SPIE scholarships

Student and teacher in a laser lab

SPIE scholarships are available to students located anywhere in the world, in high school (pre-university/secondary), community and technical colleges, as well as undergraduate and graduate university programs, who are studying in a related field of optics and photonics.

The scholarship award amount ranges from US $3,000 to US $11,000 and supports tuition and fees, course-related expenses, such as fees, books, supplies, and equipment required by your institution. Included in the portfolio of SPIE scholarships are the following:

  • More than 70 SPIE Optics and Photonics Scholarships, ranging from US $3,000 to $5,000
  • SPIE D.J. Lovell Scholarship, US $11,000
    • The D.J. Lovell Scholarship is the Society's largest named scholarship. Funded by SPIE, the scholarship honors the memory of longtime SPIE Member D. J. Lovell who authored the book Optical Anecdotes for SPIE Press. This scholarship recognizes the recipient’s top ranking among the group of SPIE named scholarship recipients.
  • John Kiel Scholarship, US $10,000
    • This scholarship honors SPIE Founding Member John Kiel and his longstanding and significant contributions to the Society. This scholarship is funded by SPIE and recognizes the student’s potential for long-term contribution to the fields of optics and optical engineering.
  • Laser Technology, Engineering, and Applications Scholarship, US $5,000
    • Funded by SPIE and the officers, directors and members of the Forum for Military Applications of Directed Energy (F-MADE), this scholarship recognizes the student’s scholarly achievement in laser technology, engineering, or applications.
  • Teddi Laurin Scholarship, US $5,000
    • This scholarship raises awareness of optics and photonics and fosters growth in the industry by supporting photonics students. Funded by SPIE and Photonics Media, it honors the memory of Laurin Publishing and Photonics Media founder Teddi Laurin.
  • Optical Design and Engineering Scholarship, US $5,000
    • This scholarship, which honors well-respected members of the SPIE technical community Bill Price and Warren Smith and is funded by SPIE and the Price Fund, supports a fulltime undergraduate or graduate student in optical design and engineering.
  • *New* Women in Optics Scholarship, US $5,000
    • Sponsored by Optimax and SPIE, the goal of the Women in Optics Scholarship is to support the education of women in the United States studying in the fields of optics, photonics, or engineering. Two awards will be granted each year. 

    2024 scholarship recipients announced

    View the 72 recipients of the 2024 SPIE scholarships, totaling US $303,000

    Requirements and eligibility

    Applicants must meet the following requirements and eligibility in order for the application to be forwarded to the Committee for consideration.

    • You must be a Student Member of SPIE. The standard Student Membership fee is US $20.
    • Your Membership must be in good standing throughout the review process (15 February  30 June). Should your Membership expire during the review process, your application will be removed from further consideration.
    • High school, pre-university, or secondary-school students will receive a one-year complimentary Student Membership. Fill in the Pre-College Membership Application Form and return to scholarships@spie.org
    • You must be enrolled in a program related to the field of optics and photonics.
    • You must be in school for the full academic year beginning Fall 2024 (between Aug 2024 and July 2025)
    • Two (2) recommendations are required. Family members, relatives, and students are not eligible to submit a recommendation. NOTE: Recommendations must be received before you can submit your application.
    • If applicable, your Annual Scholarship Report(s) must be on file with SPIE if you received a scholarship(s) in previous years. Please contact scholarships@spie.org to confirm that your report is on file (if applicable).
    • If awarded an SPIE Scholarship, funds must be used for the 2024-2025 academic year.
    • Students are eligible to receive one (1) SPIE Scholarship for each academic level including high school, community and technical college, undergraduate, Masters, and PhD studies.
    • Preference may be given to those who have not received any previous awards from SPIE.
    • Applicants who have received a terminal degree (MD, JD, PhD, etc.) are not eligible to apply.
    • Incomplete applications will not be submitted for consideration.

    All applicants will be notified via email of the results of their application in May or June.

    Before applying, please make sure you have your SPIE login credentials to access the application. If you have forgotten your account information, please open this link and click "Forgot Username" and/or "Forgot Password" or contact scholarships@spie.org should you have any questions.

    Evaluation criteria

    The key criterion in evaluating and ranking applications is the "prospect for long-term contribution that the granting of an award will make to the field of optics, photonics or related field." Need, in and of itself, shall not be considered as a criterion.

    All scholarship applications are judged on their own merit, based on the experience and education level of the individual student. High school (pre-university, secondary school), community and technical, undergraduate, and graduate students will be judged relative to other applicants with similar educational backgrounds.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Annually, the deadline falls on February 15. All materials must be submitted by 5:00 pm (Pacific Standard Time) on this date. Start early!

    All students will be notified of the results of their application in May/June.

    Student Members are eligible to receive one (1) SPIE Scholarship for each academic level including high school, community and technical, undergraduate, Masters and PhD. If you received an SPIE Education Scholarship in previous year(s), your annual scholarship report(s) must be on file with SPIE. To confirm if your report is on file, contact scholarships@spie.org

    If the information is available, feedback on the results of your application will be given upon request.

    Yes, unofficial transcripts are required.


    Reviewers want to know:

    • What experience made you interested in the optics and photonics field?
    • What are your career objectives and goals?
    • How do you intend to contribute to optics, photonics, or related field?.

    Tips on writing a good essay:

    • Describe how the scholarship would enable your future success in the field of optics and photonics.
    • Answer the question that is being asked (listed above).
    • Include stories/experiences that support the main point of the essay relevant to optics and photonics and quantify your impact when able.
    • Be clear and concise in 400 words or less.
    • Keep the key criterion in mind as you work on your essay.

    • The recommender should know you well and should be able to confirm your education background, leadership, and potential to contribute to the optics, photonics field.
    • Note: family members/relatives cannot submit recommendations.
    • Good examples of people to ask for references include past or present teachers/professors, and past or present employers (not family members).
    • Provide the recommender with a CV/resume/list of activities and accomplishments, as well as a copy of the scholarship evaluation criteria.
    • Give your recommender adequate time to prepare and submit your recommendation.

    • Make a checklist of what you need to have a complete online application packet (completed online application and two letters of recommendation are required for submission).
    • Make a copy of your application and keep in your files.
    • Incomplete applications will not be submitted for consideration.  
    • Make sure all contact information and email address is accurate.

    Questions? Please contact scholarships@spie.org