SBS Scholarships & Awards
UMass offers a number of options to help you meet your academic & professional goals
UMass Amherst and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences offer a number of scholarships and awards to help you achieve your scholarly and professional goals. While financial aid is available to assist with tuition costs, there are additional scholarships and awards available to help cover costs associated with internships, research opportunities, and study abroad programs. If you are interested in pursuing a program or experience but are worried about the cost, we are here to help you find the resources to make it happen.
Get to Know AcademicWorks
AcademicWorks is your portal to all scholarships and awards available through UMass Amherst and its colleges and departments. AcademicWorks uses data from SPIRE to learn more about you, your academic experiences, and interests. With this information, AcademicWorks then creates a list of opportunities tailored to you!
Every fall, students should login to AcademicWorks to complete the General and College Applications in order to be automatically paired with relevant opportunities. Students can select the opportunities that best match their goals, ensure all application materials are completed, and officially apply for the scholarship or award.
Applying for Scholarships
If you are applying for many scholarships and awards at the same time, the process can become overwhelming. Keep these tips in mind as you begin the application process:
- Plan ahead – Keep a calendar of deadlines for scholarships and awards.
- Read all of the application instructions – Missing materials can keep you from receiving a scholarship or award. Be sure to read the entire scholarship application before you complete it, along with all eligibility requirements.
- Know your audience – Make sure the goals you express in your application match the goals of the scholarship program.
- Show your strengths and explain your weaknesses – Those reviewing your application need to know about your achievements, including academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and community service/volunteer work. If there are any issues that may portray you in an unfavorable light, explain the situation.
- Be clear and concise – It is best to write your application in Word, so you can easily edit for grammatical or spelling errors before adding the information to the online application. If you need assistance with any writing tasks, including essays or resumes, the Writing Center is available to help.
- Request letters of recommendation – Some scholarships and awards require letters of recommendation from professors or people you have worked with professionally. Only ask people you know reasonably well to provide a letter of recommendation, as they should be able to speak to your skills and talents. And don't wait until the last minute to ask – at the very minimum, professional references will need two weeks to put together your letters.
- Submit your application by the deadline – This should go without saying, but late applications for scholarships and awards are usually not accepted.
- Ask for help if you need it – UMass Amherst has a number of resources available to help with scholarship applications. The Writing Center can help with resumes and essays. The Financial Aid office has video tutorials on applying for scholarships. And if you need more personalized assistance, you can always visit SBS Pathways or email scholarships [at] sbs [dot] umass [dot] edu with questions.
Writing a Statement of Financial Need
Scholarships often require a statement of financial need as part of the application package. This should be a short (one or two paragraph) explanation of why you would benefit from being awarded a scholarship. It also gives you the opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances you may have. Some points you might consider including are:
- How are you currently financing your education? What are your sources of financial aid - public loans, private loans, and/or parental assistance?
- Are you currently working while attending college? Do you have a part-time or full-time job?
- What difficulties have you faced in funding your education? Have you experienced any particular hardships, such as extra costs or the loss of financial help from a parent?
- If studying abroad, how does paying for the program compare to paying for a normal semester at UMass Amherst?
- What would you gain from a scholarship or award? Would it help you be able to work less, so you can focus on your studies? Would you be unable to participate in an internship or study abroad program without financial assistance?
Writing a Scholarship Essay
Scholarship essays will carry the most weight in the review of your application. They are very short – usually around 300 words, which is about the same content as a double-spaced, 12 pt. font Word document. You have to fit a lot of information into a small amount of space!
Divide your essay into thirds. In any scholarship essay, the first third should offer a brief introduction of yourself, a description of what you plan to study, and your accomplishments so far in college, work, and/or the community. Your essay should craft a persuasive argument while also being honest. If you can craft a solid essay in less than 300 words, that is great – do not feel pressured to add non-essential content to fill up space.
For General Support Scholarships
- The second section should describe your "educational plan" (i.e., your aspirations and what you hope to accomplish during your time at UMass).
- The third section should describe how receiving the scholarship or award will provide the support needed to achieve the goals described in section two.
For Internship Scholarships
- The second section should describe your career objectives. It should explain what you would like to do after graduation and how you plan to create a "portfolio of experience" that will make you more attractive to employers in your desired field.
- The third section should describe how completing the internship will help you build that professional portfolio and further your career objectives.
For Study Abroad Scholarships
- The second section should provide details on why you selected the specific location and program for study abroad and how that location and program will enhance your academic goals while broadening your worldview.
- The third section should summarize the impact that study abroad will have on your college experience and on your life as a whole.
For Research Scholarships
While all scholarships are competitive, research scholarships can be extremely competitive. Read the scholarship description carefully. Consider that your audience will be a committee including faculty and possibly other experts in the given field. Many research scholarships require a sponsoring faculty member – work with them to ensure that your essay fully expresses the work you want to accomplish and your commitment to the field of study.
For research scholarships, divide your essay into four sections:
- The first section should be a brief introduction and discussion of your academic achievements.
- The second and third sections should detail your proposed research project. The overview should be well-written, concise, and make clear the purpose of the research. Include information on how the project is relevant to current social problems.
- The fourth section should summarize what you expect to learn from the project, including the skills you hope to develop. Be sure to include any tangible events or results, such as publishing in a journal or presenting your work at a conference.
Writing a Resume
Your resume is your time to shine on paper. This document is an overview of your accomplishments and skillset for application reviewers (and eventually potential employers). A resume is not just all about how great you are – it also needs to show readers that you are a great match for their scholarship, award, or job. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep it short – Resumes should be one-two pages (one page front and back, if printed) in length.
- Your name and contact information should be clearly visible – Reviewers need to be able to quickly identify who you are and how to contact you.
- Use a professional email address – Your email address should be some version of your first and last name and not contain any vulgar references or language.
- Mirror the language used in the description – One successful strategy is to mirror the language used in the scholarship or job description. This is especially important for online application systems.
- Use an easy-to-read font – Times New Roman, Arial, or Cambria are good choices. Make sure the font is no smaller than 10 pt.
- PDF is best – If your resume was completed in Word, convert it to a .pdf for submission. This helps eliminate any formatting issues that can happen with different versions of Word.
- Be consistent with formatting – All headings should be the same size, all descriptions should be the same size. Inconsistency will make your resume look sloppy.
- If your GPA is over 3.0, include it – GPAs are perfectly acceptable for those without a lot of work experience. While you won't include a GPA later in your career, it is a valuable addition when applying for scholarships, awards, or your first job. If your GPA is less than 3.0, don't include it.
- Demonstrate your relevant skills and experience – This can include actual job experience if you have it, as well as relevant coursework, research, class projects, internships, and community service projects.
- Describe your accomplishments – Don't just list "job duties." You want to explain how you have made something happen, completed a project, or helped an employer in some way. If you have numbers or metrics, even better (e.g., "Helped grow employer's Instagram following by 125%).
- Tailor your resume to each scholarship/award/position – While changes may be small, the most effective resume strategy is to make sure each version is specifically tailored to match the language and needs for each scholarship, award, or job opening. Not only is this helpful for submissions through automated systems, it also shows those reviewing your resume that you pay attention to detail and are interested in matching your resume to what they are looking for.