Fulbright FAQs

There is no one single profile of a typical Fulbrighter.  In order for the Fulbright Program to be successful in its goal to promote mutual understanding, Fulbrighters must represent the richness and diversity of their home countries.  Fulbrighters come from small villages and huge cities.  They range from recent university graduates to established experts in their fields. They are students, researchers, and teachers at all types of public and private educational institutions including primary and secondary schools, community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, and large research universities.  They are also visual and performing artists, journalists, scientists, engineers and other professionals.  Fulbrighters come from a wide range of socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.  Many are seasoned travelers, yet for some, the Fulbright grant will be their first experience abroad.

All Fulbrighters share a strong academic background, leadership potential, a passion for increasing mutual understanding among nations and cultures, and the adaptability and flexibility to pursue their proposed Fulbright project successfully.

Fulbrighters play a variety of roles, both during and after their Fulbright experiences.  These roles include being students, scholars, teachers, lecturers, researchers, mentors, artists, philanthropists, cultural ambassadors, and social entrepreneurs.

Each Fulbrighter's experience is unique and depends on a variety of factors, including project details, location, and language abilities. Despite the variety of experiences, Fulbrighters all describe their experiences as life changing and having a profound influence on their professional and personal endeavors.

You may read stories from individual Fulbright alumni to learn more about what it is like to be a Fulbrighter.  

Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by the people of partner nations.  The program -- working with universities, schools, bi-national Fulbright commissions and foundations, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector -- actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions.  From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which other countries and governments work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs.

In addition to carrying out their proposed projects, Fulbrighters are expected to involve themselves in the host community, sharing their culture while at the same time observing the host culture.  After their grant periods, Fulbrighters are encouraged to bring what they have learned through this cultural exchange home and teach others about the cultures they have experienced.  Fulbrighters are also encouraged to continue the Fulbright experience by reaching out to their home communities, participating in Fulbright alumni activities, and networking with other Fulbrighters.

The Fulbright Program's application process is lengthy and rigorous, and prospective applicants are encouraged to consider carefully their intentions, goals, future plans and prospective projects before applying for a Fulbright grant.  Applicants for the Scholar and Teacher Exchange programs may also need to consider additional work-related issues (for instance, campus leave policies) before applying.

The competition for Fulbright Program grants is merit-based.  Eligibility criteria will vary by program and by country.  Candidates are selected based on a variety of factors, that may include (but are not limited to) academic qualifications, project feasibility, personal leadership ability, and available grant funds.

Fulbright operates on a yearly application cycle, which generally (but not in all cases) opens approximately 15 months before the anticipated start of the grant with a deadline approximately 11 or 12 months before the grant's start date.  For instance, the U.S. Student Program's application is generally available in May with an October deadline for grants beginning the summer or autumn of the next year.  Specific exceptions to this are the Fulbright-mtvU grant for U.S. students, the Fulbright Specialist Program for U.S. academics and professionals, and the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program for U.S. and international teachers.

Application procedures are based on an applicant's country of citizenship or country of permanent residency.  Please note that non-U.S. citizens with legal permanent residency status in the United States are not eligible for Fulbright grants.

The U.S. Congress appropriates money to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). This Congressional appropriation makes up the majority of the Fulbright Program's funding. Part of this appropriation goes to the U.S. Department of Education for the administration of the separate Fulbright-Hays Program.

In addition, partner governments also contribute funding to the Program through the bi-national Fulbright Commissions and other organizations. Private donors, including organizations, corporations and individuals worldwide, also contribute to Fulbright's funding.  Furthermore, in-kind donations from both the private and public sectors globally support the Fulbright Program.  Host universities contribute significantly to the program by offering partial or full tuition waivers to participants. On occasion, ECA may receive funds through an interagency transfer from another government agency, such as USAID, to fund Fulbright grants.

ECA works with bi-national Fulbright Commissions, the Public Affairs Sections (PAS) of U.S. Embassies worldwide and partner organizations to administer the Fulbright Program.

U.S. applicants (U.S. citizens) apply through their university for the program in which they are interested.

The university then recommend U.S. applicants who have passed initial screening to the bi-national Fulbright Commissions or to the U.S. Embassies (in countries without a Commission) in the application country for their recommendation.

The bi-national Fulbright Commissions and U.S. Embassies recommend both U.S. and non-U.S. candidates to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB).  The FSB makes the final selections for candidates.

Placement of selected applicants varies by the type of grant.  Generally, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program participants propose their own institutional affiliation in the host country when applying.  Participants in the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant and English Teaching Assistant programs are assigned their host institutions.  The Fulbright Scholar Program and the Fulbright Teacher Exchange programs generally match participants with host institutions wanting their particular expertise or area of specialization.

Website information obtained from:
 http://eca.state.gov/fulbright and http://www.iie.org/fulbright/