A degree in mathematics is the key to many well-paid careers, but math education at the university level is as hard for American students to finance as any other degree. Very few families can handle the cost of education out of pocket even if only one child is involved, and families with two or more siblings find matters that much more difficult.
Help is available, however, specifically targeted to students pursuing degrees in mathematics. Coupled with general education grants and loans, they can make pursuit of a degree in math possible for students who would otherwise be priced out of post-secondary education.
Historically, women and members of minority groups have been underrepresented in professions related to mathematics. In an effort to rectify this imbalance, some organizations provide scholarships for students in specific target groups who plan to study math beyond the high school level.
SHPE provides a variety of scholarship opportunities, including a general scholarship for Hispanic-descended students at a college or university in the United States, including Puerto Rico, who are working toward degrees in math, science or technology as their first degree.
SHPE also administers the $5,000 Northrop Grumman Scholarship for college sophomores at certain specific colleges or universities. For further information on either program, consult the SHPE scholarship page.
AISES offers the A.T. Anderson Memorial Scholarship to American Indians, Alaska Natives or Hawaii Natives studying math, science, engineering, medicine and natural resources. The same group operates the AISES Intel Scholarship nationwide and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation Scholarship in certain western states.
For further information, see the Society’s web page describing their scholarship activities.
The DFBSST awards scholarship money to undergraduates at historically black colleges who are pursuing technical subjects. Both academic excellence and financial need are considered when evaluating applicants.
Applications are available only from participating schools; interested students should contact the financial aid office at the college they attend or plan to attend. A list of qualifying schools is available on the fund’s web page.
Female US citizens who are at least college juniors qualify to apply for Women in Defense’s Horizons scholarship. Applicants should have an interest in national defense or national security and be majoring in one of a number of approved fields, including mathematics.
For further information and a link to a PDF application, see the WID’s web page on the subject.
In the United States, many scholarships are distributed on the basis of the student’s place of origin. The awards may be meant for students from an area as large as a group of states or as small as a single county.
Those listed below are only examples; the best source for information on such scholarships is a high school counselor who will be aware of awards made to students who graduate from their school. Even students who are already in college can always call the old high school, say hello to the counselor and ask for ideas.
Students who lived in Somerville, Massachusetts while they were in high school and who plan to study mathematics should look into the Somerville Mathematics Fund’s scholarships. Further information is available at the fund’s web site or from high school counselors in the Somerville area.
The Mikkelson Foundation awards scholarships to Colorado students who study math, science or engineering. Students must have a 3.7 GPA and an SAT score of 1800 to apply. Mikkelson requires a detailed application package including references and an original essay, so it is wise to start early on this one.
The awards are for $3,000 each and are renewable. For further information and a downloadable PDF application, see the foundation’s web page.
Many scholarships are offered to students at particular colleges and universities. Those listed below are only a few examples of the scholarships available. Interested students should communicate with the financial aid office at the school they attend or will attend.
UCSD offers the Errett A. Bishop Memorial Scholarship to one of their own graduating seniors who can show financial need as well as the BAE Systems Scholarship to graduating seniors with a minimum 3.2 GPA who plan to work in San Diego.
Other UCSD opportunities include the Alice T. Schafer Prize for undergraduate women studying mathematics and the Gary C. Reynolds Memorial Scholarship for math and computer science majors. Interested Students should view the school’s scholarship page or contact the UCSD financial aid office.
Incoming freshmen at Furman University in South Carolina are eligible to apply for the $15,000 Wylie Scholarships in Mathematics. Applicants must have a combined SAT score of 1350. Scholarships are renewable. Interested persons should consult Furman’s web site or the university’s financial aid office.
Four scholarships are available to incoming freshmen at EIU with an interest in mathematics: the Eastern Illinois University Mathematics Alumni Scholarships, the Lawrence A. Ringenberg Scholarship, the Cyril D. Reed Mathematics Scholarship, the Jessie Allhands Mathematics Scholarship and the Margaret Briggs Mathematics Scholarship.
In addition to the freshman scholarships, four additional awards are available: the E.H. Taylor Mathematics Scholarship, the Stephen Alan Coon Mathematics Scholarship, the John George Wozencraft, Jr. Memorial Award and the Nancy P. Taitt Mathematics Scholarship. All these awards are described on the EIU math department’s web page, together with links to the PDF applications for each.
Professional organizations of persons whose jobs require math degrees are one of the best sources of math scholarships. A student who plans to pursue one of these careers should contact the relevant organizations to investigate financial aid possibilities.
It should be noted that many of these scholarships are only available at certain points during the student’s educational career, as in the sophomore, junior or even senior years, but every penny of scholarship money helps to lower the total cost of a mathematics degree.
A student who plans to make a career of sharing a love of mathematics with others may find scholarship money from a number of organizations. Although almost half of all graduates with mathematics degrees pursue teaching, at least for a while, math teachers are still in high demand in almost every geographical area.
Far too few students pursue the training necessary to fill the yawning gap. To help fill these vacancies, several professional organizations offer financial help to would-be teachers.
The Mathematics Education Trust of the NCTM offers two small scholarships to prospective mathematics teachers. One is a $10,000 grant for college sophomores who plan to teach at the high school level and the other a $3,000 award for college juniors who are interested in middle school teaching.
The MET web site provides further information and directions that will allow interested students to initiate contact through the mail or e-mail or by telephone.
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant from the U.S. Department of Education offers money for college to students who agree to teach in a high-demand field, including math, and in a high-needs school for four years out of the eight years following their graduation.
Applying for these scholarships requires the use of the same PIN number as general federal programs such as Pell Grants. Further information is available on the TEACH Grant web page.
The National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program provides money to educational institutions to be used to prepare students and professionals in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for classroom careers. Graduates must teach in a high-needs school for two years in return for each year of scholarship support.
The scholarships are only available through the schools in question, so the student’s first step is to find a school. A convenient list, categorized by state, is available on the foundation’s web page.
The National Institute for Labor Relations Research offers the Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to undergraduate or graduate students majoring in education.
One of their requirements is that students demonstrate an understanding of the problems presented by compulsory union affiliation and the place of voluntary unionism in the education workplace and the Right to Work principle by writing an essay on the subject. For further information, see their on-line application.
The National Education Foundation’s Zeta Phi Beta sorority awards scholarships to nonmembers as well as members. The Herson Scholarship ranges from $500 to $1,000 and is awarded for one full year’s academic study.
Further information about the Herson as well as other scholarships may be found at Zeta Phi Beta’s website. The sorority also offers general scholarships available to undergraduates in any field, for which mathematics education students are of course eligible.
Actuaries, who determine dividend rates and premiums based on statistics, work for governmental organizations or financial institutions such as insurance companies. Several scholarship opportunities for math students are sponsored by professional organizations of actuaries or are aimed at students planning careers in actuarial science.
In the interest of the future of their profession, the membership of the Actuarial Foundation facilitates the education of the most promising students through four scholarship programs. Students interested in applying for any of these awards may find further information on the foundation’s web site.
The Stuart A. Robertson Memorial Scholarship, also referred to as the Actuary of Tomorrow, is an award of $7,500 toward educational expenses at an accredited college or university in the United States. Applicants must attend school full-time and have achieved at least sophomore status, although juniors and seniors are also eligible. They must also have a 3.0 GPA and have passed two actuarial examinations.
The John Culver Wooddy Scholarship of $2,000 goes to college seniors in the top 25 percent of their class who are nominated by a professor at their institution and who have succeeded in passing a minimum of one actuarial examination. This scholarship is administered by the Actuarial Foundation’s Research Committee in pursuit of its goal of carrying out projects in research and education in the actuarial science field.
The Actuarial Diversity Scholarship is designed to facilitate entrance into the actuarial field by minority students. It is available to Native North American, Hispanic or African American undergraduate or graduate students studying toward a degree that may lead to an actuarial career.
The Caribbean Actuarial Scholarship is a yearly award to students at the University of the West Indies who have demonstrated leadership qualities and commitment to an actuarial career and who have a strong record of accomplishment.
The Simpson Program offers two $1,000 scholarships, one for Fall semester and one for Spring. Applicants must be rising seniors who are in an actuarial science program with an overall 3.0 or better GPA and a minimum GPA in their major of 3.2, and who have passed a minimum of one actuarial examination and who may work legally in the United States.
The same organization sponsors a number of other programs at specific institutions. See their web page for further details.
The CAS offers scholarships of up to $2,000 to three students annually on a merit basis to encourage students interested in the property/casualty field of the actuarial profession.
Applicants must be legal residents of either Canada or the United States, be enrolled full-time for the current year and the next year at an accredited US or Canadian institution and have attempted at least one actuarial examination. They should also exhibit high academic achievement, an aptitude for mathematics, a definite interest in casualty actuarial science and excellent communications skills.
Further information is available on the Society’s web page.
Ezra Penland Actuarial Recruitment offers a $500 scholarship to a full-time undergraduate member of the LinkedIn Entry-Level Actuary group who has achieved a minimum 3.0 GPA at a US or Canadian college or university, has successfully completed a minimum of one actuarial examination and who has demonstrated marked leadership ability. Interested students should consult their website for further details.
At the most basic level, computers operate by processing numbers. The scientists and engineers who design new computer systems need an understanding of the concepts of advanced mathematics, particularly if they are interested in applications that require modeling.
A degree in math, often as a double major with a computer science or engineering degree, can be the perfect stepping stone to a career working with computers on the bleeding edge of technological development. A number of scholarships are available to help students pursue such degrees.
Google offers scholarships to support female students in technology and computing in their effort to become leaders in the future development of technology. They offer financial awards to female graduate and undergraduate students based on academic achievement and leadership potential.
The scholarship is available to students worldwide, and includes a residential retreat. Interested students should investigate Google’s scholarship web page.
The NSF’s Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are based on both academic talent and financial need. They support programs that help students pursue undergraduate or graduate-level programs in engineering, science and mathematics.
The program does not award money directly to students, but to colleges and universities with qualifying programs. The institution then selects the recipients. Students interested in S-STEM should contact their school’s financial aid office.
The SME offers a number of scholarship programs of interest to future computer scientists majoring in math. Some are limited to residents of one state or even a portion of a state. Some are explicitly open to math students, while others are restricted to students in “manufacturing engineering or a closely related field,” which would certainly include some mathematics programs. Almost all are open to either high school seniors about to enter college or currently enrolled undergraduates.
Students may review a list of available scholarship programs on the SME web site.
The GMS offers opportunities for 1,000 deserving minority students per year whose financial situation makes college education difficult in order to increase their representation in the fields of computer science, mathematics and a number of other fields where such populations are underrepresented. These “good-through-graduation” awards include not only money but academic support and leadership programs.
Students about to enter college for the first time may find more details at the GMS web site.
Microsoft offers full or partial scholarships for a single academic year to students in computer science or “related fields,” explicitly including math. They require applicants to be full-time undergraduates at a four-year institution in Canada, the United States or Mexico with a demonstrated interest in computer science and a 3.0 GPA.
Further information is available at the scholarship’s web page.
Funded by a trust fund maintained by the US Treasury, the Goldwater Scholarships are offered annually to up to 300 rising college juniors and seniors in mathematics, natural science and engineering, including computer engineering. Students must be nominated by their educational institution, so interested students should contact their college or university’s financial aid office.
Students at a long list of specific colleges who are majoring in mathematics, computer science or a number of other fields may take advantage of this scholarship, designed to keep the scientific community of the United States in a leading position worldwide.
Students must be at least sophomores and must have participated in laboratory and research work and demonstrated leadership and excellence. Nominations must be made by faculty members at the institution in question, so interested students at the schools on the list near the bottom of this web page should consult a faculty advisor about nomination.
Cryptology is a classic career field for math graduates. The core field involves analyzing and manipulating patterns in sequences of information. Subdivisions of the profession include cryptanalysis, which involves work with information systems, and signals analysis, which is deciphering other people’s encoded material. Professionals in both these fields often find employment with government agencies.
Cryptography is a theoretical and practical study of methods of encryption. Scholarships are available to students wishing to pursue any of the three fields.
A US student with an interest in cryptology who plans to work for the government after college can get the degree for free as well as a head start on the career by signing up for the Reserve Officer Training Corps. This is a payback program requiring the student to accept a commission in the Armed Forces upon graduation, although the service requirement may be deferred until after graduate school.
Applicants should stay in very good physical condition and go to extremes to avoid trouble with the law. For further details, students should consult a high school counselor, a recruiter or their school’s military science department. Outstanding candidates should also review the requirements for the military academies: West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs.
Cryptologia Magazine’s Undergraduate Paper Competition is offered annually as encouragement to cryptology students at the undergraduate level. The award is $300 and includes publication of the paper. The topic of the paper submitted may deal with any area of cryptology, including historical, literary or technical matters.
The Greg Mellen Memorial Cryptology Scholarship Prize encourages the study of the field of cryptology in undergraduate curricula and the spirit of cryptologic inquiry. This award is also $300 and publication, and papers in the same fields are eligible.
For either award, the paper should be submitted to Cryptologia Magazine, Department of Mathematical Sciences, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY 10996. Submitting a paper for either award makes it eligible for both, and the same paper can be the winner of both awards. For information on either, see the magazine’s web site and follow the links in the left column.
This association of former U.S. Navy cryptographers offers three annual awards of $1,000 each to high school or college students who are able to demonstrate financial need. Applicants must be sponsored by a member of the organization. For further information on the scholarship, download the PDF application and review the directions.
The United States Department of Defense has a continuing need for professionals in the IASP field. To help fill the gap, the DoD provides funds to a number of top universities to finance the education of deserving students in fields applicable to information security, including mathematicians interested in cryptography.
Students must pay back the award by working for the DoD for one year for each year of the award. For further information, see the details on the ISAP’s web site.
The National Science Foundation offers one of the best scholarship deals available to math students. It pays all educational expenses and provides a stipend to live on for all four years of college and possibly for graduate school as well.
Students must attend a participating school and be US citizens eligible for a security clearance. As the awards are made through the schools in question, students should consult the financial aid offices of their college or university.
Female students interested in careers in cryptography may be eligible for awards from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, popularly called the (ISC)2. The awards are intended to encourage women all over the world to study information security.
Two awards of $40,000 each are made each year in addition to vouchers allowing the winner to take the prestigious CISSP examination. Students must be enrolled at a non-profit institution. For further details, see the scholarship’s web page.
The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution offers juniors or seniors studying economics, history, government or political science a chance at a one-time award of $1,000. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited US institution of higher learning. For further details, see the DAR’s scholarship page.
Future economists with an interest in literature can rack up significant college money by writing winning essays for the Ayn Rand Institute’s contests. Each competition offers a choice of topics on one of the renowned objectivist philosopher’s novels.
Each contest is open to students at a different range of educational levels: the competition dealing with “Anthem” is for eighth, ninth and tenth graders, while students in 12th grade through graduate school may compete in the “Atlas Shrugged” competition. Top awards vary by contest from $2,000 to $10,000 and are paid by check to the student.
There is no citizenship or residency requirement. To learn more, visit the Institute’s contest web page.
A tremendous amount of statistical analysis is involved in most ecological work. Scientists in the field count organisms, both plants and animals, to detect population trends that indicate the health of specific ecosystems, and they perform sophisticated data analysis to determine safe levels of substances present in the environment.
A degree in mathematics can be a great preparation for a career in ecology, particularly with a strong minor or double major in the life sciences.
The Nicodemus Wilderness Project’s Apprentice Ecologist Initiative is a program for self-motivated students between the ages of 13 and 21 (inclusive) who are full-time students at the primary, secondary or university level anywhere in the world.
Interested students must carry out an environmental stewardship project and submit digital photographs and an essay dealing with their efforts. Three awards are presented of $850 each, and all qualifying photos and essays are added to the Project’s Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists, providing evidence of the student’s leadership and community service.
For further information, see the Initiative’s web page.
Unlike most fellowships, which are restricted to graduate students, even undergraduates may apply for the National Network for Environmental Management’s fellowships. Established by the US Environmental Protection Agency, these are hands-on research opportunities carried out either during the school year or during the summer.
The stipend involved depends on the location of the project, the level of the student and the length of time involved. These fellowships are available only to legal US residents. For more information on eligibility and application procedures, download the PDF booklet from the NNEMS web site.