John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and Application Information

The 2021 National Sea Grant College Program John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship opportunity is now closed.
Applications were due by February 21, 2020 5:00 PM CST

Visit the NOAA Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship Program website for more information.

Texas Sea Grant held a webinar for tips on developing a competitive application on January 14, 2020.

Knauss Webinar Powerpoint

Former Fellow Goal Statement Examples



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) # OAR-SG-2021-2006204, 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, regardless of citizenship, who, on February 21, 2020, is enrolled towards a degree in a graduate or professional program (may graduate any time thereafter) and has an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions that affect those resources. The graduate degree needs to be awarded through a United States-accredited institution of higher education in the United States or U.S. territories.

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).

Other Criteria that Affect Eligibility: International students please note, while this fellowship is open to all eligible students regardless of nationality, a significant number of participating federal host offices are unable to accept foreign nationals as fellows in their offices. Non-US citizens are responsible for obtaining the appropriate visa to allow them to work in the Washington, D.C. area during the fellowship period.

Length of Assignment

The length of assignment is one year (non-renewable). The inclusive dates of the award are February 1, 2021 to February 28, 2022; however, these dates can be slightly adjusted to accommodate academic semester needs. The award runs for 13 months with the 13th month for relocation only, (not intended for fellows to carry out host office activities or any other fellowship-salaried activities).

How to Apply

How to Submit an Application

  • Students should submit applications to a state Sea Grant Program Office and not submit information directly into

  • Submit required application elements to Mia Zwolinski, Texas Sea Grant assistant director, research and fiscal administration, by emailing by February 21, 2020 5:00 PM CST (no exceptions)

  • 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 FFO guidelines

  • Texas Sea Grant will complete the sub-elements of the Director Letter of Recommendation, Sea Grant 90-2 Project Summary Short Form, and Budget Narrative including 90-4 Budget and Justification
  • Texas A&M Sponsored Research Services will complete the application file and submit the selected applications via by 5:00 p.m. EST on April 3, 2020.


Application Document Required


Submit ONE pdf file consisting of the following six elements in the following order:

1. Maximum of two signed letters of recommendation

Include one from the student's major professor. If no major professor exists, a faculty member who knows the applicant well academically, may be substituted.

Letters beyond these two required, will not be accepted, such as letters of support from members of congress, friends, and relatives. Include letters in this application pdf file - do not send separately; referees desiring confidentiality may send letters directly to 


2. A Personal Education and Career Goal Statement

The statement should emphasize the applicant's abilities and expectations from the fellowship experience in the way of career development (1000 words or less; 12 pt font).

Reviewers want to know how the student's abilities, education, and career goals will benefit the Knauss Fellowship Program, as well as what the student expects to benefit from the experience of this Knauss Fellowship Program, as compared to other fellowship programs.


3. Personal and Academic Curriculum Vitae

Not to exceed two pages


4. All undergraduate and graduate student transcripts

Must be a clear, scanned copy. Transcripts are not required to be official.


5. Listing of classes and/or plans for Spring 2021, Summer 2021, and Fall 2021

Do not to exceed one page.


6. 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 must be included as part of that applicant's application package to the state Sea Grant Program.

Evaluation Criteria and Other Information

  • All applicants will be evaluated on their application package according to the application content; Evaluation Criteria used by the National Sea Grant Office (NSGO) may be found in the FFO guidelines, (pages 11-12)

  • 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

  • The competitive selection process and subsequent notification to the eligible Sea Grant Programs and notification to the applicants will be made in June 2020.

Stipend and Expenses

The Sea Grant Program receives and administers the overall cooperative agreement of up to $74,000 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 $74,000 in funding; this includes base funding for each award of $59,000 with optional host office travel up to an additional $15,000.

  • $47,500 is to be used by the eligible Sea Grant Program to cover the fellow's salary/stipend for the 12 months of the fellowship

  • $11,500 is to be used for to cover allowable expenses such as mandatory health insurance, relocation, academic tuition, journal publication fees, and academic- and fellowship-related travel, conference, online training and workshop expenses

  • Host offices may choose to provide additional funding for office-related travel up to an amount totaling $15,000 which would bring the entire award up to $74,000. Funding for office-related travel is not guaranteed and is entirely up to the host office with which the selected applicant is placed

  • In certain circumstances, additional Host Office-related travel funding may take the award above $74,000. In such cases any additional funds will be administered through an amendment to the grant.

  • Unallowable Costs: Costs for equipment or supplies (including books) for the student's permanent use, costs for membership to professional societies, and indirect costs

  • The fellow is responsible for managing the planned budget.

Types of Placements

Fellows placements may be in the legislative or executive branches. Of the approximately 60 Knauss fellowships awarded annually, 124 fellows are placed in congress.

See the video and factsheet "The Knauss Legislative Fellowship: Why It Might Be Right For You" (produced by Maryland Sea Grant), which provides information regarding the 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 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. Sea Grant programs must submit all reports to the NOAA Grants Office via Grants Online.

    • Fellows must submit via email (note access to eSeaGrant) a mid-year and a final performance report (summary of accomplishments and activities) to their Sea Grant program.

      • Fellows must submit their mid-year report to their home Sea Grant program no later than six months from the start of the fellowship (July 31, 2021).
      • Fellows must submit their final report to their home Sea Grant program by the last day of the fellowship (Jan. 31, 2022).
      • Fellows submit reports to Texas Sea Grant by means of the Texas Sea Grant Reporting System, eSeaGrant. Information for reporting in eSeaGrant may be accessed by emailing Inquire by May 15, 2021 for access.

  • The Sea Grant program must then submit the mid-year progress to the NOAA Grants Office no later than 30 days following the end of the first six-month period from the start date of the original award (Aug. 31, 2021).

  • The Sea Grant program must submit a comprehensive final project progress report to the NOAA Grants Office within 90 days after the award expiration date (May 31, 2022). The final project progress report will include the last interim reporting period.

  • All performance reports must use the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) format.
Mia Zwolinski

For More Information:

Mia Zwolinski

Assistant Director, Research and Fiscal Administration

(979) 458-0449