Goldwater Scholarship


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

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.

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.

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.

  • 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 four candidates per year, dividing the nominations between the Viterbi School of Engineering and Dornsife College of Letters, Arts & Sciences. Students seeking the University’s nomination will submit all application materials to Katie Capra at If selected as a USC Goldwater nominee, you will be given access to the complete Goldwater application online and your referees will have the opportunity to update letters of recommendation.

Application Components

  1. 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.
  2. Description of Research Experience
    1. 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. USC OASIS course summary (If nominated, an official USC transcript will be required)
  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. 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.

Application Timeline

USC Campus Nomination Application

  • November 2019: 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 2019: Campus Nomination deadline (email all university nomination materials to Katie Capra)

Goldwater National Scholarship Application

  • January 2020: Goldwater Scholarship national deadline

USC Applicant Resources

USC Recipients

USC junior, Nina Singh, is one of 211 Goldwater Scholars selected nationwide for the 2018-2019 academic year from a field of 1,280 applicants. Nina is pursuing a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and was recently selected from a competitive national pool as a 2017 Astronaut Scholars, recognizing her likely impact on the future of her field. In her research, Nina has employed innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to understanding drug interactions and ciliary movement. Common among her research interests is her integration of perspectives from different fields to effectively address biological problems. Nina has co-designed and led several research projects, published extensively, received numerous competitive university fellowships, and mentored new lab members. This summer, she plans to collaborate with clinicians to apply for ciliary movement research to improving the diagnosis of ciliary disorders. Nina intends to pursue an MD/PhD in Biomedical Engineering that will ultimately allow her to create and apply longer-lasting and more effective drug regimens for cancer patients. She has seen how clinical considerations can be overlooked in research, and her academic acumen, research skill, and personal ambition will enable her to alter this culture in the future.

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.

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