2020 Guide to Counseling Scholarships

Counselors make a career out of providing help to people who need it. But the educational requirements for becoming a counselor often mean aspiring counselors need some help of their own, too. The cost of undergraduate and graduate programs has grown significantly more expensive over the last decade, and salaries haven’t kept pace. To reduce their financial burden and focus on getting the training they need, many aspiring counselors turn to scholarships.

Counseling scholarships are generally grouped into three categories: general, regional, and demographic. General counseling scholarships are available to practically every counseling student, though they may focus on a particular specialty or need area. Regional scholarships are available only to applicants who live, study, or work in a certain region—and that region can be as small as a single county or school, or as large as a multi-state area. Demographic scholarships prioritize particular demographic groups, and often focus on the service of those groups, too.

In reading our guide to counseling scholarships, you will note that there is overlap between groups. In some cases, those overlaps are restrictive, but in others, they make for more inviting and inclusive programs. It’s important to read the eligibility requirements carefully, but if they seem confusing or limiting, don’t get discouraged. There are dozens of different counseling scholarships, and while they do differ significantly, the most important eligibility requirements are often nothing more than passion and financial need.

If you’re ready to see what help is out there, so you can get to work on helping others, check out our guide to counseling scholarships below. Please note that for any passed deadlines in 2020, it is assumed that these scholarships will be offered in 2021 around the same time.

Counseling Scholarships: Common Application Requirements

Each counseling scholarship will have its own application requirements, but there are some common requests that applicants should be aware of, such as:

  • Financial information
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement
  • Strong academic transcripts (3.0 or greater)
  • Relevant experience

Outside of other demographic or geographic requirements, a common requirement is in service commitment, wherein applicants commit themselves to serving a particular population or working towards a particular research goal.

General Counseling Scholarships

The Melanie Foundation Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Melanie Foundation was formed in honor of Melanie Merola O’Donnell, who died at the age of 33 whilst pursuing her doctoral degree in psychology. The foundation’s goal is to provide scholarships to those who have the best chance of extending Melanie’s legacy: those in graduate study in a mental health field.
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: March 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be currently enrolled in a mental health graduate program accredited by CACREP, APA, CSWE, or ACGME. They must also have experience as a volunteer or researcher in a relevant field.

William White Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC) represents the professional interests of over 100,000 addiction counselors, educators, and other addiction-focused health professionals. Its William White Scholarship was created to promote student addiction studies research.
  • Amount: $1,000 to 2,000
  • Deadline: May 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program for addiction studies or an addiction-related field. They must also be current NAADAC members.

AAC Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program

  • About the Donor: Since its founding in 2007, the American Addiction Centers (AAC) has grown into the largest network of rehab facilities worldwide, and the AAC Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship Program addresses the growing need for qualified addiction and mental health professionals in this area.
  • Amount: $2,500 to $5,000
  • Deadline: May 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited psychology, counseling, social work, or marriage and family therapy program that focuses on mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund

  • About the Donor: The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund honors Marian Davis and Norman Putter, who emerged from a life of injustice to become vocal activists for civil rights. Since 1961, it’s awarded well over 1,200 scholarships to students who represent a spirit of and commitment to activism. Early recipients fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War; today’s grantees participate in the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.
  • Amount: $15,000
  • Deadline: April 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be active in movements for social and economic justice, and attending or planning to attend an undergraduate or graduate program in the United States.

David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the David H. and Beverly A. Barlow Grant aims to support innovative research into anxiety and anxiety-related disorder done by graduate students or early-career researchers.
  • Amount: $8,500
  • Deadline: September 15, 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be a graduate student and be able to demonstrate knowledge of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders, either basic or clinical. Proposals will be evaluated based on applicant competence, the criticality of funding, and potential impact on the field of anxiety.

Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the Violet and Cyril Franks Scholarship supports graduate-level scholarly projects that use psychology to help understand and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. The scholarship funds are meant to address research which shows that stigma is a significant barrier to treatment and recovery for many of the 50 million Americans living with mental illness.
  • Amount: $5,000
  • Deadline: May 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be graduate students in good standing who have demonstrated a commitment to stigma issues.

Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the Scott and Paul Pearsall Grant supports graduate and early career work that can increase the public’s understanding of the pain and stigma experienced by adults living with visible physical disabilities.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: October 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be a full-time graduate student in good standing at an accredited university, and working towards improving the public’s understanding of physical disabilities.

Grungo Colarulo Giving Back to the Community Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Grungo Colarulo is a law firm that believes it’s essential to lead by example and serve one’s community, and, through its scholarship program, they hope to encourage students to do the same.
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: October 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited undergraduate or graduate program in the United States, and be able to expound upon the role of community service in their lives.

NHSC Loan Repayment Program

  • About the Donor: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is working to address the lack of primary care health workers in the US. They focus on caring for everyone (even if they can’t pay) and preventing disease and illness. The NHSC supports skilled healthcare workers who serve in high-need areas through scholarships and loan repayment programs.
  • Amount: $25,000 to $50,000
  • Deadline: May 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be fully trained and licensed to practice an NHSC-approved mental health discipline. In exchange for loan repayment, applicants will serve two years at an NHSC-approved site in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA); half service and half repayment is available.

NHSC Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

  • About the Donor: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is working to address the lack of primary care health workers in the US. They focus on caring for everyone (even if they can’t pay) and preventing disease and illness. The NHSC supports skilled healthcare workers who serve in high-need areas through scholarships and loan repayment programs.
  • Amount: $37,500 to $75,000
  • Deadline: May 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be a licensed professional counselor (or hold a similar professional title) and specialize in substance abuse disorders. Applicants must also be able to serve a three-year commitment at an NHSC-approved site. Half service and half repayment options are available.

NHSC Rural Community Loan Repayment Program

  • About the Donor: The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) is working to address the lack of primary care health workers in the US. They focus on caring for everyone (even if they can’t pay) and preventing disease and illness. The NHSC supports skilled healthcare workers who serve in high-need areas through scholarships and loan repayment programs.
  • Amount: $50,000 to $100,000
  • Deadline: May 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be of an eligible professional role, such as Licensed Professional Counselor, Marriage Family Therapist, or Addiction Counselor. Applicants must also be willing to serve a three-year commitment at a rural, NHSC-approved site. Half service and half repayment options are available.

Regional and School-Specific Counseling Scholarships

OSCA Undergraduate and Graduate Student Scholarships

  • About the Donor: The Ohio School Counselor Association (OSCA) is committed to supporting post-secondary excellence, and offers both scholarships for school counseling students at the undergraduate and graduate level.
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 2021
  • Eligibility: For the undergraduate award, applicants must be accepted to a four-year university in Ohio, and have attended a high school where at least one counselor is an active member of OSCA. For the graduate award, applicants must be enrolled in a master’s school counseling program in Ohio, and maintain an active student membership in OSCA.

Emeliza Swain Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Emeliza Swain was a long-time counselor educator at the University of Georgia, and her work was instrumental in the early years of the Georgia School Counselors Association (GSCA), which hosts a scholarship in her name.
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: Contact sponsoring organization for the 2020-21 deadline.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be earning a master’s degree in guidance or school counseling from the University of Georgia.

Marie C. Quinn Memorial Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Nassau Counselors Association is a regional professional society that supports students pursuing a master’s degree in counseling. A chapter of the New York Counseling Association, it has over 700 members.
  • Amount: $4,000
  • Deadline: April 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must either attend school, intern, or reside in Nassau County in New York, and must be enrolled in a full-time or part-time master’s degree counseling program. Applicants must also be a member of the Nassau Counselors Association.

Harry and Susanne Clay Scholarship for Graduate Study in School Counseling

  • About the Donor: Chartered in 1964, the Michigan School Counselor Association is the leading advocate of professional school counselors in Michigan. Its Harry and Susanne Clay Scholarship is awarded annually to a Michigan student pursuing a master’s degree in school counseling.
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: March 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be current members of the Michigan School Counselor Association, and accepted as a student in an approved preparation program for school counseling.

NBCCF Rural Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations.
  • Amount: $8,000
  • Deadline: June 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited master’s program and residing in a rural area, as defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Applicants must also have committed to becoming board certified by applying for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification. Applicants must also commit to serving rural populations within a year of graduation, for a minimum of two years.

Ab Irvine Scholarship Program

  • About the Donor: The Santa Fe Civitans are a group dedicated to improving their communities through helping others. They’re involved in a wide range of service projects designed for deserving organizations and schools, primarily those in New Mexico. Internationally, along with thousands of other chapters, the Civitan International Research Center focuses on the research and treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities. This scholarship is in honor of Ab Irvine, who dedicated himself to work on the Special Olympics.
  • Amount: $2,000
  • Deadline: August 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be legal residents of New Mexico, Colorado, or Texas (El Paso County), and enrolled as a junior, senior, or graduate student at a college or university in one of those three states. They must also have career plans to work with children with special needs.

Ida M. Pope Memorial Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The Hawaii Community Foundation helps people make a difference by inspiring the spirit of giving, and by investing in people and solutions that benefit every island community. They distribute over $4.5 million to deserving students every year.
  • Amount: Up to $5,000
  • Deadline: Contact sponsoring organization for the 2020-21 deadline.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be female, of Hawaiian ancestry, living in the state of Hawaii, and pursuing a full-time degree in counseling or social work.

National Association of Junior Auxiliaries (NAJA) Graduate Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Since 1962, the NAJA Graduate Scholarship Program has awarded more than 560 grants that total nearly $1.4 million for graduate study in fields which address the special needs of children and youth. NAJA was formed in 1941 with the purpose of uniting members to render charitable services which are beneficial to the general public, with particular emphasis on children, and to cooperate with other organizations performing similar services
  • Amount: TBD
  • Deadline: February 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be planning to work directly with children, and pursuing graduate studies in a field such as counseling, psychology, or mental health. Applicants must also be a permanent resident of a state with a JA chapter: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, or Tennessee.

Demographic Counseling Scholarships

Pride Foundation Scholarship

  • About the Donor: Pride Foundation provides financial resources and community support to LGBTQ+ and allied student leaders across the Northwest. Since 1993, it’s awarded more than $5 million to over 1,800 students. Pride Foundation has over 60 scholarship funds, 10 of which are geared towards health, wellness, counseling, and psychology.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: January 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must live in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington, and identify as LGBTQ+, questioning, or an ally. They should also be able to demonstrate financial need, along with leadership skill, and a strong commitment to social justice and LGBTQ+ issues.

NBCCF Military Scholarship

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations.
  • Amount: $8,000
  • Deadline: June 2021
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be either an honorably discharged veteran, an active member of the military, or the spouse of a veteran or active duty member. They must also be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited master’s program. Applicants must have committed to becoming board certified by applying for the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, and they must also commit to providing mental health services to service members and/or veterans within a year of graduation for a total of two years.

NBCCF Minority Master’s Fellowship (Addiction)

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations.
  • Amount: $15,000
  • Deadline: December 15, 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited master’s program, and demonstrate knowledge and experience in addressing substance abuse within underserved minority communities. Applicants must also commit to serving those communities for two years within a year of graduation. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

NBCCF Minority Fellowship for Mental Health Counselors (Master’s)

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations. Their primary strategies towards this end include scholarships, fellowships, and grants.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: December 15, 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited master’s program. Applicants should have knowledge and experience with underserved minority communities, and commit to serving them for a minimum of two years within a year of graduation. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

NBCCF Minority Fellowship for Mental Health Counselors (Doctoral)

  • About the Donor: The National Board for Certified Counselors Foundation (NBCCF) is dedicated to improving the mental health of the underserved and never-served by increasing the number of counselors working with high-priority populations. Their primary strategies towards this end include scholarships, fellowships, and grants.
  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: December 15, 2020
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be board certified by holding the National Certified Counselor (NCC) credential, and be enrolled in a CACREP-accredited doctoral program. Applicants must have knowledge and experience in serving a minority community, and make a commitment to serve such a community for two years within a year of completing the program. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.

Services for Transition Age Youth (STAY) Fellowship

  • About the Donor: Hosted through the American Psychological Foundation, the STAY Fellowship is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The fellowship is designed for students in terminal master’s programs in psychology who are being trained to provide mental health services to transition-age youths (16 to 25 years) and their families.
  • Amount: $10,000
  • Deadline: Contact sponsoring organization for the 2020-21 deadline.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must have a strong commitment to a career in mental health services with ethnic minority transition-age youths and their families. They must be enrolled full-time at a program housed in the same department as a doctoral program accredited by the American Psychological Institute. Applicants must sign a commitment to work for two years in a capacity that addresses the needs of racial and ethnic minority populations. While the scholarship is not limited to minorities, it does prioritize individuals from the following demographics: African American, Alaska Native, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander.
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog

Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California, and he believes a strong society demands a stronger mental health system. Since early 2018, he’s written extensively about emerging topics in counseling, research, and healthcare education. Drawing upon interviews with hospital CEOs, healthcare professionals, professors, and advocacy groups, his writing and research are focused on learning from those who know the subject best.