20 Great Scholarships for Secularists

Nonbelievers who don’t follow God or a supernatural spirit aren’t excluded from faith-based funding because there are several scholarships for secularists.

Secularism includes any anti-religious sect that eliminates worship from society. Secularists develop their worldly views based on science and reason rather than dogma.

Whether you identify as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, free thinker, or simply a skeptic, financial aid can help foot the hefty bill for higher education. Monetary resources are growing as the share of atheist Americans has nearly doubled over the last decade to 3.1 percent. These scholarships aren’t always well-received though. In fact, one California school district was sued in 2016 for banning students from atheist scholarships.

Advocate for your freedom to be “Good Without God” by applying for the following 20 great secularist scholarships.

1. American Atheists O’Hair Scholarship

Deadline: February 1st

The American Atheists Association grants one $1,000 O’Hair Scholarship annually to graduating high school seniors or current college students, including master’s or doctoral students, who identify as atheists. Eligible applicants must be secularist activists in their communities, attend accredited U.S. institutions full-time, possess an overall GPA above 2.5, and exhibit strong leadership capacity. Applications must summarize their activities and motivations for promoting separation between church and state in a 1,000-word essay.

Contact

American Atheists O’Hair Scholarship
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016
(908) 276-7300
scholarship@atheists.org
Scholarship Link

2. Antelope Valley Freethinkers Scholarships

Deadline: July 1st

Created in 2016, the Antelope Valley Freethinkers (AVF) hosts an essay contest to provide scholarships for $250, $500, and $1,000 to graduating high school seniors from northern Los Angeles County and Kern County in California. Entrants must pen an original essay of 500 to 700 words describing how they’ve personally applied free thought to raise logical challenges to statements of faith. A separate paragraph must include the candidate’s hometown, college or university, and intended major.

Contact

Antelope Valley Freethinkers Scholarships
40915 40th Street West
Palmdale, CA 93551
(661) 722-5997
president@avfreethinkers.org
Scholarship Link

3. Atheist Alliance of America Scholarship

Deadline: July 15th

The Atheist Alliance of America Champions Education initiative presents a $1,000 scholarship annually to atheist students who are either graduating from high school and starting or continuing at an accredited U.S. college this upcoming fall. Eligibility criteria includes achieving a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, participating in activism activities, and having unmet financial need. Applications must be accompanied by a maximum 1,2500-word essay reflecing how positive atheism benefits the world.

Contact

Atheist Alliance of America Scholarship
P.O. Box 35385
North Chesterfield, VA 23235
(678) 321-0212
scholarship@atheistallianceamerica.org
Scholarship Link

4. Atheists United SLO Scholarships

Deadline: May 15th

Partnered with the Central Coast Coalition of Reason, the Atheist United San Luis Obispo (SLO) grants $500 scholarships annually to local high school seniors who outright support secular values and help develop the atheist community. To qualify, young leaders must be accepted at a nonprofit two- or four-year college, reside in California for 12+ months, maintain a minimum “B” average, and participate in charitable acts that foster a secular future.

Contact

Atheists United SLO Scholarships
791 Price Street Suite 166
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
(805) 801-3235
info@auslo.org
Scholarship Link

5. Catherine Fahringer Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: June 17th

The Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) provides several scholarships for secularists, including the $1,000 Catherine Fahringer Memorial Scholarship. Suitable applicants will be graduating high school seniors who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, or secular and need financial support to pursue post-secondary degrees. Freethinking youth must write an essay describing how their participation in community-based organizations has championed for the freedom of conscience. Preference is given to students who’ve been in foster care, homeless, and migrant workers.

Contact

Catherine Fahringer Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 750
Madison WI 53701
(608) 256-8900
info@ffrf.org
Scholarship Link

6. Chinn Scholarships for LGBT Atheist Activism

Deadline: February 1st

Annually, the American Atheists Association also bestows two Chinn Scholarships for LGBT Atheist Activism for $500 to outstanding high school seniors and college students who have advocated to end faith-based sexual orientation discrimination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight ally students may apply. Other qualifications include being atheist, registering at an accredited U.S. college, holding a minimum 2.5 GPA, and being strong voices for LGBT equality.

Contact

Chinn Scholarships for LGBT Atheist Activism
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016
(908) 276-7300
scholarship@atheists.org
Scholarship Link

7. First in the Family Humanist Scholarship

Deadline: June 10th

Minorities of African American, Latino/a, Asian, Pacific Islander, or Native American heritage could benefit from the scholarships for secularists granted by the Black Skeptics Los Angeles. The $1,000 First in the Family Humanist Scholarship is designed for graduating seniors from the Los Angeles Unified School District who are irreligious. Funding can cover tuition for students to become their family’s first college student at two and four-year institutions.

Contact

First in the Family Humanist Scholarship
3101 West 79th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90043
(323) 482-1595
blackskeptics@gmail.com
Scholarship Link

8. FLASH Secular Student Scholarship Fund

Deadline: January 1st

The University of Miami made headlines in May 2016 for establishing the United States’ first academic chair for the study of atheism and humanism. In reaction, the Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists (FLASH) began a Secular Student Scholarship Fund to award $500 to individuals undertaking this exciting opportunity. Qualified secularists must enroll in at least 12 credits per semester, maintain a minimum UM average of 3.0 or higher, and have unmet need.

Contact

FLASH Secular Student Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 248025
Coral Gables, FL 33124
(305) 284-4323
ofas@miami.edu
Scholarship Link

9. Herb Silverman Secular Humanist Scholarship

Deadline: March 15th

At the College of Charleston, the Herb Silverman Secular Humanist Scholarship was endowed by the Emeritus Professor of Mathematics to bestow $1,500 each year. Eligible candidates must be matriculated at COFC full-time, consider themselves a secular humanist, sustain a grade point average above 3.0, submit two faculty letters of recommendation, and write a 500-word essay describing how a secular philosophy impacts their lifestyle. Preference is given to majors in the School of Sciences and Mathematics.

Contact

Herb Silverman Secular Humanist Scholarship
66 George Street
Charleston, SC 29424
(843) 805-5507
SilvermanScholarship@cofc.edu
Scholarship Link

10. Hispanic American Freethinkers Technology Scholarship

Deadline: May 30th

Supported by Foundation Beyond Belief, the Hispanic American Freethinkers Technology Scholarship awards $2,000 yearly to Latino/a secularists who accepted into an accredited full-time bachelor’s degree program in the United States for STEM fields. Appropriate applicants will be graduating high school, come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, become first generation college students, and write an essay detailing the importance of separation of church and state.

Contact

Hispanic American Freethinkers Technology Scholarship
1818 Library Street Suite 500-20
Reston, VA 20190
(202) 656-5060
info@HAFree.org
Scholarship Link

11. Humanists of Greater Portland Scholarship

Deadline: April 1st

Worth $3,000, the Humanists of Greater Portland (HGP) Scholarship is available for Oregon seniors who identify themselves as secular humanists and value education by planning to attend a four-year college full-time this Fall. Eligible candidates must attend public high schools in the Greater Portland Metro, have academic merit, and display good communication skills. The application process includes writing 750 to 1,000 words addressing “How I Formed My Moral Compass Without Religion.”

Contact

Humanists of Greater Portland Scholarship
1737 NW 26th Avenue
Portland, OR 97210
(503) 452-1861
gage@hevanet.com
Scholarship Link

12. Joyce Schader Secular Humanist Scholarship

Deadline: Varies

Established by Ramapo College of New Jersey in 2015 to honor the Associate Director of Annual Giving who lost her battle with lung cancer, the Joyce Schader Secular Humanist Scholarship is gifted annually to secularists. Qualified recipients must attend Ramapo full-time, show good academic standing, have financial need, and be committed to humanist ethics. The required 500-word essay should describe how students’ personally demonstrate ethical behavior without threats of religious punishment.

Contact

Joyce Schader Secular Humanist Scholarship
505 Ramapo Valley Road
Mahwah, NJ 07430
(201) 684-7500
info@ramapo.edu
Scholarship Link

13. Mario Savio Memorial Young Activist Award

Deadline: July 1st

Named for the brilliant spokesman for the Free Speech Movement at the University of California-Berkeley in 1964, the Mario Savio Memorial Young Activist Award presents $6,000 to nominated youth committed to advocating human rights. Secularists could qualify if they’re between 18 and 26 years old, engaged in activism for freedom of expression, affiliated with an accredited U.S. institution, and considered an inspirational leader by others.

Contact

Mario Savio Memorial Young Activist Award
P.O. Box 152
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 869-9597
savio@sonic.net
Scholarship Link

14. Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Scholarship

Deadline: June 15th

Since 1979, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) has chosen 10 college students for the Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Scholarship Contest to claim prizes from $400 to $3,000. Eligible U.S. undergraduates under age 25 who identify themselves as secular and individuals of color may enter. Minorities in the Freethought Movement must craft an original, 900-word essay highlighting their experiences as courageous nonbelievers. Graduate students to age 30 could pursue the Brian Bolton Scholarships for secularists.

Contact

Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Scholarship
P.O. Box 750
Madison WI 53701
(608) 256-8900
info@ffrf.org
Scholarship Link

15. Paul J. Gaylor Memorial Scholarship

Deadline: June 17th

Created by the FFRF’s Co-President in honor of her activist father, the Paul J. Gaylor Memorial Scholarship bestows $1,000 annually upon high school and college students who exhibit outstanding activism for freethought and secular humanism. Funding can be used to afford college tuition or service projects for young activists enrolling at any accredited U.S. institution with good standing. Other offered scholarships include the Nothing Fails like Prayer Award and Atheist in Foxhole Award.

Contact

Paul J. Gaylor Memorial Scholarship
P.O. Box 750
Madison WI 53701
(608) 256-8900
info@ffrf.org
Scholarship Link

16. Scholarships for Our Secular Future

Deadline: March 1st or November 1st

The National Atheist Party grants two Scholarships for Our Secular Future for $1,000 apiece each year to high school and college students who take active roles in their community to uphold secular values. For eligibility, individuals must be U.S. citizens, be accepted at accredited higher learning institutions, study full-time with less than 70 credits, achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0 or the 5.0 equivalent, and demonstrate political actions that support the NAP.

Contact

Scholarships for Our Secular Future
P.O. Box 371
Florence, KY 41042
NAP.EB@usanap.org
Scholarship Link

17. Science Steps Forward Scholarships

Deadline: March 1st or November 1st

Another of the scholarships for secularists from the National Atheist Party is the Science Steps Forward Scholarships, which offers $1,000 each year. The NAP Executive Board looks for high school and college students who wish to develop secular, evidence-based conclusions by majoring in research or applied sciences. Tomorrow’s scientific leaders must be U.S. citizens, have under 70 college credits, attend accredited colleges, carry a cumulative GPA beyond 3.0, and attach two written recommendations.

Contact

Science Steps Forward Scholarships
P.O. Box 371
Florence, KY 41042
NAP.EB@usanap.org
Scholarship Link

18. Secular Student Alliance Activist Scholarships

Deadline: September 30th

Each year, the Secular Student Alliance proudly distributes four $2,500 and four $1,000 Activist Scholarships for current SSA members who are matriculated full-time in accredited United States colleges, including graduate schools. Eligible secularists must exhibit creative activism plans for community-building projects that spread secular values for a humanistic future. There are additional $1,000 scholarships reserved for students attending HBCUs or Floridians living in Sarasota and Bradenton.

Contact

Secular Student Alliance Activist Scholarships
P.O. Box 2371
Columbus, OH 43216
(614) 441-9588
ssa@secularstudents.org
Scholarship Link

19. Summit Ministries Opportunity Scholarship

Deadline: June 7th

Unlike most secularist scholarships, the Summit Ministries Opportunity Scholarship covers half or full tuition up to $1,195 for attending the two-week Tennessee Worldview Conference that summer. Students aged 16+ who are attending any United States school can enter and receive $200 for simply submitting an application. The online application requires typing an 800-word essay with concise reasoning for “Why Atheists and Agnostics Should Care About Religious Freedom.”

Contact

Summit Ministries Opportunity Scholarship
P.O. Box 207
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
(866) 786-6483
scholarship@summit.org
Scholarship Link

20. William J. Schulz Student Essay Scholarship

Deadline: June 15th

Similar to the Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Scholarship, the William J. Schulz Student Essay Scholarship is provided by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) to recognize 16 college-bound high school seniors who identify as secularists. Freethinking students enter a competition to win prizes ranging from $400 to $3,000 by writing a 750-word essay that addresses “Why Boy Scouts of America Should Welcome Atheists and Nonbelievers.”

Contact

William J. Schulz Student Essay Scholarship
P.O. Box 750
Madison WI 53701
(608) 256-8900
info@ffrf.org
Scholarship Link

Students considering themselves irreligious won’t find as many scholarships as those who are Catholic or Jewish, but opportunities are available. Scholarships are important because only 0.3 percent of undergraduates in America receive enough financial aid to cover tuition. Unlike loans, scholarships are free, non-repayable gifts of philanthropy that can lower monetary burden. On average, grant and scholarship aid provides $9,740 annually according to the NCES. Along with these scholarships for secularists, search for awards based on your state, major, and hobbies.

See also: 20 Best Deals on Small Colleges for Secularists