Call for Host Applications: State Fellowship Program 2021

Application Deadline: May 01, 2020
Contact— Nick Sadrpour / /

Class of 2018 State Fellows
Interested in becoming a Host Office?

Program Description
Stipend and Expense
Length of Assignment

Program Description

The California Sea Grant State Fellows Program provides a unique educational and professional opportunity for graduate students who are interested in coastal and marine resources in California, and the policy decisions affecting those resources. Modeled after the highly successful national Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program, the State Fellowship Program is designed to provide recent graduates an opportunity to acquire "on the job" experience in the planning and implementation of coastal and marine resource policies and programs in the state of California. The program matches highly motivated and outstanding graduate students (near completion of degree or recently completed) with "hosts" in municipal, state or federal agencies in California. The fellowship program serves to both increase the capacity of ocean and coastal management agencies in California with highly motivated and talented graduate students, and to facilitate the training and development of the next generation of ocean and coastal leaders.

Since the inception of this program in 1987, 233 graduate students and recent graduates have been successfully placed in a variety of local, state, and federal agencies that address California coastal and marine resource issues. This fellowship program has helped jump-start the careers of coastal and marine policy professionals.  You can read about current and past State Fellows at

Prospective hosts will provide an educational opportunity to fellows who will, in turn, provide substantial professional contributions to the office. Hosts are expected to supervise, mentor and provide opportunities for fellows to be involved in substantive issues that support the fellow’s professional and educational goals. The fellow will be expected to engage with the host office and work full-time, on site and with other staff and/or leadership, as appropriate.  

There will also be an opportunity for the state fellow to work with the Sea Grant Extension program. California Sea Grant extension specialists work with state and federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, local businesses, and members of the California coastal community to identify emerging marine resource problems and opportunities, conduct applied scientific research, and share findings with stakeholder groups.  Fellows will choose extension project/s that align with their fellowship assignments or align with their professional and career interests. Fellows are anticipated to contribute no more than two months spread out over the year on these extension projects.  

For 2021, California Sea Grant plans to select up to 20-25  finalists (depending on size of applicant pool and number of host offerings) who will be awarded fellowships. Fellowship applications are submitted to California Sea Grant and screened for appropriate academic background, employment history, career and education goals, community and extracurricular activities, interest in the fellowship, and for professional skills such as initiative, leadership, adaptability, communication and analytical skills. 

Based on feedback from current and past fellows and host agencies, significant changes will be made to this year’s matching process. Selected hosts will be guided through a matching process with fellowship finalists at a mandatory workshop on September  22 - 23, 2020 in Sacramento. Prior to the matching workshop, host agencies will provide a brief and required webinar on their fellowship opportunity which will be recorded. Webinars will take place August 24 – September 4, 2020. Finalists are encouraged to participate in the webinars to gain a better understanding of the fellowship opportunities and host agencies, and ask any questions. Finalists unable to be on the webinars will have access to the recordings. Additional details on the matching process will be made available once finalists and hosts are confirmed. Placement of a fellow in each prospective host office is not guaranteed.

Stipend and Expenses

Prospective hosts are expected to contribute at least 75% of the costs to support a fellow. If a host is requesting more than one fellow, the host will pay 100% of the costs associated with any additional fellowships. California Sea Grant will administer the monthly stipend payments, health insurance and travel reimbursements for each fellow.

Hosts are expected to contribute at least 75% of the total direct costs of their first fellowship award (includes stipend, health insurance reimbursement, and travel costs) plus administrative support (calculated at 10% of the full direct cost per fellow) plus applicable indirect costs (IDC).  Hosts will contribute 100% of the total direct costs of any additional fellowships, plus administrative support and applicable IDC. If you have any questions about the IDC, please contact the California Sea Grant fiscal office. A summary of costs to potential hosts is as follows:

  1. Direct annual cost of fellowship award (stipend [$48,264], health insurance [$3,240], travel [$2,472]) = $53,976
  2. California Sea Grant Administrative Support = $5,398 
  3. Indirect Cost Rate = Varies by Prime Funding Source (If Federal, then it is the Institution’s F&A rate agreement and applied only to the administrative support costs, if State of California, then it will be 25% MTDC unless the Institution has a California IDC rate agreement). 

Once hosts are confirmed, they are expected to work with California Sea Grant and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Office of Contract and Grant Administration to put into place a cooperative or interagency agreement for each fellowship award prior to the start of fellowships in winter 2021.  Fellows are NOT ALLOWED to start work until the funding agreement is completed.

* If a host has more than one fellow, California Sea Grant’s contribution of 25% may be applied evenly among the fellows for contracting purposes.

Length of Assignment

The length of a fellowship assignment is 12 months (short extensions may be possible). The fellowship, for this year’s competition, will begin in the winter of 2021 (January to March), with the exact start date negotiable between an individual host and fellow.


The California Sea Grant State Fellowship program is open for participation by municipal, state and federal agencies in California with mandates in coastal or marine research, policy, or management.

A host application will include the following: 

  1. Host location and contact information.
  2. Names of fellowship supervisor(s). 
  3. Point(s) of contact for California Sea Grant, prospective fellows, and finalists
  4. Position description (not to exceed two pages, single spaced). If selected as a participating host, this description will be made available as submitted to prospective fellowship applicants.
  5. Amount of proposed financial contribution.

Please submit the above information to by COB May 1, 2020.

Because of timing with the state fiscal year and when host applications are due, hosts may submit information of their intent to support a certain number of fellows by the May 1, 2020 deadline. However, final budget commitment letters are due by July 10, 2020. *updated deadline* Due to budget uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, hosts will have the opportunity to withdraw their intent to support a fellow(s) by August 14


Acceptance of a host application will be based on the following criteria: 

  1. The perceived quality of the fellowship opportunity.
  2. The level of educational benefit for the fellow.
  3. The host office’s previous experience working with interns, fellows or other mentoring/educational programs.
  4. The level of financial commitment. Hosts are required to provide at least 75% of the entire cost of the (first) 12-month fellowship (including stipend, health insurance reimbursement, travel costs, administrative support and applicable IDC).  Hosts must pay 100% of the costs for any additional fellowship(s).

California Sea Grant staff will review host applications against the above criteria, priorities of the State Fellowship Program, and administrative capacity to determine final host fellowship opportunities. California Sea Grant has the right to decline host applications.


March 9: Host applications opened
Late April: Request for fellowship applications opened
May 1: Host applications due
May 11 (approximate): Participating hosts selected and host applicants notified
July 10: Deadline for budget commitment letters
July 14 (approximate): Tentative host positions posted on California Sea Grant website
July 27: Fellowship applications due
July 27-August 21 (approximate): California Sea Grant screening of fellowship applications to select finalists 

August 14: Last day for hosts to withdraw due to COVID-19 related budget issues. 
August 21 (approximate): Finalists notified and applications distributed to participating hosts
August 24 – September 4: California Sea Grant and host agencies hold informational webinars 
September 22-23: MANDATORY matching workshop in Sacramento
October 5-9 (approximate): Fellowship matches announced
January 2021- March 2021: Fellowships begin





Nick Sadrpour
Program Coordinator
(858) 246-5269
Catherine Courtier
Research & Extension Analyst
(858) 822-2167
Budget Questions
(858) 534-4442