Scholarships are investments in the recipient and their community, as they often increase access to education. Scholarships are awarded to students through schools, employers, individual/family trusts, private companies, and many other sources.
Many scholarships are geared toward specific groups of people based on gender and/or race or ethnic background. In the case of scholarships for women in business, these aid packages aim to help women carve a path in apreviously male-dominated industry.
Accounting began around the late 1400s. Over 400 years later, Christine Ross, the first female certified public accountant, passed the 1898 CPA exam. As of 2020, women make up 60.3% of U.S. accountants and auditors, yet only 27% of accounting partners and principals are women.
Rising to a leadership position in accounting may require advanced degrees. For women seeking entrance into the profession or wanting to continue their education, scholarships could be a key component in gaining parity.
According to the Education Data Initiative, the average federal student loan debt balance is $37,113. When considering private student loan debt, that price increases to $40,904. Scholarships can go a long way toward lowering that number.
Aid packages may cover the entire cost of tuition, a smaller portion one-time, or smaller payments with recurrence. They can be merit-based or based on financial need. Scholarships can also pay for a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. Check out our financial aid guide for more information.
How Women Can Apply for Accounting Scholarships
Women can apply for accounting scholarships in several ways. These methods include the financial aid office at a college/school, free scholarship search tools, and women- and equity-based organizations.
Types of Scholarship Sponsors
Some scholarships are offered by the universities or colleges attended. These can be merit-based or need-based, as well as academic or service-oriented.
Other scholarships can be privately dispersed through foundations, organizations, or even individuals/family trusts. Professional associations also sometimes award scholarships.
When looking for scholarships specific to women in accounting, seek out professional associations geared toward women, like the ones listed below. School departments may be helpful in seeking out these professional associations.
Where Women Can Look for Scholarships
Many of the larger scholarship search engines like FastWeb and Scholarships.com can tailor your search for women in specific professions like STEM or accounting. Google searches for phrases like "equity in accounting scholarship" or "scholarships for women in accounting" might prove helpful as well. Include the quotation marks in your search.
For scholarships specifically tailored for accounting, platforms such as the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting (EFWA) and the The American Association of University Women (AAUW) awards scholarships specifically for women pursuing a degree in accounting (undergraduate or graduate).
Some other sources where women can look for scholarships include:
- The Forbes Advisor Top Scholarship for Women: A list of scholarships for women plus additional resources on how to find more.
Many scholarships require an application process. These applications have a wide array of requirements and steps. Some requirements include grade point average (GPA), income, demographics, and even location. Some steps to submit an application could include a submission of transcripts (high school or college), a personal statement/essay, and references or letters of recommendation.
To keep stress levels low, develop a strategy for applying to scholarships. The search process can be very time-consuming. Start your search far enough out that you have enough room to apply before deadlines approach.
Join email lists on scholarship databases for notifications of new scholarship offerings. Set aside a budget for application fees and transcript-related costs. Write your resumes and personal essays ahead of time and feel free to reuse them.
Set calendar reminders for deadlines. Some scholarships have multiple levels and those levels have corresponding due dates. Missing deadlines may often disqualify you from the scholarship.
Scholarships Available for Women
Here are some scholarships available for women seeking degrees within the accounting profession. Because some organizations aim to improve diversity in the profession, scholarships are a huge step in that direction.
- Requirements: This scholarship is for incoming first-year female students who are the primary source of support for their families, and who seek a bachelor’s in accounting. The award amount is determined by the Board of Trustees. The award must be renewed every year based on maintaining a 3.0 GPA in required coursework.
- Award: Up to $16,000 over four years
- Requirements: This scholarship is awarded to women completing their sophomore year in pursuit to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Applicants are also the primary source of support for their family.
- Award: $2,000 per year for two years with renewal.
- Requirements: This is a one year undergraduate scholarship for women working toward a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
- Award: $2,000, a complementary one-year student membership to the IMA, and the CMA entrance exam entrance and exam registration fee.
- Requirements: Preference for this scholarship is for women pursuing a degree in accounting after returning to college from the workforce or after raising children.
- Award: $1,000 for one year
- Requirements: This scholarship is for women pursuing full-time study to complete dissertations or conduct postdoctoral research, or to those preparing research for publication for eight consecutive weeks.
- Award: $6,000-30,000
- Requirements: This grant is for women who earned their bachelor's degrees at least eight years before the award period, and are currently pursuing a certificate or degree to advance/change their careers or re-enter the workforce.
- Award: $2,000-12,000
- Requirements: These fellowships are awarded to women who intend to pursue a full-time course of study at accredited U.S. institutions during the fellowship year in one of the designated degree programs with traditionally low female attendance.
- Award: $5,000-18,000
- Requirements: These scholarships are awarded to women pursuing degrees in accounting and finance to support the cost of attending 3rd, 4th, 5th year of schooling, or those enrolled in master’s programs. Minimum 3.0 GPA with evidence of leadership, communication skills, and financial need.
- Award: Varies
- Requirements: These fellowships are for women who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents but will be attending accredited U.S. institutions and pursuing graduate or postgraduate studies before returning to practice in their home countries. Awards are based on academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to girls and women.
- Award: $18,000-30,000
Scholarships for Any Degree Level
- Requirements: This foundation offers scholarships to low-income women pursuing a first bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate. The woman must be at least 17 years old, meet income requirements, and have a child/children under the age of 18.
- Award: up to $5,000
- Requirements: This scholarship offers support for exam fees of AFWA members for any of the following certifications CPA, CFP, CIA, CMA, or CVA. Candidates have recently passed all parts of the exam.
- Award: Financial support for exam fees
- Requirements: These scholarships are for women of at least 25 years old. Must live in New Jersey in Colts Neck, Enginshtow, Farmingdale, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Howl, Manalapan, Marlboro, or Morganville with a minimum 3.0 GPA. For those enrolled in a bachelor’s program with 60+ credits or a master’s program with 6+ credits.
- Award: $2,000
- Requirements: This scholarship is awarded to assist women in completing an undergraduate, master’s degree, or certificate program. Students must reside in Illinois in Lombard, Villa Park, Oakbrook Terrace, Wheaton, Addison, Glendale Heights, or Glen Ellyn in order to apply and must be continuing their education after a significant interruption.
- Award: $5,000
The Future of Women Accountants
Employment of accountants and auditors is projected to grow 7% from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Currently women are underrepresented as partners and top executives within the accounting profession. Changing this inequity requires a large effort in attracting, retaining, and promoting women in the profession.
Gender diversity matters. Diversity in all aspects allows for representation of different perspectives and promotes creativity and efficiency. It also drives economic growth and contributes to the success of individual organizations and the national economy.
Women are not well-represented in the upper levels of the accounting profession (executives, managers), though 60.3% of accountants and auditors are women. While this does show progress, there is still more work to be done to break through the glass ceiling.
In order to seek these leadership positions, women may need advanced degrees and certification. Scholarships could be a major effort in achieving these credentials while reducing student loan debt.
Questions About Financial Aid for Women
What kinds of business scholarships exist for women?
Women seeking business degrees can apply for institutional/college, program/departmental, professional associations, and private scholarships. These scholarships can be partial or cover the full cost of your education. They can also fund undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Do programs offer full accounting scholarships for women?
Some programs may offer full accounting scholarships for women. However, many programs and professional associations offer partial scholarships with specific requirements that may fit the situation.
What kind of financial aid exists for women majoring in accounting?
Women majoring in accounting can seek out grants, scholarships/fellowships, federal student loans, private students loans, and work study. Scholarships/fellowships do not have to be repaid, unlike federal and private student loans.
How many accounting majors are women?
In 2017-2018, women comprised 52.8% of bachelor’s in accounting graduates, and 55.7% of master’s degree graduates. Worldwide, the overall percentage of women studying accounting in 2018 was 49%.
Laila Abdalla, Ph.D.
Laila Abdalla obtained her Ph.D. in English from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. She taught undergraduate and graduate courses in English and successful writing at Central Washington University for over 21 years.
Currently, Abdalla serves as a Washington state career coach and advocate for individuals on temporary state assistance. Abdalla has devoted her career, teaching, and leadership to matters of equity, diversity, and inclusion. Above all, she is committed to her clients' and students' complete experience, raising awareness of BIPOC issues in employment, language, community, and culture.
Abdalla leads with equity in management and nonprofit volunteering, and continues to develop her own understandings of these complex issues — both professionally and in her lived experiences.
Laila Abdalla is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network.
Page last reviewed Feb. 20, 2022
Featured Image: Deepak Sethi / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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