Everything you need to know about the DOD Smart Scholarship

Everything you need to know about the DOD Smart Scholarship

Everything you need to know about the DOD Smart Scholarship, Are you interested in a career as a STEM professional but don’t want to deal with the stress of finding a job after graduation? Do you want to be a STEM career? Then the DOD Smart Scholarship could be for you. The DOD Smart Scholarship not only covers your college expenses but also guarantees you a job with the Department of Defense after graduation.

Continue reading to find out more about the DOD Smart Scholarship. This includes eligibility criteria, how you can apply and what it is.

What’s the DOD Smart Scholarship?

Great question! Essentially, the DOD SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program provides chosen STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) students full-ride scholarships to a participating university and guarantees them a job with the Department of Defense (DoD) upon graduation. Each year that a student is awarded full funding, they agree to work an additional year for the DoD.

After graduation, SMART Scholars can enter these high-paying DoD jobs. Once they complete their required years of work for the DoD (based upon how long you have received funding), they have the choice to either continue working for them or pursue other opportunities.

This “About” page for SMART scholarship may give you a better understanding of how it all works. If you are a visual learner or a visual learner, you might find this video about the journey of a SMART scholar helpful.

How do you find out if you are eligible before you start the application process?

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible for a SMART Scholarship, SMART Scholars must have completed at least one internship at a DoD facility before graduating. What are the eligibility requirements?

There aren’t many. The hardest part of the eligibility criteria for DoD summer internships is completed if you have already secured or completed one.

Let’s now find out if you are eligible. The following requirements are required to apply for the DOD SMART Scholarship:

  • When applying, you must be a citizen of one of the following countries: the United States, Canada or Australia.
  • You must be 18 years old or older by August 1, 2022
  • Before graduation, request at least one year of degree funding (at the program’s start date).
  • Do not forget to do a summer internship in a DoD facility (multi-year scholars only).
  • After graduation, commit to working for the DoD.
  • You can pursue a technical undergraduate degree or graduate degree in any of the 21 STEM disciplines approved (see “What type of STEM?” below).
  • A minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA is required on a scale of 4.0.
  • If you are a college student, be enrolled at a U.S. university or college that is regionally accredited when you apply.
  • Graduate students must be accepted to and enrolled in a U.S. college/university that is regionally accredited by the beginning of the program.

That’s all you need to apply for a DOD-SMART Scholarship. However, to be eligible for a DOD SMART Scholarship, let’s first ask: What kind of STEM are you eligible to study?

What type of STEM is this?

These are the 21 STEM subjects that you can study to be eligible for a scholarship from SMART.

  • 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
  • Information Sciences
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Oceanography
  • Operations Research
  • Physics

We’ve covered the basics; now let’s move on to the important part: applying!

How can I apply for the DOD Smart Scholarship?

It can be a bit complicated to apply for a SMART Scholarship. We’ve made it easy by providing some key information, including the application timeline (when the window is open) and the materials you will need.

Let’s get to it!

Application timeline

It doesn’t matter which year you apply for the SMART Scholarship. The application window is open every year from August through December. All required materials and supporting documents (like letters of reference) must be received by December 1, at 5 p.m. EST.

Selection committees will then review and rank all applications in each STEM field. Semi-finalists will be notified in February. Applications will then be reviewed again to determine the finalists. If you are selected as a SMART Scholar, you will be notified in the spring (usually in April).

You will need to be familiar with the materials you will need before proceeding to this step.


Let’s first go over the requirements for applying for the DOD SMART Scholarship. These are the requirements to apply for the DOD SMART scholarship.

  • References (3) You can list your references on the application, and they will be able to submit their reference letters directly.
  • Resume
  • Transcripts
  • Personal Statement
  • Remember to complete all sections of your application.

The scholarship page provides more information about each section and the submission requirements.

Planning for a Smart Scholarship

Even though you may already have a SMART Scholarship, here are some things to keep in mind, so you don’t lose it! ).

The scholarship requires that all applicants be full-time students in accredited universities throughout the U.S. You must maintain this status throughout your college years.

You should remember some things if you intend to intern, do research off-campus, and/or study abroad while in college. First, all these opportunities require written approval from SMART.

If you are interning or conducting research off-campus, it is necessary to remain enrolled in your college. You cannot earn academic credit for your internship or research.

Alternately, you can study abroad by submitting your program to

  • The curriculum must meet your degree requirements.
  • Participation in the program cannot interfere with your graduation date or post-graduate employment date.
  • You can still do a DoD internship after graduation, but the program should not hinder your ability to get a post-graduation job or DoD internship.
  • While studying abroad, you must remain enrolled full-time.
  • Your tuition for the study abroad program must go to the U.S. institution from which you have already received funds (from SMART Scholarship).
  • You must be eligible to maintain the security clearance necessary for DOD internships or post-graduation employment.

Even though it may seem overwhelming, the DOD Smart Scholarship offers a fantastic opportunity. We recommend that you not lose your eligibility to the program by dropping your full-time enrollment status in college.

If you have not yet applied for the scholarship, but are planning on doing any of the things listed above (interning/researching off-campus or studying abroad), just keep in mind that you may have to be flexible and be open to the possibility that your plans will change. We hope you’ll be able to keep the scholarship while still sticking to your college plans.

Available Awards

Let’s now talk about the scholarships benefits/awards. The DOD Smart Scholarship is highly prestigious. Therefore, the awards are very generous.

Here are the awards that you will receive if you are selected as a SMART scholar:

  • Your university’s full tuition and room and board expenses (regardless of the cost)
  • A stipend costs between $25,000 and $38,000 per annum (depending on the degree level).
  • Internships for summer lasting between 8 and 12 weeks
  • Up to $1,200/year in health insurance
  • A $1,000 per year allowance
  • Mentor at DoD facility
  • After graduation, you can get employment at DoD facilities.

Profile of students accepted (2020)

These awards sound fantastic, right? Are you curious about your chances to become a SMART Scholar? Although we cannot give you exact odds, we can give you an idea of what statistics will most likely get you selected.

Here are some helpful data about the students who will be attending the 2020 program:

  • 13% of applicants were awarded the SMART Scholarship
  • Average GPA: 3.76
  • The following were the chosen students: 55% were pursuing a Bachelor’s degree; 10% were pursuing a joint Bachelor’s-Master’s; 12% were Masters’s students, and 23% were working towards a Ph.D.
  • Average SAT Score by Section: Critical Reading – 676; Math – 705, Writing – 651
  • Average ACT Score by section: English – 31, Math – 30, Reading – 31, Science – 30
  • GRE Score average section by section: Verbal – 155, Quantitative (157), Analytical (3.6).

We did not list the average test scores. However, SAT/ACT scores might not be required every year. They were not required for 2020 because of their limited testing capacity. We recommend that you check (as soon as possible, this page on the site may be useful)! If you feel you passed the exams well, you can send them in any way.

The GRE is optional, and you can choose not to submit it. This will not affect the evaluation of your application.

We’re done! We hope you have gained a better understanding of the DOD-SMART Scholarship. If you are applying, we wish you all the best!