Stokes Scholarship Guide: Essential Tips for Success

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program, offered by the National Security Agency (NSA), is a unique opportunity for high school seniors who are interested in pursuing degrees in computer science or electrical engineering. This prestigious program not only provides financial assistance for college tuition but also offers valuable work experience at the NSA during summers. Participants gain real-world experience in their chosen fields and develop vital skills that can benefit them throughout their careers.


Applying for the Stokes Scholarship involves a competitive selection process, and those who are awarded the scholarship will be required to fulfill certain academic requirements and employment commitments. The program is designed to foster the development of highly skilled professionals who can contribute to the vital mission of the NSA in keeping the nation secure.

Key Takeaways

  • Stokes Scholarship, offered by NSA, supports students majoring in computer science and electrical engineering.
  • The program covers tuition cost and provides work experience at the NSA during summers.
  • Applicants must fulfill academic requirements and employment commitments to participate in the program.

Overview of the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program

History and Purpose

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is an initiative created by the National Security Agency (NSA) to recruit high school seniors, particularly minority students, who have demonstrated significant skills in fields critical to the NSA’s mission. The primary focus is on students majoring in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or Chinese or Russian languages.

Benefits and Offerings

The most attractive feature of the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is that it provides students with both a full-time scholarship and valuable work experience in their chosen field. Students not only attend college and earn their degrees, but also have the opportunity to acquire real-world experience and receive a salary year-round. After graduation, students enrolled in the program don’t have to go through the hassle of job searching; the NSA hires them for a position related to their area of study. More information can be found on the U.S. Intelligence Community careers page.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program, applicants must meet certain eligibility criteria. They must be:

  • High school seniors
  • U.S. citizens
  • Candidates for a major in either computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or Chinese or Russian languages
  • Students who have demonstrated strong aptitude in these fields

It is worth noting that the program is specifically focused on supporting minority students who demonstrate exceptional potential in these critical areas. Interested applicants can learn more about the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program and its benefits at the Scholarship Guidance website.

Application Process

Required Documentation

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is open to high school seniors planning to major in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or languages such as Chinese or Russian. To apply for the scholarship, applicants must provide several documents to showcase their qualifications. These include:

  • A completed application form
  • A resume highlighting the applicant’s skills and experiences
  • A letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor who is familiar with the applicant’s academic achievements and potential
  • An essay discussing the applicant’s interest in the scholarship and how it aligns with their career goals
  • Official transcripts showing the applicant’s academic performance
  • Standardized test scores (e.g. SAT, ACT) as available

The application requirements are designed to ensure that the program can accurately assess and select the most promising and dedicated students for the scholarship opportunity.

Application Timeline

The Stokes Scholarship Program typically accepts applications during the Fall season, with the application period usually occurring from September to October. Prospective applicants should be aware of this timeline and be prepared to submit their full application package by the stated deadline. You can find more information about the application process on the US Intelligence Community website.

As a successful applicant, you will be offered a position as an NSA employee, providing you with valuable experience in the field of intelligence and national security. This opportunity helps students gain practical knowledge, build relationships within the NSA, and foster the development of highly-skilled professionals in critical areas of expertise.

Financial Support Details

Tuition and Mandatory Fees Coverage

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program provides comprehensive financial support to eligible students. One of the main benefits is the coverage of tuition and mandatory fees for selected scholars. Participants can expect their expenses related to enrollment in a higher education institution to be covered as part of this program. This allows students to focus on their studies and acquire the necessary skills in computer science, electrical engineering, or languages, without worrying about the financial burden of college tuition.

Stipends and Salaries

In addition to tuition coverage, the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program offers a generous stipend to its participants. Students can receive a salary of up to $30,000 per year during their time in the program. This year-round salary provides financial stability and support, easing the stress often associated with balancing academic demands and part-time employment.

Moreover, housing expenses are also taken care of under this program. Scholars can enjoy comfortable living arrangements while they pursue their education. This well-rounded approach to financial assistance helps to create an ideal environment for students to succeed academically and develop the skills necessary to excel in the fields of national security and technology.

In summary, the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program offers substantial financial support to its scholars. By covering tuition, housing, and mandatory fees, providing a competitive salary, and offering a comprehensive tuition assistance program, students are well-equipped to focus on their studies and thrive in their chosen fields.

Academic Requirements


Minimum GPA and Test Scores

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program has strict academic requirements for applicants. Students must have a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, higher GPAs are preferred. Additionally, applicants are required to achieve a minimum SAT score of 1200 or an ACT score of 25. These scores are important to demonstrate a strong foundation in areas crucial to the National Security Agency (NSA) such as science and math. Meeting these minimum academic requirements will increase the chances of being considered for this prestigious scholarship program1.

Degree and Field of Study

The Stokes Scholarship is designed for students pursuing degrees in fields that are highly relevant to the NSA’s mission. High school seniors are encouraged to major in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or the Chinese or Russian languages2. These fields are particularly important for candidates as they provide skills that are critical to the agency’s success and align with the scholarship’s aim to support the development of future professionals in the intelligence community.

In summary, applicants for the Stokes Educational Scholarship program must have a strong academic background with at least a 3.0 GPA, as well as competitive SAT or ACT scores. They should be majoring in fields that are directly relevant to NSA’s mission, such as computer science, engineering, or languages like Chinese and Russian. By meeting these requirements, candidates demonstrate their commitment to academic excellence and dedication to the field of intelligence.

Employment Commitment

Work-Study Balance

The Stokes Scholarship provides students with both an educational and employment opportunity, allowing them to pursue their degree while gaining valuable real-world experience. Participants in the program receive full-time employment at the National Security Agency (NSA) during the summer months. These summer employment opportunities are designed to align with the scholars’ fields of study, providing a seamless integration of academic and professional development.

In addition to summer employment, Stokes Scholars also receive a generous annual scholarship of up to $30,000 to cover tuition and fees. This financial support ensures that students can focus on their academics during the school year, without the pressure of juggling multiple part-time jobs to cover college expenses.

Post-Graduation Positions

Upon graduation, Stokes Scholars are expected to fulfill a full-time employment commitment with the NSA. By completing their degree and working during summer internships, Scholars gain valuable experience that prepares them for permanent positions within the agency. The length of the employment commitment is typically 1.5 times the length of the scholarship, meaning a four-year scholarship recipient is expected to work for the NSA for six years following graduation.

Through this employment, graduates benefit from a competitive federal salary and comprehensive benefits package. In addition to healthcare and paid time off, employees are also eligible for a federal retirement plan, ensuring long-term financial stability.

Throughout their time with the NSA, Stokes Scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge acquired during their studies to real-world scenarios, making a tangible impact on national security efforts. This unique combination of education and professional experience positions program participants for a successful career within the intelligence community.

Additional Opportunities


Internship Programs

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program offers more than just financial support for students. In addition to scholarships, students have access to internship programs during their college education. These internship opportunities allow students to gain hands-on experience in their field, deepening their knowledge and skills. The National Security Agency (NSA) offers a variety of student internships catering to computer science, electrical engineering, and related majors. Participating in these internships can help students develop their leadership abilities and project management skills, which are crucial for professional growth.

Career Advancement Paths

Once students graduate and start their careers with the NSA, they can explore various career advancement paths. The agency provides employees with continuous training and development opportunities, helping them stay updated in their respective fields. Moreover, the NSA encourages its workforce to pursue internal job postings, promoting lateral and upward mobility within the organization.

In summary, the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program offers valuable opportunities for its recipients, including internships, career advancement, leadership development, and project management training. These combined experiences help the students to embark on successful and rewarding careers in the National Security Agency.

Understanding the Selection Process

Assessment of Leadership and Skills

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is aimed at high school students who are planning to major in critical areas like computer science, electrical engineering, and specific languages. During the selection process, the applicants’ leadership abilities, extracurricular activities, and academic achievements are closely assessed. The review committee pays particular attention to candidates’ essays where they discuss their experiences and accomplishments. This enables the committee to assess not only leadership potential but also their capacity to perform well in their chosen fields.

In addition to the essay, the consideration of letters of recommendation is important in the process. Strong letters of recommendation from teachers and mentors can significantly improve the chances of being selected for the Stokes Scholarship by showcasing a candidate’s hard work, dedication, and promise in their field.

Security Clearance and Background Checks

Since the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is closely linked to the National Security Agency (NSA), the scholars will eventually work for the NSA post-graduation. As a result, they place a high emphasis on security clearance and background checks during the selection process. All applicants are required to undergo a security clearance evaluation, which involves a detailed examination of their personal history, including financial, criminal, and employment records.

Comprehensive background checks are conducted to ensure that the selected scholars do not pose a risk to national security. Scholars must maintain their security clearance throughout their education and employment with the NSA to continue receiving the scholarship benefits.

Though the selection process for the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program may seem rigorous, it is designed to identify and groom the most promising high school students in critical areas while ensuring a secure and successful transition into the NSA workforce.

Program Requirements and Expectations


Academic Performance

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program requires applicants to be U.S. citizens and high school seniors at the time of application. To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must have an unweighted GPA of 3.0 or higher (preferred) [1]. In addition, students should have a minimum SAT or college board score of 1200 or ACT of 25 [2]. The scholarship is geared towards undergraduate students majoring in fields such as computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or the Chinese or Russian languages [3].

The NSA Stokes Scholarship covers the cost of tuition, required textbooks, and mandatory fees for up to $25,000 per calendar year [4]. In addition to the tuition assistance, scholarship recipients are provided with a salary throughout the academic year.

Participation in NSA Events

As part of the scholarship program, students are expected to participate in NSA events and activities. This includes attending summer internships at the NSA, where they gain valuable work experience in their respective fields. During these internships, students are involved in project management, technical assignments, and work on real-world projects to enhance their skills and contribute to the agency’s mission [5].

To maintain their scholarship, students must continue to meet the program requirements, such as maintaining their GPA and returning to work at the NSA for a period equivalent to their scholarship after completing their undergraduate degree [6]. This ensures that both the NSA and the scholarship recipients benefit from the program, by developing a strong foundation in relevant fields and fostering a long-term commitment to the agency.

Living and Studying in Fort Meade, Maryland

Housing and Transportation

Students participating in the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program will spend their summers living and working in Fort Meade, Maryland. The availability of on-base housing is limited, so it is essential for students to explore off-base housing options in the surrounding area. There are numerous apartment complexes and neighborhoods nearby that cater to various budgets and preferences.

Living near Fort Meade, students will find that commuting via personal vehicles is the most popular mode of transportation. Thankfully, the area has quite a few park-and-ride options for those who prefer public transportation, with easy access to the MARC train and Light Rail systems.

Local Community and Lifestyle

Fort Meade, Maryland, is located between the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., providing students with ample opportunities for both work and play. The area offers a wide variety of restaurants, shopping centers, and recreational facilities, ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience for students during their summer internships.

In their free time, students can take advantage of the nearby attractions, such as:

  • Cultural sites: the Smithsonian Institution, the National Aquarium, and various historic landmarks.
  • Outdoor activities: hiking in Patapsco Valley State Park, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, or exploring the C&O Canal.
  • Sporting events: attending games for MLB’s Baltimore Orioles, NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, or NHL’s Washington Capitals.

Fort Meade is in close proximity to the following major cities:

CityDistanceEstimated Travel Time
Baltimore, MD16 miles30 minutes
Washington, D.C.26 miles45 minutes
Annapolis, MD22 miles35 minutes

Living and studying in Fort Meade, Maryland, as part of the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program allows students to gain valuable work experience with the National Security Agency while experiencing what this vibrant region has to offer.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the eligibility requirements for the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program?

The Stokes Educational Scholarship Program is designed for high school seniors who are majoring in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or Chinese or Russian languages. Applicants must demonstrate skills critical to the National Security Agency (NSA) and be U.S. citizens 1. It is essential for candidates to have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, as well as be eligible for security clearance and polygraph testing.

What is the application process for the NSA Stokes Scholarship?

The application process for the Stokes Scholarship includes submitting an online application, providing all required documents, participating in an interview, and undergoing security clearance processing and polygraph testing 2. Applicants must ensure they meet the eligibility requirements and submit their applications before the deadline.

What benefits does the Stokes Scholarship offer, including compensation details?

The Stokes Scholarship offers a range of benefits for successful applicants, including up to $30,000 per year for tuition and guaranteed summer internships with the NSA [^3^]. Upon graduation, students are required to work for the NSA for a minimum of 18 months for each academic year they receive the scholarship. This scholarship also provides health benefits, paid time off, and a salary during the program.

What strategies can increase the chances of winning a Stokes Scholarship?

To increase the chances of winning a Stokes Scholarship, applicants should focus on excelling academically, particularly in STEM fields, and developing strong technical skills. Additionally, candidates should invest time in crafting a well-written essay, highlighting their passion for the selected fields of study, commitment to the NSA, and relevant experiences. Being detail-oriented and thoroughly reviewing the application materials can also enhance the chances of success.

How competitive is the selection process for the Stokes Scholarship?

The Stokes Scholarship is highly competitive due to its generous benefits, including tuition coverage and guaranteed NSA employment. While the exact number of scholarships awarded varies each year, applicants should expect a rigorous selection process involving applications, interviews, and security clearance processing.

What preparation steps are recommended for applicants to the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program?

Preparation for the Stokes Educational Scholarship Program begins with ensuring that the applicant meets eligibility requirements and gathering all required documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a well-written essay. Prospective applicants are advised to research the NSA, understand its mission, and be prepared to articulate their interest in contributing to national security. In addition, students should stay informed about the application deadline and submit a timely, complete, and thorough application.


  1. Federal Jobs 2

  2. Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts 2

Helpful Resources

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