National Achievement Scholarship Program

The National Achievement® Scholarship Program is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding Black American high school students. Black students may have entered both the 2015 National Achievement Program and the 2015 National Merit® Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) and meeting other published requirements for participation. The two programs are conducted concurrently but operated and funded separately. A student's standing is determined independently in each program. Black American students can qualify for recognition and be honored as Scholars in both the 2015 National Merit Program and the 2015 National Achievement Program, but can receive only one monetary award from NMSC.

Student Entry Requirements

To participate in the 2015 National Achievement® Scholarship Program, a student must meet the following requirements:

  1. have taken the 2013 PSAT/NMSQT® in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern;
  2. have requested entry to the National Achievement Program by marking Section 14 on the PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet, thereby identifying himself or herself as a Black American who wishes to be considered in this competition as well as in the National Merit® Scholarship Program;
  3. be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to enroll full time in college no later than the fall following completion of high school; and
  4. be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) and intend to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law.
    Not yet a U.S. citizen? Click here for documentation required from scholarship candidates who have not yet become U.S. citizens. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.)

Information supplied by the student on the 2013 PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet determined whether the individual met requirements for participation in the 2015 National Achievement Program.  back to top

Program Recognition

Of the more than 160,000 students who entered the 2015 National Achievement® Program, over 4,700 have been honored. A group of about 3,100 Outstanding Participants were referred to colleges for their potential for academic success. A smaller group of about 1,600 were named Semifinalists, the only students who have an opportunity to advance in the 2015 competition for National Achievement Scholarships.  back to top

Outstanding Participants Referred to Colleges

Approximately 3,100 outstanding 2015 National Achievement® Program participants were brought to the attention of about 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the United States. In late September 2014, a roster of these students' names, high schools, and tentative college majors was sent to higher education admission officials. At the same time, principals were notified of their students who were being referred to colleges and received a certificate for presentation to each student in recognition of his or her standing in the program.  back to top


About 1,600 high-scoring participants in the 2015 National Achievement® Scholarship Program were designated Semifinalists. To ensure that academically talented Black American students throughout the nation were included in the pool, Semifinalists were named on a regional representation basis. Semifinalists are the highest-scoring program participants in the states that constitute each region. Application materials were sent to Semifinalists through their high schools. Before being considered for a National Achievement Scholarship, a Semifinalist must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and other requirements explained in the information provided to each Semifinalist. Click here to learn about requirements for becoming a Finalist in the 2015 National Achievement Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.)  back to top


In late January 2015, approximately 1,300 Semifinalists were notified by mail at their home addresses that they qualified as Finalists in the 2015 program. High school principals were notified and provided with a certificate to present to each Finalist.  back to top

Achievement Scholar® Designees

All 2015 Achievement Scholarship® winners (Achievement Scholar® designees) are selected from the group of Finalists based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments—without consideration of financial circumstances or college choice. Beginning in late February 2015, the National Achievement® Program notified about 800 Finalists that they have been selected to receive a National Achievement Scholarship. Two types of Achievement Scholarship awards are offered:

  • National Achievement® $2500 Scholarships
    Every Finalist competes for one of these single payment scholarships, which are awarded on a regional representation basis. A total of 700 National Achievement $2500 Scholarships are awarded.
  • Corporate-sponsored Achievement Scholarship awards
    Corporate sponsors support awards for Finalists who plan to pursue particular college majors or careers, are children of their employees, or are residents of an area served by the sponsor. These scholarships may either be renewable for four years of undergraduate study or one-time awards. About 100 corporate-sponsored awards are offered in 2015.

Achievement Scholarship awards are supported by NMSC's own funds and independent sponsors that include corporations, company foundations, and professional organizations.  back to top

NMSC mission
documents and reports

2014 Student Guide

2013-14 Annual Report

NMSC Corporate Brochure

press releases
NMSC scholar community
scholarship renewal
scholars you may know