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, Barbara Lazarus Professor in Information Networking, 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.
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 at an approved federal, state, local, tribal or territorial government agency for two calendar years.
Students participating in the SFS program at Carnegie Mellon must meet the following requirements:
- Admittance into a master's program in information security at Carnegie Mellon
- 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 and Information Assurance/Cyber Defense Research (CAE-R).
*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 government agency
- Fulfill a two-year commitment of working for a government 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 may be secured to meet obligations at a national laboratory or other approved organization on a limited basis.
SFS students at Carnegie Mellon University must complete one ethics course (from the following, as an elective):
- 08-630: Ethics and Policy Issues in Computing (spring; 12 units)
- 94-806: Privacy in the Digital Age (fall; 6 units)
SFS students at CMU must also complete a Cybersecurity/IA project. This project must be: completed a semester long course, at least 12 units; a semester-long independent study, that is 12 units; a master's project, or a master's thesis.
- Students using an independent study, master's project or master's thesis - must submit a petition to the INI Academic Affairs Office requesting permission to consider your project as fulfilling the SFS project requirement. It will be forwarded to the INI Director for approval. Students must follow the appropriate guidelines for submitting a proposal for independent study (please refer to the student handbook) or master's project/thesis (on the graduate project section of our website). Students may be asked to submit a copy of their finished project or a final report, as well.
- Students using a class project must submit a petition requesting permission to do so as well as a copy of the course syllabus and a project proposal. Independent study proposal guidelines are included in the student handbook. Students may be asked to submit a copy of your finished project or a final report, as well.
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
- 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.