The CyberCorps program is designed to support colleges and universities in starting or continuing scholarship programs to recruit and train the upcoming generation of cybersecurity professionals to fulfill the cybersecurity needs of the federal, state, local, and tribal governments.
It is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security to fortify critical information infrastructure security and improve the national capacity of teaching IT specialists in Information Assurance disciplines.
Presently, the program is funded through grants from the NSF. The NSF only awards grants to institutions of higher learning that are accredited and have campuses in the United States.
When an institution receives the NSF grant, it awards it to eligible students in the appropriate degree programs.
The CyberCorps program also aims to produce a new generation of Government Information Assurance workforce, boost national Research and development (R&D) capabilities in IA, and reinforce partnerships between higher education institutions and relevant employment sectors.
In 2000, a Memorandum of Understanding was established between the US Office of Personal Management (OPM) and the NSF to award the first grants the following year.
Types of CyberCorps programs
The CyberCorps program covers cybersecurity, Information Assurance, and other related programs.
The number of eligible programs will depend on the cybersecurity-related degrees the higher institution of learning currently has.
Some of the programs where CyberCorps students pursue degrees are:
- Computer Science
- Computer Engineering
- Security of Emerging Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Medical Implants
- Criminal Investigation
- Cyber Law and Privacy
- Information Assurance
- Information Technology
- Risk Management
- Systems Engineering etc.
Before participating in the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, the institution you currently study or plan to study in must have received a National Science (NSF) grant or be a participating institution.
Students identified by their institutions for SFS scholarships must meet eligibility requirements based on prior academic performance, the likelihood of completing the degree, and suitability for government work.
Upon award of the scholarship, scholars are required to submit periodic documentation to the NSF and their institutions.
CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS)
The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The program aims to recruit and train the next generation of cybersecurity experts to meet the needs of local, state, federal, and tribal governments.
The scholarship includes full tuition, other fees, books, and a monthly stipend.
To return the financial support, scholarship recipients must work for a period equivalent to the scholarship length in federal, state, local, and tribal governments.
Students can receive scholarships worth up to $50,000 for undergraduates and $80,000 for graduates.
What the Cybercorps scholarship covers
- Financial support for undergraduate and graduate (MS or PhD) studies for up to three years.
- Stipends for undergraduates are worth up to $25,000 for the academic year and $34,000 for graduate students.
- Provision of tuition and other costs associated with this education. This excludes items like housing, parking, or meal plans.
- Recipients are required to attend dedicated job fairs, whether virtual or in-person, in Washington, DC. For the latter, the scholarship offers an additional $6,000 professional stipend for travel to the SFS Job Fair and other related travel, and professional certification, among others.
- Scholarship recipients are required to work in government service for a period equal to the length of the scholarship. This is usually between two to three years.
Working for the United States government is a required component of the CyberCorps scholarship. Upon completion, scholars will apply to approved US government agencies for any cybersecurity role that interests them.
When accepted, they must work for a time equal to the period they received the full scholarship in the SFS program.
For example, a student supported with a CyberCorp scholarship for two years would have a two-year work commitment for the US government after graduation.
If the student does not fulfill their work commitment in federal, state, local, or tribal government, he is required to refund the prorated amount equal to the scholarship length.
Eligibility criteria for CyberCorps Scholarship for Service
The eligibility criteria for entering into the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program will vary depending on the institution of higher learning.
Although there are requirements that cut across every school, most institutions have specific eligibility requirements.
For example, some schools only award scholarships to students in their senior and graduate years. Their degree must be in Cybersecurity, Computer Science majors, or another closely related field.
To be eligible for the SFS program, applicants must be:
- US citizens or lawful permanent residents
- Full-time students within three years of graduation with a BSc or MSc degree in a coherent formal program focused on cybersecurity at an awardee institution. Research-based doctoral students also qualify.
- Community college students at an SFS Community College Cyber Pilot (C3P) receiving institution studying an associate degree or specialized certification program in cybersecurity; must already have a bachelor’s degree or be a veteran of the US Armed Forces. Sophomores may also be eligible for a year of support if their community college has a formal transfer agreement with a four-year institution.
- Able to meet the institution’s minimum Grade Point Average. The minimum GPA in most schools is 3.0/4.0 for undergraduates and graduates. Other schools may require a 3.2 – 3.4 GPA for graduate programs.
- Willing to complete summer internships at a US government agency.
If you meet these eligibility criteria, you must confirm if your institution has other specific requirements for the SFS program. You may be required to have a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the time of the scholarship award.
Students must be eligible for federal employment and be able to get a security clearance and background check. This scholarship is not available to people applying for a second master’s degree (it must be the first undergraduate or graduate degree.
The application process for the SFS program
Application guidelines for the SFS program depend on the awardee institution. For many schools, applicants only need to indicate that they’re interested in the “CyberCorps Scholarship for Service” in the given section on their application for admission into a cybersecurity degree.
The school will then consider the applicant if they meet all eligibility requirements.
Other schools have different applications for the SFS programs, requiring all interested students to complete them separately.
Related CyberCorps programs
If you’re interested in the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program, here are some institutions and the available programs:
- National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies (NICCS) – CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) program. A partnership between CISA, OPM, and NSF to provide scholarships for cybersecurity-related degrees under the SFS program.
- The George Washington University – CyberCorps Program: GW is designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R) by the National Security Agency (NSA). Over 100 students have graduated from the GW CyberCorps program since 2002.
- Indiana University – CyberCorps Scholarship for Service at Indiana University. Presently, IU offers two Master’s and one Ph.D. program under the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program.
- California State University, San Bernardino – CyberCorps SFS Program. (Listen to the related podcast).
- University of New Haven – CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program – The Tagliatela College of Engineering’s $4 million NSF grant is Connecticut’s first SFS program. UNH has specific program requirements besides the general eligibility criteria. (Listen to the related podcast).
- The University of Rhode Island – CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service.
Successful students will be required to attend virtual and in-person events. Some schools provide opportunities to participate in conferences that match each scholar’s cybersecurity interests.
This includes the annual International Cryptography Conference and the RSA Conference.
Schools like George Washington University also have their students compete at competitions, such as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.
Related career resources
Below are resources for scholars looking for cybersecurity job opportunities in the federal government:
- Federal cybersecurity job opportunities: Find cybersecurity job openings with the federal government through the US Office of Personal Management.
- Information Assurance job opportunities: Find Information Assurance job openings in government agencies for US citizens and nationals.
- Cybersecurity job opportunities: Find jobs in cybersecurity and other related fields in government agencies for US citizens and nationals.
- Information Security job opportunities: These opportunities are open to students for internships, entry-level, mid-level, and experienced cybersecurity professionals.
- Careers in Intelligence: Find jobs in Intelligence, Cyber Operations, Data Science, and Mission Support.
Related cybersecurity education funding opportunities
- National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program: is a 5-year fellowship that provides 3 years of financial support to support the diversity and vitality of the US scientific and engineering workforce.
- National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies: A catalog of over 7000 cybersecurity jobs and events to advance your career.
- National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education: NICE provides a suite of cybersecurity events for beginners and experts to advance their cybersecurity careers.
- The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Tutorials: The NICE Tutorials are a library of educational webinars designed to share crucial knowledge to a large audience on various subjects relevant to workforce development and cybersecurity education.
Here is a comprehensive list of over 70 institutions participating in the CyberCorps SFS program including Community College Cyber Pilot (C3P) participating institutions, contact details of the Principal Investigators, Co-Principal Investigators, and the Program Coordinator.
Interested four-year institutions of higher learning (IHEs) who want to apply for the grant should read the NSF requirements for the SFS program for application guidelines.
Frequently asked questions
CyberCorps is a renowned initiative focused on bolstering the cybersecurity workforce by providing scholarships and educational opportunities to aspiring cybersecurity professionals.
The CyberCorps scholarship program offers financial support covering tuition, stipends, and other educational expenses. In return, recipients commit to serving in a government cybersecurity role post-graduation.
Yes, applicants must maintain a certain GPA and demonstrate a strong commitment to the cybersecurity field to be considered for the CyberCorps scholarship.
Typically, the service commitment in a government cybersecurity position matches the duration of the scholarship received.
CyberCorps graduates often secure roles in federal, state, local, or tribal government entities, working in positions like cybersecurity analysts, penetration testers, and IT security specialists.
The CyberCorps initiative plays a pivotal role in addressing the cybersecurity talent gap, ensuring that government entities are equipped with skilled professionals to safeguard critical infrastructures.