Scholarships of all kinds are a great way to get free financial aid to help pay for a college education. STEM scholarships specifically are available for students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, computers, and mathematics. For example, STEM scholarships are generally available to applicants who are pursuing a degree in, or closely related to, one of the following STEM disciplines:
- Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
- Biosciences (except medicine and other clinical health fields)
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Cognitive, Neural, and Behavioral Sciences
- Computer and Computational Sciences
- Electrical Engineering
- Geosciences (including climatology, geology, earth science, environmental science)
- Information Sciences
- Materials Science and Engineering
- Mathematics (including statistics)
- Mechanical Engineering
- Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Physical Sciences (including physics, astronomy, and materials science)
- Teaching in STEM areas
Some STEM scholarship programs are offered by national organizations such as the National Science Foundation, while other STEM scholarships are awarded at a regional or local level, such as through individual colleges. Students should check with the financial aid office or science/technology department at their college or university to see if they provide any STEM scholarships. For those schools that don’t have a STEM scholarship program, students are encouraged to look for scholarships offered by national foundations, private companies, and government programs.
Most STEM scholarships have specific eligibility requirements, so students will have to find one that applies to them. For example, many are offered to minorities and women in STEM. A few are geared to a particular field such as rocket science, environmental science, fire science, or computer science. Some are intended for high school applicants and others are open to current college students. Below are just some of the STEM scholarship awards that are available.
Sonlight Curriculum Foundation Homeschool Scholarships are awarded to homeschooled applicants with strong math or science backgrounds. In addition to academic performance and leadership, consideration is given to spiritual mindedness, creativity, acts of kindness, and mission mindedness. Applicants MUST have used a minimum of five full Sonlight Curriculum Core programs purchased directly from Sonlight Curriculum, with added weight given to those applicants who have used the curriculum most recently and at the higher levels. Sonlight’s 2016 scholarship winner is Jonathan McGee of Sherman, Texas. He designed and built a life-sized Gibson electric guitar from LEGO® bricks, exhibiting the kind of creativity that he also put to good use with the local homeschool robotics team. Gifted in mathematics, science and music, Jonathan scored a 33 composite on the ACT. He’s also an Eagle Scout and athlete who plays varsity basketball. Homeschooled with Sonlight for the past nine years, Jonathan has been accepted at Texas A&M University, where he’ll study electrical engineering.
Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (HARO) Scholarships were launched in 2015 for homeschool alumna pursuing a degree in a STEM field. The first homeschool scholarship of its kind, HARO’s 2015 Alumni Scholarship for Women in STEM Fields, was awarded to Mary Menges of Monmouth University, who received a $500 scholarship. You can read her winning essay here. HARO hopes to make scholarships like this a regular occurrence but depends on donations from the community because the scholarship is funded by homeschool alumni, for homeschool alumni. So far three people have generously donated a total of $750 to renew HARO’s Alumni Scholarship for Women in STEM Fields for 2016. To qualify for the Women in STEM Scholarship, the applicant must be a woman of at least 18 years old; homeschooled for 4 or more years (including at least 2 years in high school) in a conservative Christian environment; and enrolled for the Spring semester in a post-secondary institution in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, math). Enrollment can be in a university, community college, or technical program.
FIRST Robotics Scholarships can be your ticket to not only being recognized for the skills you’ve gained through your participation on a robotics team, but also leave you with a sizable monetary award to help pay for college. Many of the program’s scholarships are dedicated to specific schools, states or regions. You can use the organization’s website to find scholarships that you’ll be eligible for. They are offered by colleges, universities, corporations, and professional associations across the country for the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Applicants must have participated on a FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) or a FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®). Select a college location and grade level for individual program details.
SMART (Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation) Scholarships aim to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at Department of Defense laboratories. The program awards from $25,000 to $41,000 depending on academic performance and experience, and even offers formal employment with the DoD upon degree completion. In order to be eligible for this generous scholarship, students must be residents of the United States, be at least 18 years old, be able to hold a security clearance, and be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) discipline. Check the SMART website to see what degree fields are included in the program.
The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program offered by The National Science Foundation provides scholarships, stipends, and support to recruit and prepare STEM majors to become K-12 teachers. This program seeks to increase the number of K-12 teachers with strong STEM content knowledge in elementary and secondary schools. Scholarship and stipend recipients are required to complete two years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of support.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association $2000 Scholarship Contest is for high school students and high school graduates enrolling in a fire protection-related degree program at a 2- or 4-year college, university, technical, vocational, or online school. A high school background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is highly desirable for students wishing to enter the fire sprinkler industry.
The RTK Scholars Program offered by RTK Environmental Group awards scholarships to students majoring in or planning to major in an environmental science, environmental studies, biology, engineering, or a related physical science.
The Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Scholarship is presented by the National Space Club each year in memory of America’s rocket pioneer. The applicant must be a United States citizen, in at least the junior year of an accredited university, and have the intention of pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies in science or engineering during the interval of the scholarship. This award is given to stimulate the interest of talented students in the opportunity to advance scientific knowledge through space research and exploration.
Microsoft College Scholarships are awarded by Microsoft each year to encourage students to pursue studies in Computer Science and related STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Recipients are chosen based on eligibility, quality of application, demonstrated passion for the software industry, academic excellence, commitment to leadership, and financial need. A large majority of these scholarships are awarded to female students, underrepresented minority students, and students with disabilities.
UNCF Merck Science Initiative Scholarships and Fellowships are intended to help African American undergraduate students pursue science and engineering careers. To be considered for this scholarship, you must be an African American (Black) life sciences, physical sciences, or engineering major in your junior year at any four-year college or university in the United States, and a B.S. or B.A. degree candidate for the upcoming academic year. (Applicants majoring in the physical sciences must have completed two semesters of organic chemistry.)
Great Minds in STEM Scholarships generally vary from $500 up to $8,500 depending on various criteria. All applicants must be high school seniors or undergraduate students majoring in a STEM related program while maintaining a 3.0 grade point average. In order to be eligible for this scholarship, students need to be of Hispanic descent and able to demonstrate leadership through community involvement.
The ACS Scholars Program offered by the American Chemical Society awards renewable scholarships to minority students who want to enter a chemistry-related field. African American, Hispanic, or American Indian high school seniors or college freshman, sophomores, or juniors pursuing a degree in chemistry, biochemistry, chemical engineering, chemical technology, or other chemically-related science are eligible to apply.
The Influenster Code Like a Girl Scholarship program annually offers a $1,000 scholarship to five female students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in a technical field of study. The scholarship can be used to pay for tuition and/or college expenses. Applicants must be a female student with a minimum 3.40 cumulative GPA majoring in one of the following disciplines: computer science, information science, engineering, or a related field.
The Dr. Patti Flint Women in Science Scholarship is an example of a locally awarded STEM scholarship. This scholarship is open to female residents of Arizona pursuing a degree in medicine or natural science at an Arizona higher education institution. Applicants may be either traditional or nontraditional—including high school seniors, actively enrolled undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students, or women interested in returning to school.
The High Tech Transfer Program Scholars Project offered through Chandler-Gilbert Community College in Chandler, Arizona, is an example of a college-specific STEM scholarship. The program gives out at least $2,500 per semester, or $5,000 per academic year. In order to be eligible for this scholarship, students must be United States citizens enrolled full time at CGCC in a field related to engineering, biological science, physical science, mathematics, or computer science. All applicants are expected to have no less than a 2.75 grade point average and provide evidence of financial need.
STEM scholarships are usually merit-based combined with a relatively high demand for the financial assistance they offer. In order to maximize one’s chances for beating the competition, students should carefully prepare the application materials to effectively highlight their interests, activities, and career goals as related to a STEM field. Some scholarship programs have you submit a form (usually accompanied by a transcript and letter of recommendation), others require original essays, and a few even accept videos. Be creative, have fun, and show them your passion for STEM!