The National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant) champions diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) 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 Bridge Program aims to facilitate access to careers in STEM disciplines and is designed to address the national challenges of attracting and retaining underrepresented, underserved and minority students and faculty in STEM courses of study.
To encourage talented students from underserved and underrepresented populations (e.g., women, minorities and persons with disabilities) to pursue STEM related careers, NC Space Grant has implemented the MSI STEM Bridge Program. This is a competitive scholarship program for early undergraduate (freshmen, sophomore and junior) students who attend Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) or a Historically Black College or University (HBCU)in the State of North Carolina. This scholarship aims to achieve the goals of:
providing financial support to underrepresented students who demonstrate the potential to contribute to the future STEM workforce
connecting underserved and underrepresented students to faculty and peers (e.g. NC Space Grant-supported students) that are conducting research at the same institution
Students from Shaw University learn about NASA content.
$3,000 per student
Up to 10 scholarships may be awarded contingent upon receipt of federal funds and quality of proposals
Student applications will be evaluated based on academic merit, prior success in STEM coursework, research and/or hands-on projects in STEM, extracurricular activities (e.g., teams, clubs, and relevant work experience), faculty recommendation and demonstrated interest in NASA and a career in STEM.
The student must be a U.S. citizen. Per the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant Program) regulations at 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)§1259.503(a), “Fellowships shall be awarded only to Nationals of the United States.” A “National of the United States” is defined at14 CFR §1259.101(c) as “a citizen of the United States or a native resident of a possession of the United States. It does not refer to or include a citizen of another country who has applied for United States citizenship.” Therefore, NASA has interpreted the language stating that fellowships (i.e., scholarships) shall only be awarded to U.S. nationals to mean that U.S. citizenship is required for all participants (i.e., faculty or students) who are receiving a NASA Internship and Fellowship (NIF) (e.g., scholarship) under the Space Grant Program. This also means that permanent residents (i.e., green card holders) are ineligible to receive a NASA award.
The student must be currently enrolled as a full-time freshman, sophomore or junior (minimum 12 credit hours) at an accredited Minority Serving Institution (MSI) or Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in the State of North Carolina (part F of the HEA, 20 U.S. Code § 1067q).
Eligible universities/colleges: Winston-Salem State University, NC A&T University, NC Central University, Fayetteville State University, UNC-Pembroke, Elizabeth City State University, Shaw University, Bennett College, Livingstone College, Johnson C. Smith University and St. Augustine’s College.
Students from universities/colleges with significant minority enrollment are not eligible to apply at this time.
If you are unclear as to whether your university/college is eligible, please send an email to the contact listed below.
Must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a STEM discipline of interest to NASA or the broader aerospace industry. Links to NASA Mission Directorates:
The student must have completed at least one semester majoring in STEM at the time of application.
Students who have transferred from an accredited community college within the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) entering their junior year ARE eligible to apply if all other eligibility requirements are met.
The student must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 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.
Awardees are required to complete the following in order to receive funding:
Fall Semester – 2020: 2 Requirements
Awardees are required to attend a fall semester webinar that will feature a NASA expert and an information session with an NC Space Grant staff member. During the information session awardees will hear about opportunities for NC Space Grant scholarships, fellowships and internships.
Apply to NASA’s Fellowships and Internships program. 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, funding for the experience shall be discussed with NC Space Grant. (Note: Receipt of 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 applying for NASA Internships – you never know!)
After awardees complete both fall semester requirements, the first installment of scholarship award ($1,500) will be released (anticipated date: December 2020).
Spring Semester – 2021: 3 Requirements
Conduct online research about current or planned missions, from any of the four NASA Mission Directorates. NASA aligns its research and other activities into these four Directorates. Links to NASA Mission Directorates:
2. Interview a current faculty member at your university who teaches and conducts research in an area of interest to you. This research should be of interest to NASA (but not necessarily already being conducted by NASA). Awardees should consider identifying a mentor for future research.
Awardees are required to submit a report (approximately 3 pages) summarizing what was learned a) during the NASA expert webinar, b) by researching the NASA Mission Directorates and c) from the faculty interview.
3. Attend/participate in the NC Space Symposium to be held April 15-16, 2021. There is no registration cost for MSI STEM Bridge Scholars. However, scholarship funds awarded through this opportunity shall cover travel costs to the symposium.
After the research paper (Requirements 1 & 2) is submitted and approved by NC Space Grant, the second half of the scholarship award ($1,500) will be released (anticipated date: April 2020).
Upon selection, awardees must submit an acceptance form and provide a photo and biographical information; inform NC Space Grant of changes of address; and respond to academic and employment follow-up surveys.
Students may be asked to share their experience in public forums, in social media, in an NC Space Grant news story, in professional meetings, etc. Awardees will be requested to collaborate with the NC Space Grant communications specialist, Lee Cannon (firstname.lastname@example.org), both during and after the scholarship period.
How to Apply
Applications were due Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, and are closed at this time.
Awards will be announced on or around, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Awards are contingent upon receipt of NASA funding and quality of submitted proposals.
Interested students must complete an online application. 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.
There are informational data fields required for the application, however, key application essay questions include (Word limits: 350 per question):
What areas of STEM interest you? Why?
What STEM-related career would you like to have in the future? Why?
How are your academic and career interests related to NASA?
Describe any STEM-related extra-curricular activities in which you have participated (e.g., clubs, teams, camps, mentoring, jobs, internships, etc.).
How will the research performed under this award impact your academic or career pathway?