As the traditional basis of academic inquiry in Western higher education, liberal arts encompasses the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Popular majors include anthropology, economics, English, mass communication, mathematics, and psychology. The broad nature of a liberal arts education enables you to pursue a diverse array of careers in the public, private, and government sectors.

The following guide provides an extensive list of scholarships for liberal arts students. You will also learn about the financial aid process and why it is important to minimize student debt. The guide ends with resources for specific types of learners, including single parents, active military and veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pay for a degree in liberal arts?

To cover the cost of tuition and housing, apply for financial awards you do not need to repay, like grants. After exhausting these options, you can turn to federal loans, which generally carry lower interest rates than money borrowed from banks and other private institutions.

Are there many scholarships available for liberal arts students?

As one of the largest academic domains, liberal arts includes fields like biology, literature, geography, and statistics. This vastness means that you should have no trouble finding liberal arts scholarships. Consult the opportunities featured in this guide before searching for other award programs.

Where can I find scholarships for liberal arts degrees?

You can find scholarships through community organizations, government agencies, professional and industry associations, religious bodies, and private businesses. Your college or university also provides financial aid for liberal arts students. In addition to your major, base your search on common criteria like geographic location, career goals, and ethnicity.

Are there grants for liberal arts students?

Although many people use the terms 'scholarship' and 'grant' interchangeably, these two forms of financial aid differ. You usually receive scholarships based on merit and grants due to financial need. The federal government provides the majority of grant funding. You can also find liberal arts grants through state agencies and local organizations.

How do I qualify for a liberal arts scholarship?

You can receive scholarships for need and/or merit. The former criterion is based on the projected cost of your higher education and your family's financial status. Award programs that consider merit generally look at your academic performance, extracurricular and leadership achievements, and professional experience.

Financial Assistance for Liberal Arts Students

As a liberal arts major, you benefit from the same financial aid opportunities as students in the STEM fields. These awards include scholarships, grants, fellowships, assistantships, and loans. You can also access work-study positions, which enable you to find part-time employment on campus or in your community.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is among the best financial aid application tools because it allows you to apply for multiple government awards simultaneously. The FAFSA calculates the amount of aid you are eligible for by analyzing cost of attendance and expected family contribution. For more details on the FAFSA, including how to complete the application, consult the BestColleges guide.

In addition to grants, the FAFSA provides work-study awards that let you earn at least the federal minimum wage while working for a university department or affiliated employer.

As previously mentioned, grants and scholarships are financial awards you do not need to pay back, making them top priority as you find ways to pay for your liberal arts degree. Grants are typically need-based and issued by government bodies. Companies and organizations provide scholarships based on desired qualities like academic strength, work experience, and athletic capabilities. Many awards also consider identity characteristics like ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, and sexual orientation.

In addition to grants, the FAFSA provides work-study awards that let you earn at least the federal minimum wage while working for a university department or affiliated employer. You may find related opportunities in fellowships and assistantships. These programs not only offer funding, but also enable you to gain hands-on experience in your field by working with professional organizations, government initiatives, and nonprofits.

Lastly, financial aid resources for liberal arts students also include loans (money you will need to repay). You can access federal loans through the FAFSA and find private loans from financial institutions such as banks and credit unions. To learn more about loans, check out our comprehensive guide.

Liberal Arts Grants

The federal government is the largest provider of need-based financial aid, which primarily consists of grants. Through the FAFSA, you can access the Federal Pell Grants, obtaining up to $6,345 each year. The government also funds the TEACH Grants for future educators and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant for the children of armed forces members who were killed on duty.

State governments also provide student grants, which you can find through this infographic published by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Criteria differ by program, but generally you must be a state resident, attend college full time, and maintain a minimum GPA.

Liberal Arts Scholarships

You can find liberal arts scholarships for your field of study, whether that be history, gender studies, sociology, or comparative literature. Awards also exist based on what profession you want to pursue and what research you want to conduct. Furthermore, many scholarship programs target a specific demographic, including women, LGBTQ individuals, and students from low-income and underserved communities.

Featured Liberal Arts Scholarships

The following section contains 20 general liberal arts scholarships. Each profile details the award amount and deadline, including information on eligibility and how to apply for the scholarship.

AFSCME Union Scholars Program

Who's Eligible? The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees offers this scholarship to students of color currently in their sophomore or junior year of an undergraduate program. In addition to a financial award, recipients benefit from a 10-week summer internship, gaining valuable hands-on experience working for economic and social justice.

Award Amount: Varies based on financial need

Deadline: February 28

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ACES Bill Walsh Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Funded by ACES: the Society for Editing, this scholarship is open to undergraduate juniors and seniors as well as graduate candidates. Although the committee does not consider academic majors, applicants need to display a passion for editing and the news. They must submit a resume, three references, a 500-word essay, and complete three writing exercises.

Award Amount: $3,500

Deadline: November 15

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Beinecke Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Participating colleges and universities may nominate students currently in their junior year of an undergraduate program. Candidates should display strong intellectual capabilities and academic achievements. They must plan on pursuing a research-focused graduate degree in the social sciences and humanities. Applicants also need to demonstrate financial need.

Award Amount: $4,000

Deadline: February

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Bill McKnight Legacy Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The Pride Foundation provides over 60 scholarships, which students may apply for using one form. Opportunities include the Bill McKnight Legacy Scholarship, which supports queer students pursuing an undergraduate degree in arts and humanities. While all U.S. residents may apply for this scholarship, the committee prefers applicants from Kitsap County/Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Award Amount: $2,000

Deadline: January

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Bodie McDowell Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America, this award supports students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in communications, art, film, English, creative writing, or photography. Application materials include a portfolio of professional work and recommendation letters. The scholarship committee also assesses a candidate's academic history.

Award Amount: $1,000-$5,000

Deadline: March

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CRCA Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Funded by the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association, this renewable scholarship supports graduating high school seniors from Chicago and surrounding Illinois counties. Applicants must plan on pursuing an undergraduate degree in liberal arts, business, architecture, or engineering. The award committee considers academic history, work experience, extracurricular achievements, and teacher recommendation.

Award Amount: $4,000

Deadline: March

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Davidson Institute Fellows Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Renowned as one of the largest undergraduate scholarships in the world, the Davidson award honors students who are 18 years old or younger. Applicants need to have completed a major work in a field such as music, philosophy, literature, or mathematics. They may also submit an 'out of the box' project that synthesizes concepts from different disciplines.

Award Amount: $10,000, $25,000, or $50,000

Deadline: February 10

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Denis Wong & Associates Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The Pauahi Foundation awards this scholarship to students pursuing a bachelor's in liberal arts at an accredited two- or four-year school in the U.S. In addition to a minimum 3.5 GPA, candidates need to demonstrate interest in Hawaiian language, culture, and history.

Award Amount: $1,000

Deadline: February

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Dr. Aura-Lee A. and James Hobbs History Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) awards this scholarship to graduating high school seniors who plan to pursue an undergraduate degree with a concentration (at least 24 credits) in American history or American government. Recipients may renew the award if they maintain at least a 3.25 GPA. U.S. citizens residing abroad can apply through the DAR overseas chapter.

Award Amount: $2,000 (renewable for up to four years)

Deadline: Varies

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Elie Wiesel Foundation Prize in Ethics

Who's Eligible? The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity sponsors this essay contest for full-time undergraduate juniors and seniors. Applicants can write about any topic they wish as long as their essay examines an ethical question, concern, or issue. Potential topics can center on a personal issue, an academic inquiry, an international crisis, or a dilemma in film and literature.

Award Amount: $500-$5,000

Deadline: January

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George Watt Memorial Essay Contest

Who's Eligible? The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives offers this award to students who write essays that show quality of research and argumentative originality. Submissions can be in English or Spanish, but must relate to the Spanish Civil War. Undergraduate essays must contain 2,000-10,500 words, while graduate essays should span 3,500-12,500 words.

Award Amount: $500 for undergraduate students; $1,000 for graduate students

Deadline: July

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Hale Kauai Scholarship Fund in Memory W. Wilcox II

Who's Eligible? The Hawaii Community Foundation provides this scholarship to state residents attending accredited two- and four-year colleges full time. Qualifying fields of study include liberal arts, accounting, business, and finance. Candidates must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. The foundation funds over 280 additional scholarships.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: January

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James W. Lewis Global Leaders

Who's Eligible? The National Society of High School Scholars offers this scholarship to graduating high school seniors and first-year college students with a minimum 3.5 GPA. Applicants need to demonstrate six core values, including commitments to diversity and inclusion, community engagement and volunteerism, and educational equity. Candidates must submit a resume, a recommendation, a color headshot, and a 1,000-word personal statement.

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: May

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Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship

Who's Eligible? The Thomas J. Watson Foundation awards this scholarship to second-semester college freshmen and sophomores pursuing a liberal arts degree at one of 12 participating New York City colleges. Applicants must submit three essays (including one visual essay), two recommendations, a current resume, and official transcripts. On top of funding, recipients benefit from personalized mentoring, skill-building seminars, and internship opportunities.

Award Amount: $6,000, $7,500, or $8,500 (renewable for up to three years)

Deadline: February

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LEAGUE Foundation Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Graduating high school seniors who plan to enroll in accredited two-year or four-year colleges for any field of study, including technical career training and liberal arts, may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must openly self-identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. They must also possess a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Award Amount: $1,500

Deadline: April

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Liberal Arts and General Studies

Who's Eligible? Study.com funds this award to graduating high school seniors. Current college students may also apply if they have at least 30 semester credits left to complete. Applicants must be pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree in general studies, liberal arts, or a similar discipline in the humanities.

Award Amount: $500

Deadline: April

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National Speakers Association Student

Who's Eligible? The National Speakers Association Foundation provides this award to undergraduate juniors, seniors, and graduate students. Candidates should actively engage in public speaking and/or want to advance their careers through public speaking. Application materials consist of a recommendation letter and a 500-word essay. They can also submit an optional video demonstrating their speaking skills

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: April

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Scribes Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Sponsored by the Bess Whitehead Scott Scholarship Fund, this award supports nontraditional students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in nonfiction writing, journalism, or a related field. Applicants should possess at least 10 years of relevant work experience. They must also prove financial need and Texas residency.

Award Amount: $3,000

Deadline: April

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Strauss Foundation Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Full-time students attending one of the participating colleges and universities in California may apply for this award. Candidates need a GPA in the top one-third of their class and a demonstrated commitment to leadership and public service. They must submit a one-page resume, a one-page personal essay, two recommendations, and a four-page project proposal.

Award Amount: $15,000

Deadline: January or February based on school

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Virginia Speidel Edwards Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation offers this award to undergraduate juniors and seniors residing in Ohio. The committee prefers candidates who pursue degrees in a liberal arts field such as writing, communication, literature, or history. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrated leadership capabilities. They must also hold membership in Kappa Alpha Theta.

Award Amount: $1,500

Deadline: April

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Liberal Arts Scholarships for Minorities

This section features seven liberal arts degree scholarships specifically for minority students, including undocumented individuals. You can find additional award opportunities by looking through this financial aid guide.

APIA Scholarship Program

Who's Eligible? Asian and Pacific Islander students currently enrolled in an undergraduate program may apply for this scholarship if they possess a minimum 2.7 GPA. Applicants must also demonstrate a strong commitment to leadership and community service. The committee focuses their selection on first-generation learners with low socioeconomic status.

Award Amount: $2,500-$22,000

Deadline: January

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Blanche Ford Endowment Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The United Negro College Fund sponsors this scholarship for college sophomores attending a UNCF-affiliated college or university. Applicants must submit academic transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also display a commitment to community service and leadership through a short video clip, an essay, and one recommendation letter.

Award Amount: Up to $10,000

Deadline: July

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Fontana Transport Inc. Scholars Program

Who's Eligible? Graduating high school seniors may apply to this scholarship program if they come from an underrepresented community and demonstrate financial need. Candidates must also aspire to use their education to support their families and communities. The program welcomes students pursuing a variety of liberal arts fields, including psychology and Spanish literature/language. Application requirements include a minimum 2.5 GPA and a recommendation letter.

Award Amount: Varies

Deadline: March

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Native American Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The Continental Society Daughters of Indian Wars offers this scholarship to tribal members enrolled in an undergraduate program, with preference given to students entering their junior year. Applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also pursue a social work or education degree and hold career goals that involve serving Native American communities.

Award Amount: $2,500 and $5,000

Deadline: June 15

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NWSA Women of Color Caucus - Frontiers Award

Who's Eligible? The National Women's Studies Association offers this scholarship to NWSA member graduate students of color. Candidates must submit an unpublished essay that focuses on womanist/feminist issues faced by minority women in the U.S. and the diasporas. The organization publishes winning essays in Frontiers, the NWSA's journal.

Award Amount: $500

Deadline: June

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Ron Brown Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Graduating African American seniors who demonstrate academic talent, leadership potential, and financial need may apply for this award. Successful applicants should demonstrate a commitment to four core pillars: business entrepreneurship, community engagement, global citizenship, and public service. The funds can go toward the tuition at any four-year college or university in the U.S., with no restrictions on major.

Award Amount: $40,000 over four years

Deadline: November early deadline; January final deadline

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Udall Undergraduate Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The Udall Foundation awards scholarships to undergraduate students currently in their junior and sophomore year. Applicants must show their commitment to tribal policy issues, native healthcare access and equity, and/or environmental conservation. They must submit an 11-question application, official school transcripts, three recommendation letters, and an 800-word essay responding to the designated prompt.

Award Amount: Up to $7,000

Deadline: March

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Liberal Arts Scholarships for Graduate Students

The section below covers financial aid for liberal arts students pursuing their graduate credentials. If you are considering an advanced degree, consult this ranking of the top online master's in liberal arts programs.

Adam Smith Fellowship

Who's Eligible? Co-sponsored by the Mercatus Center and Liberty Fund, this award is open to students pursuing a Ph.D. at any university in any academic discipline as long as they can relate it to political economy. In addition to an annual stipend, fellows benefit from professional development opportunities in the form of seminars and workshops. Application materials include a 1-2 page cover letter, a resume or CV, and short essay responses.

Award Amount: $10,000

Deadline: March

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Acel Moore Scholarship for Community

Who's Eligible? Funded by the National Association of Black Journalists, this scholarship accepts applications from undergraduate and graduate students with one year left in their programs. Candidates must pursue a communications-related degree and possess a minimum 2.5 GPA. They must submit a resume, 3-5 work samples, three references, a 500-800 word cover letter, and a 1,000-1,500 word essay responding to the designated prompt.

Award Amount: $3,000

Deadline: December 31

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A. F. Zimmerman Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Sponsored by Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society, this scholarship supports students entering their first semester of a campus-based master's program in either history or library science (archives). Candidates must hold membership in Phi Alpha Theta. Applicants must send in a resume/CV, GRE scores, and three recommendation letters.

Award Amount: $1,250

Deadline: March

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ASA Minority Fellowship Program

Who's Eligible? The American Sociological Association grants this award to graduate students of color who plan to pursue a research career. Candidates must be enrolled in a Ph.D. program with a dissertation focused on a pertinent social topic like race and ethnicity, inequality and stratification, or gender and sexuality.

Award Amount: $18,000

Deadline: January

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Boren Fellowship

Who's Eligible? This prestigious award supports graduate students who want to conduct research and engage in language study in world regions important to U.S. policy and interest. To apply, candidates must provide a recommendation from a program representative at their university. Application materials include a clear and feasible study plan. The fellowship committee gives preference to veterans.

Award Amount: Up to $24,000

Deadline: January

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Hsiao Memorial Social Sciences

Who's Eligible? Open to U.S. citizens, legal residents, and foreign nationals, this scholarship gives preference to students with Asian heritage. Candidates should be pursuing a graduate degree in economics or another social science field and hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. The committee prioritizes candidates with demonstrated research interests in the social and economic needs of Asian and Asian American communities.

Award Amount: $1,000

Deadline: May 11

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IHS Humane Studies Fellowship

Who's Eligible? The Institute for Humane Studies offers this award to students enrolled in a full-time Ph.D. program in law, political science, philosophy, economics, history, sociology, or a related discipline in social sciences and the humanities. Applicants must submit three essays, a current CV, and a 3,000-word academic writing sample.

Award Amount: Up to $15,000

Deadline: April

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Islamic Scholarship Fund

Who's Eligible? This scholarship program supports Muslim students and students who are active in the Muslim community. The award accepts undergraduate and graduate applicants from a variety of liberal arts fields, including film, international studies, law, writing, and public policy. Additional requirements include a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Award Amount: $2,000-$5,000

Deadline: March

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Jack G. Shaheen Mass Communications Scholarship Awards

Who's Eligible? Sponsored by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, this award supports Arab-American college students who excel in media studies. Applicants must hold undergraduate junior or senior standing or enrollment in a graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Application materials include a one-page personal statement, two recommendation letters, and a portfolio of professional work.

Award Amount: $2,500

Deadline: April 1

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John L. Carey Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The American Institute of CPAs offers this award to individuals with liberal arts and other non-business credentials who want to earn a graduate accounting degree and work as a licensed CPA. Applicants must hold U.S. citizenship or legal residency. The scholarship committee selects recipients based on academic accomplishments and leadership qualities.

Award Amount: $5,000

Deadline: March

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NWSA Graduate Scholarship

Who's Eligible? The National Women's Studies Association provides this scholarship to students conducting research or writing a master's thesis or doctoral dissertation on gender issues. Applicants must hold membership in NWSA and their project must support the organization's mission. Candidates must submit an online form, a one-page CV, and a recommendation letter from their program director.

Award Amount: $1,000

Deadline: June

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Peterson's Graduate Scholarship

Who's Eligible? Peterson's, an educational services company, supports students pursuing their graduate liberal arts degree with this open award. Applicants submit a short online form providing information about their academic interest, most recent GPA, and year of enrollment. The application also considers if candidates are interested in online education or served in the U.S. military.

Award Amount: $2,500

Deadline: N/A

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Additional Financial Aid Resources

An Overview of Financial Aid

Students in the early stages of applying for scholarships and grants typically have a lot of general questions concerning the process. The BestColleges financial aid overview offers concise explanations of the FAFSA qualifications and award types. This guide also provides information on how to project costs for budgeting purposes.

Financial Aid for Online Students

Distance education enables you to earn a college degree while maintaining family and career obligations. By enrolling in an online bachelor of liberal arts program, you enjoy affordable tuition prices that often disregard residency status. You also gain access to many of the same financial aid opportunities as your on-campus peers.

Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

Disabilities may hinder a student's ability to attend college full time, which disqualifies them from many conventional awards. Fortunately, liberal arts scholarships and grants exist specifically for these individuals. This BestColleges guide lists scholarships and supporting resources based on types of disabilities and impairments.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Single parents who want to pursue higher education face steep challenges related to course scheduling, accessible childcare, and affordability. In addition to scholarship opportunities, you can consult our guide for single mothers and fathers for information on supportive services like on-campus daycare and employer tuition reimbursement.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

The U.S. government operates several programs that help active military personnel and veterans earn college credentials. For more information, check out this in-depth guide, which covers the Montgomery GI and Post 9/11 bills, the Yellow Ribbon Program, and Armed Forces Tuition Assistance benefits.

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