Astronaut Scholarship

About the Astronaut Scholarship
Basic Eligibility & Selection Criteria
Application Components
Application Timeline
USC Recipients
AHF Advising


University Endorsement Required 

About the Astronaut Scholarship

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation was established in 1984 as the Mercury Seven Foundation by the six surviving members of America’s original Mercury Seven astronauts. Since its founding, more than 100 astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs have united to aid the United States in retaining its world leadership in science and technology by providing college scholarships for the very best students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math degrees. The Foundation awards over 50 scholarships annually, each worth up to $15,000, to exceptional college students who exhibit motivation, imagination, and exceptional performance in the science or engineering field of their major.

Learn more about the Astronaut Scholarship

Basic Eligibility

Scholarship nominees are those students who have shown initiative, creativity, and excellence in their chosen field.  Competitive nominees will be:

  • U.S. citizens
  • high-achieving sophomores and juniors; transfer students must have completed at least three semesters at USC to be eligible
  • majoring in Natural or Applied Science, Engineering, Technology or Mathematics (biomedical research students are eligible, however, those pursuing a practice in professional medicine are ineligible)
  • experienced researchers in their specific field
  • nominated by a USC faculty member who will provide a nomination letter on the nominee’s behalf

Selection Criteria

  • Must have conducted a considerable amount of work outside the classroom in their chosen field of study. This may include laboratory research, cooperative education, internships, relevant military experience, entrepreneurial endeavors, and/or documented independent work resulting in technical papers, patents, or similar work product
  • Special consideration is not given to aeronautical/astronautical engineering students or those intending to pursue careers as astronauts.

Learn more about eligibility and selection criteria

Application Components

The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation only accepts nominations for the Astronaut Scholarship from its affiliated and participating universities. If a student is interested in being nominated, they should contact a member of their university’s faculty regarding consideration. Students may also contact the university liaison for more details regarding the internal process.

Students nominated for the scholarship will need to assist the nominating faculty member by providing the following:

  • Ensure eligibility requirements are met
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • A one-page personal statement about you, your plans for the future and how you will achieve them, insight into your current research project and leadership involvements, and how you hope to have an impact in your field/community in the future.
  • Copy of academic transcripts
  • Copy of birth certificate, naturalization form, or U.S. passport to authenticate and confirm
  • C.V. or resume.

Application Timeline

  • Mid-December: Call for nominations sent out to USC faculty in relevant fields. Students who are interested and eligible can request that a faculty member nominate them.
  • Mid-January: Student nominations due to Katie Capra (
  • Late January: Student nominees notified and invited to apply for Campus Endorsement
  • Mid-February: Astronaut Scholarship Campus Endorsement Application Deadline
  • Late February: Astronaut Scholarship Campus Endorsement Committee Application Review Period
  • Mid-March: Two exceptional USC students will be submitted to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Scholarship Committee for review and final selection.

USC Recipients

2019 & 2020: Zane Durante, Computer Science & Applied Mathematics
2017 & 2018: Nina Singh, Biomedical Engineering
2016: Richelle Smith, Electrical Engineering
2015: Lawrence Liu, Mathematics & Physics
2013 & 2014: Jason Silverman, Astronautical Engineering
2012: Nishita Deka, Electrical Engineering
2011: Simca Bouma, Mathematics & Physics

2019 & 2020 Astronaut Scholar Zane Durante with Chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation’s Board of Directors, Curtis Lee “Curt” Brown Jr., a former NASA astronaut and retired United States Air Force Colonel at the Astronaut Scholarship Gala in Washington, D.C.


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