June 19, 2021

5 Scholarships for History Majors (and a Future Without Student Debt)

5 Scholarships for History Majors (and a Future Without Student Debt)


History majors borrow, on average, about $9,000 per year for school. That may not seem like a lot, but bear in mind that history scholars tend to end up in careers with a starting salary of just about $36,000, according to our research.

Repaying student loans on a lower income can make it that much harder to consign your debt to history. So, like the great generals of the past, students (both current and future) should plan ahead.

That’s where scholarships for history majors come into play. Whether your next year of school is your first or last, review our list of scholarships for history majors, along with some tips on finding additional forms of financial aid that don’t need to be repaid.

1. Daughters of American Revolution scholarships
2. The Donald Peterson Student Travel Award
3. The Union Scholars Program
4. Organization of American Historians scholarships
5. Phi Alpha Theta scholarships
● Plus : Build a much longer list of scholarships for history majors

1. Daughters of American Revolution scholarships

The Daughters of American Revolution (DAR), a 130-year-old nonprofit organization, provides financial aid opportunities for various levels of students. While you don’t need to be a DAR member, the awards are only open to U.S. citizens studying at a U.S.-based school.

Among the awards are five scholarships for history majors:

Dr. Aura-Lee A. and James Hobbs Pittenger American History Scholarship $2,000 (renewable) For graduating high school seniors intending to study American history and government
Michael T. and Mary L. Cloyd Scholarship $3,000 For undergraduates pursuing the field of archive management
DAR Centennial Scholarship $2,500 For aspiring graduate students looking to further their study of historic preservation
The Lucinda Beneventi Findley History Scholarship $2,000 For graduating high school seniors planning to major in history at the college level
Enid Hall Griswold Memorial Scholarship $5,000 For college juniors and seniors pursuing the fields of political science, history, government or economics

Deadline to apply: The DAR application portal reopens Nov. 1, 2021

Also check out: The National Foundation for Women Legislators awards six $3,000 scholarships to female high school junior and senior students to attend its annual conference (though the 2020 conference was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic).

2. The Donald Peterson Student Travel Award

If you’re attending an archival education program or recently graduated from one, consider this scholarship for history majors. Sponsored by the Society of American Archivists (SAA), the $1,500 award helps you cover expenses to attend the SAA Annual Meeting. Applying with excellent letters of recommendation could give you a leg up in consideration.

Deadline to apply: Feb. 28 (annually)

Also check out: The Organization of American Historians makes similar travel grants available to attend its annual conference, though its 2021 in-person conference was canceled and shifted online because of the coronavirus pandemic.

3. The Union Scholars Program

Scholarships for history majors are great, but fellowships can be even better, since they come with real-world experience. The Union Scholars Program — run by the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees in conjunction with Harvard University — awards a scholarship, but also hands out a living stipend (and covers expenses) during its awardees’ 10-week internship.

Offered to college sophomores and juniors of color, the Union Scholars Program is meant for students interested in history and present-day action. During the internship, you would receive hands-on experience in a given community.

Deadline to apply: The 2021 application cycles hasn’t begun

Also check out: Among other scholarships for Black students, the United Negro College Fund’s Catherine W. Pierce Scholarship (on hiatus in 2020) was established for students pursuing the study of art, including art history.

4. The David Thelen Award

While the majority of scholarships available from the Organization of American Historians require that you be a current or recent graduate student, a couple of its awards only mandate that you be a top-notch writer.

The David Thelen Award celebrates the best article about American history written in a non-English language. If you’re considering an application, keep in mind that your work must be 5,000 to 15,000 words long in translation and include an abstract.

Deadline to apply: May 1, 2021

Also check out: The American Historical Association also has a long menu of grants and fellowships for graduate student history scholarships.

5. Phi Alpha Theta scholarships

Phi Alpha Theta isn’t a fraternity or sorority — rather, it’s a national honor society for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as professors of history. The organization sponsors numerous scholarships for its member history majors, including:

Graydon A. Tunstall Undergraduate Student Scholarship $1,000 For undergrads heading into the fall semester of their senior year studying modern European history
Gordon Morris Bakken Scholarship in Western History $500 For graduate students specializing in the history of the Trans-Mississippi West
The Lynn W. Turner Prize $500 For the best paper by an undergraduate
The George P. Hammond Prize $500 For the best paper by a graduate student
The Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Paper Prize Awards $400 For “superior” papers by two undergrads and two grad students
The A. F. Zimmerman Scholarship $1,250 For graduate students pursuing a master’s in history or library science
The Thomas S. Morgan Memorial Scholarship $1,000
The William E. Parrish Scholarship $1,000

Deadline to apply: Varies by award

Build a much longer list of scholarships for history majors

As you can see, your search for financial aid is all about the lens you use. Focus on scholarships for history majors and you’ll find an array of opportunities that span grants and fellowships, too. Zoom in further, and you might find scholarships specific to American history, library archives or social missions.

Don’t forget to consider aid beyond just scholarships for history majors. You might employ online scholarship search tools to seek out awards relating to your level of merit or need, for example.

If you grow weary from the hunt for scholarships for history majors (and for other aspects of your academic profile), don’t forget why it’s so important to put forth so much effort: The more money you secure for college without borrowing, the less you’ll have to worry about federal and private student loans.



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