Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What is the Fulbright Program?

I want to focus this first post on telling you a brief history of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, what type of grants Fulbright has to offer, and how you might go about applying for one if you are interested.


About 70 years ago, a Senator by the name of J. William Fulbright proposed a bill to "use surplus war property to fund the promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science." (https://us.fulbrightonline.org/). The bill was signed by President Truman the following year and voila! The Fulbright Program was created by Congress. In a nutshell, it is an international educational exchange program between the U.S. and countries all over the world. The core of the Fulbright Program mission is building and maintaining international partnerships. For more on the history of the Fulbright Program, click here.


The Fulbright has various types of exchange opportunities available to U.S. students (recent grads and grad students) and faculty. The program offers research, study, and teaching grants in 140+ countries around the world. There are also special programs offered in certain countries: the Hillary Rodham Clinton Public Policy Fellowships and the National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship. In addition, a Critical Language Enhancement Award is available to grantees to have intensive language study prior to their grant term (only available for select languages and host countries). Click here for more on the types of grants available.


If you think the Fulbright Program might be right for you, start doing your research now! The application process is strenuous and time consuming. For example, I applied for a Fulbright ETA to Argentina in October 2015, interviewed with an on-campus committee in November 2015, found out I was a semi-finalist in January 2016, and received the email that I was a recipient at the end of March 2016. It took me about two months to fine tune my application, during which time I met with my Fulbright Adviser frequently and had professors look over my essay responses to provide feedback. Therefore, it would be helpful to have an idea of the country and type of grant you would like to apply for before starting the process.

Thankfully, if you are currently enrolled at a university, you can find help from your campuses' Fulbright Adviser who you could probably locate at your study abroad office or by searching here. If you have recently graduated, do not fear! You, too, can apply, however, you will want to contact your alma mater to see if you may apply through them. If alumni support is not available from your graduating institute, you can apply as an "at-large" candidate, which means you will not have access to on-campus resources to help you with the application process. The application for the 2017-2018 grant term is closed, but you can start exploring the country/grant options on the website now to get an idea of what will be available for the 2018-2019 grant term. The applicant page shows you the steps for applying to the Fulbright Program.

Applying is not as daunting as it seems, however, you do need to put in the time and effort if you want to finish with a strong application. I found an abundance of guidance from past and current professors as well as my coworkers while I was applying. Hence, use the people and resources around you for support! Don't be afraid to reach out for help and constructive feedback from others.

If you are interested in applying and would like to talk to me more about the process, feel free to send me an email or comment on this post.

Information in this post was found at https://us.fulbrightonline.org/

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