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How to Meet Eligibility Requirements for the NHSC Scholarship Program

Students pursuing primary care health professions training may be eligible to apply to the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program (NHSC SP).

Awarded scholars provide primary care health services in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).

Am I eligible for a scholarship?

To be eligible for an NHSC scholarship, you must be:

A United States (U.S.) citizen (U.S. born or naturalized) or U.S. national

  • Acceptable forms of proof:
    • Birth certificate issued by a city, county, or state agency in the United States:
    • Identification page of a valid U.S. passport; or
    • Certificate of citizenship or naturalization.
  • Unacceptable forms of proof:
    • A permanent resident card;
    • Driver's license;
    • Marriage certificate; or
    • Social security card

Enrolled as a full-time student (or accepted for enrollment)

For the 2021-202 school year, we will only consider scholarship awards for students with classes that begin on or before September 30, 2021.

You are a full-time student if you are enrolled for a sufficient number of credit hours in any academic term to complete the course of study within the number of academic terms normally required at your school.

We don't count courses which aren't required or related to your qualifying degree program towards the hours required for full-time status.

Attending—or accepted to attend—an accredited school or program in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia (D.C.), or a U.S. territory

U.S. territories include:

  • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
  • Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Guam
  • American Samoa
  • Republic of Palau
  • Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • Federated States of Micronesia

In an eligible discipline


A school of allopathic or osteopathic medicine, pursuing a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree.

Must be: Accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges) or the American Osteopathic Association, Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation.


A school of dentistry, pursuing a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (D.M.D.) degree.

Must be: Accredited by the American Dental Association, Commission on Dental Accreditation.

Nurse Practitioner

A school or program of nurse practitioner education, pursuing a postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate.

Must be: Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Must lead to national certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board as a nurse practitioner in one of the following specialties:

  • Adult medicine
  • Family medicine
  • Geriatrics
  • Primary care pediatrics
  • Psychiatric mental health
  • Women's health

Nurse Midwife

A school or program of nurse-midwifery education, pursuing a postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate.

Must be: Accredited by the American College of Nurse-Midwives, Division of Accreditation.

Must lead to national certification by the American Midwifery Certification Board.

Physician Assistant

A school or program of primary care physician assistant education, pursuing a postgraduate degree or postgraduate certificate.

Must be:

  • Accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant.
  • Accredited by a U.S. Department of Education nationally recognized regional or state institutional accrediting agency.

Must lead to national certification by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants.

Eligible for federal employment

Most NHSC scholars serve their obligations as salaried, non-federal employees of public or private entities approved by the NHSC SP.

Some vacancies require federal employment, including a security clearance. You must be eligible for a Commissioned Officer of the Public Health Service or a federal civil service appointment.

Without an existing service obligation

You are not eligible for a scholarship if you have an existing obligation to a federal, state, or other entity for professional practice or service after academic training.

That is, unless the entity to which you owe the obligation provides a written statement satisfactory to the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) showing:

  • No potential conflict in fulfilling the NHSC SP obligation and the entity’s obligation; and
  • You will serve the NHSC SP obligation first.

Are military reservists eligible?

Yes, military reservists are eligible to participate if in a reserve component of the Armed Forces including the National Guard. However, your military training or service will not satisfy the NHSC SP service commitment.

How do you determine if I'm ineligible?

We consider you ineligible if you are:

  • Pursuing a non-primary care specialty (e.g., a program with a surgical or emergency medicine focus).
  • In the pre-professional phase of your health professions education (e.g. taking undergraduate pre-requisites for admission to a health professions training program).

How do I apply to the NHSC Scholarship Program?

  1. Review the NHSC Scholarship Program Application and Program Guidance (NHSC SP APG) (PDF – 635 KB).
  2. Complete an online application, including required documents.

Find out more on how to apply. And learn how we determine who receives scholarship awards.

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