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Fulbright -- Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the Fulbright application process so confusing?

One important reason is that the same application process and forms are used for a wide variety of grants.  Students apply for Fulbrights for formal graduate study leading to a degree, for independent research, for work in the creative and performing arts, and for ETA (English Teaching Assistant) positions.  Not all the forms are relevant for all candidates.  Read the instructions carefully, start early, give yourself plenty of time to ask questions if you need to.


I am applying for a Fulbright as a teaching assistant in Country X.  What do I write about in my project proposal? 

You should describe in detail your reasons for wanting to undertake work as a teaching assistant in Country X and your ideas about what you would want to do in the classroom to enhance your students’ understanding of the English language and of American culture.  You may choose to talk about experiences you would draw on, but you should make sure that most of your proposal looks forward and towards the work you would be doing in Country X. Your answer should also display some knowledge of how the educational system in Country X works. 


Many Fulbright ETA positions are less than full-time, and you are also supposed to have a secondary project.  You should spend the last paragraph describing this project.  If you do not speak the language of Country X, you should choose a project that would be feasible even without language skills. 


I attended high school in Country X.  Does that make me ineligible?

No, but if it was for a period of six months or more, it may make you uncompetitive.  Contact the particular country’s program manager for guidance. 


What about studying in Country X as an undergrad through a JYA program?  Does that also make me uncompetitive?

No.  The Fulbright commission does not consider college study abroad as a disadvantage, even if it lasts longer than six months.  .


I am applying for a Fulbright ETA position in a country that does not require any language proficiency. Do I still need to submit a Foreign Language Report Form? 

No.  However, if you do have some proficiency in the country’s native language, it may be useful to go ahead and submit a Foreign Language Report.  You may also want to indicate if you plan to work on any hospitality/survival language skills in the statement of
proposed study.


I am applying for a Fulbright in a country that doesn’t specifically require proficiency in the native language, and my project can be undertaken using only English.  Do I still need to submit a foreign language report?

According to an article published in the Fulbright applicant newsletter, you should still submit a report.  Rather than being evaluated by a professional language teacher, you should merely indicate on the form how you will acquire a basic survival/hospitality level of proficiency. 


My JYA program sent a copy of my transcript to Bryn Mawr.  Can I just use that for the Fulbright application? 

No.  We are required to keep your official JYA transcript in your permanent record here.  You must obtain an additional official transcript directly from your study abroad program.  Make this request early. 


What does institutional affiliation mean?  What is involved in getting it?

This varies greatly from country to country.  In most cases, you will be expected to arrange for affiliation with a university or other research institute by the time of your application.  In other cases, the Fulbright Commission will help arrange affiliation after you have been named a Fulbright recipient. 


In cases where you are responsible for arranging affiliation, you should include a letter from a faculty member at the institution.  The letter at the very least should indicate support of the project and willingness to work together.  The letter might also include specifics about the support that will be given and the resources that will be made available.  If the faculty member knows you, he or she should also explain how and to what extent.  This should be a signed hard copy, not a fax or an email. 





Are there any guidelines for titling my proposal?

Yes.  As the instructions make clear, titles should have no more than seven words.  If you are applying to be an ETA, your title should be “Teaching Assistantship.”


Why am I asked twice for “fellowships, honors, publications, exhibitions, extracurricular activities? 

On 1A, you are given very little space and should merely list items without description. On page 2, you are given the space to add additional items and to include any description of previously listed items that may be necessary or useful. You should still be succinct.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t use up all the space.  Remember that this same application is used by advanced graduate students who have had several more years to accumulate honors!


For question 25, I don’t have any “occupational experience.”     Should I leave it blank?

Probably not.  If your occupational experience helps show what kinds of skills or interests you have, then it would be useful to list it. 


For question 27, I really don’t have any other funds available.  Will this hurt me? 

Only if you’re planning to travel with a spouse, child, or other dependents.  Realize, though, that the Fulbright stipend is fairly limited.  You may want to try to have some savings to rely on in emergencies or to allow for a little bit more flexibility or comfort in your life abroad. 


My essays are a little long.  May I put them in 11-point font? 

No.  The instructions state clearly that your application should be prepared in 12 point Times New Roman. 


Must all three of my letters come from professors in my field of study?

No.  This is the expectation for graduate students applying for Fulbrights, but it does not apply to graduating seniors. 


I would like to submit a reference letter from a superviser.  Would that be acceptable?

Maybe.  According to the Fulbright Applicant newsletter:

In general, as stated above, it is best to ask for references from people who have knowledge of your field of study, project or host country. However, some applicants may find it difficult to obtain all three letters of recommendation from people who can fulfill these guidelines.  It may not always be possible to include references from professors or other field specialists.  You will need to use your best judgment on who would make the best reference letter writer for your project. These letters can come from peers, supervisors, or employers.  We recommend trying to obtain as many letters from people who meet our guidelines, but you can submit a reference letter from anyone that you wish.