Knauss Fellowship

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Former National Sea Grant Knauss Fellows. Image credit: NOAA-Sea Grant.

The National Sea Grant John A. Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in 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 executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one year paid fellowship.

You apply for a Knauss Fellowship through the Sea Grant program in your state. If you live in Minnesota, contact our Research Coordinator Valerie Brady. If you live in a state that does not have a Sea Grant program, contact the National Sea Grant Office by e-mail or call 240-507-3712.

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Why Minnesota Sea Grant?

Minnesota Sea Grant is a strong supporter of the National Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine and Great Lakes Policy Fellowship program because it directly supports Sea Grant's mission to enhance the practical use and conservation of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. The Knauss program also supports the National and Minnesota Sea Grant workforce development focus area.

Who is eligible?

Applicants must:

  • Be enrolled toward a degree in a graduate program at any point between the onset of the 2020 fall term (quarter, trimester, semester, etc.) and February 19, 2021.
  • The graduate degree must be through an accredited institution of higher education in the United States or U.S. territories.
  • Students are eligible regardless of nationality; domestic and international students at accredited U.S. institutions may apply.
  • Have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

How long is the fellowship?

The fellowship is one year (non-renewable). The dates for the 2022 Fellowship are expected to be February 1, 2022 to January 31, 2023.

How do you apply?

  • You must submit your applications to Minnesota Sea Grant (or the Sea Grant program in your state) by February 2021.
  • You are strongly encouraged to contact Minnesota Sea Grant (or the the Sea Grant program in your state) at least one to two months before the February 2021 deadline to receive application support and notify the program that they intend to apply.
  • Explore the nationwide Sea Grant program network.
  • 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) you should contact the National Sea Grant Office by e-mail or phone 301-734-1085.

What do you need to include in your application?

You can read detailed information about the application materials and evaluation criteria. 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

How does the application process work?

The application process requires several steps and differs from many other fellowship opportunities. You apply first to the Sea Grant program in your state, NOT on 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. Contact Minnesota Sea Grant (or the Sea Grant program in your state) at least one to two months before the state application deadline (February 2021). Let them know you plan to apply and ask for advice navigating the process.
  2. 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.
  3. Read the "Federal Funding Opportunity" (FFO) that has details for the grant on Click "related documents" to find the full announcement.
  4. Draft your personal statement, touch up your C.V., order official transcripts, and ask for recommendation letters. One letter must come from your major academic advisor, the second letter should be from someone who knows you well.
  5. Double-check the Federal Funding Opportunity to make sure you have met all the requirements.
  6. Ask questions of your local Sea Grant program and/or the National Sea Grant Office *before* the deadline.
  7. Submit your material to your state's Sea Grant program, NOT They will contact you to schedule an interview.
  8. Prepare for the state selection process, which will include an interview with your state's Sea Grant program.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

What happens if you are selected?

  • You will be notified if you are a selected finalist in mid to late summer.
  • Note that you are a called a selected finalist until you are placed with a host. After placement you are then called a Knauss Fellow.
  • After finalists are selected, you will be invited to a webinar to describe the next steps, including explaining the differences 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 placements in late summer.
  • There may be several other informational webinars to help you prepare for your fellowship year.
  • In October (executive fellows) or late November/early December (legislative fellows) finalists will participate in placement week. Placement week is filled with interviews, happy hours 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 2020 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.

Program Staff

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Associate Director of Research