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Undergraduate Research Scholarships


March 15, 2024.

Open to

Undergraduate students in a STEM degree program at an accredited college or university in NC

Research Topic

The research activity must have NASA Mission Directorates or commercial space relevance and align to the NC Space Grant Strategic Plan.


The objective of the NC Space Grant Undergraduate Research Scholarship program is to engage the future STEM workforce in basic and/or applied NASA-related research projects.


Each year, NC Space Grant competitively awards Undergraduate Research Scholarships to students who are pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields that support NASA’s Mission Directorates.

The Undergraduate Research Scholarship program requires that students participate in an active, defined research activity in STEM that has NASA Mission Directorate applications, inclusive of commercial space and/or at the U.S. National Lab on the International Space Station (ISS).

Research should be supervised by a faculty mentor, and may be conducted on the home campus, at an industrial or government facility, or virtually in accordance with university policies.

Research shall be conducted over the course of a 12-month period, commencing June 1, 2024, and ending May 31, 2025. Extensions will not be granted. Proposed research must take into consideration obtaining samples, supplies and materials, as well as accessing labs or specialized equipment needed to carry out the research within the 12-month period-of-performance.

Award Level

This is a competitive scholarship program. Awards are based on merit, recognizing high academic achievement and promise.

NC Space Grant will grant $8,000 per student, for approximately 14 student awards. Awards are contingent upon receipt of NASA funding and the quality of submitted proposals.

Funding for related travel should be considered within the total award package.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants must be enrolled full-time in a program of study in STEM and propose a specific, research project relevant to a NASA Mission Directorate, commercial space, and/or the ISS U.S. National Lab.

NC Space Grant strongly encourages applications from undergraduate students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs) and/or from historically underserved and underrepresented communities.

The Undergraduate Research Scholarship applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • A United States citizen.
  • Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a science, engineering, technology, or mathematics (STEM) discipline of interest to NASA, commercial space, or the ISS.
  • Currently enrolled, or accepted to be enrolled, in fall 2024 as a full-time student at an accredited university or college in the State of North Carolina during the 2024-2025 academic year. Students enrolled in an accredited Dual Engineering Degree program are eligible to apply. Students who drop below full-time status are no longer eligible to receive funding.
  • Conducting a specific faculty-mentored research project that has NASA Mission Directorate or commercial space relevance.
  • In good academic standing with a GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) or equivalent verifiable grade scale.

Applicants are eligible to receive a total of two Undergraduate Research Scholarships during their academic studies. Students must apply each time to the competitive application process.


  • Student applications due 5 p.m. ET, Friday, March 15, 2024. Late applications will not be accepted for any reason.
  • Faculty Letter of Recommendation due 5 p.m. ET, Monday, March 18, 2024.
  • Awards will be announced on or around April 29, 2024, contingent upon receipt of NASA funds.

Application Instructions

Apply for the Undergraduate Research Scholarship:

  • In the application system, applicants must click the new user registration button to begin the application process.

Interested students must complete an online application. All information must be complete — including faculty letter of recommendation — or the application will not be reviewed.

Please read all program guidelines, including Eligibility Requirements; Proposal Review and Evaluation Criteria; and Awardee Requirements before preparing and submitting your application.

Awards are based on research merit and promise, adherence to the instructions of this request for proposals (RFP), and availability of federal funds.

Essay Questions: Students will respond in short essay format to four (4) key questions in the online application (listed below). Maximum word counts are provided for each essay, indicated after each question in the online application system. Students can also view word counts in advance of registering in the system in the Sample Application available on the application website page.

Your proposal requires you to complete various essays that demonstrate understanding and application of the proposed subject matter, and how it aligns with your individual and specific research goals. You are expected to do your own work and cite any sources you use properly. You are not allowed to use any artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as chatbots, text generators, paraphrasers, summarizers, or solvers, to complete any part of your proposal. If you have any questions about what constitutes acceptable use of AI tools, please consult NC Space Grant before submitting your proposal.

  1. Research Description and Goals: In your own words, describe the research project that you will be conducting. The description should include but not be limited to a) a description of the research, b) research goals, and c) a plan to carry out the research (e.g., methodology, timeline, etc.).
    • It is expected that research will be conducted over the full 12-month award period-of-performance. A timeline for research implementation should be included in the proposed research plan (tables may be included but not charts, graphs or images). Deviations from a 12-month plan must be included in the online application essay and discussed with the NC Space Grant point-of-contact listed at the end of the RFP in advance of award. Funds will be appropriately prorated for any semester the student is not enrolled full-time (i.e., not receive the full amount of the award).
  2. Alignment of Research to NASA Mission Directorates AND the NC Space Grant Strategic Plan: Identify which NASA Mission Directorate(s) your research project aligns with and describe how your research will contribute to the mission of that Directorate(s), commercial space, and/or the ISS.
  3. STEM Research: Describe your interests in a NASA-related STEM field of study and how this research project supports your academic pursuits.
  4. Anticipated Impacts: Describe how the proposed research project will be a springboard to pursuing your future academic and/or career interests and pathways. What new skills or information will you obtain from this project that will impact your pursuits?

Faculty Recommendation Letter: Applicants should request a faculty member write and submit a letter of recommendation that addresses knowledge of the student or level of confidence in the student’s ability to conduct the proposed research and a plan to mentor/guide the student’s research.

Applicants will provide the name and contact information for the faculty reference in their online application. NC Space Grant will contact the reference via email to request a letter of recommendation on behalf of the applicant. Reference will be provided with a link to submit the recommendation. For the application to be complete, the letter of recommendation must be submitted by the due date stated in this RFP. NC Space Grant strongly recommends that applicants contact the reference listed and inform them of the deadline (5 p.m. ET, Monday, March 18, 2024), and that they will receive an email requesting this information on their behalf (

University Transcripts: Unofficial transcripts from all institutions and from the current institution with grades through fall 2023 are required and can be submitted as a PDF in the online application. If the applicant is selected to receive the award, official transcripts may be required at time of acceptance. If the applicant does not have a PDF conversion tool, links to free on-line PDF converters are provided within the application.

Proposal Review and Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of academic and subject-matter professionals who are technically literate, but not necessarily experts in each proposed field of research. Applicants should present their research project in a way that will be understandable to a range of readers. Proposals will be evaluated and scored per the parameters below:

The selection of awarded proposals will reflect the full review process, available funding, and current program priorities. Applicants should be aware that not all highly rated projects will be funded. NC Space Grant does not have enough funding to cover all the outstanding applications that we receive.

Awardee Requirements

The Undergraduate Research Scholar must meet the following requirements:

  • NASA requires awardees to create a student profile in the online NASA Gateway system to collect award and demographic information for annual NASA reporting purposes.  
  • Submit a final research report to NC Space Grant.
  • Present a poster at the NC Space Grant Space Symposium in spring 2025. Funding for related travel should be considered within the total award package (e.g., to Raleigh, NC).
  • Respond to academic and employment follow-up surveys administered by NC Space Grant as required by NASA.
  • Notify NC Space Grant if you drop below full-time status or there is a change in your proposed research plan.
  • Update your profile in NASA Gateway and Payment Works if any of your contact information changes.
  • Work with the North Carolina Space Grant communications team to develop and implement a plan to share research and experience, including but not exclusively on social media, in print, and on the North Carolina Space Grant website.
  • Share their research experiences in public forums or educational settings. Presentations that encourage interest in STEM fields to high school students are of particular interest to NC Space Grant.
  • Make activity and results public via social media during and after their research, using accessible social media accounts and consistent hashtags.
  • Credit NC Space Grant for sponsoring the activity in all printed materials (e.g., use the NC Space Grant logo on posters, credit and tag on social media, etc.).


Sandy Canfield, Assistant Director
NC Space Grant
(919) 515-5943