Frequently Asked Questions
What is Fulbright looking for?
Fulbright is looking for interesting, strong, well-structured projects proposed by mature students with the ability to carry them out. The student should be prepared academically and linguistically to undertake the project in the time allotted and with the resources available. Moreover, Fulbright is looking for open-minded students who will make a contribution to and learn from their interactions with the host country.
Should I apply for a Research, Study or an ETA Grant?
Fulbright Research Award - The Research award allows the applicant to conduct independent research for up to one year in a foreign country. The first question you must ask is: Do you have the research methods experience to do the project you are proposing? Much like writing an application for a job, you’ll need to convince the selection committee that you have the qualifications to do this type of research. Experience in research methodologies in your discipline is essential. You’ll also want to be sure that your project can be completed within a one-year time frame. Your research should not be overambitious – something that would take dissertation-length research to finish – but should not be too short for a year-long project, either. One of the main components of the research application is a letter of affiliation. This is a letter from the lab, university, NGO, or other organization that confirms that the institution will support your project. Email potential contacts with an introduction of yourself and a description of your interests, and (when appropriate) an outline of your research or study proposal.
Fulbright Study Award - In some countries, the U.S. Student Fulbright Grant can provide funding for part or all of a master’s degree, sometimes in combination with independent research. Select countries offer these opportunities; to find them, look at this page and click Fulbright Graduate Degree Grants. Keep in mind that some of these programs might require you to apply separately to the institution and receive admission from them as well.
In this sense, your application strategy will be very similar to applying for graduate school. What will make your application compelling will be how essential it is that you work with the specific faculty in that institution; how much your interests align with the faculty’s interests and the program; and why you must study that subject in that country, as opposed to stateside.
What will make your application feasible will be your past academic performance in the field you are proposing to study, your own experience adapting to new cultural situations, and your preparedness and motivation for graduate study.
Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award - The Fulbright ETA program places recent college graduates and young professionals from the U.S. in classrooms abroad for up to one year to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETA’s help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. The age and academic level of the students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level. Applicants for English Teaching Assistant Programs can apply to only one country. If you are interested in teaching, this may be the perfect opportunity for you.
How can I decide to which country to apply?
Applicants should offer compelling reasons for their host country choice. Research/Study grant projects should present a rationale that necessitates completing a degree program or conducting research in the host country; ETA applicants should offer a compelling why they wish to teach English in the host country. Applicants should demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the host country's culture and possess the requisite language skills. A "strong desire" to visit the country or a "passion" for the culture is insufficient.
If you're at the very beginning of the process, the U’s Fulbright Director encourages you to consider a handful of countries for which you are qualified. Reviewing Fulbright’s region and country-specific pages can give you a bit more of a sense of what the in-country experience might be like.
Can I apply to more than one country?
No, you can only apply to one country. Fulbright places a strong emphasis on cultural immersion and expects its grantees to live and work in one host country for the duration of the grant.
When is the deadline?
The application cycle usually begins April 1. There are two deadlines: the Campus deadline is in mid-September and the National deadline is in mid-October. The week following the Campus deadline, each applicant will be interviewed by a faculty Fulbright committee. Applicants then will have time to make any changes to their application by the National deadline.
When will I know if I get the grant or not?
In January, you will learn if you are a semi-finalist. If you’re a semi-finalist, your application will be sent to the Fulbright office in the foreign country. Final decisions are made in March-May.
Shouldn’t I just apply to the country that offers the most grants?
In preparing a successful application, you should ask yourself: are you genuinely interested in the host country, and will you immerse yourself in the culture? It is important that you have genuine enthusiasm for the host country and its language and are curious and open to learning about the people and the culture. Fulbright is first and foremost an inter-cultural exchange program, not solely an academic scholarship.
Do I need exceptional grades to get a Fulbright?
Not necessarily. Your grades should be good, but you do not need to be a straight-A student.
Can I apply after I graduate?
Yes. Applicants need not be enrolled at the University of Utah to apply. After graduating, you can apply through the University or, if it is several years after graduation, apply as an “At Large” candidate. The Fulbright Director will be glad to work with recent graduates.
I studied abroad in the country to which I want to apply. Will that hurt my chances?
No. Study abroad does not make you less desirable as a candidate. In fact, it might work to your advantage as you may have a lead in terms of establishing contacts. However, if you have lived for a significant amount of time in your potential host country, it could jeopardize your chances of winning a Fulbright.
How much time should I expect to spend on my application?
Applying for a Fulbright takes considerable time and effort. Many students who have gone through the process of applying have compared it to taking a course. Planning ahead and factoring in the time necessary to produce a competitive application is the key to success.
If I won’t be on campus during Summer or Fall, can I still apply?
You can still apply if you will not be on campus. However, you will need to be in contact with the Fulbright Director throughout the summer. Before you leave campus, try to meet with potential recommenders.
Who should I ask for references and for advice on essays and programs of study?
Research or Study Award - You must submit three recommendation letters as part of the application. The authors should be the three individuals who can best speak to your ability to carry out the project being proposed; they should discuss your intellectual and professional preparation, and your ability to represent the U.S. abroad. You should provide the recommender with a copy of your Statement of Grant Purpose before requesting the recommendation letter. The recommendation letter should NOT simply be a character reference, as this will be of no value in assessing your ability to complete the proposed project.
ETA Award - The recommenders completing the ETA reference forms should be the three individuals who can best speak to your ability to teach English in a classroom abroad based on your intellectual and professional preparation. You should provide the recommenders with a copy of your Statement of Grant Purpose before requesting the recommendations. The recommendation should NOT simply be a character reference, as this will be of no value in assessing your ability to be a successful English Teaching Assistant. It is encouraged that at least one recommender is able to speak to your skills and experiences outside of academia. Examples of non-academic recommenders include coaches, supervisors, or mentors.
Can I see an example of successful Fulbright essays?
Yes. Contact the Fulbright Director or the Fulbright Program Adviser to obtain a copy of previous essays.
Who can help me with the application essays?
First, contact the U’s Fulbright Director. We encourage you to start early in the application cycle and stay in contact with the Director over the summer and seek feedback on your essays and application. The Fulbright Director is willing to answer your questions and support your application efforts during the summer. You also should have your main professors, friends, and family read your essays.