NSF Path Innovation Scholarship

Light bulb is lit up

Do you enjoy thinking of new ways of doing things? Maybe you find yourself thinking, "this would work better if it would just _____ (fill in the blank)" or “there should be something that will do X.”

You might just be a budding innovator. Do you want the opportunity to explore your curiosity? The NSF Path Innovation Scholarship may be a good fit for you. You could be the next

  • Valerie Thomas – physicist, inventor, NASA data analyst; invented the illusion transmitter allowing for 3D illusion
  • Lisa Gelobter – computer scientist, developed the animation used to create GIFs
  • Richard Montañez – business executive; invented Hot Cheetos while working as a janitor at a Frito-Lay factory in California
  • Olga D. Gonzalez-Sanabria – NASA Engineer; part of the team that developed Long Cycle-Life Nickel-Hydrogen Batteries

Thanks to generous funding from the National Science Foundation, the Honors College, in partnership with the College of Engineering, has launched a new initiative to support low-income students who are interested in innovation and want to graduate with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields. Beginning in Fall 2021, the initiative will award NSF Path Innovation Scholarships that support 14 incoming freshman students pursuing degrees in a STEM discipline with an interest in innovation. They will receive annually renewable scholarships up to $4,500, or $5,500 if they later join the Honors College.

In addition to scholarships, our NSF Path Innovation Scholars will benefit from programs and mentoring offered by the Honors College and our partners across campus. Our goal is to create a community that will equip you with the tools you need to thrive as a future STEM professional.

You will commit to:

  • Intersession bridge program before your first year at the U of A 
  • Living Learning Community in Hotz Honors Hall
  • Peer and faculty mentoring
  • Academic Success Advising
  • Research and Internships
  • Student Development and Engagement

To be an NSF Path Innovation Scholar, students must:

  • Be considered low-income as determined by FAFSA submission. This would include being eligible for subsidized Stafford Loans or Pell Grants. 
  • Have a high school GPA of 3.5 or above.
  • Score between a 23 - 27 composite ACT (1130 - 1300 SAT). 
  • Pursue a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) major.

The University of Arkansas offers STEM degrees in the College of Engineering and the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
College of Engineering STEM majors include:

  • biological engineering
  • biomedical engineering
  • chemical engineering
  • civil engineering
  • computer engineering
  • computer science
  • electrical engineering
  • industrial engineering
  • mechanical engineering

Fulbright College STEM majors include:

  • biological sciences
  • chemistry and biochemistry
  • geosciences
  • mathematical sciences
  • physics

The intersession bridge program is a two-week program that gives Path Scholars the chance to move to campus early, take a class, and make meaningful connections with other students, as well as with faculty and staff.

This program is free to participants. The program will cover the cost of living on campus (including meals), classes taken during the program, and program activities and supplies. You will have the chance to take a course that will count toward your degree.

The NSF Path Innovation Scholarship may be applied towards tuition, room and board, and fees, and may also be used to support other expenses such as study abroad, undergraduate research projects and travel to conferences.

Yes! The NSF Path Innovation Scholarship definitely can be combined with other financial awards. This scholarship is meant to supplement, not replace, any existing support you may receive from the University of Arkansas or externally.

NSF Path Innovation Scholars are also eligible to receive funding from the Engineering Career Awareness Program (ECAP), the Academic Enrichment Program (AEP), or any other program that offers mentoring and financial support.

Q: What will happen at the Path Interview Weekend? Do I have to attend? The Path Interview Weekend will focus on finalists' past experiences, their aspirations towards a career in a STEM field, and other relevant topics. This year, due to COVID-19, Path Interview Weekend will take place online. In addition to the interview, we will host a Q & A Session where prospective students will meet U of A faculty, staff and current Path students.

Participation in the interview weekend is mandatory for consideration as an NSF Path Innovation Scholar.

Q: Do I have to attend the intersession bridge program? All students accepted to the Path Program must attend the 2-week intersession bridge program.

Q: What courses will I take at the intersession bridge program? All Path STEM students will take 1 course (full-time) during this summer session to cover any academic deficit and to ensure that key courses (e.g. algebra, pre-calculus, lab sciences) have been completed so that students are well prepared to start with the rest of their STEM-degree cohort.

Q: Can I pursue the pre-med track? NSF Path Innovation Scholars are not allowed to pursue the pre-med track. If a scholar declares pre-med, s/he will forfeit participation in the program and the scholarship.

Q: I'm a current student. Can I apply to be an NSF Path Innovation Scholar? Current University of Arkansas students are ineligible for consideration.


The Path Innovation Scholarship builds on an earlier initiative funded by the National Science Foundation, the Path STEM Scholarship, which was awarded 2018-2020, benefiting 38 students pursuing degrees in a STEM discipline. 

Questions? Please contact Xochitl Delgado Solorzano at xdelgad@uark.edu or (479) 575-3874.

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1742496.


Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.