Answers to various questions regarding the SMART Scholarship application process. Includes many tips and statistics.


Postby Guest » Sun May 07, 2017 1:31 pm

Okay, I know the awards have not come out yet but if anyone is think about re applying if they do not get the scholarship this is very helpful. It is a summary of what they look for on the application and is written by a former panelist for both the SMART and NDSEG. I found it very helpful and used it as my guide for writing mine. This is my second time applying and I did not have this the first time. The first time I applied I did not make it past the first round but this time I made it to the semifinalist round. I could not post the document as a word file so I did a copy and paste. I suggest anyone who want to use it copy and paste it to a word document and save it for future reference. However I want to make one thing clear. I AM NOT A PANELIST I AM A APPLICANT. Everything from this point on was written by someone else.


I served on the DoD review panels for both the SMART (2 days) and NDSEG (1 day) fellowships. Below I have summarized the award mechanics and listed my thoughts on the key components to include/address for a competitive application.

2012/2013 Award statistics and mechanics o
• Applicants for graduateFellowships can be seniors or current grad students  read together
• Applicants for undergrad fellowships can be in any year of undergrad  Read together
• 2000 apps (3‐5K in prev. yrs) across all fields; 200 apps in biosciences (field I reviewed)
• Each application receives 3 reads
• Based on rankings, the top ~50% is sent to DOD for matching (~8% of applicants are selected)
• The DOD placements are across 68 DoD labs, and 12 government agencies (e.g., NSA, CIA)
• Recipients can decline/ accept (will likely know the lab they will work at prior to accepting)
• Once the DoD receives the list, the matching is all that matters  Not awarded in rank order
• Students at top will likely have multiple sites/labs/agencies that are interested
• CRITICAL: Most apps that are good (do not have to be excellent) in each area will be competitive, but
surprisingly, very few are good in each component
• Applications notes o Point potentials
 GPA, transcripts, test scores, resume 25 points
 Publications and presentations 5 points
 Awards and honors 5 points
 Summary of education and professional goals 20 points
 Interest and research explanation 20 points
 Community and volunteer work 5 points
 Leadership experiences 5 points
 Teamwork experiences 5 points
 References 10 points
 TOTAL 100 points
o GPA/GRE are heavily weighted
o Many categories are only 5 pts, but if these are left blank (common) you will receive 0  Even if you have
listed these in your resume/CV, do not leave anything blank
o To emphasize, do not leave anything blank  Be creative if you have limited experience (e.g., presented in a
journal club or class, or mentoring a labmate will get you 1 or 2 pts instead of 0.
o For pubs/pres, honors, community, leadership, teamwork: List the activity and level of achievement (e.g., a
regional award, an activity that was 20 hrs/week) and then provide a short narrative describing the item and
outcome. A list (even with many items) scores lower than items with context and/or a quantitative metric
(e.g., 20 hrs/week, 2 students in the state)
o In goals statement:
 Write passionately and genuinely with strong organization (use separate paragraphs)
 Suggested sections: Personal Background, research interests and project ideas, link to DOD, choice of DOD
labs, long‐term goals
 Critical: Need to spend at least 1 paragraph or more discussing SPECIFIC DOD SITES that you want to match
with and how they facilitate your goals
o In interest and research explanation
 Need strong organization. For each research experience communicate the goal, approach, and the
outcome/productivity (e.g., new finding, publication or presentation
 Tie back to DOD and choice of specific labs mentioned in goals statement
• 2012/2013 Award statistics and mechanics o Applicants must be seniors or 1st/2nd year graduate students o
3000 applicants for 200 awards (~7%) but pool is STRONGER than SMART since no work req. o Biggest field is
biosciences (645 apps) followed by chemistry (340) o Biosciences is where most bioengineering topics are
received (also some to Mat Sci, ChemE) o All apps receive at least 2 reads; some receive 3 reads (if on cut‐off
border or discrepancy) o After reading, applications are ranked and a conservative cut‐off is applied. In my
panel the top 258 application (out of 645) were sent in ranked order to DoD for final selection
• Applications notes o The pool is hyper‐competitive (my mean was about 60/100 with high scorers in the 80s) o
In my scoring, a GPA of 3.7 and GRE in the 80 percentile would score 20/25 pts
o Even with perfect essays and references, you can’t receive a NDSEG with weak GPA/GREs
 NOT TRUE for NSF GRFP (no GREs; scored only for innovation and broader impact) o Point potentials
 GPA, GRE, transcripts 25 points
 Publications, presentations, and patents 10 points
 Awards and honors 5 points
 Leadership experiences 5 points
 Teamwork experiences 5 points
 Memberships and community/ volunteer 5 points
 Scientific or research experiences 20 points
 Summary of goals 15 points
 References 10 points
 TOTAL 100 points
o Need some kind of publications and/or presentations and strong GPA/GRE o Must be solid on every category,
and strong on several o DO NOT LEAVE ANY SECTIONS BLANK (blank sections receive 0)
o List items in each category using descriptive language and quantitative metric (hrs/week, # of award
recipients in the state, school, country) as opposed to a list
o Be creative if needed to put something in each category (see examples above given for SMART) o For research
 List the project, position, dates of work, and location/advisor
 For each, add a short paragraph discussing the work, your specific contributions and some specific outcome (a
new finding, 1 publications, 2 posters, 1 presentation, etc.)
 List each project separately (even if in same lab)
 Both number of experiences and level of depth are valued
 Critical to show organization and deliverables in each case to differentiate application o For other “list”
sections (leadership, teamwork,), use similar format but a 1 sentence description o For summary of goals
 Use paragraphs and be specific  many applications run together during review
 Suggested sections: Personal motivation, past research and results, proposed research project (include aims,
brief discussion of experiments, and impact), Link to DoD and long‐term goals
 Include enough detail to show you have an actual research project in mind (not that you want to work in
“tissue engineering”)
 I scores the following: Check for motivation/personal interest, research hypothesis, experimental
aims/methods, impact, link to DoD, long‐term goals
o Although only 3 references are required, all 4 will be presented if submitted "


Postby Guest147 » Sun May 07, 2017 1:37 pm

Thanks, Guest! I hope I don't need this, but it will be incredibly helpful if I do!


Postby littlehope » Sun May 07, 2017 2:17 pm

I also used this in preparing my application and found it extremely helpful! Fingers crossed that it helped in achieving the endgame as well.
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