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Application Form and Information


The purpose of the USRA Distinguished Undergraduate Awards is to provide college scholarship awards to students who have shown a career interest in the sciences or engineering with an emphasis on space research, space science education, or aeronautics-related sciences. Four scholarship awards have been established which honor individuals who have made contributions to science and the US Space Program. Students will be matched to the scholarship award most appropriate for their area of study.


Up to four undergraduate scholarship awards are available in amounts up to $5,000 each year. Awards are for one year only. All scholarship awards will be paid directly to the recipients.


  1. Applicants must be full-time undergraduate students attending a 4-year accredited college or university in the United States at the time the award is received.
  2. Applicants must be majoring in a field of science or engineering, including life sciences or science education, with application to fields in space science or aerospace engineering.
  3. Applicants must be within two years of a B.S. or B.A. in a space science related field of science or engineering (including life science and science education with application to fields in space science or aerospace engineering) by the time the award is received.
  4. Applicants must have a Cumulative GPA of 3.50 or greater.
  5. Applicants must be US citizens or lawful Permanent Residents.
  6. Previous USRA scholarship winners are not eligible.
  7. Non-US students attending USRA Member Universities located outside the United States are also eligible to apply. Applicants must be citizens of the country in which the university is based. In addition, all application materials must be in English, and eligibility with regard to academic grades and number of years to undergraduate degree must be equivalent to that for U.S. applicants. We recognize the differences in education systems among different countries and will apply reasonable interpretations of the guidelines. (The eligible non-US universities are University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Leicester, University of Sheffield, Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Stuttgart, University of Cologne, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, University of Canterbury, University of Bern, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Seoul National University, and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST.)

The USRA Distinguished Undergraduate Awards are awarded without regard to race, sex, religion, age, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity. USRA maintains impartiality in the selection of scholarship awards, and scholarships are awarded solely based on the merits of the application. USRA will not award scholarships to applicants who are not qualified and reserves the right not to award a scholarship in a given year.


Applicants must complete the online application below by August 11. Letters of Recommendation must be submitted by applicant's references by August 18. The application must include:

  1. A completed application form. Only completed application forms will be considered.
  2. A one page (< 600 words) statement stating the applicant's career goals, and relevant past accomplishments and education in the field of space research, aerospace related engineering, or space science education. Please include the applicant's name at the top of the page.
  3. A half-page (< 325 words) description of particular examples of extra-curricular activities that demonstrate leadership or having a broader impact. These may include K-12 activities, community outreach, mentoring, a space science or engineering club/organization, advancing diversity in STEM with regard to gender and/or minorities, or other ways of giving back to the community. Note that the quality and impact of the activity are more important than the number of activities. Limit is no more than three examples. Please include the applicant’s name at the top of the page.
  4. Two letters of recommendation with at least one from a professor, mentor, or school official at the college level. We recommend the letter writers be personally familiar with the applicant’s accomplishments, performance, skills, character, and/or experience. A letter from a research/project advisor is also recommended. NOTE: Application forms should be submitted with enough lead time for references to submit letters of recommendation before the August 18 deadline. See instructions below for details.
  5. An official college transcript showing two or more years of college credits including GPA. The transcript should include grades from the Spring 2021 semester. If the two or more years include credits transferred from another university, college, or community college, a transcript from that institution should also be submitted.

All of the above items must be submitted before the application will be considered. See instructions below for details.


  1. Demonstrated interest in space research, aerospace engineering, or space science education.
  2. Student essay, both in its reflection of student interest and its writing quality.
  3. Letters of recommendation.
  4. Quality and impact of leadership, outreach etc. of extra-curricular activities.


  1. Obtain an "Unofficial" transcript from your school or your school's web site.
  2. Enter this transcript into your computer (you may save it, use a scanner, or use some other input device.)
  3. Save your transcript as a PDF file.
  4. Make sure the file is less than 2.5 MB in size. Larger files will not be accepted.
  5. Make sure the file is legible on the screen and when printed.
  6. Submit the file along with your application form below.
  7. You may be asked to submit an official transcript via postal mail if you are selected.
  8. Programs may reject/dismiss you if there are discrepancies between unofficial and official transcripts.


  1. Two recommendations are required to complete your application. At least one of these individuals should be a current teacher or school official at the college level.
  2. Contact your references and ask if they are willing to give a letter of recommendation BEFORE submitting the application form.
  3. Tell your reference to expect an email from "" entitled "USRA Scholarship Letter of Recommendation Request". Ask that they whitelist that address in their spam filter, if possible.
  4. Provide the email addresses of your references in the application form below.
  5. When you submit your application, the system will e-mail a request to your reference, which will include instructions and a link for them to use to upload your letter of recommendation as a PDF file.
  6. We will notify you by email when we receive a letter of recommendation. It is your responsibility to ensure both letters of recommendation are submitted before the August 18 deadline. Late applications due to pending Letters of Recommendation will not be accepted.
  7. If your reference loses the request email, have him/her notify

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not wait to the last minute to submit your application. Your references will need time to respond to the email request we send them. Remember, all letters of recommendation must be received by the August 18 deadline.

Questions about the application process may be directed to or 410-740-6253.

Note that Student Applications must be received by 11:59 PM CDT on August 11. Letters of Recommendation must be received from applicant's references by August 18.


A. General Information

Note: Students attending universities in the U.S. must be a U.S. citizen or lawful Permanent Resident to apply. Students from selected foreign universities are eligible - see above "Eligibility" description.

Is any immediate family member (parent/guardian or sibling) an employee of USRA?

Is any immediate family member (parent/guardian or sibling) a U.S. Government Civil Servant employed by NASA, NSF, Department of Energy, or Department of Defense?

How did you hear about this scholarship?

B. Education Information

What class you will be in next fall?

Students at non-US schools should convert their GPA to a US 4.0 scale.

Schools Currently Attending and Previously Attended:
Please list the college or university you are currently attending. Also list other colleges or universities you have previously attended, starting with the most recent. On the next screen, you will be required to upload a transcript for each school you enter below.

Colleges & Universities Dates Attended Degree Earned
(if any)

C. Employment Information

Please list your employment history, including dates, starting with your most recent job. Place an check next to any company where your involvement was in the physical sciences or engineering.

Date Company Name City, State Physical Sciences
or Engineering?

D. Letters of Recommendation

Enter the email addresses for your references below. An automated request email will be sent to them, with instructions on how to submit a reference letter for you. Be sure you contact your references BEFORE you submit and tell them to expect an email from "" and to add it to their spam filter's whitelist.

E. Demographic Information

This section is optional for all candidates, and the information provided will be kept confidential. The information will not be used in the assessment of your application.


Are you : defined as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.

If Not Hispanic or Latino, select all applicable ethnicity/race categories from the defined choices:

Note: These categories have been designated by the Department of Labor.

Please check any of the following if applicable: