BELONG in STEM Scholars Program

Building Engagement in Laboratories, Networking and Peer Groups (BELONG) in STEM Scholars Program provides scholarships for undergraduate students that are junior-status and above, and are majoring in biological sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, geology and environmental geosciences, mathematics, or computer science. NIU received a $1M grant from the National Science Foundation S-STEM program to offer scholarships to students with financial need and academic promise. Students selected to be BELONG in STEM Scholars will receive $5,000 each academic year for up to three years. Scholars will participate in peer-group meetings, professional development activities and research opportunities to support their growth and persistence in their majors.


  • U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.
  • Demonstrated financial need as determined from FAFSA
    • Filed prior to submitting application
  • Junior status in fall 2022.
  • Major in one of these seven departments:
    Note: high school level education licensure students in the below departments are eligible. 
    • Chemistry and Biochemistry
    • Biological Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Geology and Environmental Geosciences
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Statistics
  • Preferred minimum 3.0 GPA


The application has closed for the 2022-2023 academic year.

This project is funded by a National Science Foundation grant (#1834076) awarded to Northern Illinois University. Please contact the Principal Investigators for more information: Ralph Wheeler (, Nicole LaDue (, and Timothy Hagen (

Application Preparation

Prior to submitting an application, be sure to file FAFSA and submit an NIU admission application if you are not already an NIU student. To apply, prepare a one-page personal statement and seek two academic letters of reference. Your personal statement should be no longer than one page (i.e. 12-pt font, single-spaced) and should highlight your personal motivation and interest in pursuing your degree. Your letters of reference should be from individuals who can attest to your academic accomplishments and potential. Check the sections below for more information. 

Tips for preparing your personal statement

  • Describe why you are interested in your major.
  • Explain what your motivation is for pursuing a STEM degree.
  • Highlight your ability to manage your time, communicate and write.
  • Discuss any unique qualities that make you an ideal candidate for this scholarship program.
  • Ask a mentor or academic writing center to proofread your personal statement.
  • Be sure to carefully check for grammatical or typographical errors.
  • More tips on writing a personal statement.

Letters of Recommendation

Your letters of recommendation should highlight your academic promise and your skills (i.e., technical, writing, communication). Letters from former teachers, instructors or professors are preferred. However, letters from former employers are appropriate, as well. Please do not submit letters from personal references (i.e. friends, family members, etc.).

For the application, you will be asked to submit the contact information for two letters of reference. Please have your letter writers email their letters to: with your name as the subject and as the file name of their letter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is expected of me if I am awarded a scholarship?

You will be required to participate in weekly peer group meetings and monthly professional development activities scheduled throughout each semester. You will also have to opportunity to participate in research experiences related to your major and volunteer and service work. You will also be expected to participate in the evaluation of the program (ex. surveys and interviews) during your time in the program.

Contact Us

Dean's Office
General Information

Phone 815-753-7953
Zulauf Hall 312

Add/Drop Class, Enroll, Transfer, Withdraw, etc.

Phone 815-753-0114
Zulauf Hall 201

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