Overview and History

For over 15 years, NOAA has partnered with colleges and universities to provide undergraduate students college-funded summer internship opportunities. NOAA provides students experience in science, policy, and science communication. In return, we benefit from the assistance of dedicated and enthusiastic students.

In 2022, 21 students participated in internships and provided NOAA science, policy, and outreach support to NOAA. Interns investigated climate trends, ecosystem services valuation, ecotoxicology, invasive species, coastal ecology, and more. Others contributed to policy for protected species, designed websites, and worked on science communication and historical data recovery.

To participate in the program, students must be enrolled at a partner college or university. Students apply for the program through that college or university.

How to Partner with Us

This program requires that students have funding from their college/university or another source. (For NOAA-funded internships, check out the Hollings Scholarship, Lapenta Internship Program, or browse the NOAA Education student opportunities page.) Many colleges and universities have funds to support internships, and each has their own application process for students interested in participating in the program. Students should start by contacting their college or university’s Internship Coordinator, and applying to their school for funding. Students can use a project from NOAA’s list of Current Opportunities to write their application. NOAA does not guarantee that students will be matched with that particular project, but we can almost always match students with a project that meets their interests.

College or University Internship Coordinators should contact Wendy Piniak (Wendy.Piniak@noaa.gov) or Ruth Kelty (Ruth.Kelty@noaa.gov) to indicate their college or university is interested in participating in the program.

Some of our partner college and universities include:

How to Apply and The Matching Process

NOAA solicits internship mentors for opportunities in research, policy, and science communication and posts the compiled project list (Current Opportunities). Internship mentors and projects can be located anywhere in the country. Some years a NOAA representative visits the campuses to talk about the program, present that year’s opportunities, and answer questions, but participating colleges generally advertise the program themselves. Interns are sophomores or juniors from Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Mathematics, and Environmental Science and Policy programs. The start and timing of internships is flexible, but internships are awarded in the spring and most internships take place (either in-person or virtually) over the summer between June and August.

The colleges/universities run their student application and selection process. Students must be enrolled at a participating college or university and apply to their college/university, not to NOAA. Students submit applications to their Internship Coordinators (or alternate point of contact for the program) and these Coordinators submit the student applications for the students they are able to provide support for to NOAA. The application package is flexible and can generally be the same application that students submit to their college or university when requesting funding. Students should provide a resume and cover letter. The cover letters should include: three projects they are interested in, the name and contact information for a reference, what they are looking to gain from the internship, and the skills they will bring (noting that some projects require specific skills or the willingness to learn new skills).

After all student applications are received, NOAA works collaboratively with the Coordinators from each college/university to match students and projects. Students and prospective mentors meet and assess whether it’s a good match. If either has concerns about the match, NOAA will work to place the student with an alternate mentor. Final selections are completed in the spring (generally by April). After selections are made the internship host office and Coordinators work with students to complete NOAA’s volunteer paperwork. Because the funding comes from the colleges/universities, NOAA considers the students volunteers, making it much easier for students to work with NOAA. Project mentors and students work together to refine the students’ role and identify goals for the summer, find housing (if in-person), set start and end dates, and other logistics.