Barry Goldwater Scholarship


The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 to honor Senator Barry M. Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.

The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious award in the U.S. conferred upon undergraduates studying the sciences, and is awarded to approximately 300 college sophomores and juniors nationwide (out of about 1200 applicants). A maximum of $7500 per academic year is granted, and the scholarship is awarded based on merit.

Wheaton College is able to nominate up to four students every year to compete for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. 

To be eligible for nomination you should match the following criteria:
  • Be a full-time matriculated sophomore or junior.
  • Have a college grade-point average of at least "B" (or the equivalent) and be in the upper fourth of his or her class.
  • Be a United States citizen or a permanent resident.

However, since the competition is extremely fierce, we have established additional criteria for applicants from Wheaton College:

  • Your GPA should be above 3.85 (the average GPA of a Goldwater winner is approximately 3.95 with a tight standard deviation)
  • You need to have research experience (either at Wheaton College or through an REU or similar program elsewhere), with results that can be presented at a meeting or published in a journal article.
  • You need to be fairly sure that you will pursue a Ph.D in science, math or engineering.

If you are interested in applying for the Goldwater Scholarship, please fill out the pre-application on the Goldwater Website ( before October 1. There will be an internal competition to determine the four most promising candidates from Wheaton College. More information about the scholarship itself can be found on the Goldwater Website.


  • August: A list of possible nominees is created with help of the Registrar and Department Chairs (containing students who have a GPA above 3.85 and have research experience).
  • September: Invitations will be send to eligible students. The Goldwater Campus Representative is available for individual consults (please contact through email to set up a meeting).
  • September/October: Talk to your professors and research advisors about letters of recommendation. Each applicant needs 3 letters. At least 1 (more if possible) must be from a research mentor. The rest should be from professors who know you well and can comment on your potential as a researcher.
  • October 1: Please fill out the pre-application if are interested in competing for the Internal Goldwater Scholarship Nomination at Wheaton College.
  • October/November: Write your essay. It is required that you consult with at least one faculty member while writing your essay. Anticipate going through several revisions of your essay before you can submit a final version. Fill also out the questionnaire that Dr. Poelarends will send you.
  • November 9 (midnight): Deadline for internal competition. Submit your essay and the questionnaire to Dr. Poelarends.
  • End of Novemer: A faculty committee will read the submitted questionnaires and essays and make a final decision about the four possible nominees. Suggested improvements to the essays of the nominees will be communicated.
  • December: Finish the rest of your application.
  • January: Submit your application to the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation (Deadline: end of January).
  • Late March: Goldwater Scholars will be announced.

It is important that you are in contact with the Goldwater Faculty Representative all throughout the process. The Faculty Representative is the one who makes the final nomination; without this nomination you will not be considered by the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation.

If at any point in this process you have questions, or if you would like someone to look over your drafts, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Poelarends.

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