STEP 1 – Identify the Goldwater Campus Representative:

After reviewing the eligibility requirements outlined under the Program Essentials tab, determine whether or not the academic institution has a Goldwater Campus Representative (CR). A list of Goldwater CRs can be found by opening the Campus Representative Locator. If the Locator does not list a CR for your institution, please contact the Goldwater Help Center at 507-931-8335 or by email: for assistance.

STEP 2 – Complete a Student Profile and Pre-Application:

After identifying the Goldwater CR, please complete the Student Profile and Goldwater Scholarship Pre-Application. When submitted, these materials will be sent to the institution’s Goldwater CR. Click here to access the Student Profile and Goldwater Scholarship Pre-Application.

While the process varies from one campus to the next, on most campuses the pre-application is seen as a “conversation starter.” Most CRs will review the pre-application materials and provide the student with additional campus-specific application information. On some campuses, this may involve a meeting with the CR. If you are interested in applying for the Goldwater Scholarship, you should not “count yourself out” without first talking with your institution’s Goldwater CR. The pre-application step was added to the Goldwater process to enable any interested student to start this conversation with his/her Goldwater CR.

Should a student not hear from his/her institution’s CR, contact with the CR should be attempted at the email address or telephone number provided in the Locator. If unable to contact the CR, contact should be made with the Goldwater Help Center at 507-931-8335 or by email:

STEP 3 – Complete the Online Goldwater Application:

There are several elements associated with the Goldwater Application. These include: 1) online questionnaire, 2) research essay, 3) three letters of recommendation, 4) transcript(s), and 5) if a student is a Permanent Resident, a copy of the student’s Permanent Resident Card and a Letter of Intent to become a U.S. citizen.

As each element of the application is being developed, keep in mind that the Foundation’s reviewers will be evaluating the likelihood that a student will pursue a career and become a research leader in one of the supported fields.

Online Questionnaire:

The online questionnaire, in addition to gathering background academic information, seeks to help the Goldwater Foundation understand a student’s commitment to pursuing a research career, intellectual intensity and potential for making a significant future contribution to research in one of the Goldwater eligible fields.

A copy of the online questionnaire may be VIEWED or PRINTED by clicking on the appropriate link. Applicants are encouraged to review this material prior to beginning the application as it clarifies the information that will be needed to complete the online questionnaire and short essays.

Research Essay:

The Research Essay provides reviewers with particularly important insights into an applicant’s background, experience, skills, and interest in pursuing a research career.

The strongest Research Essays are typically based on prior or current research experience. The Research Essay should include 1) description of the issue or problem, 2) discussion of the research methodology, and 3) discussion of the student’s findings. It is very important that the essay details the student’s specific contributions to the project and indicate the specific skills/expertise the student developed as a result of participation in the project. To demonstrate that the applicant “thinks like a scientist,” the essay might, as an example, describe future work the experimental data suggests or describe an entirely new work that is based on the skills and insights the student learned from the experience.

A student who has had research experience may, of course, choose to write about something other than work he/she has previously done. In this case, if applicable, the student might discuss how the previous work has influenced the proposed work and/or provided the student with applicable skills.

If a student has not been involved in a research project, the student can develop a Research Essay on a “proposed” research project that might, for example, be based on an independent investigation of theory or on a topic of interest in the student’s field. In such cases, a research problem should be put forward. Include an idea for a research protocol that would address the problem, a discussion of methodology, and anticipated results. Linking the project to the skills the student has acquired through coursework or other work would be helpful to the reviewers.

The Research Essay should include appropriate bibliographic information and references.

Research Essay Formatting Guidelines:

Research Essays should be single spaced and use 12 point Arial font. Margins should be 1 inch on all sides. Page length, including bibliographic information and references, must not exceed 3 pages. The essay must include your name and the name of your academic institution in the header at the top of each page. The Research Essay may be formatted in either one or two columns on a page. As appropriate, utilize graphs, tables, and figures in the essay to explain or clarify results. Figure and caption options may use 10 point Arial font.

If mathematical equations are used in your Research Essay, LaTeX or other document preparation software may be used to properly format the equations.

Research Essays should be saved as a PDF file. Although the upload site accepts JPG and PNG file formats, PDF files are preferred.

Letters of Recommendation:

Early in the process, the Goldwater CR will discuss with each applicant the selection of three appropriate Recommenders. These should be individuals who know the student’s academic and research strengths and weaknesses well. Those who have served as faculty mentors for a student on a research project are among the student’s most important references. Letters can also come from faculty or post-docs who may not have served as the student’s research mentor but have interacted with or observed some aspect of the student’s research work. Letters from faculty who know a student well from the student’s science, math or engineering classes, particularly those who can relate course materials to the student’s research career interests or who can comment on the student’s research aspirations, are also among the group of appropriate letter writers. Evaluations from former high school teachers, coaches or family friends are generally of minimal value.


Transcripts from all colleges and universities a student has attended that are being used to compute the student’s cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) must be submitted as part of the application unless all the classes a student has taken at other institutions, along with the grades for these classes, are listed on the student’s current transcript. If available, the current Fall semester classes and grades should be included.

The Goldwater Foundation accepts both official and unofficial transcripts. An official transcript is one that is sent by a university directly to a CR who then uploads the transcript to the Goldwater nomination site.

The Goldwater Foundation also accepts unofficial transcripts WHEN CERTAIN CONDITIONS ARE MET. On some campuses, a Goldwater CR can download a student’s unofficial transcript directly. When this is the case, the Goldwater CR can download the student transcript and then upload the document to the Goldwater online site. On other campuses, only students can download their unofficial transcripts. In this case, the student can use this transcript if it is downloaded IN THE PRESENCE OF THE GOLDWATER CAMPUS REPRESENTATIVE. This transcript is then uploaded to the Goldwater nomination site by the CR. If a student cannot print an unofficial transcript in the presence of his/her CR (e.g., a student is studying abroad), the applicant will need to arrange to have an official transcript sent to the CR. Again, be certain that all transcripts – official or unofficial – are accompanied by the key/guide that is provided by a university to enable a transcript to be interpreted correctly.

All transcripts – official or unofficial – must be accompanied by the key/guide that the university provides to read the transcript.

Students should talk with their Goldwater CRs to determine whether they will need to have “official” transcripts sent to the CR or can use “unofficial” transcripts. Have the discussion about transcripts EARLY in the process to ensure that all transcripts one needs can be submitted before the nomination deadline. Students are responsible for getting all transcripts to their CRs in a timely fashion. Goldwater CRs are responsible for uploading transcripts to the Goldwater nomination site by the deadline.

Permanent Resident:

A permanent resident of the U.S. must upload a copy of his/her Permanent Resident Card and a Letter of Intent to become a U.S. citizen to the online Goldwater nomination site.


Those who need help or assistance with any part of the application should contact the Goldwater Help Desk at 507-931-8335 or

STEP 4 – Nomination:

The names and the complete set of application materials for the students selected as an institution’s Goldwater nominees must be uploaded to the Goldwater nomination site by the institution’s Campus Representative on or before the application deadline, the last Friday in January at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.