DoD SMART Scholarship

DoD SMART Scholarship

Looking for information about DoD SMART Scholarship? then you are at the right article. Students graduating from disciplines such as science, mathematics, and research often have a great future. Involvement of one of these departments is essential in the world of research, innovation, and technology. In simple words, students enrolled in STEM programs are often given priority in the market. The goal of a STEM program is to increase the supply of highly qualified tech workers.

To date, there are around 790,752 students enrolled in STEM programs in the United States out of which 120,185 are non-residents. On an average, STEM courses cost around $65,000 to $80,000 in top universities of the nation. 

Studying STEM courses require dedication, hardwork and quite often, financial support. To curb this issue, a lot of scholarships have been launched exclusively for STEM students that recognize their talents, academic performance and financial needs. STEM scholarships are the passport to a world of opportunities. Students who are interested in science, technology, engineering or maths can apply for these scholarships to relieve themselves of some financial burden. 

One of the most sought after scholarships within the STEM industry is the DoD SMART Scholarship or the science, mathematics and research for transformation scholarship. It offers full ride scholarship along with other benefits about which we have explained in detail. In this blog we have formulated all the details you will need to understand if the SMART Scholarship is the right fit for you. 

What is the DoD SMART Scholarship

The SMART or science, mathematics and research for transformation scholarship is funded by the DoD or the Department of Defense. It is an opportunity for students enrolled in STEM programs to undergo educational and workforce development in the department of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. 

The DoD SMART Scholarship has a 15% acceptance rate. As per statistical data, of all students who received the award, 51% were undergraduate, 12% belonged to a joint Bachelor’s-Master’s degree program, 14% were Master students and 23% were working on their PhD.

There are 190 sponsoring facilities in total serving the Army, Navy, Air Force, and other organisations related to the Department of Defense. These facilities are located throughout the United States in 40 different states. 

This prestigious program provides full scholarship to all participating universities. Additionally, it also guarantees the student a civilian job in the Department of Defense after completion of graduation. Apart from receiving full funding for tuition, students also enjoy other benefits such as summer internships, annual stipends, working directly with an experienced DoD mentor etc. Recently, the Department of Defense announced that the award for the DoD SMART scholarship would be around $450 million.

For each year a student receives educational funding, they are required to finish one year of service at the department of defense upon the completion of their course. 

Students are also allowed to flexibly choose if they wish to continue working at DoD or pursue a career elsewhere after their service requirement is up. As per records, around 77% students continue working at the Department of Defense even after the completion of their services. 

Benefits of DoD SMART Scholarship

The DoD SMART Scholarship is what most students dream of. With thousands of students applying every year, there are very few who get selected. The primary aim of the program is to increase the number of civilian engineers and scientists in the United States. Students who receive the scholarship are entitled to the following benefits:

  1. Full tuition in any university within the United States that is tied up with DoD SMART University.
  2. Cash awards which are paid at a rate of $25,000 to $38,000 per academic year. The award the student receives depends on their prior educational experience.
  3. Allowance of $1,200 for health insurance per academic year.
  4. Allowance of $1000 for books per academic year
  5. Direct mentorship from a DoD sponsoring facility
  6. Employment within DoD after graduation.

The concept of DoD SMART Scholarship revolves around the fact that the students should pay back the scholarship amount by working in the Department of Defense in a 1:1 year ratio. However, this work is a paid position. Students who are awarded this scholarship more than once are expected to work with DoD as interns during the summers at the sponsoring facility. 

Undoubtedly, including the DoD SMART scholarship on a resume or CV could make the selected students stand out from other candidates when applying for new opportunities. It will deliver the potential of the student, and their academic excellence among others hence making them a desirable candidate for employers.

This scholarship program also offers networking opportunities where students can connect with other scholars, alumni, potential employers, and industry professionals. 

A few of these scholarships can provide the chance to study overseas or go to conferences and events in other nations, giving students a global perspective and enabling them to build an international network.

Under any circumstances, if a student decides to quit the program or fails to meet the requirements of the program, they will be required to pay back the amount of funding in full to DoD. This amount includes the health insurance allowance, book allowance, and orientation expenses as well. To avoid a situation like this, it is recommended the student consider this scholarship contract before accepting. Moreover, it is always better if the student speaks with the sponsoring facility to understand their job role post-graduation. 

Eligibility of the DoD SMART Scholarship

The DoD STEM Scholarship is indeed an extraordinary program that could potentially change the course of a student’s life. To apply, students should meet the following requirements:

1. Citizenship: 

The first and the most important requirement for eligibility is that the student should be a citizen of either the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or United Kingdom.

2. Academic qualifications: 

This program mandates that the applicant should have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 at the time of applying. If the applicant has already enrolled in a college, they are expected to maintain this average throughout their course. 

3. Should enroll or be enrolled in eligible program: 

Students applying for DoD SMART Scholarship should be enrolled or should plan to enroll in full-time undergraduate or graduate degree in a University tied up with the program within the United States. The eligible courses fall under STEM and are in relevance to DoD’s mission areas.

4. Should be an undergraduate or graduate student: 

Applicants should be classified as either junior or senior undergraduates with one remaining semester before the completion of the degree or graduate students with a minimum of two years remaining before their degree is over.  

5. Must meet the medical and physical requirements: 

It is mandatory that the selected students pass a medical examination and meet the physical requirements since they will be employed by DoD after graduation. 

6. Clear the background test: 

Selected applicants will be required to submit proof of security clearance and maintain it at a secret level or higher.

The eligible courses are from 24 STEM disciplines given below. Since this program focuses on skills critical to national security function of DoD, students have to ensure they are pursuing a degree from the courses given below:

  1. Aeronautical Engineering
  2. Biomedical Engineering
  3. Biosciences
  4. Chemical engineering
  5. Chemistry
  6. Civil Engineering
  7. Neural and behavioural sciences
  8. Computer science and engineering
  9. Cybersecurity
  10. Data science and analytics
  11. Electrical engineering
  12. Environmental sciences
  13. Geosciences
  14. Industrial and systems engineering
  15. Information sciences
  16. Materials sciences 
  17. Mathematics
  18. Mechanical Engineering
  19. Naval architecture 
  20. Nuclear engineering
  21. Oceanography
  22. Operations research
  23. Physics
  24. Software engineering

It should be kept in mind that meeting these requirements does not guarantee selection. These are just mandatory to even be considered. 

How to apply for the DoD SMART Scholarship

Applying for a DoD SMART scholarship has a similar process as most scholarship opportunities. Although the application process is quite extensive, it is still neatly formulated. Apart from application forms, applicants should also submit supporting documents such as a background verification document, two references, a resume, and transcripts. Most often the deadline for application is December 1 of every year. 

Every application is reviewed and ranked within individual STEM departments. By February, applicants would receive a notification of their status i.e., if they are promoted as a semi-finalist or not. This time every application undergoes a scrutiny check to determine the finalists for that particular year. By April, students get notified about their selection for the SMART Scholarship Program. 

Limitations of DoD Smart Scholarship

Students who have been awarded the award can use the DoD SMARt Scholarship at recognized universities within the nation. However, there are a few constraints that accompany this scholarship.

If a student wishes to participate in an internship or research fieldwork that is off campus, they are required to seek written approval from the SMART program. They should also stay officially enrolled in their university and earn credits towards their degree via fieldwork or internship. Moreover, the students cannot be paid for their contributions.

Students who want to study abroad should also get written approval from the program. Moreover, the student should meet the following requirements:

  1. The curriculum should directly contribute to degree requirements.
  2. The course should not interfere with graduation end time and employment start time.
  3. The course should be such that it permits the student to complete a DoD internship and post-graduation employment.
  4. The student should maintain full-time enrollment status throughout their course.
  5. In no way should the course affect the scholar’s security clearance as it is required for DoD internship and employment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When was the DoD SMART Scholarship established?

The Science, Mathematics, and research for transformation scholarship was established by the Department of Defense in the year 2006 to primarily bridge the gap between America’s defense system and scientists and engineering. 

2. Can students accept other scholarships along with SMART?

Awarded students are permitted to accept public and private loans from various sources apart from SMART. This includes private scholarships, grants, fellowships and student loans. 

3. Are SAT required to apply for a SMART Scholarship?

Students who are freshmen or first-year associates are required to submit an ACT or SAT reasoning test score. However, additional subject test scores are not required.  

4. Can international students apply for DoD SMART Scholarship?

The DoD SMART Scholarship is open for citizens from the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Moreover, the students are required to have 18 years of age or older as of 1 August 2024. 

5. Who started the DoD SMART Scholarship?

The DoD SMART Scholarship was established to honor the lifetime work of representative Dellums by Ronald V. Dellums with the aim to elevate participation of students in the DoD STEM workforce. 

6. How many students are awarded the DoD SMART Scholarship every year?

As per the latest statistics, the number of students who were awarded the DoD SMART Scholarships was 298. The average GPA of these scholars was around 3.70. The expected SAT score in critical thinking was 655, in math’s it was 682 and in writing, 640.

7. How is the tuition fee paid for SMART scholars?

Tuition and other related academic expenses will be sent directly to the enrolled university by Scholarship America. Once the applicant receives the award acceptance letter, they are provided with a sponsor letter that is sent to the university’s admin office with all the required data related to tuition payments and invoices.


The DoD STEM Scholarship provides students with a very unique opportunity to pursue a STEM degree. What sets this scholarship apart from the other ones is the definite employment in DoD post-graduation. For every year of funding awarded, a scholar is required to commit to one year of service in the sponsoring facility. 

Additionally, during summer internships, students get the opportunity to directly work with experienced mentors while also gaining valuable fieldwork experience and skills.

The SMART scholarship is more than just a full-ride scholarship that helps students pay for their education, it is a start toward an unattainable experience for students. SMART scholars are often found engaging in major groundbreaking explorations and discoveries via research as civilian employees at the Department of Defense.

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