Scholarship for Service program

The CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service (SFS) program gives students scholarship funds in exchange for service in the federal government for a period equivalent to the length of their scholarship, typically two years. As a result of the SFS program, federal agencies are able to select from a highly qualified pool of student applicants for internships and permanent positions. The SFS program is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and co-sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Dena Haritos Tsamitis headshot

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

Dena Haritos Tsamitis

Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of the Information Networking Institute (INI) and CyLab's founding director of education, training, and outreach, is the principal investigator of the SFS program at Carnegie Mellon, which offers two programs that meet SFS criteria: The INI's M.S. in Information Security (MSIS) and the Heinz College's M.S. in Information Security Policy and Management (MSISPM).

Award & stipend

The scholarship could cover all or part of tuition, room and board, and books for up to two years of study. In addition, students receive a stipend. The annual stipend for incoming graduate students (as of fall 2016) is $34,000 (prorated amount).

Students are funded for up to two years during the final years of their program. The student must then serve at a Federal agency in a covered position. A student must serve for a period equivalent to the length of the scholarship. If the student is funded for two academic years, they must serve federal, state, local, tribal or territorial government or a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) for two calendar years.

Eligibility requirements

Students participating in the SFS program at Carnegie Mellon must meet the following requirements:

  • Admittance into the INI MSIS or the Heinz MSISPM program
  • Attending school on a full-time basis while receiving a scholarship under the SFS program
  • A United States citizen or Permanent Resident*
  • Eligible for federal employment
  • Able to obtain a security clearance

Colleges and universities participating in the SFS program must be selected by the National Science Foundation through a competitive process. Carnegie Mellon participates in the SFS program through its designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Education, Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R), and in Cyber Operations (CAE-Cyber Ops).

*Security clearances, and many federal agencies, require U.S. citizenship. It is the recipient's responsibility to attain such a position in state, local, tribal or territorial governments given these limitations.

Obligations to the federal government

Recipients of the SFS must:

  • Complete the degree program successfully and on time
  • Complete a summer internship with a participating federal agency
  • Fulfill a two-year commitment of working for a federal agency following graduation **

If a student fails to complete the period of scholarship or post-academic period of employment, that student must repay a prorated amount equivalent to the length of the period not served. For example, if a student receives funds for two years and serves for one-and-a-half years, he must repay 25% of the funds received. Federal agencies must notify the SFS Program Office immediately when this occurs. That office is responsible for initiating the repayment process.

** Positions in state, local, tribal or territorial governments or a FFRDC may be allowed.

Benefits to SFS Participants

  • Full tuition scholarship
  • Academic stipend of $34,000 per year in residence for incoming students in fall 2016 (on internships, students are paid by the agency they work for)
  • Health insurance (reimbursement allowed up to $3,000 for incoming students in fall 2016, and only the university's insurance option can be reimbursed)
  • Professional development allowance: $4,000 (SFS job fair and other travel, professional certification, etc.)
  • Books (up to $2,000 book allowance, but no hardware or software)
  • Attend a conference related to information security and assurance issues (reimbursements will vary by institution.)

These monies are taxable at the federal level only. Amount per year is $34,000 for incoming students (effective fall 2016). All expenses are to come out of that amount, and there is no additional housing allowance.

Costs for which students are responsible

Students may use academic stipend to pay these costs:

  • Laptop computer (approximately $2,500)
  • Additional books, cell phone, hardware and/or software

Co-curricular activities

Recipients must:

  • Attend the annual SFS Job Fair held in Washington, DC in January
  • Attend colloquia, seminars, short courses, etc. offered (sometimes exclusively) to students in the SFS program

Students are responsible for covering the costs of attending the job fair with their professional development fund.

Learn more

For assistance, current SFS students at Carnegie Mellon may contact Linda Whipkey, Career Services and External Relations Program Associate at the Information Networking Institute.

Prospective students may request program information from the Admissions offices as follows: