The Minority Serving Institutions Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Pathways Scholarship Program
The National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant) champions diversity, equity, inclusion, justice and accessibility (DEIJA) by recruiting, retaining and preparing a diverse workforce, and proactively engaging and serving diverse populations. North Carolina Space Grant (NC Space Grant) is committed to building inclusive research, education and public outreach programs that serve people with unique backgrounds, circumstances, needs, perspectives and ways of thinking.
Recognizing that some students have historically been underserved and underrepresented (i.e., minority groups that are not represented in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields in numbers proportional to their composition in the U.S. population), NC Space Grant supports scholarships targeted to these individuals in order to help diversify the STEM workforce of the future. This is in accordance with NASA’s aim to “enhance the capabilities of Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Hispanic Serving Institutions; Tribal Colleges and Universities; and Other Minority Universities to contribute to the research needs of science and technology enterprises.” (NASA, Minority University Research and Education Programs, FAQs)
NC Space Grant’s Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Pathways Scholarship program supports and encourages students along their early academic pathway in NASA-related STEM disciplines. This is a competitive scholarship program for community college and non-senior undergraduate (freshmen, sophomores and juniors only) students at two- and four-year institutions, who attend a Minority Serving Institution (MSI), or Historically Black College or University (HBCU) identified in NASA’s Minority Serving Institutions Exchange in the State of North Carolina. A list of eligible community colleges and universities is provided under “Eligibility Requirements” below.
This scholarship has the following objectives:
provide financial support to underserved and underrepresented students who demonstrate a desire to pursue a STEM-focused academic pathway that has NASA Mission Directorate (see Eligibility Requirements below) applications, inclusive of commercial space or the International Space Station (ISS)
expose students to STEM-related research taking place at community colleges and undergraduate colleges and universities
connect underserved and underrepresented students to NC Space Grant-supported students, faculty and alumni
Although it is not required, the intended next step for scholarship recipients would be to apply for the MSI STEM Bridge Scholarship program.
$3,000 scholarship per student
Up to 10 scholarships may be awarded.
Period of performance is Nov. 1, 2021 – May 31, 2022.
Awards will be announced on/around, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021.
Awards are contingent upon receipt of NASA funding and quality of submitted proposals.
The student must be a U.S. citizen. Permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) are not eligible to receive a NASA award.
The student must be enrolled as a full-time freshman, sophomore, junior or senior (minimum 12 credit hours), or first-year or later community college student, at an accredited Minority Serving Institution (MSI) or Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the State of North Carolina identified by NASA’s Minority Serving Institutions Exchange.
Bladen Community College
Edgecombe Community College
Elizabeth City State University
Fayetteville State University
Halifax Community College
Johnson C. Smith University
North Carolina A&T State University
North Carolina Central University
North Carolina Wesleyan College
Robeson Community College
Saint Augustine’s University
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Winston-Salem State University
Students must remain enrolled with full-time status throughout the duration of the award period. NC Space Grant must be informed of changes to enrollment status.
If you are unclear as to whether your university/college is eligible, please email the contact listed at the bottom.
The student must be pursuing their academic pathway in a STEM discipline of interest to NASA, commercial space and/or research taking place on the ISS, inclusive of astronaut health. The NASA Mission Directorates are as follows:
The student must be pursuing a degree in a NASA-related STEM discipline at the time of application. Examples: astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science/information science, Earth science, engineering, mathematics, physics, etc.
The student must have a grade point average of at least 2.8 on a 4.0 scale.
Students enrolled in an accredited Dual Engineering Degree program are eligible to apply.
Applied Health Science majors are NOT eligible for this program at this time.
Students may receive only one (1) MSI STEM Pathways Scholarship over the course of their studies.
How to Apply (Online Application System)
Interested students must complete an online application (see link below). Please read all program guidelines including applicant eligibility and reporting requirements before submitting your application. The application must be submitted online and all information must be complete or the application will not be reviewed.
The application system is closed until Fall 2022.
Respond to a few questions with short, 300-word essays (provided below).
Upload a prior academic year transcript with GPA or equivalent. Freshmen or first-year community college students may submit their senior year high school transcript.
Have a faculty member or academic advisor at the current institution submit a Letter of Recommendation to the application system.The faculty member or academic advisor must submit the letter to the system personally. Freshmen or first-year community college students are allowed to have a high school educator, previous employer, etc. submit the letter.
There are informational data fields required for the application, however, the followingessay questions are to be answered as part of the online application: (Word limit: 300 per question)
What STEM-related field of study/degree would you like to study? What made you want to pursue it?
We think NASA is pretty awesome. What makes you interested in NASA, commercial space or the ISS?
Describe any STEM-related extra-curricular activities in which you have participated (e.g., clubs, teams, camps, mentoring, jobs, internships, etc.) that may have prepared you to fulfill your scholarship requirements.
How will this scholarship impact your academic pathway (beyond just financial support)?
Student applications will be evaluated based on academic merit (GPA), enrollment in STEM coursework, extracurricular activities (e.g., teams, clubs and relevant work experience), letter of recommendation, interest in STEM research, and an interest in NASA-related research, inclusive of commercial space and/or research on the ISS as described in application essay responses.
MSI STEM Pathways – 100 points
Academic merit (GPA & Related STEM coursework) – 10 pts
Essay 1: What STEM-related field of study/degree would you like to study? What made you want to pursue it? – 15 pts
Essay 2: We think NASA is pretty awesome. What makes you interested in NASA, commercial space or the ISS? – 20 pts
Essay 3: Describe any STEM-related extra-curricular activities in which you have participated (e.g., clubs, teams, camps, mentoring, jobs, internships, etc.) that may have prepared you to fulfill your scholarship requirements. – 15 pts
Essay 4: How will this scholarship impact your academic pathway (beyond just financial support)? – 20 pts
Letter of recommendation – 20 pts
Awardees are required to complete the following in order to receive funding:
Fall Semester 2021: 2 Requirements
Awardees are required to attend a fall semester webinar featuring a NASA expert and an information session with an NC Space Grant staff member. During the information session awardees will hear about opportunities for future NC Space Grant scholarships, fellowships and internships.
Awardees are required to apply to NASA’s Fellowships and Internships program in order to experience the application process. Students shall send a screen shot of their finalized application to NC Space Grant as verification. Please note that should an internship be awarded to the student, it is not a binding commitment. If awarded, the student must discuss funding for the experience with NC Space Grant. NOTE: Receipt of MSI STEM Pathways Scholarship funds is not contingent upon successfully obtaining a NASA internship, since offers are dependent on the NASA selection process. Rather, NC Space Grant values the experience of applying for NASA Internships – you never know unless you try!
After awardees complete both fall semester requirements, the first installment of $1,500 of the scholarship award will be released. The anticipated date is December 2021.
Spring Semester 2022: 3 Requirements
Awardees will conduct online research about current or planned space missions (e.g., Artemis) or research being conducted within any one of the four NASA Mission Directorates. NASA aligns its research and other activities into these four Directorates. The NASA Mission Directorates are as follows:
Awardees will interview a current faculty member/instructor at the awardee’s college or university who teaches or conducts STEM research in an area of interest to the awardee. Awardees should consider identifying a mentor for future research – a mentor is a person who can support your interests, guide you, listen to your concerns and give you advice and many other things.
Awardees are required to submit a report (approximately three pages) summarizing what they learned, a) during the NASA expert webinar, b) by researching their chosen NASA Mission Directorates, and c) from the faculty interview. The report is due no later than May 15, 2022.
After the student submits the research paper and NC Space Grant approves, the second installment of $1,500 of the scholarship award will be released. The anticipated date is May 2022.
OPTIONAL (but strongly recommended!): Attend the NC Space Symposium scheduled for Friday, Apr. 8, 2022. There is no registration cost for MSI STEM Pathways Scholars, however, scholars are expected to cover their own travel costs (e.g., transportation, hotel, etc.) through their MSI STEM Pathways Scholarship funds or other funds (e.g., department funds). Scholars who wish to attend but are experiencing hardships are invited to bring this to the attention of the NC Space Grant contact listed at the bottom in advance, for confidential individual discussion as needed.
Upon selection, awardees must submit an acceptance form and provide a photo and biographical information; inform NC Space Grant of any changes of address over the course of the award; and respond to academic and employment follow-up surveys after the award period.
Awardees may be asked to share their experience in public forums, on social media, in an NC Space Grant news story, in professional meetings, etc. Awardees will be asked to collaborate on communications products with the NC Space Grant communications specialist, Lee Cannon (firstname.lastname@example.org), both during and after the scholarship period.