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Scholarship Spotlight: SMART Scholarship

Updated: Mar 24, 2023


The SMART Scholarship (Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation) is a DoD-sponsored scholarship for current college and graduate students, that covers full-tuition, a health insurance stipend, and a book allowance in exchange for post-education Civilian service.



Department of Defense (part of the National Defense Education Program)


Award Benefits

  • Full tuition and education related expenses for any regionally accredited U.S. college or university (meal plans, housing, and parking are not included).

  • Stipend paid at a rate of $25,000 - $38,000 each year, depending on degree level (may be prorated depending on award length).

  • Summer research internships ranging from 8 to 12 weeks.

  • Health Insurance allowance of up to $1,200 per academic year.

  • Miscellaneous allowance of up to $1,000 per academic year.

  • An experienced mentor at Sponsoring Facilities.

  • Employment placement at a DoD facility upon degree completion. 



  • Applicants can begin applying during their first term in college.

  • A citizen of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or United Kingdom at time of application.

  • 18 years of age or older.

  • Able to complete at least one summer internship at a DoD facility.

  • Willing to accept post-graduate employment with the DoD.

  • A student in good standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

  • Requesting at least 1.5 years of degree funding prior to graduation (which starts at the program start date).

  • Pursuing a technical undergraduate or graduate degree in one of the disciplines below.

  • Undergraduate Applicants: must be currently enrolled in a regionally accredited U.S. college or university and have a high school diploma/GED. Current high school students are not eligible to apply.

  • Graduate Applicants: can be either currently enrolled in a regionally accredited U.S. college or university or awaiting notification of admission to such. If awaiting admission, you must be accepted for entrance in the fall term following your application submission.


What Makes this Opportunity Unique?

For those of you who intend to apply during your undergraduate education ("recruitment"), there is an opportunity to continue receiving scholarship support for graduate studies ("retention"), with prior permission from your sponsoring facility.

The SMART scholarship is designed for STEM students. Check out the list of qualifying majors.

There are many benefits in participating in the SMART Scholarship program (details above). Aside from the full-tuition scholarship and stipend, you are also committing to civilian employment for the Department of Defense. For each academic year of a scholar's award, they are required to commit to 12 months of civilian employment at the Sponsoring Facility. Students undergo their security clearance process upon scholarship awarding, so they are prepared to begin their summer internships in a timely manner.

During Phase I of the program (the time scholars are still in school), scholars are required to participate in summer internships at the sponsoring facility. It is during these internships that students are assigned a mentor to guide them through their program.

The application process is intensive and requires several essays and professional references (3-5; check out our blog post if you need recommendation guidance!). Scholars who become semi-finalists interview (at least once, sometimes more) with each sponsoring facility attempting to recruit them.


When is the application due?

December 1 at 5:00 PM EST, but we highly recommend making sure all application components are submitted prior to November 15th, to ensure smooth delivery prior to the application closing.

Owl see you next time!

The Scholarship Guru

Guest Authors, College Sleuths, and Night Owls

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