Questions about applying for Aero MS/PhD

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

Questions about applying for Aero MS/PhD

Postby jtap114 » Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:11 pm

I will start grad school Fall 2018 in either aerospace engineering or mechanical engineering depending on where I go. I have already been accepted to several schools, but have not yet decided where I will attend. I only found out about the SMART program recently. The application is due tomorrow and I have everything done, but need some advice about a few things:

1.) I currently do not know if I will continue on for a PhD or end with the MS. I am about 65% sure I will do the PhD. Should I indicate PhD or MS as my degree goal on the SMART application?

2.) What happens if I indicate MS (2 years), am awarded the scholarship, then decide I want to continue on to the PhD (another 2-3 years)? Would I be able to have the SMART scholarship for my MS, then put off my service obligation until after I finish my PhD? so the timeline would look like: 2 years for MS with SMART
2-3 years for PhD NOT with SMART
2 years DoD service to "pay back" the 2 years for MS
then whatever I want.

3.) What happens If I indicate PhD (5 years), am awarded the scholarship, then decide I want to leave with the MS after only 2 years? Can I end my scholarship early and only serve with the DoD for the 2 years it took to get the MS?

4.) Is it better the list preferred sponsoring facilities or not? There are SO MANY and I would be very happy with more than 3. If I list 3 and none of them want me, there are still many others I would be happy with, but those others will see I did not list them so then they may not want me either.

5.) Is it bad to list multiple subdisciplines? Within aero/mech engineering, I am interested in physical dynamics and this has applications to dynamics & control, astrodynamics, and structural dynamics. Should I only indicate one of these or is it fine to list all three?

Any help with any of these questions would be greatly appreciated. I have the application done and it is due tomorrow. I'm just not sure if I should indicate MS or PhD, if I should list sponsoring facilities or not and if I should limit myself to one subdiscipline.
jtap114
 
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Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:58 pm

Re: Questions about applying for Aero MS/PhD

Postby littlehope » Fri Dec 01, 2017 10:58 am

1) Changing your award length (either getting additional years awarded or taking them off) can be difficult and put you at risk to lose the award and have to pay back anything you used. BUT it has been done both ways in the past so I would just mark whichever you feel is truely the most likely.

2) If you select MS for 2 years you are required to fulfill your work commitment IMMEDIATELY upon graduation. You are NOT allowed to delay it three years while you finish your PhD with other funding. However, if you want to change to a PhD basically you have to get your SF on board with wanting to wait three years to get you with a 5yr commitment afterwards. Then if you SF approves it you will need to apply for an extension which is basically reapplying for the scholarship and there is still a chance you won’t be awarded even after your SF approves.

3) If you select PhD you will be committed to 5yrs. Most of the time when people downsize their commitment it is not for a different degree but instead they finish their selected degree a semester or year early so the want to start working earlier. If you are wishing to switch from PhD to MS then 1st you would need to get your SF to approve but that can be risky since they may have chosen you BECAUSE you were getting a PhD and they needed a PhD for the work to be done. If they approve they you can submit a form for a award adjustment to switch your degree and then it is up to SMART to decide if they want to let you or cancel your award.

4) LIST TOP SPONSORING FACILITIES!!! Yes it’s true you might miss out on a couple that only look at those who chose them BUT if you don’t select any you won’t be put at the top of the list for any. A lot of facilities don’t even look at those who don’t list them therefore if you don’t list ANY you significantly lessen your odds. For the ones you list you basically get highlighted and put at the top of the stack for them to see. But for instance last year I had 5 interviews and only one was from my list. I ended up awarded with a facility that wasn’t on my list but fits my credientials very well I just hadn’t heard of them before. They told me they typically only seriously look at those who chose them but if they see a very good match they will look at the region they requested to see if they might be willing to live in their location.

5) If they let you list more than one why not? The more the merrier.

Personally if I was in your situation I would do a 2yr commitment for MS and if you decide to go further for PHD a lot of the SFs have programs where they will pay for your PhD later down the road...so if you change your mind you can get your MS, work 2years and then go for PhD outside of SMART (and possibly funded by your SF). Remember you don’t have to do all your education all in one lump sum. If fact it might be beneficial to get some experience between you Ms and PhD so when you graduate it would be significantly easier to find a job if you wanted to change companies.

Hope this helped
littlehope
 
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Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:23 pm

Re: Questions about applying for Aero MS/PhD

Postby jtap114 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:44 pm

Thank you! this was very helpful. I got everything submitted yesterday. However, since I only found out about this program recently, I did not get to investigate the many SFs in as much detail as I would have liked. So my selection was a bit rushed :|
jtap114
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:58 pm

Re: Questions about applying for Aero MS/PhD

Postby littlehope » Wed Dec 06, 2017 1:08 pm

Glad it was helpful. Trust me I was in the same exact boat and completed my application in under a week. I think a lot of SFs realize that applicants typically don’t have time to do it in depth investigation of most of the SFs and can be a little forgiving. I think it’s a few stubborn ones that only want people who listed them. I was extremely glad to get the interviews I did because in the end the three I listed were the best ones I could have chosen for my field so I was lucky enough that a facility that fit perfectly with my background ended up finding me.
littlehope
 
Posts: 76
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:23 pm


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