Goldwater Scholarship


About the Goldwater Scholarship
Application Instructions for University Nomination
Campus Deadline & National Deadline
Applicant Resources
Recent USC Goldwater Recipients
USC Contact Person

About the Goldwater Scholarship

Barry Goldwater Scholarships are awarded to outstanding undergraduates who are studying mathematics, natural sciences or engineering and who intend to pursue a research career. The scholarship awards up to $7,500 for the remaining year(s) of study at USC. Desired qualities of applicants include a highly competitive grade point average, demonstrated research experience and commitment and potential to make a significant contribution to the fields of mathematics, natural sciences or engineering.  Applicants interested in pursuing medicine must demonstrate a desire for medical research, rather than medical practice.  USC may nominate a maximum of four candidates, dividing the nominations between the Viterbi School of Engineering and Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences.

USC may nominate up to four applicants each year for the Goldwater Scholarship.

For additional information, visit the Goldwater website here.


Goldwater applicants must:

  • Be a full-time matriculated sophomore or junior pursuing a degree at an accredited 2- or 4-year institution of higher education during the 2017-2018 academic year,
    • **If you are a current PDP student, you must enroll in at least 12 units of undergraduate coursework each semester following grant receipt (In other words, recipients need to be classified as an undergraduate rather than a graduate student while receiving the Goldwater Scholarship.)
  • Intend to pursue a research career in a natural science, mathematics or engineering,*
  • Have a college grade point average of at least a 3.00 on a 4.00 scale (Please note Goldwater is very competitive and the average GPA of 2017 recipients was 3.96)
  • Be a U.S. citizen from the 50 states or the District of Columbia; a U.S. national for those students nominated by institutions in Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; or a permanent resident. A permanent resident nominated for the scholarship must include a letter stating his/her intent to become a U.S. citizen. A photocopy of the nominee’s Permanent Resident Card, also known as the Alien Registration Card or Green Card, must also be submitted.

* The natural sciences, engineering and mathematics fields and sub-fields used by the Goldwater Foundation to determine eligibility are those used by the National Science Foundation for its Graduate Research Fellowship Program. These include: Chemistry, Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering, Engineering, Geosciences, Life Sciences, Materials Research, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, and Psychology. View all fields and sub-fields. 

While research in medicine is not supported by the National Science Foundation, students interested in pursuing careers in medicine or veterinary medicine are eligible for a Goldwater Scholarship IF RESEARCH IS A CENTRAL PART OF THE STUDENT’S CAREER GOALS.

Applicant Instructions for University Nomination

Phase 1:

  1. Thoroughly review the Goldwater Scholarship website to understand eligibility and application criteria.
  2. Schedule an appointment with Katie Capra to review the requirements of the Goldwater Scholarship by November 10, 2017.
  3. Complete a Goldwater Scholarship Student Profile and Pre-Application.

Phase 2:

Students seeking the University’s nomination will submit the following materials via email to Erica Lovano McCann by Sunday, December 10, 2017 by 11:59pm. Please submit materials #1-7 compiled together as as one PDF in the order below.  Be sure to include the prompts of the essays for questions #1-2.

1. What are your career goals and professional aspirations? Indicate which area(s) of mathematics, science or engineering you are considering pursuing in your research career and specify how your current academic program and your overall educational plans will assist you in achieving your career goals and professional aspirations. (3,000 characters max)

2. Describe an activity or experience that has been important in helping shape or reinforce your desire to pursue a research career in science, mathematics or engineering. (1,500 characters max)

3. Research essay (See instructions here)

4. Resume (include all research activities)

5. OASIS Grade Report or official USC transcript(s)

6. Transcripts from previous institutions (if you are a transfer student)

7. Permanent Residents: 1 copy of your Permanent Resident card, and letter of intent to become a U.S. citizen.

8. Three Letters of Recommendation – Recommenders should email letters directly to Erica Lovano McCann and title letter, “Dear Goldwater Scholarship Review Committee”

PLEASE NOTE the Goldwater Campus Representative will not reach out to your recommenders on your behalf.  It is your responsibility to request the three letters of recommendation and provide faculty the following instructions:

The mission of the Goldwater Foundation and its scholarship program is to help develop the nation’s next generation of researchers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Your letter should discuss the nominees overall potential and, in particular, the nominee’s potential to become a successful research scientist, mathematician or engineer. It is important, of course, for you to describe the context in which you know the student and for how long you have known the student. Do you see in this student the motivation, creative thought, stamina and ability to collaborate that are characteristics of those successfully practicing in these areas? Particularly helpful to the reviewers are your comparisons of the nominee to other students you have known and worked with who have successfully pursued doctoral degrees and/or have previously won Goldwater Scholarships or other nationally competitive awards. If there are any special circumstances or challenges the student has had to face that have negatively affected the student’s performance or that the student has faced and has successfully addressed and performed well in spite of these challenges, please discuss these in your letter.  Tips for writing a Letter of Recommendation for Goldwater Scholarship nominees can be found on the Goldwater website at:  

NOTE: If selected as a USC Goldwater nominee, you will be given access to the complete Goldwater application.

Important Deadlines

Campus Deadline

Sunday, December 10, 2017 by 11:59pm

National Deadline

Friday, January 26, 2018 by 5pm CST

USC Applicant Resources

Junior Kevin Ye Named 2017 Goldwater Scholar

Kevin Ye is the recipient of the 2017-2018 Goldwater Scholarship, selected from a pool of 1,286 applicants nationwide.

Kevin received the Goldwater Scholarship as a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and plans to complete a Physics minor. Kevin’s research interests are the synthesis and development of ternary materials for sustainable energy applications, such as improving solar cell efficiency. Kevin has an impressive record of research projects both on and off campus, including the USC Laboratory for Complex Materials and Devices and the UD Center for Fuel Cell Research. He is the recipient of multiple merit awards including the USC Presidential Half Tuition Scholarship, the USC Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017), and the Rose Hills Foundation Summer Fellowship (Summer 2016). Kevin plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Materials Science and go on to conduct research on designing new energy-efficient materials and teaching at a research university.  This summer Kevin will be conducting research at UC Berkeley for the E3S Summer REU.


Richelle Smith Wins 2016 Goldwater Scholarship

Richelle 2016 photoRichelle Smith received the Goldwater Scholarship as a junior studying Electrical Engineering. She has conducted research at USC’s Optical Materials and Devices Lab, Stanford’s Brains in Silicon Lab and USC’s Computational Oncology Lab. She has served as the Engineering Honors Colloquium Moderator, USC Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) Vice Chair and Treasurer and is a starter on the USC Horse Polo team. Richelle is dedicated to working on intellectually stimulating problems in electrophysics science and technology, and developing novel circuits and devices to improve the lives of people affected by disease or disability. Richelle’s career goals include obtaining a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, conducting research on integrated circuits and teaching at a research university.

Richelle went on to win the Astronaut Scholarship in Spring 2016.


Erica Lovano McCann
Director, Academic Honors and Fellowships
Schedule an Appointment

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