Obtain Three Strong Letters of Recommendation

You are asked to submit three academic letters of reference for the Fulbright Scholarship. The Fulbright is primarily an academic scholarship, so the selection committee is looking for honest appraisals of your academic abilities. You should keep the following points in mind when selecting recommenders.

  • References should be from faculty members with whom you have worked, had a class, or conducted a research project. At least two of the letters should be from professors in your major or field who are familiar with your abilities and proposed project.
  • Choose people who know you well academically, who can comment on your research proposal, and who can comment on your ability to live overseas for an extended period of time. A letter of recommendation is most useful when it includes specific comments on the strength of your Fulbright application. Recommenders should be able to comment on your ability to carry out your proposed project and the suitability of the country or institution chosen.
  • For the English Teaching Assistantship, make sure your recommenders can address your abilities or potential abilities as a teacher. There is a specific recommendation form for the English Teaching Assistantship awards that asks references to comment on the applicant’s teaching ability and potential.
  • Identify your recommenders and contact them as early in the process as possible. Brief them on the overall timeline, expectations, and opportunities with regard to the Fulbright Grant. If your recommenders are familiar with your plans and the application process, they will be more helpful to you when providing feedback and constructive criticism.
  • Give your recommenders as much information about yourself as possible. The following is a list of helpful items to give to your selected recommenders: 
Draft essay(s) and application, Copy of transcript, and Background information on the U.S. Student Fulbright Program.

Obtain a Letter of Affiliation 

For most research applications, you must establish contact with an expert in your proposed field in the country to which you wish to go. This is not as difficult as it might first appear though it may take some time to obtain this letter.

Fulbrighters have used a number of methods to contact potential hosts and solicit support for their projects. One primary method is to use the contacts and advisers that you already have. Ask current or former professors to put you into contact with appropriate people in the host country. If the proposal contains a strong research component, you must have host country contacts that can support the research, provide access to required resources, and/or advise you during the grant period.

After identifying the appropriate host institution and the individual at that institution best suited to serve as an adviser for the proposed project, make contact with the potential adviser to determine if he/she is willing to write an affiliation letter. Before requesting the letter, you should provide the author with a copy of the Statement of Grant Purpose. The affiliation letter should indicate the author’s willingness to work with you on the intended project and it should speak to the feasibility and validity of what is being proposed.

The affiliation letter must be printed on institutional letterhead and must be signed by the author. This letter need only be a welcoming gesture rather than an actual recommendation. Such a letter is a required and crucial component of the application.