Goldwater Scholarship


About the Goldwater Scholarship
Basic Eligibility & Selection Criteria
Campus Endorsement Process
Application Components
Application Timeline
Applicant Resources
USC Goldwater Recipients
AHF Advising


University Endorsement Required

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.

Learn more about the Goldwater Scholarship

Basic Eligibility

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 2018-2019 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 (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
    • 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. 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.
  • Have a college grade point average of at least a 3.00 on a 4.00 scale (Goldwater is very competitive with an average recipient GPA of 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.

Learn more about Eligibility

Selection Criteria

When reviewing nomination packets, Goldwater reviewers are attempting to determine who these individuals are among the nominees. Application materials will be as varied as the students who submit them. There are, nevertheless, some characteristics among applications that are worth noting. Nomination materials will be reviewed by discipline.

  • Demonstrate a passion for doing research is by doing research. When you tell your research story, specify what you contributed to an experiment and what you got out of the experience, so the reviewer can evaluate your interest in and passion for doing research.
  • Demonstrate ownership of the project, or some part of the project. You do not have to be involved in a research project that occurs on the world’s largest particle accelerator. You can demonstrate sophisticated and elegant thinking and analysis doing research on the ecosystem of the pond behind your dorm.
  • Get involved in research as early in your undergraduate experience as possible! If you are going to be nominated as a sophomore for a Goldwater scholarship, the above discussion clearly suggests that you should start engaging in research during your freshman year of college (or even in high school).

Campus Endorsement Process

USC may nominate a maximum of five candidates per year as long as at least one is a transfer student. Students seeking the University’s nomination will submit all application materials by the campus deadline. If selected as a USC Goldwater nominee, candidates will be given access to the complete Goldwater application online and referees will have the opportunity to update letters of recommendation.

Application Components

USC Campus Nomination Application

  1. Resume (include all research activities and awards, along with any papers/publications/conferences associated with work)
  2. Description of Professional Aspirations
    • 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. (~500 words)
  3. Description of Research Experience
    • 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. (~250 words)
  4. NEW FOR 2021 APPLICANTS: In what way did COVID-19 or other hardships affect your research career plans and did those events alter your ability to pursue those plans? If COVID-19 did not influence your plans, simply state that there was no effect. (1500 character limit including spaces)
  5. Research essay (see Steps and Tips links below)
  6. USC OASIS or STARS course summary (If nominated, an official USC transcript will be required)
  7. Transcript from previous institution (transfer students only)
  8. Permanent Residents: 1 copy of your Permanent Resident card, and letter of intent to become a U.S. citizen.
  9. Letters of Recommendation (3)
    • Recommenders should email letters directly to Katie Capra and title letter, “Dear Goldwater Scholarship Review Committee”
    • The Goldwater Campus Representative will not reach out to recommenders on your behalf.  It is your responsibility to request the three letters of recommendation. Tips for writing a Letter of Recommendation for Goldwater Scholarship nominees can be found on the Goldwater website.

Learn more about each application component under Steps in Nomination Process and Tips

National Goldwater Competition Application Components

  1. A varied version of all materials listed above
  2. Goldwater online application
  3. Unofficial transcripts will be replaced with an official versions

Application Timeline

USC Campus Nomination Application

  • November 23, 2020: Schedule an appointment with Katie Capra, USC Goldwater Scholarship Campus Representative, to discuss the application process. Complete a Goldwater Scholarship Student Profile and Pre-Application.
  • December 6, 2020: Campus Nomination Application Deadline Email all application components above in one PDF document to Katie Capra
  • Mid-December: Nominees Notified
  • January 25, 2021: Final Campus Deadline for Nominees

Goldwater National Scholarship Application

  • January 29, 2021: Goldwater Scholarship National deadline

USC Applicant Resources

USC Recipients

2019: Zane Durante, Computer Science & Applied and Computational Mathematics
2018: Nina Singh, Biomedical Engineering
2017: Kevin Ye, Chemical Engineering
2016: Richelle Smith, Electrical Engineering

See full list of Goldwater Scholarship Recipients by Year

Contact Us

Open Advising: November – Early December
Request an Appointment

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