 

The Schulich School of Business in Toronto, Canada is consistently ranked among the leading business schools in the world. Its master’s programmes boast a cutting-edge curriculum and flexible study options. Each degree programme is designed to support your academic aspirations, your lifestyle and your long-term goals. 

There are several options available to applicants looking for help with funding at Schulich, including financial aid, scholarships, awards and bursaries. The school will also provide information about other funding options, such as private loans. International applicants are automatically considered for all merit-based entrance awards and scholarships at Schulich when applying to its programmes, so you won’t need to apply separately.   

The Canadian government also offers a range of awards for graduate students, as do many individual universities. A free service coordinates most scholarships and is available at: There are also a number of scholarships that offer funds to cover tuition fees and living expenses, administered by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.  

Applicants looking to pursue a postgraduate programme at Schulich can search for relevant funding options on the school's website.  

Funding to study in the US 

At top US universities a full-fee remission, along with a living grant, is often available to students accepted onto doctoral programs. This may also include your master’s degree, but usually only as part of a sequential course leading on to a PhD.  

In contrast to undergraduate education, where admission and financial awards are controlled at the institutional level, US graduate education is quite tightly controlled at the departmental level. Funding for certain fields tends to be more heavily subsidised than for others. For example, a student of physics, chemistry, or biology may find institutional funding more readily available than a student of humanities, the social sciences, or education. 

There are also independent foundations and scholarship organisations that provide funding for students studying in the US. Many of these awards will also pay for living and travel expenses.  

One such organisation is the US-UK Fulbright Commission, which grants between six and ten postgraduate awards in any discipline at the US institution of the UK student’s choice. The award covers tuition fees, health insurance, and living expenses for the first year of study only.  

Funding directories, such as The Grants Register (Palgrave Macmillan) published annually, show there are hundreds of independent awards available, so doing as much research as possible is a key factor in getting funding. 

Alternative funding 

An alternative funding avenue that will appeal to the athletically gifted is sporting scholarships, which are far more lucrative and widespread in the US than in the vast majority of other countries.  

UK graduate Charlotte Buxton studied for a two-year master’s degree in creative writing at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, USA with the help of an athletic scholarship. “Most colleges in the US give a range of financial support to student athletes in all kinds of sports - from the obvious, like American football, baseball or softball, and basketball, to golf, soccer, and cheerleading,” she says. 

One thing is for sure: if you apply in a haphazard manner, at the last minute and without sufficient research and planning, your chances of securing funding for your graduate study are minimal.  

On the other hand, with full-fee awards worth anything up to US$30-40,000 (~CAD$40-54,000) per year at top US and Canadian universities - and in some cases with a stipend for living expenses on top of that - the hours you spend researching, preparing and submitting your scholarship applications could end up being some of the best-paid work you ever do. 

This article was originally published in October 2012 . It was last updated in March 2023

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