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Goldwater Scholarship

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor the former Arizona Senator. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide support for highly qualified STEM students who plan to pursue a PhD and research career in these fields.  The scholarship provides $7500 in support for the junior and/or senior year of undergraduate study. (Students apply in sophomore or junior year.)  Goldwater Scholars usually go on to top PhD programs are highly competitive for graduate funding such as NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.  The scholarship is for students planning research careers.  Students planning to pursue an MD only and conduct clinical research are not eligible, but those planning to pursue an MD-PhD and  career in biomedical science research are eligible.

Institutional Endorsement: The Goldwater Scholarship does not accept direct applications; students must be nominated by the U-M Goldwater Committee.  Please see this page for application instructions for endorsement.

U-M Application Deadline: First Monday of December by 12:00 Noon.

U-M Contact: Henry Dyson, Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships (ONSF)


  • U.S. Citizen or permanent resident at time of application. Permanent residents must include a letter stating intent to obtain U.S. citizenship.
  • Sophomore or junior standing with full-time enrollment. “Sophomore” is defined as a student who has two more years (4 semesters) of full-time undergraduate study remaining beginning in the September after application.  “Junior” is defined as a student who has one more year (2 semesters) of full-time undergraduate study remaining beginning in the September after application.
  • Most successful applicants have at least a 3.8 GPA, strong grades in STEM classes related to their intended field of graduate study, and at least one year of sustained involvement in one or more research projects.

Application Instructions:

1) Contact Henry Dyson to register intent to pursue U-M nomination for the Goldwater Scholarship. NEW as of 2016: The Goldwater Scholarship application now includes a pre-application form that must be completed online as part of the registration process.

2) Complete the online application on the Goldwater Foundation website.  The completed application will be submitted to Henry Dyson for institutional review.  Please do not enter your recommenders’ contact information into the online application at this point as it will generated an automated message asking them to upload their letters to the Goldwater website.  We will only upload letters for official nominees.

3) Please arrange to have three to five letters of recommendation sent directly to Henry Dyson at  These letters are for the U-M nomination.  The Goldwater Committee will help official nominees select which three letters should be included in the nomination package.  

  • Prior to requesting letters of recommendation, you must fill out the ONSF Student Waiver form, found here, and submit directly to us at  You will then fill out the FERPA Release for Letter Writers and submit that form to each of your letter writers when asking them to write a letter of recommendation for you.  Please advise your recommenders that their letters of recommendation should be entitled “StudentLastName_StudentFirstName_AdvisorLastName” and emailed directly to ONSF at with “Goldwater Recommendation” in the subject line.
  • Letters should come from faculty in STEM fields, especially research mentors and instructors for upper-level courses related to the applicant’s intended field of graduate study.  If you have participated in an NSF-REU or another sustained research project, the PI from this project must write one of your letters.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to consult Henry Dyson when selecting their letter writers.
  • NOTE: The letter writers that you list on the Goldwater pre-application are preliminary only.  Entering them into the pre-application will not generate an automated email to these writers.  Your final three letter writers will be selected as part of the nomination process.  At that point officially selected nominees only will enter their three letter writers into the Goldwater online application, generating automated emails inviting them to upload their letters.
  • Please provide letter writers with this advice sheet from the Goldwater Committee.

4) Please send transcripts from any college-level work done outside U-M directly to Henry Dyson at  There is no need to send U-M transcripts for the nomination phase of the competition.

5) Please send directly to a 3-page research statement discussing in depth one particular research experience.  

  • The essay should be in two-column, “journal style” format, and may include figures or graphs.  The essay may be single or double spaced using 12-point font in Arial or Times New Roman. Margins should be 1 inch on each side.  The essay must include your name and "University of Michigan - Ann Arbor" at the top of each page (header).
  • The essay must discuss each of the following: (1) The history, current state of research, and/or importance of the topic investigated. (2) The applicant’s specific role in the research project.  (3) Specifics about experiemental design, the collection and analysis of data, and/or testing of hypotheses and conclusions. These should be written for a specialist audience and may include technical details. (4) Future directions for the research. If you will not be involved in the future of the project, indicate that you understand what these future directions will be. (5) A brief bibliography (usually 2-6 sources).  
  • Here are three examples of essays by recent Goldwater Scholars:
  1.  Goldwater Sample Essay 1|PDF
  2. Goldwater Sample Essay 2|PDF
  3. Goldwater Sample Essay 3|PDF
  4. Goldwater Sample Essay 4|PDF
  • Please title your essay "LastName_FirstName_Essay" and send it to with "Goldwater Application" in the subject line.


Finalists for U-M nomination will be notified in mid-December and will work with Henry Dyson on revisions over the winter break.  The four U-M nominees will be selected in early January and work with Henry Dyson to submit the final nomination package before January 31st.U.S. Citizen or permanent resident at time of application. Permanent residents must include a letter stating intent to obtain U.S. citizenship.