Your vision of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors may be one of mad scientists in white lab coats, vials of bubbling concoctions, or safety goggles and pocket protectors—but as times change, so do the visions of what these important areas of study entail and produce.
As our society becomes increasingly environmentally aware, health conscious, and reliant on technology, STEM majors are playing more prominent roles in their communities and on an international scale. Both the public and private sectors are clamoring for more American students to pursue degrees and careers in STEM related fields, including environmental science, clean energy, exercise science, among others. And, as a result, everyone from private organizations to the federal government is offering attractive STEM scholarships and grants.
[See U.S. News's rankings of Best High Schools for Math and Science.]
The SMART Scholarship (Science, Mathematics & Research for Transformation), established by the Department of Defense, offers a huge incentive for STEM majors studying in the United States by covering full tuition and education-related fees, offering paid summer internships, a health insurance reimbursement, mentoring and more.
All these benefits come with minimal requirements: You must be a U.S. citizen at time of application, enrolled in an accredited U.S. college/university, 18 years or older by August 1, 2012, with a minimum 3.0 GPA and willingness to accept post-graduate employment with the Department of Defense. Yes, folks, you must be willing to accept a job just out of college. Where do we sign up?
Boren Scholarships offer unique opportunities for U.S. undergraduates to study abroad in world regions critical to U.S. interests (including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East) and provide a special initiative for STEM majors. The scholarships fund up to $8,000 for summer study (minimum of eight weeks) for students majoring in the STEM fields. Requirements include being a U.S. citizen at time of application and having earned either a high school diploma or a GED.
[Get more tips on finding scholarships for study abroad.]
For those of you pursuing a degree for the purpose of teaching STEM subjects at the U.S. middle or secondary school level, the AFCEA Educational Foundation (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) is offering 50 STEM Teacher Scholarships of $5,000 each. To be eligible, students must be U.S. citizens with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and must be college sophomores or juniors. In addition to the $5,000 scholarship, each graduating AFCEA STEM Scholar can receive a $1,000 AFCEA Science Teaching Tools grant each year for three years if the recipient continues teaching a STEM subject.
The UNCF/Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Awards are intended to help African-American undergraduate students who are interested in science to further their science education and potentially pursue science and engineering careers. At least 15 scholarships of up to $30,000 each will be granted in 2012 to any African-American junior enrolled full time in an accredited U.S. college or university.
[Learn more about how to pay for college.]
Mackenzie Owens joined Scholarship America in the spring of 2011 and is an alumna of Columbia College. She was also the recipient of numerous scholarships.