How Fulbright Scholarships Work

Application and Selection of Fulbright Scholarship Winners

The journey from applicant to Fulbright Scholar is long, with months of preparation, research and planning that must happen before applications are even submitted. The entire process -- from completing the application to arriving in the host country -- lasts more than a year, and potential candidates should take this into consideration when deciding whether to apply. Also, because there are more applicants than grants available, the competition can be fierce.

The following information is for the 2011-2012 academic year, and even though deadlines may vary depending on campus and grant type, this should provide a glimpse into the process.

Beginning in May 2010, applications become available for submission in October. Five months may seem like a long time to get your packet together, but depending on the host country, area of study and program, you may need to provide additional information. For example, all applications require a project statement (up to five pages), a resume or curriculum vitae, and three letters of reference, but some programs also require a language proficiency report and a letter of invitation from the prospective host country. For a checklist of all requirements by grant type, visit the Institute of International Education Web site [source: IIE].

The IIE reviews the applications and schedules interviews with candidates they believe have the potential to be selected. These interviews are critical, because it's the only opportunity candidates will have to make their case in person.

By Jan. 31, 2011, the IIE will let applicants know whether they will receive a Fulbright Scholarship, have been named as an alternate in the event another winner declines or have been removed from consideration. Between March and July of 2011, the new class of Fulbrighters will complete a medical examination and submit final transcripts (if they're students).

Finally, starting in July 2011, scholarship winners begin working in their host country. The grant period ends in March 2012, which means the application process actually lasts longer than the grant itself.

As you can see, securing a Fulbright Scholarship can be a demanding process. But the opportunity to work and study in a foreign country, exchange ideas and learn from cultures that might otherwise be inaccessible may be worth the effort for the successful candidates.

Learn more about Fulbright Scholarships, financial aid and studying abroad by exploring the links below.

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More Great Links


  • Bohlmann, Paul. "Preparing for Your Fulbright Campus Committee Interview." U.S. Fulbright Applicant Newsletter (September 2008)
  • Council for International Exchange of Scholars. "About Fulbright." (April 17, 2010)
  • Council for International Exchange of Scholars. "Fulbright Scholar Program: Campus Representative Handbook." (April 16, 2010)
  • Fulbright mtvU. "2009 Award Winners." (April 20, 2010)
  • Institute of International Education. "Fulbright Program for Foreign Students." (April 22, 2010)
  • Hymas, Valerie. "The U.S. Student Fulbright Program in Europe and Eurasia." The Fulbright Applicant Newsletter: Rising to the Challenge of Leadership (July 14, 2004)
  • Institute of International Education. "About Fulbright." (April 14, 2010)
  • U.S. Department of State. "Who Are Fulbright Alumni?"(April 14, 2010)
  • U.S. Department of State. "Legacy of Leadership."