The Fulbright US Student Program is the largest US international exchange program providing opportunities for students to undertake year-long post-graduate advanced research, graduate degrees, arts projects, or teaching in one of more than 140 countries around the world. More than 360,000 Fulbrighters from the United States and other countries have participated in the program since its inception in 1946. Each of the past two years, 10+ UT students have been selected for a Fulbright. Read about UT’s 10 Fulbright selections from 2017!
Wednesday, April 18 at 3:00PM — Hodges Library, Room 213
2018 Fulbright Student Program Kick-Off Event
UT has had 10+ students selected for a Fulbright the past two years. Attend this event to learn more about the Fulbright (the opportunities possible, how to start the process, complete the Campus Pre-Application, and develop a competitive application, etc.) from ONSF and recent successful UT applicants!
After reading through the information found on this page—including the “Quick Start Guide”, “Campus Timeline”, and FAQs below—to begin the Fulbright application process, you must first complete an ONSF Pre-Application found here, by May 14, 2018.
The two main types of Fulbright awards are Study/Research grants (which include arts projects) and English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grants. An applicant may only apply for one type of grant in one country per application cycle.
Students applying for Study/Research grants design their own projects and typically work with advisers at foreign universities. Specific program requirements will vary by country. Projects typically involve independent research, formal (i.e. classroom) study, or some combination thereof. Students may also apply for grants to support projects in the creative and performing arts under this awards category.
Students who receive an ETA grant are placed in a classroom and assist teachers of English to non-native English speakers. ETA recipients also serve as cultural ambassadors and typically take on a supplemental project in their host community. Specific requirements of ETA grants also vary by country.
Fulbright Eligibility Criteria
- Have a baccalaureate degree by the start of the grant, be a current graduate student or professional degree student (without a PhD), or be an alumni who holds at least a bachelor’s degree but does not have a PhD
- A US citizen at the time of application
- Possess language skills for proposed project (certainly this varies widely)
Students must submit a complete application through the Fulbright’s Embark system by the UT campus deadline. Fulbright applications are submitted entirely online. A complete application will consist of the following:
- Biographical Data (basic resume information)
- Statement of Grant Purpose (1 to 2-page grant proposal)
- Personal Statement (1-page personal narrative essay)
- Reference Letters for the Study/Research Grant (3); Reference Forms for the ETA (3).
- Transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate institutions from which you received degrees, as well as any significant coursework that is not reflected on your degree transcripts.
Depending on the type of grant and the requirements of the host country, applicants may also need to submit the following:
- Affiliation Letter (for Study/Research Grants — this is proof of agreement from host institution/advisor)
- Foreign Language Evaluation(s)
- Supplementary Materials (for students in the creative and performing arts)
All UT undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni interested in applying for a Fulbright must work with ONSF throughout the application process — from the Pre-Application to the Campus Deadline and Interview. You may contact us at any time throughout the process! https://onsf.utk.edu/first-steps/
For ETAs, it is not necessary to have a long-term professional aspiration to teach, although that’s certainly OK. But ask yourself: 1) Do you have some teaching/tutoring/mentoring experience (even if it’s not ESL) that has been meaningful to you? 2) Do you have a sincere desire to attend to the needs of English-language learners in the host country? If so, an ETA might be a good fit! ONSF is happy to weigh in on your decision, too.
Relatedly, you might also consult the Fulbright’s application statistics, but don’t go overboard. This should be only one of your data points in selecting a country and award. Think first about those especially meaningful experiences you’ve had—studying a foreign language, doing research, working/interning, studying abroad, leading an initiative, doing service—and how you might build on them in a post-graduate year abroad. ONSF is here to help you think through your options and offer feedback. It is your decision to make, but we are happy to weigh in.
Study/Research projects should be tightly connected to the host country (i.e., Why do you need to do this research, on the ground, in country X?), while ETA applicants should offer a compelling reason for their interest in the host country. In addition, applicants should demonstrate some understanding of the host country’s culture and possess requisite language skills (see individual country pages for language requirements, which vary by country). Note that a “strong desire” to visit the country or a “passion” for the culture or commitment to “broadening your horizons” is great but, unto itself, insufficient; you’ll need to dig deeper than that—into your interests, story/background, trajectory, motivations—to get reviewers’ attention. This is where the Personal Statement comes into play!
Details/stories/examples are key to the success of your application—rely on nouns and verbs more than adjectives and adverbs—as is conveying first what this experience would mean for YOU, not humanity. Be careful with sweeping commentary and save-the-world rhetoric. They don’t impress readers; authenticity, perspective, and humility do. For more on personal statements, CLICK HERE.
For the Statement of Grant Purpose:
ETA: Focus on your strategies for engaging your language learners, which you’ll want to back up with relevant examples (needn’t strictly be classroom teaching) of past experiences. Your “Supplementary Project”, meanwhile, should receive less attention and needn’t be grandiose— taking courses, for example, can be an excellent side project for an ETA.
Study/Research: This is a grant statement, not an academic paper. Let readers know from the outset what you plan to do. Your first paragraph should NOT be a slow-burning introduction in which you provide copious background on your study; rather, it should quickly “hook” your readers (who will spend ~10 mins on your app) with compelling details about what you plan to do and why it’s important. The purpose and location of your proposed grant should be clear within the first couple sentences. Then dive into the more fine-grained detail of methods and timeline, while keeping in mind that you’ll want to also address how you’ll engage with your host community—the Fulbright doesn’t want you stuck in a lab all day and night for a year!
In general, here are the things you can share with your contact(s) as you work on getting a host country letter of affiliation, which should be:
• printed on institutional letterhead, addressed to The Fulbright Commission, signed by the author;
• indicate who your host is, what they do, and where;
• indicate at least basic knowledge of your project and its aims;
• explain the nature of the connection between you and the host—that is, the support being offered (e.g., access to facilities and/or courses at the institution, consulting/advising on research methods, supervision and/or mentorship, help with networking);
Note: These are some common examples, but this is negotiable with your host.
• comment on the feasibility of the project (e.g., in terms of resources, your and/or their relevant technical expertise, project timeline, and, if relevant, local political/cultural sensitivities); and
• show enthusiasm for your project and its value, and for the proposed working relationship.
These letters needn’t be lengthy and don’t often exceed a page. Scanned versions of the original hardcopy letters with hand-written signatures will be uploaded by you into Embark; a printed out e-mail will not suffice. Affiliation letters written in a foreign language must be translated into English; both the original letter and the translation must be uploaded into the application.
Don’t be afraid to initially cast a wide net in trying to secure an affiliation; you might be surprised how far a friendly, succinct introductory e-mail will get you—the Fulbright is well-known throughout the world. One primary way to find an affiliation is to ask the faculty/advisors whom you know right here on campus, as many of them have contacts and collaborators overseas.
In addition, you might try the following:
• Reach out to past Fulbrighters in your country; use the Grantee Directory to help facilitate this.
• Scour the references list of research papers you are reading in your field; it would make for a compelling application if you were affiliating with someone who’s writing what you’re reading!
• Discuss with ONSF. This is not as difficult as it might seem; it just requires some planning.
2. Do NOT leave the Biographical Data portion of the Embark application (which includes some short answer questions) to the last second. It will be the first thing readers see; leave yourself time for this important task.
3. Language proficiency requirements vary by country: some require it, some prefer it, and some have no pre-reqs at all (though it’s advantageous for community engagement purposes to have some proficiency in the host country language). If you have little/no background in the language, please consider working language study into your proposal and start learning the language now. Basic self-study or a campus language partner will help and demonstrate commitment.
4. Enjoy the process. Annual surveys of our candidates suggest that it’s a highly valued and meaningful experience unto itself. We genuinely admire what you’re doing in pursuing this competitive award and look forward to working with you!