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How to get your History MA funded

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Hi all,


So glad to hear so much good news on the acceptance from the last few weeks! 


So, here's my story. I chickened out on applying for a PhD, (I want to work outside of academia - journalism, think tanks, museums, etc - so the thought of putting in 5+ years of my life into a PhD didn't appeal to me) so I applied for Master's programs instead. I know a funded MA has unicorn status these days, and unsurprisingly I was not offered university funding.


To all the MA veterans/financial aid gurus....do you know of any outside funding or fellowships out there for History MAs? My focus is on post WWII U.S. History, with a specific emphasis on the domestic front of the Cold War (from a gender, sociological, and cultural lens). 


ANY information/insight/advice would be much appreciated! 


Thanks, all!


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I politely disagree that they are unicorns. You'll just have to do a lot of research on programs to locate them. Furthermore, there are schools who have effectively shaped their department around funding MAs.

My MA is funded and I received 2 other such offers.

What you need to do is research MA programs as thoroughly as you would any other program.

Almost every department will tell you something along the lines of "we do fund MAs, but the group of MA admits are placed in competition with each other for the funding (meaning something like 1/10 receives the money; that's just an example)." The other, and I think possibly the "more likely to pay dividends" scenario is a school that offers a MA but does not offer a PhD. In this case, you're certain (well, sorta certain depending on the department/school) to get money (since no money is going to the PhD students the MA is the terminal degree) and you're also not going to be treated like a pariah. By that I mean, the faculty doesn't have X number of PhD students they are focusing on and then all of a sudden they're getting pestered by some first year MA student (don't take that the wrong way, I'm in a MA program too). 

(Please keep in mind everything I just posted is about 40% what I've learned in a MA program and 60% what I've been told on here.)


Finally, they ARE rare. So, unless you are REALLY lucky, you're likely going to have to relocate.


As far as getting money once you're in from a place that didn't promise you anything? I really haven't the slightest clue.


/my longest gradcafe post ever

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I went in unfunded to my MA - but as students left or additional money was found for the program, more GAships were allocated. I ended up getting my second year funded. So in some cases, if you are willing to wait and pay for part of your time you could possibly get funding. It depends on what you are comfortable with. Also, you should check with your program to see what your options are.

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Are you set on starting this fall at one of the schools you already applied at? If so, I have no idea if it's possible or how to look for outside funding. Otherwise, I know of several schools around where I'm from that do funded MA's (including the program I'm finishing now- which funds all MA students)- feel free to PM me for specific info. Probably the best route is to look at free-standing MA programs, so you're not competing for resources with PhD students. 

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If you want a MA, you have to pay for it. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but you are right saying they have unicorn status. The idea of a fully funded MA in history here in CA, to be blunt, is downright hysterical. I've had to pay most of my degree with financial aid. Stick only with FASTA. Never go with a private loan. They will suck every single penny out of you till the day you die. I have won a couple of scholarships through my Department, but most of those are only for one or two thousand. Every penny helps, but it never covers an entire semester.


I also have a MLS, which i paid with student loans as well. I figure once I am done with grad school, I will have well over 100K worth of student loan debt. Chances are that I will never be able to own a home. You have to ask yourself if it is really worth it. For me, it is. 

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And unless you're moving from abroad it's almost certainly cheaper to move for two years than it would be to pay for a MA.

There are enough programs that fund MAs that, in my opinion, if you're not 100% sold on one of your acceptances and you can afford a break for a year then you should seriously consider if it would be worth it to take a year off and apply for a funded MA.


*by no means am I suggesting that receiving one is easy or a guarantee; I'm simply stating "they exist and you should find them."

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Thanks for all your responses. I would really like to stay in the DC area for both personal and professional reasons, but for a funded MA...I could maybe be persuaded. Would any of you mind listing schools that offer funded MA programs? I've tried doing some searches, but everything has been really vague. 



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I know Miami (Oh) funds all admitted MA students, University of Cincinnati does most (if not all) as well. You can also look at schools in the MAC conference- I believe many of them fund a good number of students, although here you're getting into lesser-known schools so it depends what you want to do with your MA. I think OU funds too (although I'm much less certain about this one). I'm obviously from Ohio, so those are the schools I know best- I'm betting there are ones elsewhere too. 

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Below I've posted a list of history programs that seem to offer some possibility of funding to MA students.  I found this info by browsing history department web sites (usually it was in the "Financial Aid" section or the graduate handbook).  "Full funding" means assistantships and tuition waivers.  Sometimes it was unclear whether assistantships included tuition waivers, and in those cases I noted the assistantships only.


Please consider this to be a list of leads requiring further research.  I don't know these programs personally, so the info might be out-of-date or inaccurate.  The DGS in each department will have the best information.  Also, I'm sure I missed a bunch of programs, so keep looking on your own!  


I really hope this helps somebody!


  • Auburn University: MA students eligible for full funding
  • Case Western Reserve University: some MA fellowships through the Julia Edwards Fund, program seems to try to provide tuition waivers as well
  • Florida International University: MA students eligible for assistantships; limited number of tuition waivers also available
  • Georgia State University: MA students eligible for assistantships
  • Indiana University - Bloomington: they "provide multiyear financial support for the vast majority of students admitted at the MA and PhD levels."
  • Iowa State University: MA students eligible for assistantships
  • Kent State University: MA students eligible for full funding
  • Miami University (Ohio): full funding for MA students. No PhD program.
  • Northeastern University: some partial tuition waivers available
  • Northern Illinois University: MA students eligible for funding
  • Ohio University: full funding for MA students
  • Oklahoma State University: MA students eligible for full funding
  • Portland State University: full funding awarded to a number of MA students. No PhD program. 
  • Southern Illinois University - Carbondale: "Approximately 60% of our MA and PhD students receive some form of funding."
  • St. Louis University: assistantships available to MA students
  • Texas Tech University: MA students eligible for full funding
  • University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa: full funding available to MA students, limited number
  • University of Cincinnati: tuition waivers (80% - 100%) offered to most MA students, assistantships awarded competitively
  • University of Delaware: MA students eligible for full funding
  • University of Hawaii - Manoa: MA students eligible for full funding
  • University of Houston: MA students eligible for assistantships - also a public history fellowship
  • University of Maine - Orono: MA students eligible for full funding
  • University of Massachusetts - Amherst: full funding for select MA students, merit-based
  • University of Mississippi: full funding awarded to a few, based on merit, as well as some scholarships for unrepresented minorities
  • University of New Hampshire: MA students eligible for funding
  • University of Oregon: full funding available to MAs, awarded on competitive basis
  • University of Rochester: half-tuition scholarships available to MA students
  • University of South Carolina: full funding available to "many" MA students
  • University of Utah: MA students focusing on the American West eligible for the May Fellowship. Possibly other full funding available to MA's (?).
  • Washington State University: MA students eligible for assistantships, awarded competitively
  • Western Michigan University: MA students eligible for assistantships
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I know that Florida State funds at least 1 MA per cohort, but I think it might even be 2.


I attended FSU as an undergraduate. I can concur that there were at least 2 fully funded acceptances last fall in the MA cohort. 2 other accepted students received some funding. 1 person was accepted with no funding, but his POI fought for sort of a work study funding at the program. However, that's really unlikely, unless you have a POI that is really willing to fight for you. I know this POI was quite angry that this person was not accepted with funding. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

East Tennessee State University covers tuition for almost all of their History masters students, with about 75% receiving a stipend of around $6000 per year (that number changes year to year depending on funding).  I am finishing up my MA at ETSU this spring, and have had a fantastic experience throughout the course of the program.

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I wouldn't go so far as to say that funded MA's are "unicorns". I was applying back in 2010 for MA/PhD and found many funded MA's across the country. Like some posters said, it seems like many of them are concentrated in the Midwest, however, there are some on the East Coast. I ended up going to Kent State University for a fully funded MA and can say that most schools in Ohio fund MA students. I know that University of Vermont offers funding, and some schools in Wisconsin. From what I've seen through research, many state schools offer funded MA's. 


One piece of advice, try your best to avoid paying for your MA, especially since you aren't interested in pursuing a PhD. 

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