Undergrad -> Masters Degree

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

Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby positron » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:04 am


I am a junior, meaning if I won the scholarship I would only get one year of funding. This is hardly worth it to me because I already have a full ride for my undergrad degree. What I would really like to do is obtain funding to go to a nice grad school like MIT or CMU. What do you guys suggest I do? Go for one year then try to apply for a continuing scholarship next year (is this even possible)? Or wait until next year and apply just for my two year masters degree?

Thanks for your answers.
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Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby administrator » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:25 pm

It would probably be a lot easier to apply as a senior than go for a follow-on award. Generally speaking, the only way for you to get a follow-on is if your facility believes it will be extremely beneficial to them for you to have a masters, and recommends to SMART that you go for a masters.

If you accept the award as a Junior and do not receive a follow-on award, you will not really have an option. Furthermore, because you will not have an internship, you will not have much of a chance to discuss a masters with your facility.
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Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby Sarah » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:57 am

I graduated from UC Riverside in June 08 with a 3.8 cumulative GPA and 4.0 upper division GPA and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa during my senior year. I am very interested in applying to this program when I apply for a graduate degree (Fall 2010). What is/was the outlook for graduate degree applicants (relative to undergraduate and high school students)?

Also, I received a B.S. in Anthropology, and would thus be looking to pursue a degree in the cognitive, neural, or behavioral sciences (listed on their website). Any idea if this would affect my chances of getting in (for better or worse) as opposed to the more "traditional" areas such as engineering, math, etc?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby SMARTGuide » Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:44 pm

In any given year between 50-65% of our awards are offered to graduate students; with a fairly even split between MS and Ph.D. candidates. As noted in a previous post, the mix of awards by degree type and discipline is based solely on the projected workforce needs of the Sponsoring Facilities we work with and, the mix changes from year to year. Sometimes they need a lot of Ph.D’s; sometimes more undergraduates are preferred, sometimes MS is the degree of choice. As for cognitive, neural, or behavioral sciences, each year we offer a few awards to applicants pursing degrees in the various disciplines that qualify under this category. However, you should be aware, there are far fewer DoD agencies that need staff with this type of background so, consequently, we receive fewer requests to provided funding for students in these disciplines.
By the end of February we should have a list of awards offered by degree type and discipline between 2006-2009 on our website. Thank you.
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Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby Smart-Applicant » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:06 pm

I hope they review Graduate Students with a heavier eye than undergraduate. Having graduate education shows at least a track record of performance and of academic ability. I think I might be overqualified though and am concerned a few things will weigh negative for me. More specifically, I possess a B.A. and M.S. and actually doing a career change and pursing another degree (M.S. in Information Security this time). I come from an Education Background (Teacher..money well spent when everyone is cutting back....sigh). So I decided to to go ahead and pick a field in demand right now in the sciences. I am qualified to Teach Technology, so at least maybe that'll help bridge some gaps between the vast differences in career choices. Then again, without educators, you'd have no applicants! Anyhow, a few years of substituting doesn't really offer those lucrative benefits or steady income one needs. I finished my original M.S. around the time the economy decided to take a turn for the worst. Of course, I went for it because my state "requires" one has it within ten years, and if you are doing your education, then why not get it done in one lump sum! Anyhow, that noted, I would hope people with graduate and some real life experience receive a bit of a leg up..... We shall see....

Some questions....

On the application it had you specify preference of location. Yet it said that this neither lessened or heightened your chances. Also, it had one select regions.

I am reading that some seem to believe it does impact your marketability and only those you select see your resume? Is this true and is the statement that it doesn't hinder you inaccurate?

I am curious on this one, of course.

Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby Smart-Applicant » Sat Jan 16, 2010 7:16 pm

Additional Question,

How heavily are GRE scores weighted in relation to say GPA and background? I imagine everything is probably gauged in a part to whore equation, or is that an inaccurate statement? Part to whole being that all elements are taken into consideration versus say one or two aspects.

Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby SMARTGuide » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:42 pm

GRE and GPA scores are weighted equally.

Geographic placement is determined solely based on the needs of the DoD and the SMART Program. However,

1) each year some applicants are recommended for placement at multiple locations. For this group, we consider their placement preferences when making the final decision about where to put them and,
2) some, not all, facilities want to make sure they at least look at applicants noting a specific interest in their facility, particularly if a site is in a location where it is typically difficult to attract new employees (please don’t ask me for a list – it’s a moving target that we simply have not had the resources to fully investigate this issue).

Bottom line, we give awards to as many of the most qualified applicants that,
a) we are very confident we can find jobs for,
b) have the budget to support and,
c) demonstrate a willingness and ability to comply with the terms of the Service Agreement, including the geographica mobility clause.
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Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby Smart-Applicant » Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:45 pm

Hello Smart Guide,

Sounds good. However, does choosing preferences for Geographic Location change or influence anything or is it just a matter of perspective. IE. If you are selected, those facilities are approached first. However, choice of facility on preference list does not limit or hurt your chances of being selected?

Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby Chris Moulder » Wed Jan 20, 2010 6:08 pm


It works something like this: You have facilities who try to recruit the overall highest scored applicants, facilities who look at those who have selected them as a preferred location, and services, e.g. Army Corps of Engineers, with facilities that no one has heard of before.

It is services like the Corps of Engineers that will most often look at your regional preference. However, to increase your chances of being selected by playing with your regional preference seems pretty futile.

On the other hand, selecting facilities relevant to your field of study and you are interested in is important, because a) many more facilities (I would go as far as to say most) look at this information, and b) you can actually research which facilities are relevant. If you have a secret way of determining which regions have facilities hiring the most people by looking at the region preference, I'm sure everyone would love to know.

That said, I believe that it is irrelevant if your facility and region preferences line up, as it is different groups looking at them.
Chris Moulder
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Joined: Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:56 pm

Re: Undergrad -> Masters Degree

Postby Smart-Applicant » Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:57 pm

Hi Chris,

What I mainly wondered is does selecting a preference (facility and geographic) exclude other facilities from viewing your application or all relevant ones are shown the list of possible applicants, regardless of what was listed.

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