Top Doctoral Funding Opportunities for STEM Students

In the past few decades, advanced education has turned out to be vitally important in setting apart an individual from their friends. But getting a PhD doesn’t come cheap, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) fields. Fortunately, numerous doctoral funding opportunities for STEM students can offer support for their PhD studies.

Due to these STEM fellowships and scholarship opportunities, many PhD students move into the STEM fields. Obtaining doctoral funding for STEM is very necessary as it not only relieves the financial burden but also allows students to focus on their studies without taking on menial jobs on a part-time basis to fund their studies.

These STEM fundings usually come in the form of STEM Fellowship Opportunities or STEM Scholarship Opportunities and often include PhD Stipends, healthcare benefits, and networking opportunities, hence making the PhD journey a memorable one.


What Is Doctoral Funding?

Doctoral funding, also known as PhD funding, refers to the financial aid and support provided to students who enrol in an accredited doctoral program. This aid can come from the federal government, state government and private companies, as well as professional organizations.

Doctoral funding can come in the form of fellowships, research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and loans. Each of these forms of support has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. One of the main differences among these forms of funding is whether or not the student is required to work in exchange for the funding they receive.

See Also: 7 Types of Doctoral Funding

Secure PhD Funding in STEMWhy You Need STEM Doctoral Funding

STEM doctoral funding is an incredibly valuable resource for aspiring scholars, as it not only helps to cover the skyrocketing tuition costs but also provides financial support for living expenses and various other academic pursuits such as conference attendance and research travel. The availability of funding can stem from a multitude of sources, including the university itself, which may offer generous research grants or departmental scholarship programmes.

Undoubtedly, one of the most compelling justifications for investing time and effort into securing funding is the undeniable impact it has on the successful completion of a doctoral degree. According to Hugo Horta et al, in their research, students who receive a higher amount of funding are substantially more likely to triumphantly navigate the challenging path toward the attainment of their doctorates.

Those who are fortunate enough to secure substantial funding tend to complete their studies more expeditiously, outpacing their peers who possess comparatively fewer financial resources. By securing funding before commencing their doctorate, candidates enhance the allure of their applications to potential supervisors. These mentors will be able to discern, without any ambiguity, how this financial support can significantly bolster their research programs.

Securing funding proactively makes a candidate substantially more attractive and compelling in the eyes of potential supervisors. It is equally important to highlight that numerous doctoral funding opportunities are open to both UK and EU students. Students hailing from the European Union may find solace in specific funding avenues tailored explicitly to their circumstances. By earnestly searching for available doctoral funding opportunities for STEM students,  you equip yourself with the means to navigate an exceptional PhD journey.

Benefits of Pursuing a STEM Doctorate

The STEM field has been increasingly becoming attractive to many as the demand for graduates in the field continues to grow. There are several benefits associated with pursuing a STEM doctorate which include; having a higher salary potential, being able to undertake research that one is really interested in, having a wider variety of job opportunities and being able to make a real impact on the world.

Again, lots of roles in the field are well respected due to the very technical nature and advanced technical skill set that many of these roles require which can often lead to more flexible and freelance working conditions, for instance, many in the tech industry have the option to work remotely or self-employed. It is because of these benefits that STEM funding is so crucial, a doctorate can be expensive and without funding many could not afford to undertake the course.

Top Doctoral Funding Opportunities for STEM Students

Securing doctoral funding for your PhD pursuit is very important and can never be overemphasized as it enables you to carry out your research without delays. Searching for how to fund your doctorate research in the STEM fields, here are the top doctoral funding opportunities for STEM students. Now let us discuss each of these STEM Fellowship opportunities and STEM scholarship opportunities.

  1. National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program

This is a significant and prestigious award that is designed to help support the best and the brightest graduate students in the sciences. There are three major areas in which applicants can apply and they include the social sciences, life sciences, and the engineering and computer sciences. The award spans three years and includes several years to further one’s advanced scientific knowledge.

In addition to the monetary award, candidates will receive other benefits including prestigious internships, travel expenses and other professional opportunities. The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program provides a stipend of $34,000 to support the cost of education. Fellows also receive a $12,000 education allowance and opportunities for international research and professional development

  1. Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship

Recipients of the SMART scholarship are awarded stipends that range from $22,500 to $38,000, providing them with significant financial support. They receive a full tuition waiver, covering all costs related to their education, including instruction fees. This comprehensive scholarship program is specifically designed to assist doctorate students who are dedicated to pursuing their PhD degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Upon becoming recipients of the SMART scholarship, students are not only granted financial aid but are also offered promising employment opportunities. They have the privilege of working at a Department of Defense research facility, allowing them to gain valuable experience in their chosen fields. Their employment is secured as full-time civilian employees for a minimum duration of three years.

  1. Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship

The Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship is a fellowship opportunity that is open to those currently pursuing a PhD in applied mathematics, computer science, engineering, environmental science, life sciences, or physics. To be eligible, applicants must be in their first or second year of graduate school at the time of applying.

The fellowship is for four years and provides an annual stipend, full tuition and fees, and a research allowance estimated at $36,000 annually. Participants also take part in a twelve-week practicum at one of seventeen national laboratories and receive a high-performance computing system. Fellows gain advanced skills in computational methods and high-performance computing and have access to leadership opportunities within the scientific computing and modeling community.

Upon graduation, fellows must fulfill a one-year, post-graduation, high-performance computing-focused research appointment within the DOE.

  1. National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship

The NDSEG provides up to three years of support to students seeking a doctoral degree in one of fourteen disciplines. Its primary mission is to increase the number of U.S. citizens and nationals trained in science and engineering disciplines of military importance. As a result, applicants must be U.S. citizens or nationals and must show their intent to pursue a doctoral degree in one of thirteen supported disciplines. Winners typically receive three years of tuition fees, an annual stipend, and an allowance for health insurance to the tune of  $40,000 or more.

  1. National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA)

The National Institutes of Health’s National Research Service Award (NRSA) is a great option for students considering a career in biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research. To promote diversity in health-related research, the NIH offers the award to students who are part of underrepresented groups. The award has different opportunities for graduate students, and undergraduate students who have not completed their degree, with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences being the lead institute for applications. The award provides a stipend for a student’s living expenses and partial tuition and fees, as well as a small institutional allowance. The funds are typically given to the awardee’s educational institution, to distribute accordingly.

  1. NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship

The NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship, provided by the NASA Office of Education, provides financial support to U.S. students enrolled in master’s or doctoral programs in Earth and space sciences, or related disciplines. The NESSF recipients perform graduate student research in areas that address scientific questions relevant to NASA’s Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics.

NASA and the National Research Council conduct an annual peer review of eligible proposals. These competitive awards are merit-based. Although both programs require a research proposal submission, the NASA Fellowship requires that a NASA scientist or collaborator serve as the student’s research advisor. The maximum award for the Doctoral level is $25,000 per year for 3 years and the number of fellowship awards to be funded is determined by how many proposals are deemed meritorious.

  1. Fulbright Foreign Student Program

The Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables research and study opportunities for graduate students and young professionals. Each year over 2,000 international students receive funding to study in the United States. The number of grants varies by country. The program offers opportunities in virtually all disciplines, including Social Sciences, Humanities, Math, Sciences and the Arts.

  1. Google PhD Fellowship Program

The Google PhD Fellowship Program (since 2009) is aimed at creating a better computing generation. Each year, the program sponsors and recognizes new generations of leaders and innovators in this field. Fellows are chosen from a call for submissions and chosen by an academic panel made up of accomplished and talented researchers from a wide range of regions, from AI to HCI. Each fellow receives a competitive award made up of a tuition grant, financial support, and a Google Research Mentor.

The funding amount is divided into phases of $50,000/$30,000/$10,000 and it is Region-based. Each award is for three years and should be granted through the conferee’s university as for the support of the fellow’s basic education and research. A Google Research Mentor should be agreed on by the World of Science and should join their discussions during the year.

Doctoral Funding Opportunities for STEM

  1. Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Networks (ITN)

The MSCA ITN is part of the European Union’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions funding program. ITN supports joint doctoral training networks implemented by partnerships of academic and non-academic organizations from different countries across Europe and the rest of the world. The scheme aims to improve the career perspectives of early-stage researchers in both public and private sectors, preparing them for working in an increasingly innovative and international working environment.

  1. American Heart Association (AHA) Predoctoral Fellowship

This fellowship is worth over $25,000 annually and provides individual grants to students to facilitate their development into cardiovascular and stroke research scientists by offering research assistance and training. This award is available to full-time, predoctoral students, and will permit AHA funding for no more than two years in duration. No fellowships will be paid or retroactively activated to students or expenses that are not forthcoming after the selection.

  1. Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship

The Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship offers three years of financial support. These fellowships provide a $27,000 stipend for each year. Fellows must attend 1 conference of Ford Fellows. The conference provides professional development policy-oriented and interdisciplinary training. There are no limits on citizenship. Required transcripts must be uploaded and other materials should be refereed following the submission.

  1. Hertz Foundation Graduate Fellowship

The Hertz Foundation was established in 1963 and its Graduate Fellowship provides funding for PhD students in the applied physical, biological, and engineering sciences. Hertz Fellows become innovators and leaders serving in ways for the nation, meeting for instance different scientific and technical challenges from a healed proposition of mental capacity and imagination.

There is no obligation for the Fellow to follow or propose in the company and restrictions to a later career in the applied physical, biological, and engineering sciences field as Hertz Fellows are selected for their potential for leadership in the application of the physical sciences to human problems with the potential for broad influence. Each application includes a personal and research plan for at least 5 40-minute interviews and then the foundation will provide a maximum of 2 years of funding.

  1. Microsoft Research Ph.D. Fellowship

Microsoft Research has been offering two-year fellowships for PhD students at several universities in the United States and Canada. These fellowships are available to students in their second or third year of a PhD program, and the fellowship program covers tuition and fees for two years and a $28,000 annual stipend.

An additional $2,000 is provided in conference travel support per year. Applicants for this program must be nominated by the department chair. It is not possible to apply directly for this fellowship. Instead, each university must contact Microsoft Research directly for instructions on how to submit nominations.

  1. Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans provide up to $90,000 in grants. According to their website, “The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program honors the contributions of continuing generations of New Americans to the United States. They provide opportunities for continuing generations of successful New Americans to achieve leadership in their chosen fields.”

All applicants must be 30 or younger as of the application deadline. They must hold a bachelor’s degree as of the application deadline and may not have begun the third year of full-time (or equivalent) graduate study in the discipline for which they are requesting support, as of the application deadline.


The journey to obtaining a doctorate is difficult, but aspiring students can find opportunities to reach their dreams. Major funding providers support students with career ambitions in STEM disciplines. The US government emphasizes investing resources in science, technology, and innovation, and corporations also invest in research and development. Top funding opportunities in STEM are linked to personal interests and career goals. Aligning your abilities and capabilities with your sponsor’s objectives will help you stand out.


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