Preparing to apply for the EPP/MSI and Hollings undergraduate scholarships

Get a head start on your application!

The application period for the EPP/MSI and Hollings undergraduate scholarships is from September 1 through January 31. Interested students can begin preparing even before starting their application. This page lists the information that you will need to provide to complete each section of your application. 

Table of contents

General information and contact information

Most of this section will be easy to fill out, but there are a few things you may want to gather:

  • Your health insurance company and effective date.
  • Expected graduation date.
  • Cumulative GPA.

Educational information

This section requires information about your institution, completed classes, and any research experiences. Information you may want to gather:

  • An official transcript from your current institution. If you are a transfer student, you will also need transcripts from your previous institution.
    • While Advanced Placement (AP) credits are not accepted for purposes of this application, if you are considered to be more than a sophomore due to additional credits or otherwise, a letter of explanation from the home university must accompany the official transcript.
  • Formal and informal research experiences (not class laboratory activities).
    • The application requires a position title, start and end dates, and a description for each experience.
  • Remember that you must be enrolled full-time at the time of application in both the Fall and Spring academic terms of the application period. 

Awards, honors, and activities

An open-ended section to list academic and non-academic accomplishments and activities. Be prepared to include organization names, award titles, dates (month/year), and responsibilities where applicable. Accomplishments and activities may include:

  • Honor and technical societies.
  • Scholarship, fellowships, internships, and similar awards.
  • Service organizations.
  • Campus activities.
  • Paid or unpaid volunteer and entrepreneurship activities.
  • Involvement in community-based organizations.
  • Other recognition.


Two references are required, including at least one academic reference (details on acceptable references are provided below). You must provide a name, job title, and email for each reference. The NOAA scholarship office will email your references a link to the reference form that they will submit directly to NOAA. You must identify two references, including:

  • One academic reference. 
    • This person may be a professor, visiting professor, or lecturer who has taught you at the undergraduate level (lab courses are not acceptable).
    • A teaching assistant who has taught you at the undergraduate level.
      • Note that the teaching assistant is required to provide contact information for the supervising professor.
  • A second reference who can speak to your capabilities and interests as they relate to the scholarship.
    • May also be an academic reference.
    • Other acceptable references are mentors from a job, volunteer, internship, or competition experience related to NOAA’s mission.
    • References are not accepted from former high school teachers, coaches, or family friends.

Essay questions

The essay questions are used to evaluate you as an individual, not necessarily as a scientist, and your motivation for applying for the scholarship. You should be prepared to demonstrate the following:

  • Interest in NOAA’s mission as it relates to your academic, research (if any), and career goals.
  • Motivation for applying to the scholarship.
  • Interest in finding creative solutions to scientific, environmental, or community challenges.
  • Ability to overcome challenges in relation to your academic goals.
  • Leadership potential, including strategic thinking, interpersonal communication, integrity, thoughtful decision making.
  • Impact of this opportunity on your personal, academic,and career goals.
UPDATED: August 23, 2023. Updated to reflect changes in the EPP/MSI and Hollings application made in 2023, including "essay questions" instead of one open-ended essay, and a voluntary demography.