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A Guide to STEM Scholarships


What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym that stands for sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The term encompasses many sub-fields that fall within one or more than one of these broader categories. For instance, computer science, which uses skills that intersect all four of these disciplines, is considered a STEM discipline.


Different organizations and institutions define STEM in different ways. For instance, the National Science Foundation (NSF) includes social science, which includes disciplines such as economics and political science, as a STEM field, but many other groups do not.


STEM fields are emphasized in public education in the United States because they drive and inform new technological developments and other advances in knowledge. Often, these fields are higher-paying than many others. The STEM category is also officially defined by U.S. immigration officials and used in awarding certain educational and work visas; this means that if someone from another country can prove that he or she has a valuable STEM skill that may benefit the U.S., that person could be eligible for residency on the basis of that skill.


Are you pursuing a STEM major? Read on for information about important scholarships that could help you pay for your STEM degree.


Looking for targeted STEM scholarships

Targeted scholarships generally feature a smaller applicant pool than more general scholarships, since the population that will be interested in and qualified for the scholarship is much narrower than the general college-bound population. Also, you are more likely to win a scholarship that is a direct match for your interests, qualifications, and applicant profile.


Some scholarships targeted to potential STEM majors are more narrowly refined to a specific field of interest, such as marine biology or electrical engineering, so it is important to make sure you qualify for the scholarship before you apply.


Additionally, you should research what the scholarship will require of you in the long term. For instance, will you lose your scholarship if you change your major, as many students end up doing? Make sure you are completely aware of the terms before you apply for or accept any scholarship.


While STEM scholarships may be offered through both particular colleges—and will require you to attend that school if you accept the scholarship—and external organizations, in this post, we will focus on scholarships that apply to all or most schools.


Looking for some general advice on applying for scholarships? CollegeVine’s blog posts What You Need to Know for a Successful Scholarship Season and Helpful Scholarship Resources and Tips can help you get started.


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Some STEM scholarships and places to look for scholarships


  • The National High School Scholars (NSHSS) Foundation provides STEM scholarships for underrepresented groups in STEM in an effort to increase diversity in the technology workforce, starting with undergraduates. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and a demonstrated interest in majoring in any area of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Scholarships are $1,000. The deadline to apply is April 1, 2017. Click here for more information and to apply.


  • In the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology, students participate in intensive research projects to increase their understanding in the value of scientific study. Students may compete individually or in a two- or three-person group. Scholarships for winning projects range from $1,000-$10,000. A schedule for the 2017 competition has not been posted yet, but you may sign up to receive information regarding the competition on the organization’s website.


  • The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship encourages minority students to pursue college degrees and careers in STEM fields. It was created by former astronaut, physician, and businessman Dr. Bernard Harris to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing STEM careers. Scholarships are awarded to two African American and two Hispanic students in their senior year of a high school in a member district of the Council of Great City Schools. More information and guidelines are available here. The application deadline is April 10th.


  • College sophomores and juniors matriculated at two- or four- year institutions may pursue the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for STEM fields. The scholarship is open to students with a 3.0 GPA who intend to pursue research careers in natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics. Students must be nominated for the scholarship by their institution (usually by a Goldwater Campus Representative—find out if your school has one here) Juniors who enter may receive scholarships of up to $7,500 in their senior year. Sophomores may receive these scholarships in both their junior and senior years. Application deadlines are determined by individual institutions. Learn more here.


  • The Chuck McLane Scholarship is available to Girl Scout Gold Award recipients who complete a Gold Award project that deals with STEM and who plan to pursue a STEM-related degree and career. Two girls are awarded $10,000 scholarships each year. Keep in mind that you must first receive the Gold Award to be eligible for the scholarship. Details are available here.


  • Women admitted to accredited baccalaureate or graduate may apply for scholarships from the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in preparation for careers in engineering, engineering technology, and computer science. Scholarships range from $1,000-15,000, and some are renewable for future years. Incoming freshmen (current high school seniors) may apply between March 1st and May 1st. Click here for the application and other information.


  • The Regeneron Science Talent Search is a prestigious science competition that recognizes original research conducted by high school students. Before you apply, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements. This year’s application will open in May.


  • The Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program is an open to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in STEM disciplines. The award covers full tuition and education-related fees, including health insurance up to $1,200 per year. Recipients also receive stipend, summer research internship opportunities, and employment placement after graduation. The competition is open to students enrolled in a full-time U.S. college or university who have at least a 3.0 GPA. This year’s competition is not yet open; last year’s deadline was December 1st. Read more about the guidelines and eligibility requirements here.


  • Funded by Cards Against Humanity, the Science Ambassador Scholarship provides full tuition to a woman seeking an undergraduate degree in science, engineering, or math. The application cycle is closed for 2017, but last year’s deadline was in December. To be eligible, students must study a STEM-related major for the entirety of their freshman year of college. Find out more information here.


  • The Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation provides three different types of scholarships, including Corporate/Government Sponsored Scholarships, Special Recognition Scholarships, and In Memoriam and Personal Tribute Scholarships. These scholarships are open to undergraduate or graduate students at two- or four-year institutions who are pursuing a STEM degree, have at least a 3.0 GPA, and demonstrate merit through academic achievements, leadership, and campus/community activities. Applicants must be of Hispanic origin and/or must significantly demonstrate leadership or service within the Hispanic community. Winners will receive a scholarship ranging from $500-$15,000, a listing in the HENAAC STEM Career Conference issue of TECHNiCA Magazine and press release, and transportation to the annual HENAAC conference, where they will be presented and commended. The application deadline is April 30th. Click here for more information.


  • Be sure to check out national societies for professionals in specific STEM fields as well. Many of these organizations provide scholarships to high school and college schools who planning on studying subjects in their fields.


For more information

Visit the websites for the organizations listed above, and be sure to pay close attention to deadlines and eligibility information. Many of the applications have multiple components, so you want to be careful about getting all your ducks in a row!


For more scholarships and other tips on applying, check out CollegeVine’s scholarship blog posts.


Looking for courses and extracurriculars for to strengthen your college profile as a STEM major? Check Out these posts:


AP Courses

The Ultimate Guide to the AP Computer Science A Exam

Introduction to the New Computer Science Principles Course

The Ultimate Guide to the New AP Computer Science Principles Exam & Performance Tasks

How to Choose a Project for Your AP Research Course

Ultimate Guide to the Environmental Science AP Exam

Ultimate Guide to the AP Physics 1 Exam

Ultimate Guide to the AP Physics 2 Exam


Other STEM Activities

A Beginner’s Guide to Science Fair

The Ultimate Guide to Science Olympiad

How to Spend Your Summer as an Aspiring Engineer

How to Spend Your Summer as a Prospective Math Major (and Why Math Is a Great Career Path)

Summer Activities for the Prospective Pre-med Student


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.