Apply for the Department of Defense SMART Scholarship
The Department of Defense (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship is an excellent opportunity for students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines. The highly competitive scholarship program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories. This comprehensive DOD Smart Scholarship Program guide will walk you through the entire SMART scholarship application process step-by-step.
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The DoD SMART Scholarship program was established in 2005 to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing technical degrees. The goal is to promote the education, recruitment, and retention of civilian scientists and engineers to work at DoD facilities.
The scholarship includes full tuition coverage, cash awards for living expenses, health insurance allowance, summer internships, and guaranteed employment with the DoD after graduation.
Over 2,000 DOD Smart Scholarship Program are awarded annually across 24 technical disciplines. By offering this incentive package, the DoD aims to develop talent and enrich the knowledge base needed to push innovation forward.
To qualify for the DoD SMART scholarship, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Be a citizen of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the United Kingdom
- Be at least 18 years of age by August 1st of the application year
- Be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in one of the 24 approved STEM disciplines
- Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA
- Agree to work for the DoD after graduation for a period equal to the length of the scholarship received
Approved STEM Disciplines
The SMART scholarship is offered in the following 24 technical fields:
- Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Cognitive, Neural, and Behavioral Sciences
- Computer and Computational Sciences
- Electrical Engineering
- Industrial and Systems Engineering
- Information Sciences
- Materials Science and Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Operations Research
- Science and Mathematics Education
- STEM Education and Learning Research
This covers a wide range of specialized technical fields relevant to the DoD’s research and technology goals.
When applying, you must select one specific discipline based on your degree program. Some majors, like mathematics or physics, can qualify for multiple disciplines so choose carefully.
The SMART Application Process
The SMART online application opens annually from August 1st through December 1st. All applications and supporting materials must be received by December 1st at 5:00 PM EST.
Here is an overview of the key steps to apply:
1. Register Online
Visit the SMART scholarship website and click “Apply Now.” You will need to create an account to start and submit your application.
2. Complete the Application
The SMART application has several required components:
- Personal information
- College and degree information
- Employment history
- Essay questions
- Release forms
Set aside adequate time to gather all required information to complete the full application. All components must be finished for your application to be considered.
3. Submit Supporting Materials
In addition to the online application, you must also submit supporting documentation by the December 1st deadline:
- Official Transcripts
- Letters of Recommendation (3)
- Letter of Acceptance/Verification of Enrollment
Check the application for specific instructions on document format, delivery method, and deadlines.
4. Complete an Interview
If your application passes the initial review stage, you will be contacted to schedule an interview. Interviews take place between January to April either online or in-person.
The interview covers your interests and experiences relevant to working for the DoD. Come prepared to discuss your background, research interests, and career goals aligned with the SMART program mission.
SMART Scholarship Awards
SMART scholarships provide generous incentives to offset the costs of an advanced STEM education. Here’s an overview of what’s included if selected:
- Full tuition and education related fees
- $25,000 – $38,000 annual stipend
- Book allowance ($1,000 per year)
- Health insurance allowance
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
- Two summer internships at a DoD facility
Graduate Research Opportunities
- One summer internship at a DoD facility
- Guaranteed civilian position aligned with your degree field at a DoD facility after graduation
- Appointment length equivalent to time of sponsorship (e.g. 2 years worked per 1 year of scholarship)
In return, you commit to using your specialized technical skills to advance research critical to national defense priorities.
The Ronald V. Dellums Memorial SMART Scholarship
In 2021, the DoD introduced a special SMART scholarship to honor late congressman and social justice activist Ronald V. Dellums.
The memorial scholarship aims to increase diversity within the DoD STEM workforce by targeting assistance to traditionally underrepresented groups. This includes gender, racial, and ethnic populations that are currently underrepresented among civilian scientist and engineer roles across DoD laboratories and facilities.
To apply for this specialized scholarship, select the “Ronald V. Dellums Memorial SMART Scholarship” application option when registering on the website. Applicants must meet the standard SMART eligibility criteria but also belong to an underrepresented demographic.
Here is an overview of important SMART scholarship dates:
August 1st – Application period opens
December 1st – Application deadline
January – April – Interview period
April – June – Award announcements
June – July – Award acceptance period
Be proactive and stick to the deadlines to put your best foot forward. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.
The DOD Smart Scholarship Program presents an incredible opportunity for qualified STEM students to fund their degrees while guaranteeing employment with the Department of Defense after graduation. The program aims to enrich the DoD’s technical knowledge base while providing participants with invaluable experience working on critical national security projects.
If you meet the eligibility criteria and are committed to a career developing innovative technology in the public sector, the DOD Smart Scholarship Program is an excellent path forward. This guide outlines everything you need to know to submit a competitive application and maximize your chances of selection.
Table 1: Key DOD Smart Scholarship Program Benefits
|Full tuition + fees coverage
|Funding for all college tuition costs and educational fees
|$25,000 – $38,000 yearly stipend for living expenses
|Health insurance allowance
|Stipend provided for health insurance costs
|$1,000 per year for book expenses
|1-2 summer internships at DoD facilities
|Guaranteed job placement
|Full-time post graduate job placement in degree field
|Must work years equal to scholarship length