Fully Funded Online Masters Scholarships for 2024- Are They Real?

Have you ever dreamed of earning a master’s degree without taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loans? Getting a fully funded online master’s scholarship could make that dream a reality. 

What is a Fully Funded Online Masters Program?

A fully funded online master’s program covers 100% of a student’s tuition and certain additional education-related expenses through non-repayable financial aid like scholarships and grants. This removes the burden of paying out-of-pocket costs, allowing students to focus solely on their studies.

Fully funded scholarships take several forms:

Tuition Waivers

With a tuition waiver, the university waives or forgives the tuition costs for selected students. This is a common type of funding for teaching and research assistantships.


A stipend provides a regular payment intended to cover living expenses while enrolled in the graduate program. Monthly or quarterly stipends usually range from $1,500-3,000.

Fellowship Grants

Prestigious national and university grants are highly competitive sources of full funding. Fellowships often have generous stipends and cover additional education-related costs like fees, books, travel, and health insurance.

To qualify as “fully funded,” the combination of scholarships, grants, tuition waivers, and stipends must meet or exceed the total estimated cost of attendance, which includes tuition, fees, living expenses, supplies, and transportation for the full duration of the online master’s program. Partially funded programs may cover half or a portion of costs but leave students responsible for the remaining balance.

How to Find Fully Funded Online Masters Programs

With the growth of distance learning, more reputable universities are now offering online graduate degrees. However, only a select few currently provide full funding opportunities. Here are some top places to search:

University Websites

Browse funding sections of graduate program pages on university websites. Prestigious schools regularly advertise competitive scholarships on their admissions pages.


This helpful database allows filtering searches by degree level, subject area, and full/partial funding options to uncover hidden gems. You can also set location filters if you are interested in in-state funding.

Graduate Programs For Me

Another specialized search engine for postgraduate scholarships. Enter your profile details, and it will return customized program funding matches based on your interests, background, and career goals.

Foundation Center

The largest compilation of US philanthropic funding, from private foundations to corporations. While targeted toward research, some foundations do offer full master grants. Search by keyword here.

Diversity Funding Databases

If you’re a member of an underrepresented group, search gender/ethnicity-focused scholarship lists tailored for women, people of color, and more. Organizations like AAUW and ACE have robust funding resources.

The most funding opportunities generally come from science, technology, healthcare, and education-focused disciplines, especially programs with research or teaching components. Expect competition to be stiff—as few as 5-10 students may receive full funding at top schools each year. Location also plays a role, with in-state public university funding more common than private out-of-state awards.

Strengthening Your Funded Master’s Application

No matter how promising a fully funded online master’s program may seem, actually securing that scholarship is far from guaranteed. Competition for top awards is incredibly fierce, with applicants boasting impressive resumes. You’ll need to make your application shine through meticulous preparation. Here are some tips:

Emphasize Relevant Experience

Rather than generic accomplishments, highlight any work, research, or volunteer experience closely matching your proposed field of study. Quantify your impact or responsibilities whenever possible.

Request Strong Letters of Recommendation

Ask people who can enthusiastically endorse your preparedness, skillset, and dedication to succeed in graduate school—ideally, professionals in your desired industry or professors familiar with your work.

Writing Stellar Essays is Crucial

Give yourself ample time to brainstorm essay prompts, outline logical arguments, and refine passionate yet concise responses illustrating your motivation and future goals. Have others review for feedback.

Maintain a High GPA

Your undergraduate transcript speaks volumes about your academic abilities. Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA, ideally 3.7 or higher if possible. Retake any classes you can improve within your final semesters.

Research Program Fit Carefully

Show interest in a specific university and program of study by reading faculty profiles, researching lab or project opportunities congruent with your interests, and connecting your experiences. Customizing applications greatly enhances your candidacy.

Solicit External Recommendations

Seeking recommendation letters from industry leaders and others outside your academic career can further support your interests, capabilities, and potential contributions to that particular program.

With diligent preparation like this, your odds of standing out from other funded program finalists increase substantially. Continue networking, build your online profile, and consider presenting your research at conferences to continuously enhance your competitiveness wherever opportunities exist.

Additional Scholarship Considerations

While external full funding sources are undoubtedly ideal, do not overlook internal program-specific options that may supplement living costs or cover portions of tuition. For example:

Teaching or Research Assistantships

Many online master programs offer on-campus work-study positions assisting faculty for partial or full tuition remission. Though an additional time commitment, the hands-on experience and mentorship prove invaluable.

Partial & Split Awards

Some universities split full scholarships between multiple admitting students or divide funding between tuition versus stipends. Appealing for reconsideration or additional aid could help close remaining affordability gaps.

On-campus Employment

Jobs at university libraries, computer labs, and recreation centers may allow working limited daytime hours alongside studies. Supplemental income helps offset costs not covered by other available aid sources.

External Scholarship Deadlines

Major scholarship competitions and foundation grant cycles often occur well before individual program admission notification dates. Apply early for broad funding consideration wherever possible.

Appeals & Waitlists

Should initial funding appeals prove unsuccessful, politely inquire about waitlist options should additional monies become available later on due to award declinations. Perseverance occasionally pays off.

With the strategic layering of these varied internal and external funding layers, maximizing affordability remains achievable even after initial admission decisions arrive. Creativity and persistence open additional doors toward the coveted goal of earning an advanced degree while incurring little to no debt.

Targeted Online Masters Scholarships to Consider

While selective, the following prestigious scholarships exemplify the top fully funded options for highly qualified candidates. Meeting minimum requirements is no guarantee of selection, but targeting these demonstrates your aspirations and seriousness toward funded graduate studies.

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program

This $34,000 per year award supports science and engineering students showing potential to become STEM leaders. Applicants must be US citizens or nationals intending to earn research-based master’s or PhD degrees. Areas of focus include chemistry, computer science, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, mathematics, physics, psychology, social sciences, and more. Deadlines are typically in October-November each year for the following fall.

Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Fully funding outstanding international applicants to the University of Cambridge for any master’s program. Forty prestigious scholarships are awarded annually, providing $70,000 in stipend and tuition support for two years of academic study. Open to all disciplines, but ideal candidates are tackling challenging worldwide issues and have clear leadership qualities. Rolling admissions timeline from November through January.

Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships

The Ford Fellowship targets underrepresented racial and ethnic minority US citizens or nationals who show promise to become leaders in their fields. This highly competitive program provides $25,000 annual stipends for up to four years toward Master’s and doctoral degrees at any accredited university in the United States. Applicants must be pursuing research-focused degrees. The application deadline is mid-January.

J. William Fulbright Foreign Student Program

Allowing international students the opportunity to conduct postgraduate academic study or research at leading American universities. Awards include tuition funding, travel costs, and monthly maintenance allowances. Candidates should apply through their home country’s Fulbright Commission to study in the US on topics that foster mutual understanding between nations. Timelines vary annually by country, usually fall applications.

Annenberg Public Policy Center Media Policy Fellowship

Full funding to study media and communication-related issues at eight partner institutions (Penn, Columbia, USC, etc). Fellows receive a $30,000 stipend, fees, and health insurance while earning either a one-year Master’s degree or certificate studying regulatory or First Amendment policy issues in journalism, media economics, and more. Rolling admissions with January deadlines.

Strong competition exists for these selective major scholarships, so candidates need truly outstanding profiles. However, with diligent planning and self-promotion, the rewards – in terms of education, experience, and career-launching – are well worth the ambitious effort required.


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