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Prospective Fellows

The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students interested in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

The Fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant’s founders and former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with “hosts” in the legislative and executivebranch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one-year paid fellowship.

The 2025 Application period is now open.

Important Dates

Resources for Prospective Applicants

Knauss Fellowship FAQs

Any student, regardless of citizenship, is eligible to submit to this opportunity if:

  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.

The fellowship is one year (non-renewable). The dates of the official fellowship are February 1, 2025 – January 31, 2026.

  • Applications must be submitted to your state Sea Grant program by February 15, 2024.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Sea Grant Program in their state at least one to two months before the February 15, 2024 deadline to receive application support and notify the program that they intend to apply.
    • Explore Sea Grant programs on our About page
    • If your state is not served by a Sea Grant program (AZ, AR, CO, ID, IA, KS, KY, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, SD, TN, UT, WV, WY), obtain further information by contacting the National Sea Grant Office through e-mail or by phone (240-507-3712).

See “How does the application process work?” or watch this recorded webinar for detailed information

You can read detailed information about the application materials and evaluation criteria here. In short, you will need to include:

  • Curriculum vitae (C.V.)
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • List of plans for the upcoming year (classes and/or work, internships, etc)
  • All transcripts

The application process requires several steps and differs from many other fellowship opportunities. You apply first to the Sea Grant program in your state. You will then interview with them, and the state Sea Grant program can select up to six applicants to submit to the National Sea Grant Office. Recipients will be selected by a panel at the national level.

  1. Go to the main Sea Grant website and look for your state Sea Grant program. If your state does not have a program, email the National Sea Grant Office and they can direct you to the appropriate state.
  2. Reach out to the Sea Grant Program in your state at least one to two months before the state application deadline (February 15, 2024). Let them know you plan to apply and ask for advice navigating the process.
  3. Read the applicant resource documents to help you prepare your application: 2025 Knauss Fellowship Student Guide and Student Applicant Guide to Sea Grant Fellowships.
  4. Touch up your C.V., draft your personal statement, gather transcripts, and ask for recommendation letters. One letter must come from a faculty member with knowledge of your academic and research (when applicable) performance, the second letter should be from someone who knows you well.
  5. Ask questions of your local Sea Grant program and/or the National Sea Grant Office *before* the deadline. 
  6. Submit your material to your state’s Sea Grant program. They will contact you to schedule an interview.
  7. Prepare for the state selection process, which will include an interview with your state’s Sea Grant program. 
  8. The Sea Grant programs can each select up to six applicants to elevate to the National Sea Grant Office competition. Each program is different; they may or may not notify applicants if they have been elevated.
  9. The National Sea Grant Office holds a selection panel to determine Knauss finalists (you are not referred to as a Knauss Fellow until after placement week–see the next question in this FAQ). Your state Sea Grant Program will notify selected finalists in mid- to late summer

If you have questions about the process, contact your state’s Sea Grant program or email the National Office. You can also watch this recorded webinar for more information.

  • You will be notified if you are a selected finalist in mid- to late-summer.
    • Note you are a called a selected finalist, not a Knauss Fellow, until after you are placed in a position during Placement Week.
  • After finalists are selected, a webinar will be held to describe the next steps, including the difference between executive and legislative placements. You 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 classes in late summer.
  • There may be several other informational webinars to help you prepare for your fellowship year.
  • In October (executive fellows) or January (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 and legislative Knauss positions.

    Please note, 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.

Find Your Sea Grant Program

You apply for a Knauss Fellowship through the Sea Grant program in your state. Find your program below. If your state does not have a Sea Grant program, contact the National Sea Grant Office by e-mail or phone (240-507-3712).

Our Sea Grant Programs

The National Sea Grant College program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1966 and works to create and maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy. The Sea Grant network consists of a federal/university partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and 34 university-based programs in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The network draws on the expertise of more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, public outreach experts, educators and students to help citizens better understand, conserve and utilize America’s coastal resources.

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