New Zealand Space Scholarship to NASA

The New Zealand Space Scholarship covers internship opportunities at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, California and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Applications for the 2024 New Zealand Space Scholarship to NASA have now closed.

About the internships  

This initiative seeks to better prepare students for future careers in the New Zealand aerospace sector. This is a unique opportunity to work on world-leading NASA missions and science, alongside NASA scientists and engineers.

Successful applicants will travel to the USA for a 10 to 12 week internship where they will work on innovative and complex projects under the supervision of a NASA mentor. Internships at NASA are an intensive experience and require a high level of professionalism, enthusiasm, and self-management. 

In addition to this exceptional work experience opportunity, interns will be asked to give back to the wider New Zealand aerospace sector and NASA through outreach and social media activities. 

Candidates who are successfully selected for internship placement by NASA will be eligible to have the costs of their internship supported through the New Zealand Space Scholarship.

The New Zealand Space Agency (NZSA) at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is the only New Zealand entity permitted to submit internship candidates for consideration by NASA. Candidates do not apply directly to NASA.

Applications closed on 9 October 2023.

Available funding

Successful applicants will be awarded the New Zealand Space Scholarship to support the costs of their internship. Up to 6 scholarships are available for 2024.

What does the New Zealand Space Scholarship cover?

The scholarship covers specified costs relating to the internships as follows:

  • Return economy airfares to the United States
  • Accommodation
  • A USD$60 per day allowance for living expenses
  • Funding for reasonable travel-related expenses, such as insurance cover

The scholarship will only cover costs associated with participating in the NASA internship. Expenses exceeding the scholarship amount are entirely the beneficiary’s responsibility. 

Obtaining the scholarship is conditional upon the successful candidate signing a contractual agreement with MBIE and includes a number of obligations.

Eligibility criteria

To apply, candidates must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a New Zealand citizen (NASA requirement).
  • Be 18 years or older.
  • Be currently enrolled in a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) at a New Zealand tertiary institution in a field relevant to NASA’s mission priorities.
  • Have previously completed an undergraduate or graduate program in STEM.
  • Have a high academic standing and have obtained a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a scale of 4.0, or an equivalent standard. You will need to convert your New Zealand grades to the US GPA 4.0 scale.
  • Be proficient in written and spoken English (NASA requirement).
  • Be available to participate in person from June to August 2024 (dates subject to change).
  • Be willing to undergo any required health and security checks for travel to the US and entry into US federal facilities.
  • Be eligible for a J1 visa to the United States and have read and understood the J1 visa terms and conditions.
  • Be able to obtain appropriate insurance cover for travel and stay in the United States.

Topics of study

This is the first year that internships have been offered at more than one NASA centre. Candidates are encouraged to research these NASA centres prior to applying. This will be a consideration when evaluating cover letters.

To support the preselection process, candidates will be asked to specify in the application form up to 2 topics from the list below of the subject areas that relate most closely to their current field of study. 

Research topics

  • Advanced aviation (including aerosciences and air traffic management)
  • AI, machine learning, and advanced computing
  • Astrobiology and biology (including human performance in extreme environments)
  • Astrophysics and space sciences
  • Autonomy and robotics 
  • Deep space communications
  • Earth observation and Earth science (including airborne science)
  • Instrument and sensor design and development
  • Planetary science
  • Other

Timing of internships

Internships may vary in duration and timing according to NASA placement and mentorship opportunities. Indicative dates are provided below. Candidates must be confident that they can take up the internship opportunity across these dates before applying. 

For the current application round, internships are anticipated to be:

  • approximately 10 to 12 weeks long
  • run between June to August 2024

How to apply

Key information

Centres for internships

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, California

Number of internships available

Up to 6 graduate student placements

Funding available

Flights, accommodation, contribution to related travel costs and daily allowance.

Applications open

7 September 2023

Applications close

9 October 2023

Shortlisting of candidates

October to December 2023

Final NASA intern selection

Early 2024

Internships commence

June 2024 (for approximately 10 to 12 weeks)

Three-step process

The application and selection process involves 3 stages.

Dates are indicative and may be subject to change.

Submitting your application

All candidates will need to supply the following with their online application:

  1. Completed online application form
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Covering letter, which, in addition to your application form, outlines:
    a. your reason(s) for applying
    b. what you hope to gain from an internship at NASA and your understanding of what an internship at NASA entails
    c. what you hope to offer NASA and the New Zealand aerospace sector if you are selected.
  4. Academic transcript
  5. Evidence of New Zealand citizenship (such as a copy of your New Zealand passport biographic data page)

Please note that all uploaded documentation must be in PDF, .docx, or JPEG file format.

Late or incomplete applications may not be accepted.

Selection process

This is a highly competitive process. The evaluation criteria, used to select candidates to be put forward for consideration by NASA, include:

  • Academic excellence
  • Relevance of the candidate’s experience to NASA’s work
  • Personal characteristics, self-management, and interpersonal skills
  • Motivation to contribute to NASA and the New Zealand space sector.

Additional consideration may be given to the goals of the Aotearoa New Zealand Aerospace Strategy.

Aotearoa New Zealand Aerospace Strategy

Candidates that progress to the final stage of preselection may be asked for additional information, such as a Ministry of Justice criminal report check, before being included in the final shortlist of candidates put forward to NASA for consideration.

Candidates on the final shortlist will be submitted to NASA for final selection. These candidates must be available to undertake a virtual face-to-face interview from December to February with NASA and/or MBIE.

NASA may, at its sole discretion, reject any application and is under no obligation to select any candidate. NASA may require additional information to evaluate applications.

Up to 6 scholarship positions are available for 2024. The number of candidates who will participate depends on the quality of the applications received, NASA’s final selection, and available funding.

Intern obligations

Successful candidates will need to comply with certain obligations including, but not limited to, the following:

  • a participant code of conduct
  • securing appropriate travel and medical insurance cover for the duration of the internship
  • participation in promotional and alumni activities.

General notes

  • Participation in the programme does not count towards academic credit for any New Zealand qualification.
  • Students must be pursuing a relevant graduate degree at the time of the internship. Students not currently undertaking graduate studies are eligible to apply only if they will be undertaking graduate studies at the time of the internship and must submit proof of enrolment as part of their application.
  • Recipients who take up this scholarship but do not complete their applicable tertiary qualification may be required to pay back the full value of the scholarship received.
  • Internships are intended to be undertaken in person at the NASA facility. However, candidates should be aware that public health conditions, the availability of consular services and travel, as well as U.S. institutional operating status and policies, may affect their ability to travel to the U.S. and participate in the internship.

Learn more about past NASA intern experiences

Intern Daniel Wrench standing in front of NASA JPL sign

Photo credit: Daniel Wrench

Last updated: 01 February 2023