John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

2023 Application Information

This competition is now 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.


Texas Sea Grant hosted a zoom webinar at on January 26, 2022 for tips on developing a competitive application.


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-2023-2007040, 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 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 2021 Fall Term (quarter, trimester, semester, etc.) and February 18, 2022;

(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.

The National Sea Grant College Program champions diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by working to create a marine science workforce that reflects the communities we serve. We are recruiting, retaining, and preparing a diverse workforce, and proactively engaging and serving the diverse populations of coastal communities. Sea Grant is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communication, and education programs that serve people with unique backgrounds, circumstances, needs, perspectives, and ways of thinking. We encourage applicants of all ages, races, ethnicities, national origins, gender identities, sexual orientations, disabilities, cultures, religions, citizenship types, marital statuses, education levels, job classifications, veteran status types, income, and socioeconomic status types to apply for this opportunity.


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.
  • Foreign nationals 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. This may reduce the number of placement opportunities available to foreign nationals. Note: Foreign nationals are eligible for both the Executive and Legislative cohort.
  • 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, 2023 to February 29, 2024; 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

  • Take advantage of this special opportunity to watch a recorded webinar with Dr. Nicolás Alvarado, Knauss Fellowship Alum, as he shares his story from Knauss Fellow to integral NOAA Navigation Manager. Feel free to access Dr. Alvarado's PowerPoint presentation as you follow along with the recording.

  • News Article: "Sea Grant Knauss Fellows Reflect on Year-long Marine Policy Experience" From the Coast to the Capital
  • See what other Knauss Fellows say about their experiences during their Fellowship at the link: Texas Sea Grant Knauss Fellows blog.
  • Learn more about the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program from current fellows at Knuass Office Hours. Office Hours are offered:

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 Hunter Holley, Texas Sea Grant Research Program Assistant at: Applications should be received by Friday, February 18, 2022, 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, by 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, budget, budget justification and other SF 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 April 1, 2022.

Application Elements Required

Applicants please note: guidelines have changed; for each of the 6 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 file consisting of the following six elements in the following order:

  1. Personal and Academic 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: Hunter Holley, Texas Sea Grant Research Program Assistant at:
  • If this is the case, 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.

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, (pages 14-17) 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 to mid-March: 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.

Mid-March: the Director of Texas Sea Grant will schedule a phone or virtual interview, the basis for writing a strong letter of support to be included in the application for submission to the national level.

April 1: Texas A&M Sponsored Research Services will complete the application file and submit the selected applications via by 5:00 p.m. CST on April 1, 2022.

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 in June 2022; with expected start date of February 1, 2023.

Stipend and Expenses

The Sea Grant Program receives and administers the overall cooperative agreement of up to $89,000 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 $89,000 in funding; this includes base funding for each award of $71,500 with optional host office-approved travel up to an additional $17,500.
  • $66,500 is to be used by the eligible Sea Grant Program to cover the fellow's salary/stipend for the 12 months of the fellowship. $5,000 is available for Professional Development costs. 
    • Allowable expenses could include, but is not limited to, relocation prior to 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 final selection and announcement of Knauss Finalists, the Selecting Official will place applicants into either the legislative or executive cohort. Selection of executive and legislative cohorts will be informed by finalists’ stated preference (solicited after the announcement of the finalist class), recommendations from the eligible Sea Grant program director and independent reviewers, as well as the selection factors.

See the video "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. Fellows must submit a mid-year and a final performance report (summary of accomplishments and activities) to their Sea Grant program. Sea Grant programs must submit all reports to the NOAA Grants Office via Grants Online.

Fellows must submit their mid-year report (detailing the 1st 9 months of their fellowship) to their home Sea Grant program by early November and their final report by late January (at the end of their fellowship).

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 mid May of your fellowship period for access.

The Sea Grant program submits the mid-year progress to the NOAA Grants Office by late November during the grant period and the comprehensive final progress report within 90 days after the award expiration date in late May.

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