Updated April 2022
Applying for a Fulbright U.S. Student Award for Study/Research or a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award can be a long, tedious process, much like applying to graduate school. Once you get over the first hurdle of selecting the type of Fulbright grant that’s right for you and which country might be a good fit, it’s helpful to create a timeline of important tasks to keep you on track.
With summer approaching, now is the perfect time to create your summer Fulbright application plan.
The First Steps to Applying for Your Fulbright Grant
If you’re an enrolled undergraduate or graduate student, you’ll need to apply for a Fulbright Award through your University. The first step is to contact your University’s Fulbright Program or Fellowship Advisor (here’s how to find them) to let them know your intentions. You will need to note your University’s internal deadline for Fulbright applications, which is earlier than the general Fulbright Program deadline and may be as soon as August.
If you’re not an enrolled student, you should still check if you can apply through your alma mater as an alumnus to access University resources like webinars and advising, or you can apply independently as an At-Large candidate. If you apply At-Large, this year’s deadline for submitting your Fulbright application is Tuesday, October 11, 2022, at 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
ProFellow Tip: Don’t forget to check out some of the newest Fulbright Awards being offered for the 2023-2024 cycle!
It’s May — don’t wait until the Fall to begin your Fulbright application. You’ll need as much time as possible to thoughtfully prepare your essays and project proposal. It’s common for fellowship applicants to underestimate the amount of time it will take to prepare a strong application. By creating a summer Fulbright application plan, you’ll have each step broken down into manageable goals that you can start working on today.
The Materials You’ll Need to Prepare
Both the Fulbright Award for Study/Research and the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award require the following components:
- a completed Biographical Data form
- a 2-page Statement of Grant Purpose
- a 1-page Personal Statement
- 3 letters of recommendation
- University transcripts
- an Affiliation Letter – e.g., a letter of support from an institution that will host you during the fellowship (for Study/Research Awards only)
- Foreign Language competency forms (country-specific; not all countries require foreign language proficiency)
- examples of artistic work (for creative and performing arts projects only)
Creating Your Summer Fulbright Application Plan
Completing all of the above requirements may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a helpful ProFellow guide for how you can start preparing your Fulbright materials this summer — in small, manageable chunks, of course — so you can have a winning application ready to go well in advance of the Fall deadline.
- Read the application requirements carefully and determine which documents you’ll need to provide. Start working on the easiest ones first:
- Request transcripts from your university
- Complete the Biographical Data form
- Complete the Foreign Language Forms (if applicable)
- Identify your university’s internal deadlines for application materials (if applicable) and put them on your personal calendar with reminders a few weeks ahead. Give yourself a final deadline of one week before the official deadline just to be safe.
- Update your resume.
- Brainstorm some general, overarching ideas for your fellowship project proposal. Start thinking creatively about how you can tie those ideas to something topical or news-worthy (more details on this in my article Project Proposal Ideas).
- Reach out to former Fulbright fellows who have done similar projects or have a similar background to yours. They can give you tips on the application process, and can often directly introduce you to potential host institutions.
- As you work on your application, make sure all of your documents are backed up in a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive. You can even email yourself the documents. Just don’t depend on your computer hard drive or USBs.
- Identify and reach out to potential host institutions (if applying for a Study/Research Award).
- Share your updated resume with friends and mentors for feedback.
- Begin writing some rough drafts of your personal statement and your Statement of Grant Purpose. The conversations you have with alumni and potential host institutions should give you some fresh ideas for what you can include.
- Secure a host institution and ask the host to provide you with a Letter of Affiliation.
- Share your Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose drafts with people who can provide constructive feedback (for example, your Fulbright Program Advisor, trusted professors, and Fulbright alumni).
- Request reference letters from 3 people. (ProFellow Tip: share with them your draft Statement of Grant Purpose so they can provide a more detailed recommendation!)
- Send friendly reminders to your referees to submit their letters of recommendation.
- Complete final versions of your Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose.
- Ask at least two people to read all of your final application components so they can catch any last-minute grammatical or formatting issues. It’s hard to see typos and mistakes when you’ve read your essays a million times!
Early September – October
- Relax, you’re doing well on time!
- Submit the application on time to your University or directly to Fulbright – ideally, no later than one week in advance of the deadline to avoid any technological glitches. Most fellowship organizations, including Fulbright, are extremely strict about application deadlines and will not accept any excuse for late materials.
- Make sure to receive a confirmation that your application and reference letters have been received, ideally before the deadline.
- Thank your referees and be sure to follow up with them in the Spring when you know the status of your application.
By following these ProFellow tips, you’ll be sure to create a stellar application while giving yourself plenty of breathing room. But if you’re that person who found out about the Fulbright Awards just weeks before the application is due, don’t despair. If you’re highly organized, it’s possible to cram these tasks into a small window of time. With organizational skills and optimism, anything is possible!
Read more Fulbright application tips:
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