Scholarships Available for People Who Would Like to Teach Science and Math

By John Gagnon | Published

Emily Kelly of Saginaw, a fifth-year student at Michigan Technological University, spent an alternative spring break in Chicago in 2009. She tutored “at-risk” inner-city youth. It was a week that transformed her life.

“It made me realize that they didn’t grow up with all the advantages I’ve had,” she says. “That stuck with me and bothered me.”

It bothered her so much that she used her chemistry degree to become a chemistry teacher. She now is student-teaching in geometry, chemistry and practical math classes at L’Anse High School.

“I really like it,” she says “It’s difficult, but it’s a good difficult. You can really affect people. I don’t know if I would feel that way in another career.”

In switching her focus, Kelly took advantage of Michigan Tech’s Noyce Scholarship Program, which uses federal stimulus funds to increase the number and quality of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers in the state.

The five-year National Science Foundation-funded program, now in its second year, trains students and professionals who will pay back the scholarship by working for a period in high-need schools in cities and rural areas that have difficulty recruiting qualified STEM teachers.

The program is named after Robert Noyce, the late inventor of the integrated circuit (or microchip). Noyce was called “the mayor of Silicon Valley.”

Michigan Tech is recruiting 24 more students like Kelly, as well as 12 college graduates with degrees in STEM fields who want to switch careers and become teachers.

“There is a great need for highly competent science and math teachers, especially at the high school level,” said Brad Baltensperger, chair of Michigan Tech’s Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences.

College juniors and seniors receive up to $10,000 a year for two years; STEM graduates receive up to $18,000 for one year.

Undergraduate students like Kelly participate in the program during their junior and senior years. In return for two years of scholarship support, they are required to teach in a high-need school for four years.

STEM graduates who want to change careers participate for one year and are required to teach in a high-need school for two years.

Should graduates not fulfill those responsibilities, the scholarship becomes a loan that they have to repay.

In the Noyce Scholarship program, Tech collaborates closely with two school districts (Saginaw and Grand Rapids), two universities (Saginaw Valley and Grand Valley), and two community colleges (Delta and Grand Rapids).   

The school districts will accept student teachers, provide support and guidance and look to these students when they hire new teachers.

Math and science faculty at Michigan Tech help choose the scholarship winners. Michigan Tech, Saginaw Valley and Grand Valley monitor and mentor student teachers and graduates of the program. Community colleges provide a pipeline of participants.

The deadline for applying is Nov. 1 for spring semester and March 1 for fall semester.

For more information, potential scholarship applicants can contact Brad Baltensperger, chair, Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences, 906-487-2460,, or visit Michigan Tech’s Noyce Scholarship web site at

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.