FAQ

SCHOLAR FAQ

General

When does the competition open?
The competition opens in early February and closes in mid-September, with the exception of some of the International Education Administrator (IEA) awards. For Scholar and Postdoctoral awards, please see the detailed timeline. For IEA awards, please see the country-specific timelines. Applications are submitted for opportunities in the following academic year. 

How can I start an application?
Applications are submitted online, and the application portal opens with the start of the new competition in early February. Please read the application guidelines (for the IEA awards, please consult the IEA application guidelines) before beginning your application. Begin or return to your application here.

Who can I contact at my institution for assistance?
Over 1,400 academic institutions and professional associations across the United States have Fulbright Scholar Liaisons, a network of faculty and administrators who can guide you. We encourage you to connect with the Liaison at your institution for assistance with your application and your institution’s process for participating in the Fulbright program.

Can I apply to more than one country or award?
Applicants may apply only for one award per application cycle.

If I already had a Fulbright, can I receive another one?
Preference for Fulbright Scholar opportunities will be given to candidates who have not previously received a Fulbright Scholar award. Recipients of a Fulbright Scholar award are eligible to apply for another Fulbright Scholar award two years after the date of completion of the previous award. This includes the higher education administrator seminars. (For flex awards, the two-year period begins at the end of the final grant portion.) Additional Fulbright policies are available here.

Can I apply to the Fulbright Scholar Program if I am on the Fulbright Specialist Roster?
You are eligible to apply to the Fulbright Scholar Program while on the Fulbright Specialist roster. Recipients of a Fulbright Specialist Program grant are not required to adhere to the two-year waiting period before applying for a Fulbright Scholar grant. Likewise, recipients of a Fulbright Scholar grant are not required to adhere to the two-year waiting period before applying for or receiving a Fulbright Specialist Program grant.

What are the financial benefits of Fulbright awards?
Benefits vary by country and type of award. Generally speaking, Fulbright awards are budgeted to cover travel and living costs in-country for the grantee and their accompanying dependents. Check the award description in the Catalog of Awards and/or consult program staff responsible for the particular award you are interested in. For IEA awards, benefits vary by country but generally include round-trip travel, lodging, and a per diem that includes meals. Each award description details these benefits.

What are the safety and security protocols in place for the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program?
Please see our safety, health and security page for more information.

What health benefits do Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program grantees receive while on their grant?
As a U.S. government funded exchange participant, Fulbright grantees qualify to receive Accident and Sickness Program for Exchanges (ASPE), a limited health care benefit plan designed by the U.S. Department of State and administered by Seven Corners, Inc. It is not intended to cover long-term healthcare and has limitations in coverage. We encourage grantees to maintain their own private insurance.

If I am selected, can I take my family with me on my grant?
This depends on the award and host country. Most Scholar and Postdoctoral awards have no restrictions on accompanying dependents; however, some awards do have restrictions. Check the award description and/or consult the program staff responsible for that award. Many grantees bring their families and report that the time abroad benefited all family members. No additional financial benefits for dependents are awarded for the Fulbright Global Scholar Award of the Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship. For International Education Administrator seminars, no financial benefits for dependents are provided. Dependents may join before or after the seminar at the grantee’s own expense. A dependent is either (1) a spouse, or (2) a relative (child, grandchild, parent, sibling) who is financially dependent on the grantee. Accompanying dependents are those who spend at least 80% of the grant period with the grantee abroad.

Who should write my reference letters?
While it is useful to have someone with a known reputation in the field, the best person to provide a recommendation is someone who knows your work and character extensively. We also advise mixing internal and external letters to demonstrate the breadth of your contacts. You may also contact a professional reference who knows you well. For Scholar and Postdoctoral awards, one letter should be written by the head of your department or dean of your school. Please see our application guidelines for additional information.

For International Education Administrator awards, the best person to provide a recommendation is someone who knows your work and character extensively. In addition, they should be able to address the impact your participation would have on your institution and its commitment to internationalization. You may wish to mix internal and external referees. One letter must be written by your supervisor or someone to whom you report; the other one must be from a colleague and speak to your skills and successes, interest in international education, and personal qualities. Please see the IEA application guidelines for more information.

Review and Selection

Who reviews applications?
Peer review committees are organized by discipline and are comprised of U.S. academics and professionals with relevant expertise.

For IEA applications: U.S. international education administrators with experience in the selected country review applications.

How is my application reviewed?
All submitted applications are reviewed initially for program eligibility and technical completeness.

All complete, eligible applications are then reviewed by a peer review committee to determine whether they are recommended for further consideration by the host country (review criteria). Peer review committees are organized by discipline and are comprised of U.S. academics and professionals with relevant expertise. For IEA applications: committees are comprised of U.S. international education administrators with relevant country experience (review criteria).

Applications recommended for further consideration in peer review are then forwarded to Fulbright Commissions and U.S. Embassies abroad, as well as to the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the Department of State (Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs) for final decisions and confirmation.

How will I be notified?
All notifications are sent via email. If your email address has changed since you submitted your application, please update your application with your new address.

When will I be notified?
Following the conclusion of the peer review, applicants are notified of the status of their application, recommended or not recommended.

For recommended applications: Each host country has their own in-country review timeline. At the same time, the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB) and the Department of State also review the applications. Approvals are needed from all three (host country/countries, FFSB, Department of State) before candidates can be notified. Most U.S. Scholar applicants are informed of the decisions in the spring.

While IIE cannot predict when a country’s outcomes will be available, applicants will be notified of the final outcome as soon as possible.

Please see the notification timeline for more details. For IEA applications: please consult the individual country timeline.

I’ve submitted my application. When should I be in touch with my proposed host institution?
The Program appreciates the enthusiasm shared by applicants and host institutions to engage and collaborate on your proposed project. Please note that applications must first go through the peer review process. Those that are recommended for further consideration are then forwarded to the host country, U.S. Department of State, and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board for review and selection. Some host countries work with host institutions in this process (typically awards where the host institution is specified in the award title). You are welcome to let your proposed host know if your application was recommended following peer review. But, to help maintain the integrity of the review process, if your application was recommended for further consideration after peer review, you are advised to not contact the host country or proposed host for updates on the status of your application.

Can I receive feedback from the review process?  
IIE, which administers the program, operates in conformity with the policies of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB). According to FFSB policy, IIE cannot give applicants the specific reasons for selection or non-selection. If you are interested in reapplying, you are encouraged to contact the relevant Fulbright regional program officer, who can provide general guidance on reapplying.

How can I make my application more successful?
There is no single "formula" for a successful proposal. An application should be about the candidate, how the award period will be spent, and what outcomes can be reasonably expected. What is successful for one applicant may not be effective for another applicant. The responsible program officer is a good point of contact for discussions of how to shape a competitive application. Also, see our application guidelines for tips on making your application more competitive.

For IEA awards, desired professional profiles and specific qualifications vary across the awards, so you are encouraged to apply to the award that best fits your background and experience. Please see our application guidelines for information on the application components. Also, you can discuss your application and fit for the program with the staff contact listed in the award description.

Can I reapply?
Yes. Applications are reviewed individually, on their own merit each year. While IIE cannot disclose specific reasons as to why applicants are (not) recommended or not selected, we can connect with you to help you identify an appropriate Fulbright award and to strengthen your application, including walking through the review criteria and the application guidelines. Some applicants choose to revise and strengthen their prior proposal; others opt to propose an entirely new project and/or change countries.

Please see the Application Requirements for instructions on how to reapply.

Teaching/Research/Professional Project

What type of teaching and/or research can I propose?
Award descriptions indicate which type of project is acceptable. Some awards accept only teaching only research, a combination of teaching and/or research. Each activity has unique submission requirements.

Do I need Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to apply to an award?
IRB approval is not required at the time of application; however, applicants must abide by all ethical requirements before commencing their research on human and/or animal subjects through a Fulbright award.

Are there opportunities to conduct a project during the summer?
The timeframe is indicated in each award description, and while most awards follow the academic calendar in the host country, some awards may allow projects in the summer months, especially if no teaching is involved.

Can I apply to the Fulbright Scholar Program to fund MA/PhD research?
The Fulbright Scholar Program does not support research activities for obtaining an MA/PhD, however you may wish to review the opportunities provided by the Fulbright Student Program.

I am a retired academic or professional. Can I still receive a Fulbright award?
Yes, the Fulbright Scholar Program welcomes scholars and professionals at all stages of their careers. As is required of all applicants, the project statement should address the expected benefits of the Fulbright award to you (professionally and personally), to the United States (how will you share your experience when you return?), and to your host institution.

Do I have to know a foreign language?
Most award recipients teach in English in the host country, with some exceptions in Latin America and Africa. If you are applying for a research award, your foreign language ability must meet the needs of the project. Be certain to indicate in your methodology discussion how you will need to use the language, since activities vary, and reviewers should not have to make assumptions.

Do I need to have an invitation letter?
This depends on the award. Some countries require an invitation letter, especially for “All Disciplines” awards. Other countries encourage but do not require a letter of invitation, while others still specifically request that you do not contact potential host institutions. The preference is clearly spelled out in the award description. If you have questions, please contact the program officer responsible for that country.

I need an invitation letter. How do I get one?
If you do not have a contact, your goal is to determine the name of an appropriate faculty member for a specific discipline or subfield within the discipline. Once you have determined possible hosts, write that faculty member a description of who you are (an attached C.V. can be helpful) and what you propose to do while in that country. Note that you plan to apply for a Fulbright award and that the application requires a letter of invitation. There may be several communications before a letter is forthcoming, but this method often works. It may also be helpful to contact past Fulbright alumni to your country of interest by searching the Fulbright Scholar Directory.

Professional Project

What kinds of activities are considered Professional Projects?  
Permissible activities may include visits to organizations in the applicant's professional field, practical experience in day-to-day operations, public lectures, artist residencies, or other appropriate professional experiences. However, details vary according to the specific award.  If you are uncertain whether your project falls under the Professional Project activity type, please contact the IIE staff member listed in the award description.

How does the Professional Project activity type differ from the Research activity type?
The Research activity type comprises traditional academic research, such as laboratory observation, field interviews, or statistical models. The Professional Project activity type, however, encompasses undertakings that fall outside traditional academic research.

Can for-profit organizations serve as hosts for Professional Projects?   
For-profit organizations may not serve as hosts for Professional Projects. Appropriate hosts might include a non-profit organization, artist residency, studio collective, governmental agency, museum, professional association, cultural organization, K-12 institution, university, college, language institute, research institute, laboratory, think tank or foundation. If you are uncertain whether your host is appropriate, please contact IIE staff listed in the award description.

Can workshops/conferences/trainings serve as a host for Professional Projects?   
Generally, no, though details about acceptable host institutions vary according to each country or award. Projects must be original and designed by the applicant, with the exception of artist residencies. If you are uncertain whether your host is appropriate, please check the award description in the Catalog of Awards or contact IIE staff.

Does a host institution need to be local, or can we partner with American organizations that work overseas?   
Local organizations operated by citizens of the host country are preferred. However, in some cases, international organizations have been approved as hosts. Please check the award description in the Catalog of Awards or contact IIE staff to inquire whether your host is permissible.

Can medical professionals apply for a grant under the Professional Project activity type?
The grant is meant for professionals in all fields. However, proposals for medical research involving clinical training, patient care or patient contact are not eligible. Medical professionals should propose projects that do not involve these kinds of activities. Fulbright policies do not authorize activity for which a license to practice medicine or nursing is required.

International Education Administrator Seminars

Do I have to know a foreign language?
No. The seminars are conducted in English.

Can I propose a project of my own design for the seminar? Can separate briefings be arranged for me?
No. Each country arranges an itinerary of meetings, briefings, and campus visits. There is little time available for individual projects or appointments.

Where do I upload the institutional statement, and do I need a bibliography or syllabi?
Please upload the institutional statement to the online application form. A bibliography and syllabus should not be submitted.

Are there new IEA seminars offered every year?
Currently, we have agreements with France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and Taiwan, and the Catalog of Awards shows what awards are currently offered along with their application deadlines.