Frequently asked questions for applicants
The NOAA Office of Education 2023 undergraduate scholarships application period is now closed. The 2024 application period will open on September 1, 2023.
Purpose of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship
- What is NOAA and NOAA's mission?
- What is the purpose of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program?
Provisions of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program
- What does a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship award include?
- How can I get more information about the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
- What kinds of internship projects can scholars complete?
Eligibility Requirements of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship
- Who is eligible to apply for the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
- I currently attend a community college and plan to attend a four-year institution but will not know if I’m accepted until after the Hollings Scholarship application deadline. Am I eligible to apply?
- The eligibility requirements state that applicants must have full-time sophomore academic status in the Fall term (at time of application-annually September through January). 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 Hollings Scholarship Program?
- If I receive another NOAA scholarship, am I still eligible to receive a Hollings Scholarship?
- If my major is not listed under the areas of discipline on the application, am I still eligible to receive a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
- If I am a student intern in the Pathways Program, am I eligible to receive a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
- I want to participate in a university sponsored Certified Cooperative Education Program for one academic term; will my Hollings Scholarship eligibility status change; and will I continue to receive the Hollings monthly academic stipend?
- Are advanced placement (AP) credit hours used to determine academic status?
- I’m in a dual degree program (combined bachelor’s and master’s degree). Am I eligible to receive a Hollings Scholarship?
- How do I apply for the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
- What must I submit to apply?
- Who will NOAA Education accept references from and when are they due?
- When are the Hollings Undergraduate 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 there additional selection factors NOAA considers when determining Hollings scholarship awards?
- When will I be notified with a decision?
- Can I receive my scores and the review panel's comments?
- How many Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship recipients are selected?
- How many Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship applications does NOAA receive annually?
Purpose of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program
1. What is NOAA and what is NOAA's mission?
Established in 1970, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a Federal environmental science agency within the Department of Commerce. NOAA's mission is:
- To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;
- To share that knowledge and information with others; and
- To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.
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 Lakes 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 website.
2. What is the purpose of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program?
The Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program was established through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (PL 108-447) to honor retiring Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D - South Carolina). The purposes of the program are to:
- Increase undergraduate training in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education and foster multidisciplinary training opportunities;
- Increase public understanding and support for stewardship of the ocean and atmosphere and improve environmental literacy;
- Recruit and prepare students for public service careers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other natural resource and science agencies at the federal, state and local levels of government; and,
- Recruit and prepare students for careers as teachers and educators in oceanic and atmospheric science and to improve scientific and environmental education in the United States.
Provisions of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program
1. What does a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship award include?
The Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program provides selected undergraduate applicants with a scholarship award (up to a maximum of $9,500) for two academic years of full-time study and a 10-week, full-time internship ($700/week) during the summer at a NOAA or partner facility. The internship is conducted between the first and second years of the award, and provides "hands-on" multidisciplinary educational training experience involving student scholars in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities.
Awards also include a mandatory NOAA orientation during the last week of May in the first year of the scholarship award; a housing allowance ($300/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 expenses for attendance and participation at the NOAA Science and Education Symposium (Final Week presentations) in Silver Spring, MD, at the completion of the internship; and conference travel to attend up to two professional conferences and present the results of the NOAA internship project.
2. How can I get more information about the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
For more information about the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, contact the Hollings Scholarship Program Staff at: StudentScholarshipPrograms@noaa.gov or call
3. What kinds of internship projects can scholars complete?
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
Eligibility Requirements of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program
1. Who is eligible to apply for the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
To be eligible to apply for the Hollings Scholarship, at the time of application (annually September through January) applicants must:
- Be a U.S. citizen.
- Be currently enrolled or accepted at an accredited college or university within the United States or U.S. territories as either:
- a full-time 2nd year student in a four-year undergraduate program
- a full-time 3rd year student in a five-year undergraduate program
- a community college or transfer student who is applying to a four-year institution
- Community college or transfer applicants must provide proof of application to a four-year institution when submitting their application for the scholarship.
If accepted for the Hollings Scholarship, applicants must submit proof of acceptance prior to starting the program.
- Earn and maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent on another identified scale) each term, as well as an overall GPA of 3.0 in your major field of study.
- The GPA requirement applies throughout the period of undergraduate studies: prior to and at the time of application for a scholarship, for the period between application and award notification, and after award distribution.
- 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, computer and information science, physical and social sciences including geography, physics, hydrology, geomatics, or teacher education that support NOAA's programs and mission.
2. I currently attend a community college and plan to attend a four-year institution but will not know if I’m accepted until after the Hollings Scholarship application deadline. Am I eligible to apply?
Applicants that are attending two-year institutions and plan to transfer to and enroll as a second year student in a four-year undergraduate program or third year student in a five-year undergraduate program at an accredited college or university within the United States or U.S. territories, must, at time of submitting an application for the Hollings Scholarship, provide proof that they have applied to a four-year institution. Proof of application must be included with the official transcript and uploaded into the online Hollings Scholarship application. If selected for the Hollings Scholarship, applicant must submit proof of acceptance to a four-year institution by May 15.
3. The eligibility requirements state that applicants must have full-time sophomore academic status in the Fall term (at time of application-annually September through January). If I am a senior in the Fall term (at time of application) am I eligible to apply?
Only students with sophomore status on their official transcript in the Fall term (at time of application) are eligible to apply.
4. This academic term I am having difficulty with a particular course and would like to drop it. Will I be dropped from the Hollings Scholarship Program?
Scholars are required to maintain full-time status each academic term. Full-time status varies depending on the academic institution. If a scholar is enrolled in less than full-time status; yes, they will be terminated from the Hollings Scholarship Program.
5. If I receive another NOAA scholarship, am I still eligible to receive a Hollings Scholarship?
Yes, providing the program requirements do not conflict with those of the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship and the award funding period does not overlap.
6. If my major is not listed under the areas of discipline on the application, am I still eligible to receive a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
If a particular major is not listed on the application under "Field of Study," you may still be eligible. Awards 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 provides the training necessary to pursue a NOAA-related career.
7. If I am a student intern in the Pathways Program, am I eligible to receive a Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
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.
8. I want to participate in a university sponsored Certified Cooperative Education Program for one academic term; will my Hollings Scholarship eligibility status change; and will I continue to receive the Hollings monthly academic stipend?
Scholars are required to enroll in credit earning courses that earn Quality Points. Each academic term a scholar is required to earn a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). A Scholar receives quarterly academic stipend disbursals during each academic term they continue to meet program eligibility.
9. Are advanced placement (AP) credit hours used to determine academic status?
No. Only undergraduate coursework that has received a grade will be considered to determine academic status since grade point average (GPA) is an eligibility criteria.
10. I'm in a dual degree program (combined bachelor's and master's degree). Am I eligible for the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
Students in dual degree programs may participate in the Hollings Scholarship Program. However, if the institution classifies the student as a graduate student, as indicated on the transcripts, the student is no longer eligible to participate in the program
1. How do I apply for the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship?
To apply for the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship, applicants must visit the Hollings Scholarship website. The application is available annually from September through January. If you do not have internet access, please contact:NOAA Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship Program, NOAA/Office of Education, 1315 East West Highway, Room 10734, Silver Spring, MD 20910
2. What must I submit to apply?
Applicants are required to submit ALL of the following items for an application to be deemed complete and eligible:
- A completed scholarship application form;
- One essay;
- Official college transcript(s) (one for each institution attended; uploaded into the online application); and;
- Two references (see Who will NOAA Education accept references from and when are they due?)
3. Who will NOAA Education accept references from 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
4. When are the Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship applications due to NOAA?
The application is 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.
5. What if I miss the deadline date?
The Hollings Scholarship Program will not review scholarship applications or supporting materials received after the deadline date. Applications and materials that are received after the application deadline will be deemed ineligible. Due to the large number of applications received annually, NOAA adheres strictly to the application deadline date. NOAA strongly advises applicants to ensure that their two academic references also submit recommendations prior to the deadline.
1. What is the administrative review?
The NOAA Office of Education conducts an initial administrative review of scholarship applications (which includes the application form, one essay, two academic references, and all official transcripts) to determine compliance with requirements and completeness of applications. Only complete applications that meet all eligibility requirements, described under “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.
2. What is the merit review?
All complete and eligible scholarship applications undergo a review by a panel of scientific experts in the areas of study related to the Hollings Scholarship. Panel members rate applications based on the evaluation criteria described below.
3. How will my scholarship application be evaluated?
Applications are evaluated by a review panel on the following criteria:
- Relevant coursework (30%)
- Education plan and statement of career interest essay (30%)
- Letters of recommendation (See Who will NOAA Education accept references from and when are they due?) (20%)
- Additional relevant experience related to diversity of education; extracurricular activities; honors and awards; non-academic and volunteer work; interpersonal, written, and oral communications skills (20%)
4. How is my scholarship application scored?
Each application is reviewed by three independent panel members. A numerical score ranging from 0 to 100 is assigned to each application based on the average of the panelist's individual ratings. The NOAA selecting official, the Director of NOAA Education, will determine the final scholarship award recipients.
1. Are there additional selection factors NOAA considers when determining Hollings scholarship awards?
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.
2. When will I be notified with a decision?
If selected, scholarship recipients are notified by e-mail the first week of April. Applicants may review the status of their application by accessing their online application account.
3. Can I receive my scores and the review panel's comments?
An e-mail request may be submitted to email@example.com requesting the reviewers' comments only. Hollings Scholarship program staff will respond to requests for comments within 30 days after the final selections have been made.
4. How many Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship recipients are selected?
Approximately 118 Hollings Undergraduate Scholarships are awarded annually based on appropriated funds from Congress.
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5. How many Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship applications does NOAA receive annually?
NOAA typically receives over 500 Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship applications each year.