NSF Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) at NOAA

General information

NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions associated with use of the NSF-NOAA GRIP funding, NSF has decided to suspend the GRIP program for the foreseeable future. Fellows, instead, have the option to apply to funding through the NSF INTERN program.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Non-Academic Research Internships for Graduate Students (INTERN) is a supplemental funding opportunity that provides graduate students supported by NSF grants with internship and training opportunities at non-academic institutions to help students gain knowledge, skills, and experience in preparation for successful long-term careers. 

The collaboration between NSF and NOAA is designed to expose graduate students to the federal workplace and provide career mentoring through rewarding research experiences that will allow students to grow professionally and build their network. 

Benefits of the INTERN program:

  • Collaboration arrangements with the internship host are confirmed before the request for funding is submitted;
  • Up to $55,000 of funding can be requested;
  • Besides travel support, funds can be requested for stipends (if the fellow is on reserve), tuition, and health insurance;
  • Up to $2,500 of the funding may be used for materials and supplies;
  • Indirect costs are permitted;
  • While it is expected that internships will be on-site, specific exceptions may be granted;
  • Funding requests may be submitted at any time.

Guidelines for students

To be eligible, graduate students must have completed at least one academic year in their graduate programs (master's or doctoral) and be making satisfactory progress towards the completion of their degrees.

The graduate student will write a short (two-page) supplemental grant that is submitted to the relevant NSF program officer. The money will go to the university and the student will come to NOAA on a volunteer agreement.
For further information about the process and supplemental grant materials, visit the NSF INTERN page.

Current opportunities at NOAA

Guidelines for NOAA researchers

Steps for INTERN collaborations at NOAA

  • NOAA researcher submits a proposal through the Student Scholarship Internship Opportunity (SSIO) online system.
  • The proposal is reviewed and then posted on NOAA/NSF Internship Opportunity site.
  • A student is identified in one of several ways (see How to Find Students)
  • Student and NOAA researcher talk and agree on project goals, budget, etc.
  • The student writes and submits an application to NSF by the posted deadline.
  • NSF conducts eligibility review, merit review, and makes awards.​

INTERN specifics (Note 10/14/20 - NSF has extended the deadline to 4/15/21)

  • This program is open to any M.S. or Ph.D. student who is supported by an NSF grant to their advisor.
  • The maximum amount is $55,000 for travel, tuition, stipend, and relocation costs, plus up to $2,500 for materials and supplies, and up to $2,500 for the principal investigator (PI) or faculty advisor to travel to NOAA during the internship.
  • The internship is up to six months, and students can apply for an additional six months.
  • NOAA must provide a letter from the host mentor describing the opportunity and mentorship.
  • This is submitted as a supplement to the original NSF Grant. The faculty advisor should contact their NSF program officer before submitting.
  • Review is usually quick.
  • The faculty member will be notified.
  • At the end of the internship, the student will submit a report to NSF.

Notes for NOAA researchers

To participate in the INTERN program, NOAA researchers need an approved NOAA proposal. It is important to bear in mind the National Science Foundation’s goals for the program as you draft your proposal. NSF’s core value for this program is the professional growth of the student. The proposed collaboration should offer the student professional experiences they cannot get at their home institution, such as access to NOAA facilities, field sites, or data they would not otherwise have, new skill development, or collaboration in a new scientific direction. Exposure to a different work culture is also important, so the students are expected to come to NOAA, rather than collaborate from their home institution.

Proposing an opportunity

Use the SSIO online system to submit your project proposal. Please indicate that this opportunity is for graduate students. Of course, we expect it will be well written and good science. Beyond that, the internal evaluation process will focus primarily on two criteria: Does it represent a unique opportunity for the student, and can it be accomplished in the timeframe proposed? 

Assisting with the NSF application

Students applying to these programs will submit a short supplemental funding request to NSF. It is expected that the student will contact the NOAA researcher prior to preparing the application and that, although the student will take the lead in writing and submitting the application, you will collaborate on the description of the project, term, and budget. Together, you may develop a project that is somewhat different than the proposal you posted; that is just fine. You do not need to revise your opportunity proposal in that case.

How to find students

NSF links interested students to this NOAA website where they can view posted opportunities. However, reaching out through your own networks to identify students who might be interested in your opportunity will improve your success. To be eligible, students must be pursuing an M.S. or Ph.D., supported by an NSF grant, and a U. S. citizen. Here are some strategies:

  • Reach out to researchers who are working in your field, friends, and colleagues, or through professional societies that you are involved in, and ask them if they have an NSF-supported student who would be interested.
  • Directly approach students you know, or students who presented interesting papers at the last meeting you attended.
  • Use the NSF website to search for active grants in your field, and approach the PIs. NSF Grant Search – all awards.
    • You can narrow your search by NSF Directorate by using the formatting at NSF-GEO awards.
  • Search the list of NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRIP Only). The list is sortable by field of study. Focus on awards in the last 5 years.

What about the cost?

The cost to the NOAA should be minimal for this opportunity. Students are supported by NSF and are engaged by NOAA on a volunteer basis, so there is no salary requirement. There is some cost associated with background checks and IDs. NSF provides funds that go directly to the student’s home institution to help support the research. They can be used in a variety of ways per NSF guidelines such as travel, field expenses, meeting costs, etc. You should talk this over with your prospective student during budget preparation.