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Dreamer Workshop: "Grad School for Undocumented Scholars"

With Fryda Figueroa & Emelia Alvarado

This recording of the 1-hr. September 29th, 2020 Dreamer Workshop "Grad School for Undocumented Scholars" covers the following topics:

  • Graduate school – the basics
  • Choosing the right program
  • Applying for graduate programs
  • Financial Aid for undocumented grad students
  • Examples of supportive universities
  • Graduate school – “is it the right choice for me?”
  • How to advocate for yourself

When thinking about whether to attend graduate school, it can help to keep the following pro's and con's in mind:


Is grad school for me


Also check out this informative blog entry: "A Guide for Potential Grad Students: Should You Go to Graduate School?"


Financial assistance is often more limited for graduate school compared to undergaduate college. However, funding for undocumented stduents does exist!

1. Funding directly from the school or department

When you apply for a gradute program, make sure to check directly with the program's academic advisor or Financial Aid office; they will be your best resource for funding!  

2. Teaching or Reasearch Assistantships (RA/TA)

With work authorization, the university might hire you to teach undergaduate courses, work in labs, or assist professors in research in exhcange for funding or reduced/free tuition.

3. Fellowships & Grants 

This searchable database from the University of California-Los Angeles lists more than 650 fellowship & grant opportunities that are available to graduate students across the U.S. Some fellowships require that you work towards specific academic goals, some do not.

Some fellowships include:

4. Student loans

Graduate students (especially for professional degrees such as medical or law school) may find that loans are sometimes the only option; when taking out a student loan, make sure to:

  • make a budget (howfast can you realistically pay back the loan?),
  • research different offers and borrowing rates (does your current credit union or bank offer student loans?),
  • understand subsidized vs. unsubsidized loans
  • talk with others who have taken out loans for graduate school loans.


As always, build a network of other undocumented graduate students to learn about funding options!


The images below from the UndocuGrads Workshop ( show how financial assistance for graduate school is typically a combination of different funding types: 


Funding for grad school 1


Funding for grad school 2


These guides & websites provide key information by and for undocumented students thinking about graduate school.  


1. My Undocumented Life: UndocuGrads Workshop 

Many videos, workshops, and resources for undocumented students preparing for graduate school

2. Resources for Undocumented Graduate Students

Also from My Undocumented Life, this guide gives key information & resources to help you navigate the graduate school application process and experience while undocumented

3. Navigating Graduate School Resource Guide for Undocumented-Students (2018)

A very extensive and detailed guide from Santa Clara University's School of Law (Cook & Gaylord, 2018)

4. Pre-Health Dreamers (2020)

A wide variety of videos, resources, peer mentorshop programs, and more for undocumented medical and pre-medical students

5. Immigrants Rising: Life After College 

A comprehensive guide on career and educational pathways for undocumented college graduates


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