The Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grant

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:

  • Full/Research/Study grant which enables the grantee to do independent research/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 

Fulbright offers other grants which follow a different timeline than those listed above. These include the mtv-U awardsFulbright-Clinton FellowshipsFulbright-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+
  • Mount Holyoke presents and provides evaluations for all MHC applicants who participate in the campus process (although students/alumnae may apply “at large,” their chances of winning are enhanced by participation in the campus process)

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. The campus process includes attendance at 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 (made up of faculty members and chaired by the Dean of Studies); 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 expected to comply with deadlines. Note that these deadlines are much earlier than Fulbright’s application submission deadline.

Application components 

  • 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 Study Grants
  • Statement of Grant Purpose (12 pt Times New Roman, 1 inch margins, 2 single-spaced pages for Study grants; 1 page for ETA grants) 
  • 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 are uploaded to Fulbright website by the recommender
  • ETA recommendations consist of a Fulbright questionnaire
  • Study Grant recommendations are letters on letterhead, signed, scanned & uploaded
  • Language Self-Evaluation (completed by the applicant) 
  • Foreign Language Evaluation (completed by an instructor) - if applicable for country choice
  • 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 form will become available on May 1. 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. 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.

Campus Process and Checklist

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



Feb - April

Attend Fulbright info session/abroad students watch tutorial & Skype with Christine

Feb – April

Research destination countries/grant types/seek specific advice from Christine and faculty

April - May

Brainstorm & develop Statement of Grant Purpose, in consultation with faculty as needed

April - May

Solicit three recommendations & language evaluations

April - May

Research potential affiliates (for Research/Study grant)

Start in April

Solicit affiliation letters (these often take months to procure)

by May 1st

Register intention to apply a MHC candidate through form on MHC website[w1] 

by May 31st

Open application in Fulbright online system; thoroughly review & begin entering data

by June 1st

Send Christine Statement of Grant Purpose for feedback (via email)

during June

Students order official transcripts from study abroad/summer study, sent to Christine            Alumnae order official transcripts from MHC/all undergraduate study, sent to Christine

by July 1st

Send Christine Personal Statement AND revised Grant Purpose for feedback (via email)

by August 15

Send Christine revised Personal Statement AND refined Grant Purpose for final feedback

Early September, date TBD

Applicant submits completed online application in Fulbright system                                          Recommenders submit letters/evaluation forms in Fulbright system                                                    Language evaluators submit evaluations in Fulbright system


Fulbright Committees interview applicants on campus or via Skype/telephone (15 min)


Applicants revise materials as suggested by Committee

Early October

Applicants re-submit in online system; Christine reviews and sends to Fulbright (date TBD)


 [w1]This will be a link to an online registration form that I’d like to add to our webpage and have sent to me and you, like our other forms