Science, Mathematics & Research for Transformation 2023/24

The SMART Scholarship Program was established to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Its primary goal is to attract and retain the best and brightest individuals who can contribute to the Department of Defense’s science and technology efforts.

Science, Mathematics & Research for Transformation



To be eligible for the SMART Scholarship, applicants must be U.S. citizens and enrolled in or planning to enroll in an accredited U.S. college or university. They must also be pursuing a degree in a STEM field, including engineering, mathematics, science, and other related disciplines.

Service Commitment

One of the unique features of the SMART Scholarship Program is that it comes with a service commitment. Recipients are required to work for the Department of Defense as civilian employees for a specified period after completing their degrees. This service commitment is typically one year of employment for each year of scholarship support.

Financial Support

SMART Scholars receive full tuition and education-related fees, a stipend for living expenses, and a book allowance. The program also covers summer internships and provides health insurance.

Internship Opportunities

Scholars are encouraged to complete internships with DoD facilities and research laboratories during their summer breaks. These internships provide hands-on experience and help build connections within the DoD.

Mentoring and Professional Development

SMART Scholars are often provided with mentoring and professional development opportunities to enhance their STEM knowledge and career prospects.

Security Clearance

Some positions within the Department of Defense require a security clearance. Scholars may be required to obtain and maintain the necessary security clearance for their assigned positions.

Research Fields

The SMART Scholarship Program covers a wide range of STEM fields, including but not limited to engineering (such as aerospace, mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering), computer science, physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.


The SMART Scholarship Program is highly competitive, with a rigorous selection process. Applicants are evaluated based on academic achievements, research experience, and their potential to contribute to the DoD’s STEM workforce.

Application Process

The application process typically involves submitting transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and other required documentation. Applicants may also need to participate in interviews as part of the selection process.

Commitment to National Security

The SMART Scholarship Program is not just a scholarship; it’s also a commitment to serving the national security interests of the United States by contributing to cutting-edge research and technology within the Department of Defense.

Program Duration

The SMART Scholarship Program offers funding for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students can receive funding for up to five years, while graduate students can receive funding for up to three years. The duration of the scholarship depends on the student’s academic level and the length of their degree program.

Career Opportunities

Upon completing their degrees, SMART Scholars are required to work as civilian employees within the Department of Defense for a period equal to the length of their scholarship. These positions are typically research or engineering roles that align with the scholar’s academic and career interests. This commitment helps the DoD to develop a highly skilled STEM workforce.

Participating Institutions

The SMART Scholarship Program partners with a variety of accredited colleges and universities across the United States. Scholars can attend any institution that is part of the program, as long as it offers the STEM degree programs covered by the scholarship.

Security Clearances

Depending on the specific job and research area, some scholars may need to obtain security clearances, such as Secret or Top Secret. The program assists scholars in the clearance process, which can be a valuable skill for those interested in national security-related careers.

Community Engagement

SMART Scholars have opportunities to engage with other scholars and DoD professionals through networking events, conferences, and community-building activities. These interactions can help them build a network of contacts and mentors within the defense community.

Research Focus

The SMART Scholarship Program emphasizes the importance of research in STEM fields. Many scholars are involved in cutting-edge research projects that directly contribute to national security interests. This research can cover a wide range of topics, including cybersecurity, materials science, artificial intelligence, and more.

Post-Graduate Employment

After fulfilling their service commitment, many SMART Scholars choose to continue their careers within the Department of Defense or the broader federal government. However, they are not limited to government employment and may also explore opportunities in the private sector, academia, or other STEM-related fields.

STEM Diversity and Inclusion

The program is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. It encourages individuals from underrepresented backgrounds to apply and seeks to increase diversity within the DoD’s STEM workforce.

Application Deadlines

The application cycle for the SMART Scholarship Program typically opens well in advance of the academic year, often around late summer or early fall. It’s essential for prospective scholars to monitor the official program website for application deadlines and updates.

Scholar Success Stories

SMART Scholars have gone on to achieve remarkable success in their careers, making significant contributions to scientific research, engineering, and technology. Their accomplishments often reflect the program’s success in identifying and supporting exceptional talent in STEM fields.

Program Description

The Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program has been established by the Department of Defense (DoD) to support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The program aims to increase the number of civilian scientists and engineers working at DoD laboratories.

Eligibility Requirements

  • A U.S. citizen
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Able to participate in summer internships at DoD laboratories
  • 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 (as calculated by the SMART application)
  • Pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in one of the approved STEM disciplines (view the list and check eligibility via the SMART website)


A SMART Program participant may not accept simultaneous remuneration from another major scholarship. Other major awards are defined as a) funding from any other federal scholarship, fellowship, grant, or funding source excluding federally funded student loans and/or salary supplements provided by DoD agencies to DoD retention awardees and, b) Other scholarships, fellowships or grants exceeding $5,000 total per academic year.

Deadline: December 1, 2022, 5:00 pm Eastern US Time – Application opens in August 2022

The SMART Scholarship Program is a unique opportunity for students passionate about STEM disciplines who want to make a meaningful impact on national security while receiving financial support for their education and valuable career experience within the Department of Defense. It plays a crucial role in cultivating the next generation of STEM leaders in the United States.

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