Fulbright U.S. Student Grant

History   |   Description   |   Eligibility   |    How to   |   Application   |    Recommendation   |   Checklist

History and Purpose

In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill in the United States Congress that called for the use of surplus war property to fund the "promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science." On August 1, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law, and Congress created the Fulbright Program. From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The world has been transformed in ensuing decades, but the fundamental principle of international partnership remains at the core of the Fulbright mission. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, under the auspices of the Fulbright Scholarship Board, administers the Fulbright Program and the U.S. Student Program.  Applications are processed and awards administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

Description of Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grants

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers funded opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.  The program currently awards approximately 1,800 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 155 countries. Two types of grants are available:

  • a Research or Study grant which enables the grantee to do independent research or pursue a course of graduate study (one year master’s degree) in a participating Fulbright country
  • an English Teaching Assistantship through which the grantee assists in teaching English and U.S. culture to non-native speakers in a classroom setting in a participating Fulbright country

To learn more about the Fulbright application process and each type of grant, watch these 15-minute tutorials. Fulbright offers other grants which follow a different timeline than those listed above. These include the mtv-U awards; Fulbright-Clinton Fellowships; Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowships; limited Travel Grants and Critical Language Enhancement Awards that accompany a Full/Research Study Grant to certain countries. Students/alumnae interested in these grants are encouraged to consult the Fulbright website and contact MHC’s Fellowships Advisor for details.

Eligibility requirements & Rules for Nomination

Applicants must be/have:

  • Seniors who will have obtained a bachelor’s degree before the time of the grant, or alumnae up to 5 years from graduation; applicants must not have obtained a doctorate degree
  • U.S. citizens (those in the process of applying for citizenship are not yet eligible)
  • Sufficient proficiency in the language of the host country to carry out responsibilities
  • Strong academic achievement usually with a GPA of 3.5+ and pertinent academic/other experience

Nomination: Mount Holyoke presents and provides evaluations for all MHC applicants (students or alumnae) who participate in the campus process. on the evaluation, the Committee indicates whether they do or do not endorse the applicant as a candidate. Regardless of the endorsement decision, all applications are sent to Fulbright.

How to apply

Enrolled students (seniors) are advised to apply through the campus process, facilitated by Fellowships Advisor, Christine Overstreet and Senior Administrative Assistant, Marianne Taylor. REGISTER HERE to apply through MHC. The campus process includes attending an information session (for abroad or alumnae candidates – a Skype appointment); guidance on grant and country selection; feedback on essay drafts and other material; an interview with the campus Fulbright Committee (Dean of Studies and faculty); and final submission of each student’s application materials and campus evaluations. Alumnae are invited and encouraged to join the campus process as well. Campus process applicants are expected to comply with all deadlines. After attending an information session or watching the tutorials, candidates are encouraged to meet with Christine to discuss their Fulbright aspirations. Request an appointment with Christine by completing this form. Note that campus process deadlines are much earlier than Fulbright’s application submission deadline.

Application components

  • A completed online form where biographical data, foreign travel experience, educational background, work experience, extra-curricular activities, awards, publications, presentations, language learning, plan for host country engagement, and choice of grant and country are entered; a brief abstract is also entered for Research/Study Grants
  • A Statement of Grant Purpose (12 pt Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, 2 single-spaced pages for Research/Study grants; 1 page for ETA grants)
  • A Personal Statement (12 pt Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, 1 single-spaced page for both kinds of grants)
  • Transcripts from MHC and study abroad/summer study/any previous undergraduate institution; for MHC, fellowships office will supply unofficial version; alumnae must send official. Once finalists are announced, current student finalists will need to order an official MHC transcript and send to Fellowships Office
  • Three recommendations (from people who can attest to your ability to fulfill the terms of the grant; these may be professors or work/internship supervisors but should include at least one faculty member); letters/forms are uploaded to Fulbright website by the recommender; ETA recommenders upload a Fulbright ETA recommendation form while Research/Study recommenders upload a signed letter on institutional letterhead. In the online application, once the applicant enters the names and contact information of her recommenders and language evaluator, an email will be sent with instructions on how they can upload letters/fill out forms.
  • Language Self-Evaluation (completed by the applicant)
  • Foreign Language Evaluation (completed by an instructor) - if applicable for country choice - recommended even if not required
  • Critical Language Enhancement Award Statement (available for certain countries)
  • Letter(s) of Affiliation (for Study grant only, showing support of in-country institution(s)
  • Supplementary Materials (all candidates applying in the creative and performing arts must submit examples of their artistic work; these will be evaluated by the National Fulbright Screening Committee)

The online application form becomes available on March 31st. Click on Embark Online Application in the table on the left. The application can be saved as you go. All materials are submitted through the online application.

Recommendation Letters

The format and content of recommendations for Fulbright candidates varies according to the type of grant for which a student is applying.

For the Research/Study/Arts grant: Fulbright asks recommenders to discuss the following: her ability to carry out the research or study she has proposed; her potential to adapt to a different cultural environment; her linguistic preparation; and feasibility of her proposal. Fulbright offers further instructions for reference writers here.  Recommenders for MHC students may find useful these additional suggestions for fellowship recommendation letters

Format and Submission for Research/Study/Arts grant recommendations: Letters (no word limit) should be typed on institutional letterhead and signed. They are then scanned and uploaded into an online system by the recommender, who will receive an email invitation from the Embark application system once the applicant enters the recommenders’ contact information into her application (in early August). Although Fulbright’s deadline is October 13th, recommenders are asked to submit letters by September 2nd in time for the MHC internal review process. (The Fellowships Advisor can access letters submitted in the Embark system.)

For the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grant: Fulbright asks recommenders to address the applicant’s ability to develop and carry out a variety of learning activities, make presentations on U.S. culture and society, and/or assist faculty in an English Language Department with their teaching responsibilities. Since assignments vary, it is important to understand the particulars of the ETA role in the applicant’s destination country. Also helpful is an assessment of the candidate’s ability to adapt well to a different cultural environment. Fulbright offers further instructions for ETA reference writers here

Format and submission for ETA grant recommenders: The ETA recommendation is NOT a letter; rather, it is a form with a series of questions. Once the applicant has entered your contact information into her application (in early August),  an email will be sent  from the Embark Online system with instructions on how to access and submit the form. Although Fulbright’s deadline is October 13th, recommenders are asked to submit their forms by September 2nd in time for the MHC internal review process. (The Fellowship Advisor can access letters submitted in the Embark system.)

Campus Process and Checklist

 Please note that for all deadlines, submission time is 12:00 noon

  • Attend Fulbright info session/abroad students watch Fulbright tutorials & Skype appointment
  • Research destination countries/grant types/seek advice from Christine and faculty
  • March 31st - Fulbright online application opens; Log in, begin app, and save
  • Brainstorm & develop Statement of Grant Purpose, consult faculty
  • Attend Essay Writing Workshop for ETA grant; Graduate Study grant; or Independent Research grant
  • Solicit three recommendations and language evaluation
  • Research potential affiliates (research/study grants only)
April Solicit affiliation letters for research/study grants
by June 1
Register to apply through MHC  Missed the deadline? Contact Christine to inquire about late accommodation.
by June 1 Send Christine Statement of Grant Purpose for feedback (via email)
  • Enrolled students order official transcripts from study abroad/summer/prior study sent to Christine (Christine will get MHC unofficial transcript)
  • Alumnae order official MHC transcripts & study abroad/summer/prior study sent to Christine
by July 1st Send Christine Personal Statement & revised Statement of Grant Purpose for feedback (via email as word docs)
Aug 10
  • Send Christine revised Personal Statement & refined Statement of Grant Purpose for final feedback
  • Enter Recommenders'/Language Evaluators' names in application; triggers email for upload
by Sept 2
  • Applicant submits completed online application in Fulbright system
  • Recommenders upload letters/forms in Fulbright system
  • Language evaluators submit forms in Fulbright system
9/14-9/25 Fulbright Committees interview applicants on campus or via Skype/telephone (15 minute interviews)
Sept-Oct Applicants revise materials as suggested by Committee
by Oct 7
  • Applicants re-submit in online system
  • Christine reviews, uploads evaluation, and sends to Fullright by Oct 13