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36 Weird Scholarships

If you think scholarships are just for outstanding athletes and brilliant students with a 4.0 GPA, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars for your college education. Weird scholarships may use your knowledge of Star Trek or duct tape. If you are passionate about art, music, or other talents, you might be able to get a scholarship to pay for your education.

These scholarships are unusual, weird, unique, or different from mainstream scholarships. Weird scholarships pay out money just like traditional scholarships. They may even have fewer applicants.

Check out the 36 weirdest scholarships and contests to help pay for your college education.

Unique scholarships for environmental enthusiasts

1. Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc. Founders Fund Scholarship

The Theodore Gordon Flyfishers Founders Fund was established by a nonprofit angling organization. The organization promotes conservation and protection of the environment, and its members enjoy activities based on education and activism.

The group awards one $5,000 scholarship every year. To be eligible, you must have decided to major in an environmental program, like zoology, natural resource management, or environmental law. The registration form takes about 55 minutes to complete.

The activities of TGF serve as a model for other organizations whose roots are based in conservation. They are active in conservation and they advocate for the protection of the environment. TGF provides national and local leadership on education, environmental, and conservation issues with relation to coldwater fisheries. You can find more information about its scholarship and mission on its website.

2. The Vegetarian Resource Group scholarships

This group offers five of these unique scholarships annually, one for $10,000 and four for $5,000 each. Applications are judged on their ability to demonstrate courage, compassion, and a commitment to peace in the world through their lifestyle as a vegetarian.

As a part of its scholarship program, VRG health activists, educators, and professionals work together with individuals and businesses in order to inspire changes in schools, workplaces, and communities.

Physicians and registered dietitians help in developing publications related to nutrition, and answer media and member questions. Learn about its goals and scholarships on its website.

3. American Quarter Horse Association scholarships

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) scholarships help students involved in the organization. They must demonstrate financial need and achieve specific academic goals. The amounts of these scholarships are determined each year. You can find more information at the AQHA website.

4. Potato LEAF Scholarship

The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (LEAF) awards one scholarship each academic year worth $10,000 to one grad student who is conducting current research which will benefit the U.S. potato industry.

The Potato LEAF is committed to giving voice to the potato industry in the United States through these scholarships on issues like trade, the environment, regulations, and legislation that affect the industry. Find additional information on the scholarship on the website.

5. LaFontaine Aquatic Entomology Scholarship

Awarded by Fly Fishers International (FFI), the LaFontaine Aquatic Entomology Scholarship helps graduate students conduct research in aquatic entomology. If your program of study isn’t aquatic entomology, explore FFI’s broader Conservation Scholarship instead.

6. Mycological Society of America Scholarships

The Mycological Society awards several unique scholarships for students interested in fungus, spores and mold. Two $2,000 MSA Graduate Scholarships are awarded, along with one $1,000 Backus Award. The society website provides more information.

7. Rolex Diving Scholarship

This $30,000 scholarship is awarded to grad students between 21 and 26 years of age. You cannot have earned a graduate degree or chosen a defined career path. Applicants must have completed 25 or more dives in the last two years and be certified as a Rescue Diver. Learn more at the scholarship website.

Our expert’s advice

Crystal Rau


I suggest checking with your local college’s or university’s financial aid office. It should have a list of local businesses and foundations that offer scholarships to students. For example, I live in West Texas (the capital for oil & gas drilling and extraction). We have several scholarships here for students who want to pursue oil & gas engineering or welding and similar careers.

Unusual scholarships for STEM students

8. STARR Award Program

The Oregon NASA Space Grant Consortium (OSGC) offers scholarships for students who major in math, engineering, technology, or science. Students enrolled in MAT programs are eligible too. The intent is to advance the U.S. space program and reward excellence in academics.

The OSGC belongs to the National Space Fellowship and Grant program. It is an Oregon-wide network of science professionals, students, researchers, educators, museums, and colleges promoting education through interdisciplinary cooperative programs while serving to recruit and train the next workforce of NASA.

9. Collegiate Inventors Competition

The Collegiate Inventors Competition encourages undergrad and grad students to pursue new processes, ideas, and technological innovations.

The Inventors Competition selects one grand prize winner and one runner-up at the graduate and undergraduate level. Each finalist wins $10,000 and a USPTO Patent Acceleration Certificate, and runners-up earn $5,000 each. Find more information on the website.

10. Rube Goldberg Machine Contest

The Rube Goldberg Machine Contest is open to students of all ages, from elementary school to the collegiate level.

During the annual events, contestants compete against students in similar grade levels for a chance to win cash prizes, trophies, and bragging rights. The task? Each team has to build a functioning machine out of trash and found items.

11. Hans Schmoldt Scholarship in Cathodic Protection

If you know what “cathodic protection” means, this scholarship is for you. The $1,000 Hans Schmoldt Scholarship in Cathodic Protection is one of many such scholarships from the Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP).

It’s open to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science or engineering with a specific focus on corrosion control—and, of course, experience with cathodic protection.

Interesting scholarships and contests for the arts

12. Writers of the Future Competition

Established by L. Ron Hubbard in 1983, this contest awards $1,000, $750, and $500 prizes every quarter—plus an annual grand prize of $5,000—to budding science fiction writers. You don’t need to be a student to enter, but you could use your winnings to cover education expenses.

13. Illustrators of the Future Contest

Not a writer? Not a problem. Fantasy and sci-fi illustrators artists can submit three original, unpublished pieces for a chance at a $1,500 quarterly prize and a $5,000 annual prize. Note that illustrations created with artificial intelligence are not accepted.

14. The Davidson Fellows Scholarship

This scholarship awards $10,000, $25,000, and $50,000 to extraordinary people under the age of 18. You must have completed a piece of art that is significant. Categories include Philosophy, Music, Literature, Mathematics, Engineering, Technology and Science. Learn more on the website.

15. Burlington Industries Music Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to music majors at University of North Carolina-Greensboro’s College of Performing and Visual Arts (CVPA).

CVPA doesn’t require students to complete a separate application for the Burlington Industries Music Scholarship or for any of its other scholarships. Instead, every student who applies, auditions for, and is accepted to CVPA is considered.

16. Ayn Rand Institute essay contests

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) offers essay contests for students in middle and high school, as well as those enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs.

To enter, contestants must respond to essay prompts about “Anthem,” “The Fountainhead,” or “Atlas Shrugged,” depending on their grade level. ARI holds the contest (and changes the prompts) three times a year, and prizes range from $1,000 to $25,000.

17. Ursinus College Creative Writing Award

Ursinus College—the school once attended by J.D. Salinger of “Catcher in the Rye” fame— offers a $40,000-per-year scholarship to exceptional creative writing students.

Applicants must be admitted to Ursinus College, submit a portfolio, and present their work to the scholarship committee. The winner gets a chance to live in J.D. Salinger’s dorm room for a year and helps select future winners in subsequent academic years.

18. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) awards this $2,500 scholarship to horror writers who identify as women. To apply, you must submit a writing sample as well as an education plan demonstrating how you intend to use your scholarship funds. HWA accepts scholarship submissions from June 1 to September 1.

19. The Percussion Conservatory Scholarship Competition

This scholarship isn’t just for students enrolled in a degree program. It’s open to Percussion Conservatory members all over the world between 17 and 25 years old.

To apply, you’ll send in an audition tape showcasing your skills on multiple instruments, as well as an essay explaining how you’ll use your scholarship funds. If you win, you’ll get $4,000, a snare drum, a stick bag, and an upgraded lifetime Percussion Conservatory membership.

20. Bev Sellers Memorial Scholarship

You’ve likely heard of barbershop quartets, but did you know you can get a scholarship for participating in one? Administered by Sweet Adelines International, the Bev Sellers Memorial Scholarship gives $5,000 to young women dedicated to perfecting and preserving the classic a capella singing style.

Random scholarships you didn’t know existed

21. Hood College’s Legacy Scholarship

This legacy scholarship from Hood College awards incoming freshmen $1,000 if their parent, sibling, or grandparent earned a degree from Hood College. You can learn more at the Hood College website.

22. Multiples of Illinois Scholarship

Formerly known as the Illinois Mothers of Twins Clubs Inc., Multiples of Illinois offers five $150 scholarships to organization members and two $250 scholarships to members’ children. Winners are chosen at random.

23. American Society for Enology and Viticulture Scholarship

Several scholarships are awarded each year to students who study winemaking or grapes. You must be in pursuit of a degree in viticulture or enology, or a science degree relevant to winemaking. Amounts vary. Learn more at the website.

24. Ronald McDonald House Scholarship

Ronald McDonald House wants to help students who are financially challenged by offering scholarships to students who have financial needs based on their community involvement, academic achievement, and leadership. Award amounts and scholarship criteria vary by chapter. Reach out to your nearest Ronald McDonald House chapter for more information.

25. Beef Ambassador Scholarship

The American National CattleWomen Foundation offers internships and scholarships to eligible members. One such scholarship is reserved for junior members who have served as beef ambassadors. If you fit the bill, you could earn $750 to put toward college expenses.

26. John Kitt Memorial Scholarship

Founded by The American Association of Candy Technologists, the John Kitt Memorial Scholarship pays $2,500 to the winning recipients. Students must demonstrate their interest in the technology of confections. The website has more information.

27. Jeanne Bray Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is administered by the National Rifle Association (NRA) for the children of NRA members who are also law enforcement officers. The amount varies. Learn more at the NRA website.

28. William Cullison Scholarship

TAPPI funds this scholarship, related to papermaking and pulp. It is intended for rising college sophomores, juniors, and seniors who intend to pursue careers in the paper industry. It pays $4,000 for the final two years of each winner’s program in undergraduate studies. The awards are usable at 24 or more colleges with paper and pulp programs or Student Chapters of TAPPI. Learn more at the TAPPI website.

29. American Welding Society Scholarships

This foundation offers several annual scholarships for students enrolled in a training or educational program related to welding. Scholarships are available at the national and district levels. Learn more at the foundation website.

30. USBC scholarships for competitive bowlers

The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) offers several scholarships for its members. Two of these—the USBC Alberta E. Crowe Star of Tomorrow for young women and the USBC Chuck Hall Star of Tomorrow for young men—recognize standout bowlers 20 years old or younger.

Each award is worth $6,000. Successful applicants must be in 12th grade or college and must have competed at the local, regional, state, and national levels.

31. National Dairy Shrine/Dairy Management Inc. Milk Marketing Scholarship

Juniors who plan to pursue a career in the dairy industry—as dairy consultants, dairy geneticists, or agricultural economists, for example—can apply for this niche scholarship. First-place winners earn $1,500, and second-place winners get $1,000.

32. American Board of Funeral Service Education scholarships

The American Board of Funeral Service Education (ABFSE) provides scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in mortuary science or funeral service programs.

Graduate students must also be faculty members at their respective colleges to be eligible to apply. ABSFE’s undergraduate scholarship is open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, international students, and DACA recipients.

33. Willy the Plumber Scholarship

We wouldn’t consider the Willy the Plumber Scholarship weird, but it is unique. It’s one of few scholarships for students with a recently incarcerated caregiver.

To qualify, your parent or guardian must have been incarcerated for at least three years within the past seven years. If your parent or guardian is incarcerated, it must be for a sentence of two or more years. Students must also be Utah residents to apply.

34. John Gatling Grant

This grant program at North Carolina State University is offered only to students whose last name is Gatling or Gatlin. The NCSU financial aid website has additional information.

35. Society of Vacuum Coaters Foundation Scholarship Fund

This award funds part of your college tuition if you’re interested in being educated in vacuum coating technology. The course of study you choose must be related to this field. The money awarded varies, and you can obtain more information at the society website.

36. Alert Magazine Scholarships

These weird scholarships are funded by Alert Magazine. It awards $500 to the student who best exemplifies determination not to turn to alcohol and drugs by writing essays about their personal encounters with alcohol or drug abuse.