Common measure: Postsecondary students

Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students help them develop the skills and networks they need to enter the NOAA-related workforce. Students work with NOAA experts to conduct research that is applied in the real world. Upon graduation, professional opportunities support the transition of students from their education and training activities into their careers. Common measures help us capture the number of postsecondary students we are preparing with our programs for the NOAA mission workforce. For this common measure, we track the number of postsecondary students trained through our higher education programs. To do this, we count two types of postsecondary student achievements: 1) the number of students who are currently receiving funding or participating in a research opportunity through one of our programs; and 2) the number of degrees awarded by students through our programming.

Common Measures

Output: Number of postsecondary students trained in NOAA-mission related sciences through NOAA-funded higher education programs.

Leading outcome: Number of postsecondary degrees in NOAA-related disciplines awarded to students who were supported by NOAA in higher education programs.


Postsecondary students: Students who are enrolled in degree-seeking programs at a college or university and directly funded by NOAA, by partners who receive NOAA funds, taught by NOAA staff, or supported by a NOAA program.

  • Since the federal fiscal year spans across academic years, the same person may be reported as both a student and having been awarded a degree in the same fiscal year.
  • Students who participate in multiple NOAA-supported programs should be counted for each program they participate in; i.e., one participant per year per program. For example, a Nancy Foster Scholar who is enrolled in a Master’s program run by Sea Grant.

Postsecondary degree: Includes associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctor’s degrees in NOAA mission STEM disciplines. All students captured in this measure have been trained in NOAA mission sciences through coursework or research experiences or degrees. Technical, graduate or professional certificates are NOT included.

Higher education programs: A set of educational and experiential activities that prepare postsecondary students for career paths at NOAA and related organizations over an extended period of time.

  • Examples include: Scholarships, fellowships, internships, community college programs, college degree programs, laboratory experiences, and field experiences. Does NOT include postdoctoral fellowships.
  • Universities are awarded grants or cooperative agreements to offer a degree program, an education program, or program that trains the students in research. Examples of universities include: Cooperative Science Centers, Sea Grant colleges, Cooperative Institutes.

Supported by NOAA: Financial, institutional, or access to NOAA facilities and resources.
Examples of financial support include: Students who received stipends, travel funds, and/or tuition. Research grants that support students in their education with a salary or tuition reimbursement.

  • Examples of institutional support include students who took courses that are offered by the institution that would not have been available without NOAA support.
  • Examples of access to NOAA facilities and resources include participating in research on a NOAA cruise or lab.

Data collection and reporting

Administrative records: Staff for each NOAA-supported higher education program are responsible for maintaining administrative records that document the number of participants for the current fiscal year.

Unified Data Call: An annual collection of output measures, disaggregations, and outyear estimates data from each Education Council member seat. Data collected in the Unified Data Call are used for both internal NOAA reporting purposes, which include the Annual Operating Plan (AOP), and for external reporting purposes, including NOAA Education Annual Accomplishments Report and Congressional briefings.


  • FY2010: This output measure was first reported.
  • FY2011: The following measure was reported as: Number of students who have been trained in NOAA-mission related sciences and policies through competitive fellowship support.
  • FY2012-2013: The following measure was approved by the Education Council on August 31, 2012 and reported as: Number of students who have been trained in NOAA-mission related sciences and policies through competitive fellowship support/ that prepare them for career paths in NOAA mission critical disciplines.
  • FY2014: The measure was modified on March 24, 2014 to align with annual accomplishments for FY13.
  • FY2017: The definitions were revised for clarity and published on the NOAA Education website.