The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship seeks to encourage outstanding students to pursue research careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering and to foster excellence in those fields. Each year, the University of Vermont can nominate up to four students who are in their sophomore or junior year for a Goldwater Scholarship.

Program Information

 Students who have...

  • Performed exceptionally well in the classroom
  • Pursued significant research experience in one of the above disciplines during the academic year and the summer
  • Intend to continue to pursue research in graduate school and beyond

...should strongly consider applying for a Goldwater Scholarship.

Award Amount

Up to three hundred Goldwater Scholarships are awarded nationwide each year. Goldwater Scholars receive $7500 for each of their remaining years of undergraduate studies. The scholarship confers a good deal of prestige and can greatly strengthen future fellowship and graduate school applications.


To be considered for nomination as a Goldwater Scholar, you must be a full-time matriculated sophomore or junior and have a college GPA of at least 3.00. You must also be in the top 25% of your class (nominees typically have a GPA greater than 3.5 and successful nominees, greater than 3.85). Goldwater applicants must be U.S. citizens, a resident alien intending on obtaining U.S. citizenship, or a U.S. national from American Samoa or the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands. Finally, you must be interested in pursuing a career in the natural sciences, engineering, or mathematics.

NOTE: Students planning on studying medicine are eligible only if they plan on pursuing a research career. Students who express a desire to pursue a medical degree to prepare for a research career need to be very clear about why a medical degree enables them to do the research they want to do.

Selection Criteria

The Goldwater Committee looks for evidence of involvement in science and for potential to carry out scientific research. Undergaduate research experience is important (for more information on getting involved in undergraduate research, find a list of resources and tips for undergraduate researchers). Goldwater Scholars are expected to pursue advanced degrees. Career plans could include any research positions in the sciences, engineering or mathematics. Students who plan to study medicine must plan a research career rather than a career as a clinician.

Application Procedure

Nomination Deadline: December 1, 2023

Goldwater applicants must be nominated by the University of Vermont in order to be eligible for the national competition. Students interested in applying for the Goldwater should contact the Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, and Undergraduate Research in the fall for an informational meeting on the Goldwater Scholarship and nomination process. Students who then choose to apply for a Goldwater nomination need to contact UVM's Goldwater Faculty Advisor, Professor Rory Waterman ( in the College of Arts and Sciences for feedback as they work through the application. The University of Vermont can nominate up to four students for the Goldwater competition each year. Students wishing to be considered for a nomination must turn in the following materials by the internal deadline:

  • The Goldwater application. Students complete the Goldwater application online and then hit "submit." (Submitted materials go to the Goldwater Faculty advisor; not the national foundation)
  • A typed essay, confined to three pages (one side only), font size no smaller than 11-point. Essays may be e-mailed to the Fellowships Advisor (
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which must be from professors. (See more information on asking for letters of recommendation as well as tips for letter writers in the Goldwater Scholarship competition. For the internal deadline, letters of recommendation may be e-mailed to the Fellowships Advisor or may be delivered in a signed/sealed envelope to University Heights South 009. Be sure to inform your recommendation writers of UVM's internal deadline. Students who are nominated will have their letter of reference writers upload their letters into the online application after they are notified of their nomination status.)
  • One unofficial UVM transcript, and an official transcript for all university-level courses not taken at UVM.

Nominees are announced in December.

Campus Representatives

  • Goldwater Faculty Representative: Professor Rory Waterman (
  • Goldwater Staff Representative: Scott Clark, Assistant Director of Fellowships, Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, and Undergraduate Research

Tips for Letter of Recommendation Writers

The Goldwater Scholarship seeks to find and support the next generation of research scientists, engineers and technology specialists. Up to three hundred Goldwater Scholarships are awarded nationally each year to sophomores and juniors planning to pursue research careers in mathematics, engineering and the sciences (see a full list of eligible fields). Goldwater Scholars receive $7,500 for each of their remaining years of undergraduate studies, and the University of Vermont can nominate up to 4 students each year to compete for this award. Past UVM Goldwater Scholars include Dan Koenemann '09, Isabel Kloumann '11, Susan Leggett '13, and Anna Schmoker'16.

Once nominated, 1,200 students nominated by universities all over the country compete for Goldwater Scholarships. When determining which applicants to award, Goldwater representatives are looking for three things: 1) Academic excellence, 2) Significant research experience, and 3) A commitment to pursuing a career in research. As you're writing your letter, we'd like to encourage you to keep the following points in mind:

Make the Case for Excellence: The Goldwater truly seeks to reward excellence; in past years Goldwater scholars have maintained an average GPA of 3.9 or above while pursuing significant undergraduate research opportunities. Be specific in terms of what has impressed you in your interactions with the student, and bring the student to life in your letter. There are a couple effective ways to do this; you can bring in specific examples or anecdotes from your experience with the student in the classroom, the lab or in meetings with them. To that end, avoid being vague, and avoid statements such as, "X Student turned in assignments on time" or "X Student had perfect attendance in my class" (True, these are important qualities, but when articulating excellence these should go without saying).

Confirm and Validate the Student's Academic and Career Goals: Be sure to comment on the student's sincere commitment as well as ability to continue going forward in a research career, and be sure to address the student's potential to make a significant and compelling impact in their field (think: broader impacts). It's helpful if you can genuinely favorably compare the student to other outstanding undergraduate (or graduate) students you've worked with.

Speak to Your Audience: You can assume that the people who will read your letter for the Goldwater competition are scientifically educated and generally knowledgeable in science, mathematics or engineering (however it's unlikely that all reviewers will be from a student's field of expertise). Readers will be looking to you to add depth and perspective to the student regarding their research skills, intellectual ability and potential for a career in science, engineering or mathematics, so be sure to address those topics. Finally, keep in mind that letters that are too short or too long may hurt the applicant. Generally speaking, a one to two page single-spaced letter suffices for this competition.

Finally, some administrative details:

  1. All letters need to be submitted online Students are responsible for registering you as their reference writer in their online application; once they do this you will receive instructions for how to submit your letter. Fellowships advisors do not have access to referee reginstration, so if you do not receive these instructions, contact the student to make sure they registered you correctly.
  2. Letters can be addressed to: Goldwater Scholarship Selection Committee.
  3. Letters of recommendation must be submitted to the Office of Fellowships Advising by the UVM deadline.

For More Information ...

Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, and Undergraduate Research
50 University Heights North, Suite 017
Burlington, VT 05405
Phone: (802) 656-4658