Department of Defense (DoD)
Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP)

 (Applications are due on February 14, 2020)

 

Program Overview 

The DoD is seeking undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in concentrated studies in cybersecurity. Students selected for the program will receive full scholarships. This requires the student to agree to serve one year of service to the DoD, upon graduation, for each year or partial year of scholarship received, in addition to an internship during summers while being in the program. An opportunity also exists for scholarship payback through military service.  

At UT Dallas, we offer this program to students who plan to pursue an MS in Computer Science in Information Assurance (Cyber Security) concentration track and fulfill the requirements of our NSA endorsed Cyber Security Certificate program (that can be completed as part of MS in CS degree program). Undergraduate students (CS or SE or CE students) who are already in (or who will qualify to join) our BS+MS fast track program (for Fall 2020 start) will also be considered provided that they commit to pursue their MS in CS degree after they complete their undergraduate degree with the scholarship program. 

Scholarship awards will be made for one academic year and the final student selection will be done by DoD agencies (an awardee selected by a DoD agency may expect to be employed by that agency upon graduation). Students selected as Cyber Scholars will receive the full cost of tuition, books (from the institution/degree specific required book list, not books which are optional for the class), required fees, and a stipend to cover room and board. The stipend levels are $25,000 for undergraduate students and $30,000 for graduate students for an academic year.  

Contingent on adequate funding appropriations, it is anticipated that successful scholarship recipients will receive follow-on support (up to three years) to complete their MS (or BS+MS) degree program. Returning students will be required to re-apply each year. 

 Application deadline is February 14, 2020. Interested students are strongly suggested to contact Dr. Kamil Sarac (ksarac@utdallas.edu) prior to their application submission to discuss further details about the program. 

 

Program Requirements 

·         Scholarship students (BS/MS fast track and MS students) are expected to complete their MS in CS degree in Information Assurance (Cyber Security) concentration track at UT Dallas. 

·         Students should be full time students not taking any employment in or out of campus.  

·         Students should maintain a minimum GPA during their studies in the scholarship program. For undergrads, it is 3.2/4.0 and and for grads, it is 3.5/4.0. Failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress will constitute grounds for termination of financial assistance and termination of internship and/or employment appointment. Additionally, students who fail to complete the degree program satisfactorily or to fulfill the service commitment upon graduation shall be required to reimburse the United States, in whole or in part, the cost of the financial (scholarship) assistance provided to them. 

·         Students selected to participate in the DoD CySP will be required to sign a written agreement obligating them to work for the DoD, as a civilian employee for one calendar year for each year of scholarship assistance. This agreement is provided to the selecting agency for their records to ensure compliance with the service commitment. Students will also be required to serve in internship positions, if timing permits, with the DoD organizations during the time they are receiving scholarship support until they complete the course of study provided for by the scholarship. These internships will be arranged by the DoD to occur during the summer or other breaks between school terms, as appropriate to the individual’s circumstances and the institution’s calendar. The internship does not count toward satisfying the period of obligated service incurred by accepting the CySP scholarship.  

Students will be required to complete a security investigation questionnaire to initiate the process for a background investigation in preparation for their internships, if applicable, and as a condition of future employment with the DoD. Drug tests or other suitability processing will occur as appropriate. Students will also be required to sign an agreement stating that they will accept assignments requiring travel or change of duty stations as interns or employees. Individuals who voluntarily terminate employment during intern appointments or before the end of the period of obligated service required by the terms of Chapter 112, title 10, United States Code, will be required to refund the United States, in whole or in part, the cost of the educational assistance provided to them. 

·         Students are required to work with the UTD CySP Program Director, Dr. Kamil Sarac, as their academic advisor for their academic program related issues. They are required to attend meetings with the Director on regular bases.

·         Students are required to involve in extracurricular education activities in cybersecurity including (i) participation in at least two UTD Computer Security Group student club meetings per month during the academic year, (ii) participation in at least three Capture-the-Flag (CTF) competition events each semester, (iii) participation in at least one cybersecurity related academic/professional events per academic year, (iv) participation in cybersecurity extracurricular seminars/workshops and related activities as directed by the program director.

 

 

Minimum Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the CySP opportunity described in this announcement, you must meet all of the following minimum requirements:  

·         You must be 18 years of age or older.  

·         You must be a citizen of the United States at the time of application. Note, if family members are not U.S. Citizens, some DoD Agencies may be unable to process the applicant (student) to the security clearance level required. Every effort will be made to assign eligible students at an Agency without such restrictions.  

·         You must be a full time student pursuing MS in CS (or in BS/MS fast track program with BS in CS/SE/CE and MS in CS) in IA track at UT Dallas. 

·         Graduate students should have (and maintain) 3.5/4.0 or above GPA and undergraduate students should have (and maintain) 3.2/4.0 or above GPA. 

·         Ability to obtain a security clearance. See the web page information below, which provides more information about fulfilling the necessary security requirements. Failure to be able to obtain a security clearance is grounds for dismissal from the DoD CySP. You must be able to obtain the required security clearance for the position selected. You may be required to undergo certain tests, including drug and polygraph tests, to obtain and maintain a clearance. Before you may be awarded a scholarship or hired by DoD, you will be required to complete certain forms to initiate the security clearance process. Some of these forms will require that you reveal extensive information about your background, such as potentially sensitive information about your financial circumstances and any arrests and/or convictions for offenses of any kind. You must agree to all of these conditions of employment and you must complete these forms as a condition of financial assistance and appointment.  

Current web pages from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) are provided below. These are provided for your review and consideration in determining whether you will be eligible for a security clearance. They may not be all inclusive, however, it is highly recommended that you review and understand the requirements prior to signing up to participate in the DoD CySP. https://www.opm.gov/investigations  

 

 

How to Apply 

Application deadline is February 14, 2020. Interested students are strongly suggested to contact Dr. Kamil Sarac (ksarac@utdallas.edu) prior to their application submission to discuss further details about the program. 

An acceptable application package for the CySP consists of the following requirements: 

·         The CySP Student Application (Attachment D) completely filled out and signed.  

·         Separate sheet highlighting recognitions, honors and awards. You may attach a separate sheet of plain 8 ½” x 11” paper on which you record your responses or the continuations of your responses. On each such page, indicate your name. 

·         Supplemental Academic Sufficiency Statement. You must complete the Statement of Academic Sufficiency supplement to the OF612, to which you must attach the following additional supplemental statements: 

·         Resume 

·         One (1) Letter of Reference from a current faculty member who is fully knowledgeable of your potential for successful learning, your knowledge, and your ability. See remainder of application package for instructions about the content of this Letter of Reference. Letters must be on University letterhead and contain the full name and contact information of the faculty member (phone, email, and address). 

·         One (1) additional Letter of Reference from either a current or former faculty member, or a current or former supervisor who is fully knowledgeable of your potential for successful learning, your knowledge, and your ability. See remainder of application package for instructions about the content of this Letter of Reference. Letters must be on official letterhead and contain the full name and contact information of the faculty member or current/former supervisor (phone, email, and address). 

·         Official (certified) Transcripts from all the institutions of higher learning you have attended. Electronic transcripts may be accepted as long as they are certified by the institution. NOTE: University POCs processing applications for submission may open the transcripts. 

·         Supplemental Competency Statement: Knowledge, Skills and Attributes: You must complete the OF612 Supplemental Competency Statement with narrative responses that describe the level of your attainment of the knowledge and ability factors indicated. See remainder of application package for instructions about the content of this supplemental statement. 

·         Signature of the Supplemental Statement of General Academic and Employment Conditions. If you agree with the all of the academic and employment conditions required for your receipt of scholarship assistance and appointment under the CySP, and wish to be considered for it, you must sign the OF612 Supplemental Statement of General Academic and Employment Conditions, which is the last page of the Attachment D, Student Application. 

Please refer to Attachment C on Application Background and Requirements for Recruitment/Basic Scholarships for more details on eligibility requirements and the required application documents. 

 

Application Preparation Instructions 

·         Students must use current forms 

·         Form must be typed or electronically filled out. Unless prior arrangements have been made with the DoD CySP Program Office, hand-written applications (other than signatures/initials) will not be accepted. 

·         Applications missing any required documents will automatically be disqualified 

·         Students who are currently receiving funds from another scholarship program or who have a service obligation upon graduation are not eligible to apply for the DoD CySP. 

·         Anticipated Final Graduation Date is for the degree program you are applying for scholarship support. Any applications that indicate a graduation date of January through September of the current year will not be eligible. 

·         Transcripts: An official transcript is the institution’s certified statement of the student’s academic record. Official paper transcripts are printed on security sensitive paper and contain the intuitions seal as well as a signature of the institution’s registrar. An official electronic transcript is a PDF secured by a digital signature, which is displayed at the top of the transcript; sometimes they will include a blue ribbon. 

o    Paper application: Paper applications must include official transcripts. The institution’s CySP point of contact or someone acting on his/her behalf may open transcripts. Applications arriving without official transcripts will be deemed incomplete. 

o    Soft copy application: Soft-copy (electronic) applications may contain a copy of the official transcript. 

·         Students should not attach copies/pictures of social security cards, driver’s license, passports, military identification, credit cards, degrees, certificates, and any other type of personally identifiable information. If any of these items are attached the application will not be accepted. 

·         Letters of Recommendation should be an original version, not a copy, on official company/institution letterhead, include the contact information to confirm the letter is valid (full name, mailing address, phone number, email address) and must be signed by the author. Emailed letters will not be accepted. 

·         Resumes should be limited to 2 pages and include but not limited to the following: 

o    Education: include degrees, institutions, location, date of graduation (or expected date of graduation); major/minor fields; GPA 

o    Experience: jobs, internships, and/or volunteer work. Include name of company, position, and dates employed. List at least three important tasks, accomplishments, or skills gained at each job. Also identify any clearance level held. It is important that you identify the number of hours per week you worked. 

o    Skills: include computer systems; programs which you are proficient. Include foreign languages. List any other skills, certifications, clearance levels you may hold. 

·         Paper applications must be printed single side on plain white 8 ½ x 11 paper. 

·         Paper applications may be held together by a paper clip, rubber band, or binder clip. Do not staple or place in a binder. 

·         Students are responsible for submitting a complete paper application to the CySP point of contact on campus. 

·         Students may provide a PDF copy application to the CySP point of contact on campus. 

  

Order of documents: 

1. New Students: 

1.      DoD CySP New Student Application Form (10 pages) 

2.      Official Transcripts 

3.      Resume 

4.      Separate List: Awards, Honors, and Distinctions (page 5 of the New Student Application) 

5.      2 Letters of Reference 

6.      OF612 Supplemental Competency Statement (page 6 of the New Student Application) 

2. Returning Students: 

1.      DoD CySP Returning Student Application Form (7 pages 

2.      Official Transcripts 

3.      Resume 

4.      1 Letter of Reference 

Saving a PDF copy of the application: 

Students should provide the CySP POC a PDF version of their application. Should a student not do so, the responsibility falls to the CySP POC. Student applications should be saved using the “reduced size PDF” when possible.  PDF files should be use the following file name structure: 

NEW STUDENTS: 

·         LAST NAME_First Name_University 

EXAMPLE: DOE_John_Worldwide University.pdf (CORRECT) 

 

RETURNING STUDENTS: 

·         LAST NAME_First Name_University_Returning 

 

Incorrect formats are as follows: 

·         Student Application_Doe_John_Worldwide.pdf (INCORRECT) 

·         Doejohnworldwideuniversity.pdf (INCORRECT) 

·         Worldwide University CySP Applications (INCORRECT) 

·         11 – DOE_John_Worldwide University (INCORRECT) 

 

If possible, PDF file sizes should not exceed 2.5 MB