The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program

History   |   Description   |    Eligibility   |    How to   |   Application   |    Checklist

History and Purpose

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. The Foundation is supported by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Fund, which has been established in the Treasury of the United States. Funding for awards and administrative expenses derives from interest on the Trust Fund, invested in U.S. securities

Description of the Goldwater Scholarship

The Foundation awards up to 300 undergraduate scholarships annually on the basis of merit to sophomores and juniors who have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. Each scholarship covers eligible expenses for undergraduate tuition, fees, books, and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500.00 annually (non-transferable between years. Rising junior scholarship recipients are eligible for a maximum of two years of scholarship support; rising senior scholarship recipients are eligible for a maximum of one year. Scholars may opt to study abroad, but their Goldwater funding will be based on their US institution’s budge. Scholars must consult with the Foundation prior to signing up for an overseas program, as there may be some costs prohibited from being covered.

Eligibility Requirements and Rules for Nomination


Applicants must have/be:

  • a United States citizen, a permanent resident, or, in the case of nominees from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, a United States national. Nominations from permanent residents must include a letter of the nominee's intent to obtain U.S. citizenship and a photocopy of the Permanent Resident Card (formerly known as the Alien Registration Card).
  • a full-time matriculated sophomore or junior (a sophomore is defined as a student planning two more years of study; a junior is a student planning one more year of study).
  • at least a “B” average or the equivalent and be in the top quarter of her class

Strong candidates will

  • have had the opportunity to participate in research have independently investigated theory or an issue related to their field of interest
  • typically have been awarded internships in research facilities or worked as lab assistants
  • have been involved in mathematics/science/engineering related student organizations or employment; have participated early in graduate courses; or have other related accomplishments outside the classroom
  • typically be planning to pursue doctoral degrees; those interested in medicine are only eligible if planning to do research; students planning a career in secondary math/science education are not strong candidates

Mount Holyoke may nominate up to four candidates

How to apply

Applications are available online beginning in September. Students who wish to see a copy of last year’s application before September may contact Fellowships Advisor (FA) Christine Overstreet. Students who wish to apply should contact the FA to discuss their candidacy and work with her on preparing their application for submission to the Committee on Fellowships. The Committee, made up of four faculty members and chaired by the Dean of Studies, reviews applications, interviews each candidate, and decides which candidates to nominate. Nominees will then revise their materials as recommended and submit them online, and notify her recommenders to upload their letters as well. The FA completes this application process by nominating the student in the system.

Application components

  • Online application including biographical data; statement of career goals; educational background; list of coursework in major; awards; research & other activities; short essay questions on professional aspirations, motivation for a math/science/engineering career; personal information; recommenders’ contact information
  • Essay (typed, two-pages, one-sided, no smaller than 11 point font) discussing a significant issue or problem in the student’s field of study that is of particular interest to the student.  The essay must include a description of the issue or problem, discussion of an idea for research that would have significant impact on it, describing an aspect of the research in which the student would be involved, and explaining the relevance of the issue or problem to the student as a mathematician, scientist, or engineer.  The essay should follow the specific guidelines outlined on Goldwater’s “Candidacy Information/Instructions” sheet.
  • Three recommendations – two from faculty members who can discuss the student’s potential for a career in her field (at least one of these must be from the student’s major); another individual/faculty member who can attest to the student’s potential.  If the student has been involved in research, one recommendation must be from the individual who supervised the student’s work (for example, for an REU internship).
  • Official transcripts for all undergraduate work, including summer study and study abroad (note that Goldwater says that the FA can obtain your MHC official transcript but she cannot do this)
  • for Permanent Residents only – a copy of your Permanent Resident card and a Statement of Intent to become a US citizen
  • signed Application/Supporting Documents Checklist (available from website)

Campus Process and Checklist

Please note that for all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Summer/early Fall make appointment to discuss application with Fellowships Advisor
  solicit potential faculty/research supervisor recommenders
  order study abroad and summer study transcripts-sent to FA (FA can procure unofficial MHC transcript for Nov 18 submission)
September register as candidate in online system and begin application
Late October/early November send short essay answers to FA for feedback
  draft research essay; seek feedback from faculty in field; also FA
By November 18 print online application and deliver to FA
  recommendation letters due to FA (may be electronic word documents)
December 2-6 interviews with Committee on Fellowships
By January 27 submit revised application to Goldwater; notify FA
  Recommenders upload letters to Goldwater site (no more than 2 pp)
By January 30 FA submits nomination online and sends supporting materials via mail
Late March notification sent by mail to students; please notify FA