Departmental Scholarships – Free Money for College Students

Other than institutional scholarships, many colleges also have departmental scholarships that make a bachelor’s degree more affordable, although they are not only for students who demonstrate need but also for those who excel academically.

Departmental scholarships are scholarship programs that are specifically available to students enrolled in certain schools or academic departments within a college or university.

Departmental scholarships, in other words, are awarded based on a student’s major as well as whether or not other eligibility requirements are met.

Departmental Scholarships Basics

One of the colleges that offers departmental scholarships is Weber State University.

Ranked #59 in Regional Universities West and #28 in Top Public Schools by US News, WSU offers a number of departmental scholarships such as:

  • CJ Department Chair Scholarship
  • Criminal Justice Alumni Scholarship
  • Dee Smith Memorial Criminal Justice Scholarship
  • Jerry Dahlberg Memorial Scholarship
  • Nathan Lyday Scholarship
  • Raechale Elton Endowment Scholarship
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean’s Scholarship
  • Stephanie M. Stewart Scholarship

According to the public university that’s located in Ogden, Utah, not all departmental scholarships come from itself — while some cash awards come from the university’s pocket, others come from private donors.

In many instances, a clue that a particular departmental scholarship is from a source other than the institution or the department in question is that the program is named after a person or an organization.


Whether or not a particular departmental scholarship is renewable (and for how many years, if so) will depend on the scholarship program’s terms and conditions.

Some departmental scholarships are one-time only, while others are renewable every academic year.

Some renewable departmental scholarships may be renewable only for a certain number of times.


In most instances, departmental scholarships are non-transferable.

That’s because departmental scholarships come from different schools within a particular college or university as well as have different funding sources.

Similarly, eligibility requirements can vary between departmental scholarships, too, which can make you qualified for one but unqualified for the other.

Schools That Offer Departmental Scholarships

While most colleges and universities participate in the federal financial aid program and provide institutional scholarships, not all offer departmental scholarships.

On the other hand, departmental scholarships are not exclusive to whether an institution is publicly or privately funded.

Both public colleges and state universities and private institutions offer them.

As a matter of fact, some community colleges also offer scholarships, and some examples are:

  • Alvin Community College
  • Austin Community College
  • East Mississippi Community College
  • Glendale Community College
  • Gogebic Community College
  • Nassau Community College
  • Southwest Tennessee Community College
  • SOWELA Technical Community College
  • Washtenaw Community College
  • Western Wyoming Community College

Departmental Scholarships Requirements

The very first step to take when interested in a scholarship offered by the department you are interested in or got admitted to is to determine the requirements to be eligible for it.

Enrolling in the program in question, of course, is not enough to win you that departmental scholarship.

At Auburn University, around 50% of all departmental scholarships include a requirement for financial need.

Many, however, also require applicants to meet a minimum GPA requirement and, in some instances, even geographic location.

More often than not, departmental scholarships are competitive scholarships, especially if they are from some of the most competitive schools within a particular institution, especially STEM departments.

There are departmental scholarships, too, that are awarded only to students who are in certain year levels.

At Baylor University, for instance, departmental scholarships are generally awarded only to undergraduate students who are already in their junior and senior year of college plus are able to meet other eligibility requirements.

How to Keep Scholarships

Needless to say, you need to stay enrolled in the program to keep your award package.

Withdrawing from the program will cause you to lose your departmental scholarship and, depending on the scholarship’s terms and conditions, may even require you to repay the institution.

Similar to researching eligibility requirements for application, it’s important that you determine what needs to be done to remain in the departmental scholarship program.

The Legacy Scholarship at the University of South Carolina, for instance, requires the following from the awardees:

  • 3.0 GPA
  • Full-time enrollment status
  • Membership to the UofSC Alumni Association

Having a high GPA is not an uncommon requirement for students to stay in competitive departmental scholarship programs.

As an example, the Howard Booth Scholarship at Lander University, which is awarded to eligible undergraduates enrolled in an engineering dual-degree program, awardees must maintain a GPA of not less than 3.0.

Award Amounts

Renewable every year or for a certain number or years only or non-renewable, how much you can receive from the departmental scholarship program will depend on the scholarship’s terms and conditions.

Conditions may vary from those for any other scholarships that you may have also received from the institution, merit-based or need-based.

The University of Dallas, has a total of 12 departmental scholarships, each one awarding $1,000 to $5,000 per year.

At Ball State University, the following are the cash awards for some of its departmental scholarships:

  • Bona Cress Press and Lawrence Press Journalism Scholarship: $2,500
  • Freshman Achievement Scholarship: $750
  • Holmes-McFadden Journalism Scholarship: $1,000
  • Louis E. Ingelhart Scholarship: $1,500
  • Michael Smith Scholarship: $1,000
  • Richard S. Simons Memorial Scholarship: $500
  • Robert L. and Sherles K. Barnet Scholarship: $500
  • Theresa C. and Leonard S. Sowar Journalism Student Scholarship: $500

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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