Goldwater Scholarship

The Goldwater is a national merit-based scholarship open to current sophomores and juniors interested in research and majoring in the sciences, engineering, computer science, or math.

Students selected as Goldwater Scholars are eligible to receive up to $7,500 for the subsequent academic year. Current juniors are eligible for one year of scholarship support (senior year), and current sophomores are eligible for up to two years of scholarship support (junior and senior years).

Specifically, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Program was created to encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in science, engineering, and mathematics and to foster excellence in those fields. The most prestigious undergraduate award for STEM students, it is also a mark of distinction when applying for other awards or graduate school.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Are you a sophomore or junior pursuing a degree during the 2023-24 academic year? Students in five-year programs are eligible to apply in their third or fourth years. “Sophomore” is defined as a student who plans two more years of full-time undergraduate study beginning September 2024. “Junior” is defined as a student who plans one more year of full-time undergraduate study beginning September 2024.
  • Do you intend to pursue a research career in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering?
  • Have you participated in research activities associated with your interests in mathematics, science, or engineering? It is expected that students selected as scholars will pursue advanced degrees (PhD). Note: Students who plan to study medicine are eligible for a Goldwater only if they plan a research career as an MD/PhD rather than a career as a medical doctor in a private practice. Our strongest applicants have had research experiences beyond the classroom by the time of application and often have presented posters and/or are co-authors of peer-reviewed articles. The campus selection committee will help you assess your readiness for the award through the pre-application process, and you will learn about other excellent opportunities that match your interests and goals.
  • Are you a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or U.S. national (if from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands)?

The campus process

The Goldwater Scholarship Program requires institutional nomination, a process coordinated by the Office of National Fellowships and Academic Opportunities. Each U.S. institution (college or university) is limited to a maximum of four nominees per year or up to six students if they have both a transfer student and a U.S. Veteran (i.e., their fifth and sixth nominees cannot be two transfer students or two U.S. Veterans). Since the number of qualified candidates for nomination at URI often outnumbers this maximum number, our campus has a pre-application process to select its nominees. The campus pre-application includes:

  • An online application which includes a statement of interest in a research career,  detailing how your academic program and overall educational plans will prepare you for your chosen career goal.
  • A list of potential letter writers (no letters are submitted at this stage.)
  • Unofficial transcripts from all undergraduate work.
  • A resume.
  • A brief description of the research topic you would discuss, if selected for nomination, in the required 3-page research essay. (This essay would be drafted between final exam time and the start of the spring semester, with feedback from multiple faculty as well as the national fellowships advisor.)
  • The campus nomination pre-application deadline is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving; in 2023 this falls on November 28th. Submit the URI pre-application:
Nomination Application

Once nominees are selected and notified, they will meet individually with their assigned advisors to develop a timeline for approaching the full application including research essays and letters of recommendation. Nominees spend a great deal of time during the month of January working on revisions of their application materials with feedback from ONFAO director Kathleen Maher, Goldwater Faculty Representative Professor David Heskett, and their research mentors.

Our success

URI nominees have been quite successful in this competition. Twenty-seven URI students have been named as Goldwater Scholars since the program’s inception in 1989.

In 2023 three URI juniors were selected as Goldwater Scholars.

Many of our Goldwater Scholars have gone on to be selected for other nationally competitive opportunities and are most pursue graduate studies with full funding.  Perhaps you will be next!

If you would like to know more before applying, view an information webinar or contact Ms. Maher. Attendance at an info session is not required. You will be considered for URI nomination if you submit a pre-application by the deadline (always the first Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday.)