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Goldwater Scholarship Winning Essays For Contests


UW-Madison deadline: November 20, 2017
Foundation deadline: January 26, 2018 (5:00 p.m. CT)

*Candidates must be nominated by UW–Madison and may not apply directly. Students interested in applying should contact the Undergraduate Academic Awards Office for more information about the application process. Contact: 608-265-2428, awards@provost.wisc.edu


Established by Congress in 1986 to honor the career of Senator Barry Goldwater, the scholarships recognize promising undergraduates who plan to pursue a PhD or MD/PhD followed by a research career in engineering, mathematics or the natural sciences. Up to 300 scholarships are awarded annually.


The scholarships provide $7,500/year toward undergraduate expenses junior and/or senior year, including tuition, required books and living expenses. Junior level recipients may receive a maximum of two years of support. Senior level recipients will receive a maximum of one year of support.


  • Full-time sophomore or junior during academic year of application (defined as two years or one year of undergraduate study remaining after application year)
  • Planning to pursue a PhD and research career in mathematics, natural sciences or engineering research (MD alone does not qualify, but MD/PhD does)
  • Outstanding undergraduate academic record (GPA >3.8)
  • Engaged in undergraduate research
  • U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident


  • Academic achievement (grades, level of courses, awards, scholarships)
  • Progress toward research goals (research activities, career goals, course work)
  • Research essay (technical content, bibliography, organization/grammar)
  • Letters of recommendation (commitment to research, intellectual curiosity, potential for research contributions)Equal weight is given to the four evaluation criteria.


To be considered for nomination, students must submit a completed application by the campus deadline (see section below). In November/December, the UW–Madison campus nominating committee reviews applications and endorses up to four nominees. Nominees will have the opportunity to revise their applications based on feedback from the campus committee. The Foundation deadline is late January. In March the Goldwater Scholars and alternates are selected; in April nominees are notified of their final status in the competition.


Please submit the following materials electronically or in hard copy by 11:59 p.m. on the campus deadline to the Undergraduate Academic Awards Office, awards@provost.wisc.edu, 6 Ingraham Hall, 1155 Observatory Dr., Madison, WI 53706.

  1. Student Profile and Pre-Application form. After reviewing your Goldwater pre-application, the UAA Office will provide you with access to the Goldwater online application. Please complete and submit the full application by the campus deadline.
  2. Letters of recommendation from three professors who have supervised your undergraduate research and/or your undergraduate coursework in the sciences, engineering or mathematics. Please ask your recommenders to send a hard copy of their letter to the Undergraduate Academic Awards Office or an electronic copy to awards@provost.wisc.edu. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all letters of recommendation are received by the campus deadline. We cannot guarantee that the committee will review late letters.
  3. Transcripts from all colleges attended.  For campus purposes, an unofficial transcript or a copy of your UW-Madison student record is fine, as are photocopies of transcripts from other institutions.  Submit via email attachment to awards@provost.wisc.edu or in hard copy.
  4. Research Essay, typed, three pages, font size no smaller than 12 point, uploaded to your online application (this is the ‘backpack’ in the Goldwater application). (The UAA Office will download submitted applications from the Goldwater portal.) Please include your name and your academic institution at the top of each page.  Sample research essays available for viewing in the UAA Office.  Please make an appointment.


For official information on the Goldwater Scholarship (which supersedes any information provided here), please see http://www.act.org/goldwater/.


Application Essay Tips
Letters of Recommendation Tips
Previous Goldwater Scholars

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship provides up to $7,500 per year for educational expenses to second and third year students who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. The Goldwater Foundation seeks students who display intellectual curiosity and intensity and possess potential for significant future contributions in their chosen field.

Approximately 300 students nationwide will receive a Goldwater Scholarship, and UNC will endorse up to four students for the national Goldwater Scholarship competition. Second year students awarded the scholarship receive two years of support, and third year students receive one year of support.

Application DetailsApply Now


You must meet the following eligibility requirements to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship:

Deadline to Apply for UNC Endorsement

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 (Students must be nominated by Wednesday, October 4, 2017)

Nomination by a UNC Faculty or Staff Member

Eligible students who are interested in pursuing a Goldwater Scholarship must be nominated for the award by a UNC faculty or staff member before they apply for UNC’s endorsement. Students may reach out to a UNC faculty or staff member and ask to be nominated. A call for nominations will be sent by late September.

The nominating faculty or staff member must submit the student’s nomination via email (ods@unc.edu) by the email nomination deadline in October. The nomination must include the student’s name, PID, and UNC email address, as well as the nominator’s name and email address. Faculty and staff members who want to nominate a student and did not receive the call for nominations from ODS should contact ODS for details.

Students may apply to the Goldwater Foundation only after they have been nominated by a UNC faculty or staff member and then endorsed by the UNC Goldwater Scholarship Selection Committee.

Application Deadlines

Email nomination deadline

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 (11:59 pm ET)

Application Deadline

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 (5:00 pm ET)

Tips & Advice

Students interested in applying for the Beinecke Scholarship should:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or a U.S. national from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands.
  • Be a full-time matriculated second or third year student pursuing a degree at an accredited institution of higher education during the current academic year, as defined by the Goldwater Scholarship’s Conditions of Eligibility.
  • Possess a competitive GPA and rank in the upper fourth of your class. (Most competitive applicants have a 3.6 GPA or higher.)
  • Have your pre-application approved by ODS.
  • Be nominated by a faculty member during the current application year.
  • Receive UNC’s endorsement through the Office of Distinguished Scholarships (ODS).
  • Review the ODS “Tips & Advice” document for general advice on applying for a distinguished scholarship
  • Attend an ODS information session to learn more about the application process.
  • Contact ODS and Professor Justin Sawon, Chair of the UNC Goldwater Scholarship Selection Committee, with questions.
  • Applicants who would like feedback on preliminary drafts of their essay and list of research experiences are encouraged to submit them to ODS before the end of the summer or at least two weeks before the endorsement application deadline.
  • Applicants for endorsement may also contact ODS either in person (by appointment) or at ods@unc.edu for application review and questions.

Recent Goldwater Scholarship Recipients

Scott Emmons (2016-17)

Sarah Miller (2016-17)

Chiara Pancaldo Salemi ’17 (2015-16)

Larry Han ’16 (2014-15)

Anya Katsevich ’17 (2014-15)

Mary Kaitlyn Tsai ’16 (2014-15)

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