SMART Scholarship for Service Program

Employed by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the smart scholarship has been granting undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in one of 21 STEM disciplines financial aid.

The smart scholarship is an attempt to bring more students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. Because the dod smart scholarship gives students great opportunities to further their education and secure employment with the federal government, students should consider applying as soon as possible.

The following sections explain how a SMART scholarship is obtained and how the scholarship can help aspiring scientists and researchers. Additionally, students can learn whether they are eligible for benefits or not based on their enrollment status, age and merit. To discover all the benefits available to students in STEM majors under this program, students should review the sections below.

What is the SMART scholarship?

The SMART scholarship is meant to encourage students with interests in science, engineering and theoretical and applied research. Students must be willing to work with the DoD as a civilian research scientist or engineer and apply for SMART no later than Dec. 1 of each year to be considered. Unique benefits of dod smart include the following financial and professional rewards:

  • Full tuition coverage for education fees (does not cover room and board)
  • Stipend from $25,000 to $38,000 depending on the degree program and award length
  • Summer research internship opportunities with the DoD
  • Health insurance coverage for up to $1,200 per calendar year
  • Annual allowance of $1,000 for general expenses each academic year
  • Mentoring prospects
  • Employment placement with the DoD upon graduation (based on selection)

For each year in which students receive SMART funds, they are required to commit to 12 months of civilian employment with the DoD facility of the program’s choosing based on participants’ preferences and availability. Therefore, students must remain mobile after graduation. Not only do recipients of the dod smart program receive the great rewards detailed above but also the associated prestige of being a scholar in the service program.

Related Article: How to Find College Scholarships

Upon acceptance to the program, students may receive cash stipends either on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Tuition payments will be directly distributed to the university curtesy of Scholarship America. Health insurance payments are sent to the DoD facility’s federal employee benefit system and are used to fund medical expenses students may incur when they become employees of the DoD. All beneficiaries are considered independent contractors and must report all income from the program accordingly.

Note: Failure to complete the degree program or maintain compliance with the SMART scholarship will result in immediate termination of benefits. If students fail to complete the post-graduation employment commitment, then they are responsible for refunding aid given to them under the program.

SMART Scholarship Eligibility

SMART scholarships are only valid at accredited institutions of higher education that offer degrees in specific disciplines. Only students in one of the following disciplines may qualify for SMART financial aid:

  • Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
  • Biosciences
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil Engineering
  • Cognitive, Neural, and Behavioral Sciences
  • Computer and Computational Sciences and Computer Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Geosciences
  • Industrial and Systems Engineering (technical tracks only)
  • Information Sciences
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Oceanography
  • Operations Research (technical tracks only)
  • Physics

All graduate applicants must have taken and passed the GRE (with or without subject tests), and undergraduate applicants entering first year programs must report either ACT or SAT scores to be eligible for benefits. Complete dod smart scholarship eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Applicants must be citizens of the U.S., Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the U.K.
  • Applicants must be 18 years old or older
  • Applicants must be able to work at a DoD facility as a summer internship
  • Applicants must accept, or be willing to accept, future employment with the DoD
  • Applicants must meet GPA guidelines of at least 3.0
  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in a regionally accredited undergraduate or graduate program or be awaiting acceptance to a graduate program
  • Applicants must attend an approved program full-time

Students receiving SMART scholarships may study abroad with approval from the program and engage in research or academic opportunities at other institutions. However, to do so, students must remain enrolled in the original institution, continue earning academic credit at the institution and receive no extra funds to cover outside research expenses.

How to Apply for the SMART Scholarship

Student applicants may begin applying for a smart scholarship in Aug. and must have them completed by Dec. of the same year. Students may apply for the smart scholarship program by following these steps:

  1. Go online and create an account. Visit the DoD official website to find the online application. You must first register for an account by submitting your name and contact information.
  2. Provide all required information. The application form will ask you for information including your academic background, proposed area of study and professional interests.
  3. Collect and submit all necessary documents. Test scores, transcripts and references may need to be submitted separately or uploaded to the application form.
  4. Submit the application. You will need to verify the accuracy of the information you have provided in the application and electronically sign the document. However, you will still be able to change your contact information and other application details after you have submitted your application.

The SMART scholarship application contains questions regarding applicants’ demographics as well as their professional history. The following types of information may be requested on the application form:

  • GPA
  • Intended major
  • Placement preferences for employment
  • Personal and professional goals
  • Leadership experiences
  • Awards and honors received
  • Standardized test scores
  • Publications and presentations conducted
  • Peer and professional references
  • Where applicants heard about SMART
  • Previous work experience
  • Community or volunteer work

Due to the detailed nature of SMART applications, applicants should plan to dedicate an extended period on the completion of their application. However, applicants are not required to reapply each academic year for renewed benefits if they are awarded funds. Instead, the award length will be determined at the time of application submission. For more information about the application process or for assistance in completing the online application, applicants may call the program administrators at 571-633-7940 or email the program at

Related Article: Federal Student Aid Eligibility

It might also interest you: