Program Status: Open
Program type(s): Community College, Scholarship,

The Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Pathways Scholarship Program

Space Grant Default Pull Card FB


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 MSI STEM Pathways Scholarship program supports and encourages students along their early academic pathway (community college and non-senior undergraduate students) in NASA-related STEM disciplines.

This scholarship has the following objectives:

Although it is not required, the intended next step for scholarship recipients would be to apply for the MSI STEM Bridge Scholarship program.

Award Details

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible universities/colleges:

  • Bennett College
  • Bladen Community College
  • Chowan University
  • Edgecombe Community College
  • Elizabeth City State University
  • Fayetteville State University
  • Halifax Community College
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Livingstone College
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • North Carolina Wesleyan College
  • Robeson Community College
  • Saint Augustine’s University
  • Sampson Community College
  • Shaw University
  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  • Winston-Salem State University

* If you are unclear as to whether your university/college is eligible, please email the contact listed at the bottom.*

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, including the letter of recommendation, or the application will not be reviewed.

Link to online application system

There are informational data fields required for the application, so please allow ample time to complete the online application.

The following essay questions are to be answered as part of the online application:

(Word limits – 300 per question)

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.

Application Evaluation Criteria

MSI STEM Pathways – 100 points
Academic merit (GPA & Related STEM coursework) – 15 pts
Essay 1: What STEM-related classes or degree would you like to study? What interests you about 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: How will this scholarship impact your academic or career pathways (beyond financial support)? – 20 pts
Essay 4: 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
Letter of recommendation. – 25 pts

Awardee Requirements

Awardees are required to complete the following in order to receive funding: 

Fall Semester 2022: 2 Requirements

  1. Awardees are required to attend a fall semester webinar featuring a NASA expert and an NC Space Grant staff member. During the information session awardees will hear about opportunities for future NC Space Grant scholarships, fellowships and internships. 
  2. Awardees are required to apply to NASA’s Fellowships and Internships program in order to experience applying for an internship with NASA. Students shall send a screenshot of their submitted application via email to the NC Space Grant contact listen below by December 15, 2022 as verification. Please note that should an internship be awarded to the student, it is not a binding commitment. If awarded, the student should 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 late December 2022.

Spring Semester 2023: 3 Requirements

  1. 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. Students shall send an email to the NC Space Grant contact listed below with their research topic (Mission Directorate) by March 1, 2023 as verification. NASA aligns its research and other activities into these four Directorates. The NASA Mission Directorates are as follows:
  2. 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. Students shall send an email to the NC Space Grant contact listed below with the name and title of the person who they interviewed by April 30, 2023 as verification. (Tip – Take notes since we’ll ask you about it in your final report!)
  3. 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 to the NC Space Grant contact listed below via email no later than May 31, 2023.

After the student submits the research paper and NC Space Grant approves it, the second installment of $1,500 of the scholarship award will be released. The anticipated date is late May 2023.

OPTIONAL (but strongly recommended!): Attend the NC Space Symposium scheduled for Friday, Apr. 21, 2023. 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 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.

Other Requirements

Request for Proposals

View the full RFP here


Sandy Canfield, Assistant Director