Go To Home Page for Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program
Go to About Dr. Nancy Foster
Go to Home Page
Go to About the Scholarship Go To How to Apply Go to This Year's Scholars


About the Scholarship

Important Dates
Financial Support
Evaluation Criteria
Review and Selection Process
Selection Factors
Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates
Nancy Foster Handbook


The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program provides support for independent graduate-level studies in oceanography, marine biology, or maritime archaeology (including all science, engineering, social science and resource management of ocean and coastal areas), particularly by women and members of minority groups. Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarships may provide, subject to appropriations, yearly support of up to $42,000 per student (a 12-month stipend of $30,000 in addition to an education allowance of up to $12,000), and up to $10,000 of support for a four to six week program collaboration at a NOAA facility. Masters students may be supported for up to two years, and doctoral students for up to four years. Depending on funding three to four scholarships are awarded each year.


Those eligible to apply are United States citizens currently pursuing or intending to pursue a masters or doctoral level degree in oceanography, maritime archaeology or marine biology, at a U.S. accredited institution. In addition students must have and maintain a minimum cumulative and term grade point average of 3.3 and maintain full-time student status for every term, and the duration of their award. Universities or other organizations may not apply on behalf of an individual. Prospective scholars do not need to be enrolled in a graduate program at the time of application, but must be admitted to a graduate level program in order to be awarded this scholarship. Eligibility must be maintained for each succeeding year of support and annual reporting requirements, to be specified at a later date, will apply.

Important Dates

2014 Schedule

All applications must be received or postmarked by December 12, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time as outlined in the Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO). Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recipients will be required to participate in a NOAA Orientation Training to meet with Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) staff at a date and location to be determined during the month of July or August 2014. If scholarships have not been awarded before this training, recipients may be required to incur pre-award costs that will be reimbursed after award funds have been issued.

The anticipated award start date is July 1, 2014.

Financial Support

For the 2013-2014 academic year, Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarships may provide, subject to appropriations, yearly support of up to $42,000 per student (a 12-month stipend of $30,000 in addition to an education allowance of up to $12,000), and up to $10,000 support for a four to six week program collaboration at a NOAA facility. A maximum of $94,000 may be provided to master degree students (up to 2 years of support and one research collaboration opportunity) and up to $188,000 may be provided to doctoral students (up to 4 years of support and two research collaboration opportunities).

The annual stipend is paid directly to the scholar. For periods lasting less than 12 months, stipends will be prorated. The stipend is not intended to be used as a research grant. Tuition (including fall, winter, spring and summer) and academic fees may be negotiated between the academic institution and the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship program officer at NOAA prior to the receipt of funds. This negotiation is intended to leverage scholarship funds and enhance opportunities for scholarship recipients. In those instances in which tuition and academic fees are not totally waived by the academic institution, the education allowance in an amount equal to the tuition and fee not waived (but not to exceed $12,000) will be paid directly to the scholar for remittance to the academic institution. If tuition and fees are reduced or waived by the academic institution, then that portion of the education allowance not needed (i.e., up to $12,000 in the case of a total waiver) will be retained by NOAA for future scholarships.

Specific instructions regarding the disbursement, management, and reporting requirements for all stipend and cost-of-education allowance payments will be provided. The awarding of funds beyond the first year will be based on availability of funds, continued eligibility of the student, and periodic certification that adequate academic progress is being made and reporting requirements are being met. At its discretion, each academic institution may supplement a scholar's stipend from institutional funds in accordance with the supplementation policy of the institution.

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria and weighting of the criteria are as follows:

  1. Statement of Intent and Academic Record (20%)- Academic record and Statement of Intent describing career goals and objectives of scholarship need.
    1. Statement of Intent - 15%

    2. Coursework - 5%

  2. Research Proposal (35%)- Quality of project and applicability to program priorities. Research proposals will be evaluated for relevance to NOAA's mission, with particular focus on the mission of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
    1. Alignment with NOAA and ONMS Priorities - 10%

    2. Feasibility - 10%

    3. Technical Understanding and Clarity of Proposal - 15%

  3. Recommendations (15%)- Recommendations and/or endorsement letters.
    1. Familiarity of Applicant - 7%

    2. Strength of Support - 8%

  4. Experience and Communication (20%)- Additional relevant experience related to diversity of education: extracurricular activities; honors and awards, interpersonal, written, and oral communication skills. For the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, this includes relevant work experience. (Interpersonal and written skills will be evaluated from information in the Statement of Intent and research proposal.)
    1. Experience - 10%

    2. Communication Skills - 10%

  5. Financial Need (10%)- Financial need of student
    1. Estimated Financial Need - 5%

    2. Statement of Financial Need - 5%

Review and Selection Process

Once NOAA receives an application, an initial administrative review is conducted to determine compliance with the minimum requirements, including completeness of the application and inclusion of all elements required in each of the FFO sections.

Maters and Doctoral applications will be evaluated based on the same criteria; however, Maters and Doctoral scores will be ranked and considered separately. All applications that pass the administrative review will be evaluated and scored individually in accordance with the assigned weights of the above evaluation criteria by an independent review panel. The panel will be comprised of three or more individuals, having expertise in NOAA-related science and knowledge of the program priorities of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The panel will rate the proposals using the evaluation criteria and weighting provided above. The individual panelist scores will be averaged for each application and placed in a ranking order of all applications. No consensus advice will be provided by the independent review panel. The ranking order will be presented to the Program Officer who will: neither vote nor score proposals as part of the independent review panel nor participate in discussion of the merits of the application. The Program Officer will transmit the review information to the Selection Official and may make a recommendation to the Selection Official about applying the selection factors below. The Selection Official, will award in rank order unless an application is justified to be selected out of rank order based on one or more of the selection factors below.

Selection Factors

The merit review ratings shall provide a rank order to the Selecting Official for final funding recommendation. The Selecting Official shall award in rank order unless the proposal is justified to be selected out of rank order based upon one or more of the following factors:

1. Balance/Distribution of Funds

    a. Across academic disciplines

    b. By types of institution

    c. Geographic area

2. Availability of funds

3. ONMS-specific priorities

4. Degree in scientific area and type of degree sought

Selecting Official may contact high ranking applicants for further clarification of information in scholarship application.

Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Subject to the availability of funds, review of applications and subsequent notification to applicants will be completed by May 30, 2014. Funds are expected to be awarded by July 1, 2014, which is the start date that should be used on the Application for Federal Assistance (Form 424) for successful applications.

Nancy Foster Handbook

front cover of the 2013 handbookThe Dr. Nancy Foster Handbook provides information to current scholars about their scholarship. You can download the 2013 Handbook here.