John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship 2025 Application Information

   This competition is currently closed.

Application submission is through an application to the Sea Grant program in the state in which the student is earning their degree.

Applicants from states not served by a Sea Grant program should obtain further information by contacting the Knauss Sea Grant Fellowship Program Manager at the National Sea Grant Office (NSGO), whereby a state Sea Grant program will be assigned.



The Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program was established by Congress in 1979 and is named in honor of one of Sea Grant’s founders, former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss. The fellowship offers a unique educational experience to graduate and professional students who have an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program matches the students with hosts in the legislative or executive branch of the federal government for a one-year, paid fellowship (13-month award term) in the Washington, D.C. area.

Applications are due to Texas Sea Grant in February for the fellowships beginning in February of the following year. The final decision is made by a review panel convened by the National Sea Grant Office. While the number of fellowships offered varies with the availability of positions, Texas Sea Grant has had at least one accepted almost every year.

Fellows from Texas have served their fellowship year in legislative offices or at agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, and NASA. The majority have gone on to careers in federal agencies, higher education institutions, or non-governmental organizations related to coastal or marine resources or policies.

Please consult the Federal Funding Opportunity Announcement (FFO) # NOAA-OAR-SG-2025-23655, which contains the guidelines/requirements for documents and content (summarized below), selection criteria, as well as the review and selection process.


An eligible applicant is any student who can meet the following requirements: 

(1) The student is enrolled towards a degree in a graduate program at any point between the onset of the 2023 Fall Term (quarter, trimester, semester, etc.) and February 15,2024;

(2) The graduate degree will be awarded through an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or U.S. Territories, and;

(3) The student has an interest in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. 

Other Criteria that Affect Eligibility

  • The one-year fellowship will take place in the National Capital region. Applicants must be prepared to relocate to the Washington, D.C. area. Non-U.S. citizens are responsible for obtaining the appropriate visa to allow them to work in the Washington, D.C. area during the fellowship period.
  • Applicants must be able to pass a federal background security check.
  • Prior contact/arrangements made with possible host offices before the start of the placement week will be cause for immediate disqualification from the process.
  • Applicants that have been accepted as National Finalists and/or become fellows are not eligible to apply again without the written permission of the NSGO Fellowships Manager, which will only be granted in response to exceptional life events. A National Finalists is defined as an applicant who goes through the review process and is selected at the national level for the fellowship program. Applicants are considered finalists until they are placed into a host office during the placement process.

Length of Assignment

The fellowship is a 12-month nonrenewable, non-deferrable term. The inclusive dates of the award are February 1, 2025 to February 28, 2026; however, these dates can be slightly adjusted to accommodate academic semester needs. The award runs for 13 months with the 13th month for relocation purposes.

Before Applying

How to Submit an Application

  • Students should submit applications to a State Sea Grant Program Office and not submit information directly into
  •  Submit the application PDF by email to Mia Zwolinski, Texas Sea Grant Research Coordinator, at: Applications should be received by Thursday, February 15, 2024, 5:00 PM CST, no exceptions. An email submission receipt will be provided to the applicant.
  • All six elements of the application must be completed by the student and submitted in one combined PDF document in the exact required order as noted in the Federal Funding Opportunity guidelines and as listed below.
  • It is recommended to contact your letter writers 4-6 weeks before the submission due date, ideally before the first of January, to provide adequate time for you to work with your pending referees. 
  • Texas Sea Grant will complete the sub-elements of the Director Letter of Recommendation, 90-4 Budget Form, Budget Narrative, Project Abstract and other Research Related Federal forms.
  • It is not necessary to contact the Director of Texas Sea Grant for the Director Letter of Support; this letter is not required at the application stage.
  • Texas A&M Sponsored Research Services will complete the application file and submit the selected applications via by 5:00 p.m. CST on March 28, 2024.

Application Elements Required

Applicants please note: guidelines have changed; for each of the six elements listed below, it is extremely important that you reference the helpful student guides linked above that have summarized the specific requirements; follow the instructions exactly; and follow and understand the Review Criteria to which each specific section will be judged by the reviewers.

Submit ONE PDF consisting of the following 6 elements IN THE FOLLOWING SEQUENTIAL ORDER:

Name the file: “Project Narrative_ApplicantLastName”

  1. Curriculum Vitae
    Not to exceed two pages. The student should not include personal contact information or web links to external resources (e.g., LinkedIn, articles, blogs, etc.). Recommended minimum 11 pt. font, 1” margins.
  2. Personal Education and Career Development Response

The statement should emphasize the applicant’s abilities and expectations from the fellowship experience in terms of their career development; see new guidelines and criteria. Recommended minimum 11 pt. font; 1” margins). Exclude personal contact information or web links to external resources (e.g., LinkedIn, articles, blogs, etc.). 

  1. Relevant Coursework and Future Year Plans 

Not to exceed one page; see new guidelines and criteria. Recommended minimum 11 pt. font, 1” margins.

  1. Two letters of recommendation

Two letters of recommendation, including one from a faculty member with knowledge of the applicant’s academic and research (when applicable) performance; see guidelines, criteria, page limits. 

  • Include letters in the application pdf file – do not send separately. Should a referee desire confidentiality, they may email their letter directly to:  Mia Zwolinski, Texas Sea Grant Research Coordinator, at:
  • If this is the case, the applicant should include a blank page with the name of the referee as a placeholder page in the application. Texas Sea Grant will compile the letter(s) into the application on your behalf. 
  1. All undergraduate and graduate student transcripts
    Must be a clear, scanned copy. Transcripts are not required to be official.
  2. Written statement from the National Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship Program Manager

For applicants from states not served by an eligible Sea Grant Program, but applying through an eligible Sea Grant Program. The statement should refer the applicant to the most appropriate eligible Sea Grant Program. This statement must be included as part of the applicant’s application PDF submitted to the state Sea Grant Program.

7. Optional Demographics Form (OMB Control No. 0648-0568) 

The National Sea Grant College Program values diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in both our organization and the communities we serve. Through the Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship, we strive to provide an educational and employment opportunity for current and recent graduate students interested in ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources and the national policy decisions affecting those resources, regardless of race, color, religion, place of origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, disability or veteran status. 

Students have the option to provide demographic information via this OMB-approved FORM. The information and associated background information of graduate students, as well as recent graduates, which may be used for the purpose of tracking scholarship recipients’ academic progress, making annual financial awards, and tracking graduate studies and career progress. Demographic information will be used to measure the success of stated Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) goals only. This information will not be used to determine program eligibility.

Evaluation Criteria and Other Information

All applicants will be evaluated on their application package according to the application content; Evaluation Review Criteria used by the National Sea Grant Office (NSGO) may be found in the FFO guidelines, (NOFO numbered pages 10-12) and are specifically referenced in the helpful student guides noted and linked above.

  • Up to six applicants may be selected by the Sea Grant Program, plus up to an additional six from states not served by an eligible Sea Grant Program, but approved to apply through an eligible Sea Grant Program.
  • Prior contacts / arrangements made with possible host offices before the start of placement week will be cause for immediate disqualification from the process.

Next Steps After Submission

February 15 to March 14: State reviews are conducted including:

  • Texas Sea Grant conducts an administrative review to ensure that the 6 required elements contained in the application comply with the Federal Funding Opportunity Guidelines. 
  • Applications will be reviewed by external reviewers utilizing the Review Criteria as stated in the Federal Funding Opportunity Guidelines.

March 18-19: Dates for a scheduled phone or virtual interview with the Director of Texas Sea Grant; the interview will be the basis for writing a strong letter of support to be included in the application for submission to the national level.

March 28: Texas A&M Sponsored Research Services will complete the application file and submit the selected applications via by 5:00 p.m. CST on March 28, 2024.

Mid-June: The competitive selection process and subsequent notification to the eligible Sea Grant Programs and notification to the applicants as Finalists, will be made mid-June 2024.

Early July: Knauss Finalist Welcome Workshop

End of July: Knauss Finalist information/commitment due

October, 2024: Executive Placement Week

January, 2025: Legislative Placement Week

February 1, 2025: Fellowship start date

January 31, 2026: Fellowship ending date

February 28, 2026: Grant ending date

Stipend and Expenses

The Sea Grant Program receives and administers the overall cooperative agreement of up to $90,500 per student on behalf of each fellow selected from their program, with the option to add additional funds if allowed by the host office with which the selected applicant is placed.

  • Application packages will propose a total of $93,900 in funding; this includes base funding for each award of $76,400 with optional host office-approved travel up to an additional $17,500.
  • $71,400 is to be used by the eligible Sea Grant Program to cover the fellow’s salary/stipend for the 12 months of the fellowship. $5,000 is available for allowable costs.
    • Allowable expenses could include, but is not limited to, relocation prior to/following the fellowship, academic tuition, journal publication fees, academic- and fellowship-related travel, conference fees, online trainings and workshops.
    • Unallowable Costs: Costs for equipment or supplies (including books) for the student’s permanent use, costs for membership to professional societies, and indirect costs.
  • Applications should also include travel costs totaling $17,500, of which $15,000 will be budgeted for optional host office related travel and training (if the host office approves), and $2,500 will be budgeted for optional placement week expenses, which would be provided at the discretion of the National Sea Grant Office.

The fellow is responsible for managing the planned budget.

Types of Placements

Fellows’ placements may be in the legislative or executive branches. After finalists are selected, a Knauss Finalist Welcome Workshop webinar will be held in early July 2024, to describe the next steps, including the difference between executive and legislative placements. The finalist will then be asked to write a 300 word or less justification for wanting to be placed in the executive or legislative class. The National Sea Grant Office will announce the split of the executive or legislative cohort classes in late summer.

In October 2024 (executive fellows) or January 2025 (legislative fellows) finalists will participate in Placement Week. Placement Week is filled with interviews, networking with potential hosts, and then host position-fellow pairing.

To learn more about the types of placements available through the fellowship program please review the list of potential 2022 executive andlegislative Knauss positions. Please note that for most executive branch offices, selected fellows must pass a federal background check to gain security clearance. This includes answering questions about your previous citizenship, residence, education, employment, character references, selective service, military service, and illegal drug use. Please follow this link to an example of the form you will have to fill out.

See the video “The Knauss Legislative Fellowship: Why It Might Be Right For You” (produced by Maryland Sea Grant), which provides information regarding legislative placement.

Reporting Requirements


Sea Grant Fellows will be administratively responsible to their sponsoring State Sea Grant Directors during their terms in Washington, D.C., but must be responsive to the administrative and technical direction from the host to whom they report. The role of the Knauss Program Manager in the NSGO is one of the ombudsman between the fellow, the host, the Sea Grant Programs and the sponsoring institution. The fellow is responsible for managing the planned budget and for reporting progress.


Project progress reports are due on a semi-annual basis. Fellows are required to submit a mid-year and a final performance report (summary of accomplishments and activities) to their Sea Grant program. Sea Grant programs will submit all reports to the NOAA Grants Office via Grants Online.

The mid-year report (details the first 9 months of their fellowship), is submitted to their home Sea Grant program by early November and their final report by February (at the end of their fellowship). The report template is the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) format. A template geared towards the Knauss Fellowship will be provided for completion. Fellows should also include the Professional Development Plan approved by their Host Office Supervisor. Submit all documents to Mia Zwolinski, Texas Sea Grant Research Coordinator, at:

For More Information:

Mia Zwolinski

Associate Director, Research Coordinator