Prospective scholars: Frequently asked questions
Get the facts!
Purpose of Scholarship
- What is NOAA and what is NOAA's mission?
- What is the purpose of the Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions, Undergraduate Scholarship Program?
- What does an EPP/MSI USP Scholarship include?
- How can I get more information about the EPP/MSI USP?
- What kinds of internship projects can scholars complete?
- Who is eligible to apply for an EPP/MSI USP Scholarship?
- The eligibility requirements state that applicants must have full-time sophomore academic status in the Fall term, at the time of application. If I am a senior in the Fall term (at time of application), am I eligible to apply?
- This academic term I am having difficulty with a particular course and would like to drop it. Will I be dropped from the EPP/MSI USP?
- If I receive another NOAA scholarship, am I still eligible to receive an EPP/MSI USP Scholarship?
- If my major is not listed under the areas of discipline on the application, am I still eligible to receive an EPP/MSI USP Scholarship?
- If I am a student intern in the Pathways Program, am I eligible to receive an EPP/MSI Undergraduate Scholarship?
- I want to participate in a university sponsored Certified Cooperative Education Program for one academic term; will my EPP/MSI USP eligibility status change; and will I continue to receive the EPP/MSI USP academic stipend?
- How do I apply for an EPP/MSI USP Scholarship?
- What must I submit to apply?
- From whom will NOAA Education accept references and when are they due?
- When are the EPP/MSI USP Scholarship applications due to NOAA?
- What if I miss the deadline date?
- What is the Administrative Review?
- What is the Merit Review?
- How will my scholarship application be evaluated?
- How is my scholarship application scored?
- Are advanced placement (AP) credit hours used to determine academic status?
- Are there additional selection factors NOAA considers when determining EPP/MSI USP Scholarship Awards?
- When will I be notified with a decision?
- Can I receive my scores and the review panel's comments?
- How many EPP/MSI USP applications does NOAA receive annually?
- How many EPP/MSI USP recipients are selected annually?
Purpose of Scholarship
Established in 1970, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a Federal science agency within the Department of Commerce (www.doc.gov). NOAA's mission is: To understand and predict changes in Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our Nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs. To achieve this mission, NOAA has identified four goals in which to focus agency activities:
- Climate Adaptation and Mitigation: An informed society anticipating and responding to climate and its impacts.
- Weather-Ready Nation: Society is prepared for and responds to weather-related events.
- Healthy Oceans: Marine fisheries, habitats, and biodiversity are sustained within healthy and productive ecosystems.
- Resilient Coastal Communities and Economies: Coastal and Great Lake communities are environmentally and economically sustainable.
NOAA has also identified “promoting environmental literacy” as a cross-cutting priority essential to achieving NOAA’s mission in all four of the goal areas. To learn more about the broad range of NOAA sciences, services, and stewardship activities that contribute to the agency’s mission, goals, and priorities, explore the NOAA web site (http://www.noaa.gov/).
The Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions, Undergraduate Scholarship Program is designed to:
- increase the number of students who undertake coursework and graduate with degrees in the target areas integral to NOAA's mission;
- recruit and train students, with an emphasis on traditionally under-represented minority communities, in NOAA-related sciences; and,
- recruit and prepare students for careers in research, management and operational occupations related to NOAA's overall mission.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, internships and planned events, such as scholar orientation and the scholar symposium, may be held virtually. The Office of Education will review precautionary guidelines provided by the CDC in advance of events and internships, and will notify scholars when a decision is made whether to hold them virtually or in person.
The Educational Partnership Program with Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI) Undergraduate Scholarship Program (USP) provides selected undergraduate applicants with a scholarship award that includes: a maximum of $9,500 per year for two academic years of full-time study; two 10-week,full-time internships ($700/week) during the summer at a NOAA facility; a housing subsidy of $300 per week for student scholars who do not reside at home during the summer internship; round-trip travel to the internship site including reimbursement for incidentals; travel funds to attend and participate in a NOAA Scholarship Symposium at the completion of the internships; and, participation in one or two professional conference to present the results of their summer project each year. During the first year of the scholarship, a 2-week mandatory orientation is conducted at NOAA Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland. During the first year, the internship component of the award begins upon completion of the 2-week orientation beginning in mid May. The internship components are designed to provide student scholars with “hands on” research training involving in NOAA-related science, research, technology, and policy activities.
Learn about past internship topics on our EPP/MSI undergraduate scholarship alumni page.
For more information about the EPP/MSI USP Scholarship, contact: NOAA Office of Education, EPP/MSI at firstname.lastname@example.org or call
Internship opportunities are available across NOAA’s mission. Some examples of past internship titles are listed below. See our scholar blog for more detailed descriptions of projects and insight into scholar experiences. To learn more about the process of internship selection and approval if accepted for the scholarship, see “How do I find an internship,” on the FAQ for current scholars.
Past projects by line office
- NOAA Satellites:
- An evaluation of ice forecasts from NOAA models
- GOES-R satellite exploitation programming
- Using AI to quantify uncertainty in tropical cyclone genesis
- Correlation of GLM products with ABI Cloud products from GOES-R
- NOAA Fisheries:
- Investigating crustacean ecology and coral reef communities in Florida
- Assessment of jellyfish fauna of nearshore waters of Florida using eDNA
- Finding marine mammals, fish, and boats in an acoustic soundscape
- Establishing a citizen science field manual for tracking the ecological benefits of dam removal in Washington's Elwha River
- National Ocean Service
- Different ways of knowing groundwater resources in the Kachemak Bay region: Stakeholder engagement with Indigenous communities
- Investigating the role of small-bodied crabs on salt marsh ecosystem processes
- Spatial controls on nitrogen cycling at the Great Bay Estuary in New Hampshire
- Protected seabird nesting colony disturbance study
- National Weather Service
- Creating a severe weather and convective storm model: Climatology to aid impact-based decision support services
- The use of new and legacy radar-based techniques to warn for tornadoes in the Albany county warning area
- Improving coastal flood and total water level forecasts for the western shore of the Maryland Chesapeake Bay, Tidal Potomac, and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal
- Climatological analysis of Alaska snowpack
- NOAA Research (Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research)
- Atmospheric trace gases and aerosols: Measurement techniques, field and laboratory Studies, and analysis of data from recent field intensives
- Effects of climate and air quality on air pollutant concentrations and climate change
- Ocean exploration: Investigating the relationship between water column acoustic backscatter and pelagic fauna
- Improving NWS heat-related decision support services and risk communication in the greater houston area
- Office of Marine and Aviation Operations
- Defining the accuracy of eyewall Radius of Maximum Wind dropwindsondes
- Research aircraft fuselage modification design
- Research aircraft electrical load analysis
- Implementing real-time automated quality control algorithms of meteorological data collected from NOAA's Hurricane Hunter Aircraft
- Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
- Telling the Pacific region climate story around climate displacement through NOAA data visualizations
- Building interactive and immersive virtual experiences
- Telling the climate story through data visualization
- Office of Education
- Advancing science education in fisheries and aquatic sciences
To be eligible to apply for an EPP/MSI USP Scholarship, at the time of application (annually September through January) you must:
- be a U.S. citizen or U.S. national;
- attend a minority serving institution as defined by the U.S. Department of Education to include: Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Hispanic Serving Institutions *; Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian Institutions; and, Tribal Colleges and Universities? * Applicants who attend Hispanic Serving Institutions must submit an official letter from their schools verifying the institution is a U.S. Department of Education recognized Hispanic Serving Institution at the time of application. If an applicant transfers to another school during the scholarship period, verification of the institution’s MSI status is also required. The verification letter from the school must be uploaded in PDF format along with the transcript, as part of the scholarship application process.
- be currently enrolled or accepted as a full-time 2nd year student in a four-year academic program or as a full-time 3rd year student in a five-year program at an accredited minority serving institution (college or university within the United States or U.S. territories);
- earn and maintain a minimum 3.2 grade point average on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent on other identified scale) in all completed undergraduate courses each semester or quarter, as well as have and maintain a cumulative 3.2 GPA in your major field of study. The grade point average requirement applies for every semester or quarter, cumulative, and in your major field of study prior to and at the time of application for a scholarship, for the period between application and award notification, and after award distribution; and,
- have and maintain a declared major in a discipline including, but not limited to, oceanic, environmental, biological, and atmospheric sciences, mathematics, engineering, remote sensing technology, physical information and social sciences including geography, physics, hydrology, or geomatics that support NOAA's programs and mission.
2. The eligibility requirements state that applicants must have full-time sophomore academic status in the Fall term, at the time of application. If I am a senior in the Fall term (at time of application), am I eligible to apply?
No. Eligible EPP/MSI USP applicants include 2nd year students in a four-year academic program and 3rd year students in a five-year academic program. To maintain eligibility, students must demonstrate full-time status for both academic years during which they are EPP/MSI USP scholars. Applicants entering their 4th academic year in the Fall and expecting to graduate at the end of the same academic year are not eligible.
EPP/MSI USP student scholars are required to maintain a full-time status each academic term. Full-time status varies depending on the academic institution. A scholar enrolled in a less than full-time status will be terminated from the EPP/MSI USP.
Yes. Providing the program requirements do not conflict with those of the EPP/MSI USP Scholarship and all program requirements are met.
If a particular major is not listed on the application under “Field of Study,” you may still be eligible. Scholarships are limited to the fields of study identified on the application, NOT to the majors listed under those fields. A wide variety of general undergraduate academic programs can be applicable to NOAA’s mission. Application reviewers will look specifically at applicant’s coursework and statements of academic and career interest to assess how a particular course of study relates to NOAA and how it provides the training necessary to pursue a NOAA-related career.
No, student interns in the Pathways Program are Federal employees and are not eligible to receive a Hollings Scholarship. A student intern in the Pathways Program must choose either that appointment or the scholarship.
7. I want to participate in a university sponsored Certified Cooperative Education Program for one academic term; will my EPP/MSI USP eligibility status change; and will I continue to receive the EPP/MSI USP academic stipend?
Student scholars are required to enroll in credit earning courses that earn Quality Points. Each academic term a scholar is required to earn a minimum 3.2 grade point average (GPA). A student scholar receives the academic stipend during each academic term they are enrolled "full-time" in credit earning courses and receive Quality Points.
The application is available annually from September through January. If you do not have internet access, hard-copy applications can be requested by contacting:NOAA/Office of Education (OEd), Attn: EPP/MSI USP Team, 1315 East West Highway, 10th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20910-6233
Applicants are required to submit ALL of the following items for an application to be deemed complete and eligible:
- A completed scholarship application;
- One essay;
- Official college transcript(s) (one for each institution attended), uploaded into the online application; and,
- Two letters of recommendation (see From whom will NOAA Education accept references and when are they due?)
Two references are required. Applicants must identify the name, title, and email address of two individuals who will receive an email with a link to complete and submit a reference form through the application system on your behalf (the reference form is not available outside of the application system).
Applicants must have at least one academic reference. An academic reference includes either of the following:
- A professor, visiting professor, or lecturer who has taught you at the undergraduate level (lab courses are not acceptable).
- The second reference may be another academic reference or person who can speak to your capabilities and interests as they relate to this scholarship. References from former high school teachers, coaches, family members, or friends will NOT be accepted.
Recommendations from NOAA staff are acceptable, if that person served in one of the capacities mentioned above. If the NOAA employee providing the reference is a faculty member then they must use a school email account when submitting the reference form. If the NOAA employee served as a mentor, then they must use their personal email. A @noaa.gov email account will not be allowed through the application system. If you have questions regarding the reference eligibility, please contact: email@example.com
REFERENCES THAT DO NOT MEET THESE REQUIREMENTS WILL RENDER YOUR APPLICATION INELIGIBLE.
NOTE: A compelling reference will help reviewers understand how you stand out from other applicants. You may want to provide your transcripts and a statement of your accomplishments, experiences or goals to the individuals writing your recommendations to assist them in preparing a solid recommendation.
Applications are open annually from September 1 through January 31.
If supporting documents (i.e. academic reference forms, official transcripts, etc.) are not received by the deadline, the application will be incomplete and, therefore, deemed ineligible for consideration.
NOAA's Office of Education will not review scholarship applications or supporting materials received after the deadline date. Due to the number of applications received annually, NOAA strictly adheres to the application deadline date. Therefore, NOAA strongly encourages scholarship applicants to check the status of their on-application to confirm that the submitted application and all supporting materials have been received prior to the deadline date. This may be accomplished by checking the status box in the application system. NOAA's OEd strongly advises applicants to ensure that their two academic references have submitted recommendations to meet the application deadline.
NOAA's Office of Education EPP/MSI scholarship team conducts an initial administrative review of scholarship applications to determine compliance with requirements and completeness of applications. Only complete applications that meet all eligibility requirements, described under the Eligibility Requirements, will be considered for a merit review. Applications identified as incomplete or that do not meet the eligibility requirements will be deemed ineligible.
All complete and eligible scholarship applications undergo a review by a panel of scientific and management experts in the areas of study related to the EPP/MSI USP Scholarship. Panel members rate applications based on the evaluation criteria described below.
Total evaluation points for the EPP/MSI USP are 110 points. Applications are evaluated by a review panel on the following criteria:
- Relevant coursework (30 points).
- College education plan and career goals (30 points).
- References and/or endorsements (reference forms) (20 points).
- Additional relevant experience related to diversity of education; extracurricular activities; honors and awards; non-academic, entrepreneurship and volunteer work; interpersonal, written, and oral communications skills (20 points).
- Interview (10 points).
Each application is reviewed by three independent panel members. A numerical score ranging from 0 to 110 is assigned to each application based on the average of the panelist's individual ratings and the interview score. The Deputy Director of NOAA Education determines the final scholarship award recipients.
No. Only undergraduate coursework that received a grade will be considered to determine academic status because grade point average (GPA) is an eligibility criterion.
In determining final awards, the NOAA selection official reserves the right to select student candidates out of rank order based on program-specific objectives and to ensure distribution across academic disciplines, type of institution, and geographic location.
If selected, EPP/MSI USP scholarship recipients are notified by e-mail within the first two weeks in April. Applicants may review the status of their application by accessing their online application account.
Scores will not be released. Applicants who received a merit review may receive reviewer comments by the end of April, upon request.
NOAA receives an average of 50 EPP/MSI USP Undergraduate Scholarship applications each year.
Approximately 10 EPP/MSI USP scholars are selected based on appropriated funds from Congress.
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