UNCF-Merck Scholarship

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

History and Purpose

The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative is a partnership of UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest minority education organization, and Merck, a global healthcare leader and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. In addition to building a pipeline of African American college students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative (UMSI) works to encourage minority students by engaging and attracting them to STEM subjects as early as elementary school. African Americans hold less than 3% of PhDs in biology, chemistry, and engineering today. UMSI aims to increase the numbers of minority students in sciences and engineering.

Description of the UNCF/Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship

UNCF/Merck awards 15 scholarships annually providing up to $30,000.00 for one year of undergraduate study. This includes up to $25,000.00 toward tuition, room and board, and billable fees. In addition to funds, the award provides support through grants to the science departments of award recipients, eligibility for a summer research internship at a Merck facility (must apply separately), and mentoring and networking relationships through the Association of UNCF/Merck Fellows.  Award recipients are selected based on their GPA, their demonstrated interest in their own scientific education and a career in scientific research or engineering, and their ability to perform in a laboratory or engineering environment. For administrative purposes, the scholarship portion of the awards will be sent directly to the institutions of the award recipients.

The award recipient’s department may apply for a Department Grant of up to $10,000. The actual amount of the Department Grant will total the amount of funds remaining from the scholarship portion of the award after all tuition, room and board, and billable fees have been paid, up to $10,000. The Department Grant is intended to support research in the department and may be used to purchase research supplies and equipment or support scholarships for other students in the department. The Department Grant may not be used to support salaries, travel, or indirect costs.

Eligibility Requirements and Rules for Nomination

Applicants must have/be:

  • African American (Black)
  • Enrolled full-time in any four-year college or university in the United States
  • a junior who will be a B.S. or B.A. degree candidate in the 2014-2015 academic year
  • a life sciences, physical sciences, or engineering major. (Applicants majoring in the physical sciences must have completed two semesters of organic chemistry by the end of the 2013-14 academic year). First professional (Pharm. D., D.V.M., D.D.S., etc.) majors are ineligible
  • a minimum GPA of 3.3
  • committed to and eligible for a 10-12 week summer internship(s) at a Merck facility
  • a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Nomination from the College not required; the institutional representative is notified when a student applies

How to Apply

Applications become available online  in the fall. Although this is a “direct apply” award and does not require institutional endorsement, interested students should contact Christine Overstreet, Fellowships Advisor, during the early fall for guidance and support throughout the application process. Students should also solicit the guidance of a faculty advisor in their science field. See the application instructions.

A UNCF Merck Selection Committee consisting of educators, scientists and engineers will review applications and select award recipients.

Application components

  • An online application
  • A Personal Statement discussing the student’s career interests and goals (up to two pages)
  • A resume
  • Official transcripts from all undergraduate work including study abroad and summer study
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (copy of birth certificate, U.S. passport, Resident Alien Card)
  • Three recommendation letters

Campus Process and Checklist

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

Timeframe Task(s) to Complete
Late summer/early fall notify Fellowships Advisor of interest and discuss candidacy
  solicit recommendations from three faculty members or others
September 16 online application opens; begin application
In Early October discuss interest in applying with faculty member in your field
  solicit three recommendations
By October 30/early November if you would like feedback on your application materials from FA, send her a printout of online application including essays and resume
  enter recommenders’ contact information in online system
By December 3 (date TBD) submit application and all supporting materials
  send copy of completed application to Fellowships Advisor
  recommenders submit letters in online system
By mid-April applicants receive notification from UNCF-Merck about their status
Summer after junior year awardees participate in summer internship
Senior year funding for senior year of college applied