Student Opportunities

Do you have a passion for strengthening national security? Are you looking for an opportunity to make a difference? Work with the experts in National Reconnaissance Office student programs!

The NRO is a member of the Intelligence Community and is the Department of Defense agency responsible for developing, acquiring, launching, and operating the nation’s most sophisticated and capable intelligence satellites. For more than 60 years, NRO has been protecting the United States, its citizens and its allies with space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Today, NRO’s paid student internship program is developing the next generation of space leaders. NRO offers high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to gain real-world experience in positions related to their field of study. They work alongside professionals to support meaningful projects that directly contribute to the NRO mission.

The NRO currently offers the following student programs:

NRO Cadre Undergraduate and Graduate Student Internship Program

The NRO Cadre Undergraduate and Graduate Student Internship Program provides extraordinary training, mentoring, and career development opportunities for high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students to support the NRO's national space mission. Interns gain real-world experience in a variety of functional areas while working alongside professionals at NRO Headquarters in Chantilly, VA or ground stations located at Fort Belvoir, VA, White Sands Missile Range, NM, and Buckley Air Force Base, CO.  It is a paid, 10-week program from June to August. In addition, there may be opportunities to work during the school year, e.g. winter and spring break, and during subsequent summers based on mission requirements, continued eligibility, and the student's availability. This internship provides the opportunity for students to transition to the NRO Developmental Career Path Program upon graduation.

Applicants Must:

  • Be enrolled in a full-time degree program at an accredited college or university
  • Undergraduates must have a minimum of 24 credit hours prior to the start of the internship
  • Be able to obtain a TS/SCI security clearance, complete with background investigation, drug test, and polygraph

Application Process:

*** The 2025 NRO Undergraduate and Graduate Internship Program application period is now open February 15, 2024 and will close on October 15, 2024.
Click here for your application.

The NRO Internship Program is competitive; if you are not offered a position for a given year, we recommend you re-apply in subsequent years. If you are selected for consideration, NRO recruiters will contact you via phone or email. Please note, emails from NRO recruiters will have a “.mil” extension. To ensure receipt of these emails, please check your email spam filter settings or spam folder. Qualified individuals will receive an invitation to complete a virtual interview via HireVue, a digital interviewing platform. Selected applicants will receive a Tentative Job Offer.

SMART Scholarship Program

The Ronald V. Dellums Memorial Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation, or SMART) scholarship is for undergraduate and graduate students in one of 24 academic disciplines. Eligible disciplines include aerospace/aeronautical engineering, biomedical engineering, biosciences, chemical engineering, chemistry, civil engineering, cognitive/neural/behavioral sciences, computer science and engineering, cybersecurity, data sciences and analytics, electrical engineering, environmental sciences, geosciences, industrial and systems engineering, information sciences, material science and engineering, mechanical engineering, naval architecture and ocean engineering, nuclear engineering, oceanography, operations research, physics, and software engineering.

The SMART Scholarship Program is an all-encompassing option that provides full tuition, an annual stipend, book and health allowance, experienced mentorship, summer internship opportunities, and guaranteed employment at a Department of Defense sponsoring facility, such as NRO.

Applicants Must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be 18 years old or older by the completion of the student's first semester
  • Be pursuing a degree at an accredited university in one of the 24 disciplines with at least one year remaining prior to graduation
  • Have and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Be able to obtain and maintain a TS/SCI security clearance

Application Process:

The Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship program accepts applications annually from August 1 to December 1. All applicants are required to submit applications and supporting materials (such as references and forms) online by December 1 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Applicants are notified of their award in the spring. Contact the SMART Scholarship Program for more information and to receive access to the registration application portal.

Military Service and ROTC Summer Internship Program

Established in 2003, the Military Service Academies and ROTC NRO Summer Internship Program is a six-week program designed to train and educate United States Service Academy cadets and midshipman (sophomores and juniors) and Reserve Officers Training Corps students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) who are pursuing technical degrees related the NRO’s mission, vision, and goals. This program provides cadets and midshipmen with exposure to the NRO’s operations and mission, real-world technical research, and the Intelligence Community.

Applicants Must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen
  • Be United States Service Academy cadets and midshipman (sophomores and juniors) or Reserve Officers Training Corps students (sophomores, juniors, and seniors) who are pursuing technical degrees related the NRO’s mission, vision, and goals.
  • Be able to obtain and hold a TS/SCI security clearance, including polygraph
  • Have favorable results on a pre-employment drug test

Application Process:

NRO notifies the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, and Air Force and Navy ROTC points of contact each year that the NRO will be accepting applications. Service Academy students must provide their application through their department head. ROTC students at U.S. Colleges and Universities should contact for information on how to apply. Applications will be accepted in the spring for the following summer. The NRO Student Internship Program Office will confirm receipt with either the Service Academy POC or the student after the application has been received.

General Requirements

Those applying to any NRO student opportunity must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be suitable for Federal employment, determined by a background investigation
  • Be able to obtain and hold a TS/SCI security clearance, including polygraph
  • Have favorable results on a pre-employment drug test
  • Be enrolled full-time in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at an accredited university (undergraduates must have completed a minimum of 24 credit hours)
  • Provide an official transcript from the academic institution reflecting a minimum GPA meeting the requirements of each respective Intern program
  • Be available for an interview and other applicable processing between July and November
  • Be available and geographically located near NRO Headquarters in Chantilly, VA or ground stations, for the 10-week summer program
  • Register with the Selective Service System, if the student is male, over 18 years of age, and born after December 31, 1959

Policy on Drug Use

NRO is a drug free work place and carefully evaluates drug use during the hiring process. NRO is bound by federal law which prohibits NRO from granting security clearances to unlawful users of controlled substances, including marijuana. To be eligible for NRO employment applicants must not have used marijuana, defined as a product containing more than 0.3% THC, within 90 days of submitting their application and any time thereafter. NRO's employment guidelines also require that applicants do not use any other illegal drugs or misuse prescription medications within 12 months of submitting their application, and any time thereafter. Accurate and consistent reporting of any previous unlawful drug use is expected through each phase of processing.

Benefits Information

The NRO Student Internship Program offers various benefits to students including:

  • Paid internships
  • Paid time off (eligibility based on appointment term)
  • Education and training
  • Health and fitness facility
  • Health services
  • Credit union