Draper Scholars Program

About the Draper Scholars Program

The Draper Labs are an independent, not-for-profit corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts, chartered to work on problems in the national interest focused on U.S. security needs.   

The Draper Labs expand its reach by tapping into the intellectual energy of university faculty at its partner universities who advise MS and PhD candidates pursuing advanced technical degrees in engineering and the sciences in areas of pressing importance to their mission. The Draper Scholars program is one component of that collaborative effort.

Information for Faculty

After a project is approved by the Draper Labs, the faculty member recruits a PhD or MS student to apply to the Draper Scholar program to work on the approved research project. Draper Labs makes the final selection of Draper Scholars, but the university (and faculty members) are responsible for admitting the student to the university and the degree program, and for ensuring the student ultimately meets all degree requirements.  

The student’s research is directed by a George Mason University faculty researcher and an assigned Draper researcher. Faculty propose research projects at the intersection of Draper’s mission-critical criteria and the faculty member’s expertise and imagination.  

We recommend that faculty develop and share with the Draper technical points of contact, a one-page concept paper describing the proposed research.  

Mason faculty researchers must coordinate the timelines for approval by Draper Labs of the research project; successful recruitment of a PhD or MS student to George Mason University; admission of the student to George Mason University and successful application by the student to the Draper Scholar program. Faculty should email geaward@gmu.edu with any questions or if they have received approval for their application and are recruiting a graduate student for the Draper Scholars Program.

U.S. citizenship is not required of supervising faculty.

The Draper Scholar program does not include salary support for faculty.

Information for Students

Who are Mason Draper Scholars?

High-performing MS and PhD students admitted to study and conduct research at George Mason University in engineering and the sciences in a technical area of interest to Draper Labs. Draper Scholars dedicate their research efforts to a project approved by Draper under the supervision of a Mason faculty member.

How to become a Mason Draper Scholar

Students must: 

  • be a U.S. citizen.   
  • meet all application requirements and be offered admission by George Mason University and the research faculty’s department.
  • be endorsed by a Mason faculty member overseeing a Draper research project.
  • if sponsored by a Mason faculty member, then work with the faculty member and Draper to apply for the scholarship through the Draper Scholars application portal. Students may contact the Office of Fellowships for further assistance at this point in the application process.
  • be offered a Draper Scholar award. Student awardees must notify the Office of Fellowships.
  • commit to pursuing full-time research on the assigned research topic, advised by the Mason faculty researcher and a designated Draper employee for the duration of the Draper Scholar award.

Benefits for Draper Scholars

  1. Tuition  
  2. Health coverage 
  3. Five-year generous, nationally competitive stipend for a PhD student contingent on satisfactory performance
  4. Two-year generous, nationally competitive stipend for MS students, contingent on continuing satisfactory performance

Additional Information

Research discussions occur directly between the research faculty and the Draper technical points of contact specified by the Draper Labs. Once the Draper technical point of contact and the university faculty member have agreed on the topic for a project, the Draper technical point of contact will submit the Draper Collaborative Research Proposal to Draper Labs for approval. If approved, the technical point of contact will notify the faculty member that they may proceed with recruiting a suitable student to conduct the research.

The terms of the Draper Scholar award require the faculty member’s college to provide 50% of the student’s tuition and 100% of the student’s health care cost.  

Because of the tight timeline and the requirement that Draper Scholars be U.S. citizens, some faculty prefer to recruit students who have already been admitted to the university and are in their first year of study.