Scholarships for Minority Nursing Students

If you are a member of a racial, ethnic, or cultural minority, you’ll find a lot of nursing scholarship competitions designed especially for you. Why? There are several reasons. Partly it’s to help you make it through school, especially if you’re from a disadvantaged background. Partly it’s to build up the nursing workforce — a lot of states are facing nursing shortfalls, and they know that in order to have enough qualified workers, they need to extend a hand to traditionally underrepresented groups. There’s still another reason: to deliver better health services to minority patients. The US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health is among those very concerned about discrepancies in healthcare. Cultural competence is the buzzword. You don’t necessarily have to be a member of a group to be sensitive to their needs, but it certainly can help.

Many minority nursing scholarships come with few strings attached; you’re under no obligation to work with a particular population after graduation. A few very lucrative governmental scholarships do depend on fulfilling a service obligation.

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Minority Nursing Scholarship Opportunities

The United Health Foundation funds a number of minority healthcare scholarships through their Diverse Scholars Initiative. You don’t apply directly to them, but through one of their partner organizations. It can be helpful, though, to look at their site and see which organizations they work with.

Turning in a scholarship application to NAHN (the National Association of Hispanic Nurses Scholarship) can simultaneously put you in the running for United Health Foundation Scholarships. To be eligible, candidates must be studying at the baccalaureate level or higher. The application deadline is April 1.

Professional memberships can help you in your scholarship quest. Many ethnic and racial minorities have their own professional organizations, though sometimes scholarships are limited to members of the organization. The National Black Nurses Association, Inc. is one such organization. The group awards a number of scholarships to students at LPN to BSN levels. Students are expected to be members of the national organization and of a local chapter (if one exists). Some state and regional chapters also award their own scholarships.

The Philippine Nurses Association offers a $1,000 scholarship to a nurse who is a member of the organization and pursuing graduate education.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also funds many lucrative scholarships for groups who are underrepresented in nursing. They are administered through the financial aid offices of schools that have received grants.

Your local hospitals can be another source. Cincinnati Children’s in Ohio and St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison are among the institutions that target minorities for nursing scholarships. You may contact Ester Lowery for details about the program at St Mary’s.

If you’re studying at the doctoral level, you’ll want to look into the Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars Program, which is offered through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, in cooperation with Johnson & Johnson. They’re awarding a total of five $18,000 awards for nurse educators. The 2011 deadline is May 4; you can contact Amy Jacks with any questions.

And if you’re ready for a big commitment? The government funds scholarships for America Indian, Hawaiian, and Alaskan native students who are willing to spend time working in their native land. Programs are administered through the HRSA, IHS, and the Native Hawaiian Scholarship Program.

Minority Nursing Scholarship Professional Advice

The essay or personal statement can be difficult. What do you tell a scholarship committee? Some of the biggest names in healthcare scholarships, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, publish essays by their awardees. By reading these, you get a sense of how candidates link past experiences to future goals, and of what level of specificity they use when describing their aspirations.

The Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization, in the Puget Sound area, also profiles winners. These can certainly provide inspiration, but don’t feel that you need to become someone else. A representative of Mary Mahoney reminds us that the competition is multi-faceted and multi-step, and that interviews give some students their best chance to shine. The single most important thing to remember is to include all required materials — this alone can put you ahead of more than 50% of applicants!

Contact Information for Minority Nursing Scholarships

United Health Foundation




NBNA Scholarships


Philippine Nurses Association


Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Email Contact:


St. Mary’s

700 So. Park Street, Madison WI 53715, PH: 608-258-6632


Minority Nurse Faculty Scholars



PH: 301-443-3396


Native Hawaiian Scholarship Program