Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award

Fulbright-Nehru Distinguished Scholar (All Disciplines)

Application Deadline
Award Code
Activity Type
A combination of teaching and research as described above. Refer to the award description for any specifications on percentages of time that should be devoted to teaching vs research.
Degree Requirements
Ph.D. (or other terminal degree) required
Career Profile
Senior Academics
Awards are open to those who have been working in the capacity of a teacher or scholar for more than 13 years.

Number of recipients

Up To
Award Start Period
July 2023 - March 2024
Award Length
4 months
Flex Option
Multi-Country/Area Award
Projects are sought in all disciplines
Scholars selected for this award can choose to
Assist in faculty, curriculum, and/or program development
Conduct a research project of the applicant’s choosing
The applicant can propose any of the listed activities

In addition to being a prestigious academic exchange program, the Fulbright Program is designed to expand and strengthen relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other nations and to promote international understanding and cooperation. To support this mission, Fulbright Scholars may be asked to give public talks, mentor students, and otherwise engage with the host community, in addition to their primary activities‎.

Award Activity

Teaching can include co-teaching, guest lectures, workshops, seminars. Depending on the department, it is likely that the grantee will also work with faculty, developing curriculum, ​and conducting occasional lectures, workshops, and seminars. The applicant may propose a percentage of the grant dedicated to each activity and should define this clearly in the project abstract/summary and the project statement. A recommended teaching load for distinguished scholars would not exceed one course per term (generally three hours of teaching per week.)

Distinguished Scholars are also provided a generous domestic travel stipend for guest lectures and professional engagements across India.

Locations Detail

Affiliations are available throughout India except for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Fulbrighters must be affiliated with institutions that are recognized by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), or the Medical Council of India.  This means that Fulbrighters cannot be affiliated with non-government organizations (NGOs), think tanks, research organizations or other institutions that are not recognized by these regulatory bodies. 

The applicant is encouraged to indicate affiliation preference and secure an invitation letter from an institution when possible.  If the applicant does not have a preferred host institution, USIEF will be happy to assist with identifying an appropriate one.  Affiliations will be finalized by the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) after the grantee is selected. USIEF reserves the right to change the affiliation if the one indicated in the application is unsuitable for any reason. 

Award Length and Period

Four months

Grants may begin any time between July 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024.

Special Features


In-Country Grant Related Travel for Distinguished Chair

The Fulbright Commission in India provides up to $2000 for travel and accommodation expenses for delivering lectures/ talks or conducting workshops across India. These events can be organized by the Commission upon recommendation from the scholar or receiving invitations from other institutions for hosting the scholar.

Citizenship/Residency Requirement
Not applicable – all U.S. citizens are eligible to apply, regardless of dual citizenship or residency.
Invitation Requirement
A letter of invitation is optional.
Invitation Requirement Additional Information
  • Applicants are encouraged to identify appropriate host institutions for their projects. USIEF encourages prospective applicants to contact current and former grantees about participating in the Fulbright Scholar Program and invites you to read their bios.
  • In the event that the applicant doesn’t have a preferred host institution, USIEF will be happy to assist. For suggested host institutions, please contact Priyanjana Ghosh, Senior Program Officer: Priyanjana@usief.org.in.
  • Applicants who have been in touch with potential host institutions should include any correspondence in the application, such as letters of invitation or expressions of interest.
  • Appropriate placements will be finalized for selectees by USIEF.
  • Applicants who do not indicate a preference for a host institution (especially those applying for teaching grants) and are open to an affiliation at an institution outside major metropolitan areas are encouraged to indicate this in their applications.
  • According to government of India guidelines, each scholar will be officially affiliated with a recognized Indian university/institution for their project and will be guided or assisted by an academic supervisor.  Therefore, USIEF will confirm final affiliations for candidates awarded Fulbright-Nehru grants. This is part of the official clearance and visa process.

    Although academic calendars vary across institutions, Fulbright-Nehru teaching scholars have historically arrived in India in either July/August or in January. Applicants are encouraged to inquire about the ideal grant dates for the host institution when requesting an invitation letter.

    Language Proficiency Requirements
    None, English is sufficient. However, feasibility of conducting the project must be demonstrated in the project statement.
    Additional Language Requirement

    All teaching will be in English; additional language proficiency not required.

    For research, basic knowledge of a local language in the location of research can be an advantage; applicants are not required to submit a language proficiency evaluation.

    Additional Qualification Information

    Applicants for this award must have more than seven years of experience in a discipline or area of expertise. The Distinguished Scholar award ​is designed for eminent scholars with substantial experience and publications in their respective fields. ​

    Applicants without significant experience in India are encouraged to apply, as are India specialists. Scholars who can contribute new methods of pedagogy, specifically interactive methods, group work and project-based learning are welcomed. Scholars may be placed at institutions with varying academic/administrative arrangements; undergraduate colleges often make optimum use of visiting scholars. 

    Additional Comments

    Archaeological Research:

    Applicants must clearly state in their proposals whether they will need to visit excavation sites. Selected candidates in this field will be required to fill out a form that USIEF will submit to the government of India for obtaining special clearance from the Archaeological Survey of India.

    Archival Research:

    Applicants should clearly state in their proposals whether they will need to consult records and/or papers in the National Archives, New Delhi, or in state archives. USIEF will obtain the necessary letter from the U.S. Embassy, which will be required for a scholar’s entry into the archives.

    In addition to being a prestigious academic exchange program, the Fulbright Program is designed to expand and strengthen relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other nations and to promote international understanding and cooperation. To support this mission, Fulbright Scholars will be asked to give public talks, mentor students, and otherwise engage with the host community, in addition to their primary activities‎.

    Award Allowances

    $6,000 per month. Support in arranging housing will be provided by USIEF and the host institution.


    Estimated Travel and Relocation Allowance for Grantee

    • Round-trip international travel for grantee.

    • One-time baggage allowance of $350 for grants up to four months and $600 for grants longer than four months. The allowance is paid at the end of the grant period upon submission of final reports to USIEF and IIE/CIES.

    Estimated Book and Research Allowance

    A one-time teaching/research allowance of up to $750 provided on a reimbursable basis for specific allowable expenses.

    Additional Dependent Benefits

    Additional living allowance of $200 per month per dependent, up to a maximum of three dependents who accompany the grantee for at least 80 percent of the grant period.  

    Travel for up to two accompanying dependents is also provided as long as the dependents accompany the grantee for at least 80% of actual grant duration in India.

    Tuition reimbursement for up to $5,000 per child or $10,000 per family for accompanying dependent children in grades K-12 on a reimbursement basis. 

    Dependents must accompany the grantee for at least 80% of the period abroad and a minimum of one semester in order to qualify for additional dependent benefits. Dependent benefits are not provided to Flex grantees.

    Estimated Cost of Living

    India is a very diverse country and the cost of living may vary from city to city. Applicants who wish to know about the estimated cost of living can write to USIEF. USIEF officials can connect applicants to alumni who have lived in the same city where the applicant wishes to be placed.

    Special Award Benefits

    South and Central Asia Fulbright Regional Travel Grant

    During their grant period, Fulbright Scholars in the South and Central Asia (SCA) region may apply for a regional travel grant to engage in a variety of activities at academic institutions or non-profit organizations in eligible SCA countries (Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Republic of the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).  Activities that U.S Scholars may engage in include: faculty and student lectures, graduate or faculty seminars, conferences, curriculum development, public lectures, panel presentations, needs assessment, or some combination thereof. Scholars in the arts may be invited to give master classes or recitals, participate in exhibitions or workshops, or consult with cultural institutions. Activities may not include research. This grant will cover travel to and from the destination and lodging may be offered by the hosting institution. Scholars may only apply for this grant once in country on their Fulbright grant. As funds are limited, Scholars are limited to one such travel grant.

    Before traveling to another country on a Regional Travel Grant, it is important to confirm trip details with the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section or Fulbright Commission in that country.

    Before traveling to another country on a Regional Travel Grant, it is important to confirm trip details with the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section or Fulbright Commission in that country.

    Please note: The 2023-24 Fulbright Regional Travel Program will be dependent on global travel conditions. More information will be provided prior to grant departure.  

    South and Central Asia Fulbright Midyear Conference

    With funding provided by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S.-India Educational Foundation (the Fulbright Commission in India) invites eligible Fulbright Scholars in the South and Central Asia region to attend the annual South and Central Asia Fulbright Midyear Conference in India (usually held in February or March). The conference is an opportunity for current Fulbright U.S. Scholars who are on their Fulbright grants in the SCA region at the time of the conference to gather to discuss each other’s work and educational exchange issues and to invite suggestions for the future development and enhancement of the Fulbright Program. Financial assistance to attend the conference is provided as an additional Fulbright grant benefit.

    Please note: The 2023-24 Fulbright Midyear Conference will be dependent on global travel conditions. More information will be provided prior to grant departure.  

    Final grant amounts will be determined prior to the start of the academic year and are subject to the availability of funds. The United States Department of State and the Fulbright Commission in the host country reserve the right to alter, without notice, participating countries, number of awards and allowances.


    What is life like for Fulbrighters in your country?

    The United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF), the Fulbright Commission in India, offers more than 50 Fulbright U.S. Scholar grants across four award categories for the 2023-24 academic year. The Fulbright-Nehru Program offers the largest number of scholar grants worldwide.


    India is the world’s largest democracy, with a vibrant and growing economy, rich history, kaleidoscopic diversity, and an enormous appetite for education. Its education system is among the largest and continues to expand at a rapid pace. India attracts faculty and students to study, teach and conduct research, its expertise extending beyond the technical and business fields to nearly all academic disciplines.

    India’s education priorities include increasing access and equity and improving the quality of teaching and research. The Indian higher education system follows the British model, and all instruction is in English. The system is comprised of universities and university-level institutions, colleges, and diploma-awarding institutions (e.g., polytechnics and specialist institutes). Institutions are also categorized by funding sources: central government, state government and private.  Undergraduate admission is highly competitive and is exam-based for most disciplines and institutions.

    The expansion of the Fulbright Program in India has been an important development. The government of India became an equal partner in the financial support of the Fulbright Program in 2008, providing significant resources to increase the number of grants and renaming it to the Fulbright-Nehru Program. USIEF administers the Fulbright-Nehru U.S. Scholar Program, providing in-country support for grantees through its five offices (New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai).

    The academic year in India generally runs from July to April. Some institutions have adopted the semester system and others follow the traditional academic session with grading based on end-of-year examinations.

    Fulbright grantees are not permitted to travel to the Union Territory of Jammu or Kashmir.

    All grantees receive an in-country briefing upon arrival in India. The Fulbright Commission in India pays careful attention to the safety of grantees, including those with families: spouses and children are welcome.

    More information on Indian higher education:

    In July 2020, the Union Cabinet of India approved the New Education Policy (NEP), which replaces the National Policy on Education-1986 and aims at universalization of education from pre-school to secondary level. The policy offers a comprehensive framework for elementary education to higher education and is set to bring major changes in the education system of India, such as a new 5+3+3+4 structure, introduction of vocational education training at younger levels, allowing top foreign universities to set up campuses in India, and a move towards institutes turning multi-disciplinary. The policy is based on the pillars of “Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, Accountability” and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge hub. Since education is a concurrent subject (both the Central and the state governments can make laws on it), the reforms proposed can only be implemented collaboratively by the Center and the states. The government has set a target of 2040 to implement the entire policy.

    Previous Fulbright Recipients

    Click here to view a list of U.S. Scholar alumni to India. Read more about Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador, Professor Jeff Withey, who collaborated with microbiologists at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata.

    Visit our Scholar Directory to view and search all Fulbright alumni. You can also learn more about Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors.