“I’ve gotten a much better perspective of the federal landscape now than I ever had before.”

2020 Knauss Fellow
Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Knauss Fellowship: How to Apply

Application Deadline: February 15, 2024, by 5:00PM EST

For full details on the application requirements, evaluation criteria, and review and selection process, download the VASG fellowship announcement and the 2025 Knauss Fellowship NOFO. For additional information on how to submit your application to VASG, refer to the eSeaGrant Instructions. All of the above can be found in the sidebar of this page under Related Documents.

Intent to Apply

Applicants are encouraged to contact VASG to indicate their interest in the fellowship, discuss the application process, and schedule an interview. Applicants can express their interest by sending a short, simple email – please include “Knauss Fellowship” in the subject line.

Application Submission & eSeaGrant

Applications must be submitted online via eSeaGrant. If you plan to apply, we recommend registering for eSeaGrant at least two weeks in advance of the deadline. VASG cannot accept late applications as outlined in the NOFO, please allow ample time to submit your application

Recommendation Letters

To maintain confidentiality, DO NOT submit letters with the student’s application. Letters must be requested and uploaded through eSeaGrant, be submitted by the deadline, and should be addressed to Dr. Troy Hartley, Director, Virginia Sea Grant. Please review our  Tips for Selecting Letter Writers.

Watch: Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship informational webinar

Please watch this webinar from October 24, 2023 if you have questions about the 2025 Sea Grant Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship and application process.

Play Video about 2025 Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Informational Webinar.

Fostering a Safe and Welcome Community

VASG is committed to building inclusive research, extension, communication, and education programs that serve people from diverse backgrounds, circumstances, needs, perspectives, and ways of thinking. Diversity includes, but is not limited to, age, disability and/or health status, ethnicity, gender identity, geographic origin, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and/or veteran status. 

VASG does not tolerate any form of misconduct, discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct (e.g. sexual assault within its organization, at awardee organizations, field sites, meetings, or anywhere VASG-funded research, outreach and education are conducted).

2025 Knauss Fellowship Timeline

February 2024

Applications due to Virginia Sea Grant – February 15, 2024 by 5:00PM EST.

March 2024

VASG review of application packages, applicant interviews.
VASG will nominate up to six applications for the national competition – March 14, 2024 by 11:59PM EDT.

April/May 2024

National review panel and finalist selection.

June 2024

Notification of applicants.

October 2024

Executive branch placement week – Dates subject to change.

January 2025

Legislative branch placement week – Dates subject to change. 

February 2025

Fellowship begins – February 1, 2025

2022 Knauss Fellowship Finalist
Old Dominion University

The Application Package

Curriculum Vitae

  • NOT to exceed TWO pages
  • The student should not include personal contact information or web links to external resources (eg. Linkedin, articles, blogs, ect.)

Personal Education and Career Development Response

  • The student should emphasize their abilities and expectations of the fellowship experience in terms of their career development.
  • Each section and subsequent subsection should be answered separately using the section headers below.
  • The entire personal education and career development section should not exceed 1,530 words total; suggested word counts will be included with each subsection below. – Section headers will count as part of the overall word count.

Section One: Icebreaker

The suggested word count is 25 words for this section.

  • (suggested 20 words) The student should use one sentence to describe themselves.
  • (5 words MAX—this is the only question with a strict word count) The student should list five adjectives that someone with a close personal connection (coworker, supervisor, etc.) would use to describe them.

Section Two: Career Path and Objectives

The suggested word count is 750 words for this section.

  • (Suggested 250 words) The student should discuss any experience(s) (researcher or otherwise) that support or relate to the mission of the National Sea Grant College Program or the state Sea Grant program (the student does not have to have had a direct connection to Sea Grant). The student should emphasize (if relevant) any experience with extending and distilling science for non-scientific audiences.
  • (Suggested 250 words) The student should discuss their interest in the Knauss Fellowship with a specific focus on how the Knauss Fellowship supports the student’s career pathway. The student should focus on how the Knauss Program would further support their development as a professional.
  • (Suggested 250 words) The student should discuss the transferable skills (skills that can be applied across a variety of disciplines) that they would bring to the Knauss Fellowship. In this response, students should highlight experiences from their personal, professional and academic background.

Section Three: Career Path Experience

The suggested word count is 750 words for this section.

  • (Suggested 250 words) During the Fellowship, finalists will serve in a range of capacities, including developing and delivering public programs or services, informing policymaking, and providing evidence-based advice to leaders. The student should discuss how they have and/or will embrace the concept of public service.
  • (Suggested 250 words) The student should discuss a situation in which they have worked with a person or group with different perspectives, life experiences, beliefs, etc. from their own to achieve a common goal. The student is encouraged to use examples.
  • (Suggested 250 Words) The student should discuss a situation in which they overcame a challenge (e.g. within a community or institution, personally, professionally, etc.) specifically as it relates to how they took a leadership role. The student should also consider including a reflection on what they learned from this experience.

Relevant Coursework and Future Year Plans

NOT to exceed ONE page single spaced.
The student should discuss any relevant coursework and their future year activities.

  • Relevant Coursework: The student may discuss any completed or in progress classes that they deem relevant to their success in the Knauss Fellowship Program.
  • Future year activities: The student should include a listing of classes and/or plans for spring 2024, summer 2024, and fall 2024.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation from individuals who have worked with the student, including at least one from a faculty member associated with the student’s current enrollment who has knowledge of the student’s academic and research (when applicable) performance. Each letter should not exceed two pages single spaced and should clearly indicate the letter writer’s name and position. These letters should:

  • Discuss the following attributes of the student: self-motivation, response to setbacks, skills and involvement in teamwork, collaborative leadership skills, willingness to learn a new skill or topic, academic performance and potential; and
  • Speak to anything else the review panel should know about the strengths that the student will bring to the fellowship.

The letters should not include personal contact information or web links to external resources (e.g., LinkedIn, articles, blogs, etc.). If included, programs should redact prior to submission. Any letters beyond the two letters of recommendation and the eligible Sea Grant director’s letter will be disregarded by the selection panel. Letters of endorsement from members of Congress, friends, or relatives will not be accepted. NOTE: Blinded reviewer comments will be provided to the students, including discussion of the LORs.

To maintain confidentiality, DO NOT submit letters with the student’s application. Letters must be requested and uploaded through eSeaGrant, be submitted by the deadline, and should be addressed to Dr. Troy Hartley, Director, Virginia Sea Grant. Applicants should refer their letter writers to the “For Letter Writers” page on the VASG Knauss Fellowship website.


  • Clear digital or scanned copies of all undergraduate and graduate student transcripts (unofficial are acceptable).

VASG Director's Letter

A signed letter of recommendation from the Virginia Sea Grant director, which is built from an interview with the applicant. As part of that interview and subsequent letter, the director shall:

  • Demonstrate why the student is a good fit for the Knauss program
  • Highlight the skills the student emphasizes in the interview
  • Explain any gaps in the CV or personal education and career development response or anything that the student feels they were unable to include in the application that they feel is important for the review panel to know
  • Advocate for why this student belongs in the Knauss Fellowship Program

Evaluation Criteria

Curriculum Vitae – 10 Points
Personal Education and Career Development Response – 65 Points
  • Section One: Icebreaker – 5 Points
  • Section Two: Career Paths and Objectives – 30 Points
  • Section Three: Career Path Experience – 30 Points
Relevant Coursework and Future Year Plans – 10 Points
Letters of Recommendation – 10 Points 
Director’s Letter – 5 Points
Overall Application Cohesion – 10 Points

“I think I would like to work on environmental policy in a state agency or non-profit organization. Having experience with the legislative process, specifically how environmental policy can become law, will help me, as a lawyer, identify the obligations and opportunities for local government action,”

2014 Knauss Fellow
William & Mary Law School

Fellowship at a Glance

  • Eligibility: Any student who is enrolled towards a degree in a graduate program at any point between the 2023 Fall Term and February 15, 2024, is eligible. Applicants must have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.
  • Funding: $93,900 in federal funding, which includes a $71,400 stipend, $5,000 for allowable expenses, $2,500 for placement process travel, and up to $15,000 for host office-related travel.
  • Important Dates: Applications are due to your state Sea Grant Program on February 15, 2024, before 5:00 PM EST.
  • Informational Webinar: October 24, 2023 at 4:00PM EST Register Here

Virginia Sea Grant recommends that applicants contact VASG prior to the application deadline to review the submission requirements and learn more about the support our program offers all interested applicants.

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