Program Information

The Fulbright U.S. Student program seeks to identify and financially support students who are interested in a year-long intellectual and cultural exchange abroad. Fulbright Grants are awarded for either post-graduate research and study in universities or for English teaching assistantships. They provide round-trip transportation, tuition, books and living expenses for one academic year, usually in one country. There are grants available to more than 150 countries in Europe, the Near East, Africa, Central and South America, and the Asia/Pacific region. Grants are also available in some countries for work in the creative and performing arts. There are two types of Fulbright grants available:

Fulbright Study/Research Grants: Independent research grants are available for students interested in further pursuing their research interests abroad. Research projects can be in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, or can be a creative project in the arts. Fulbright offers yearlong grant opportunities in over 150 different countries. Grants can also be used to cover a year of graduate study abroad.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships: Fulbright offers yearlong opportunities to teach English as a second language in over 55 countries. English teaching assistants also have the opportunity to take language classes and/or conduct a smaller independent research project while abroad. If you want to have the chance to travel, do something good while you're abroad and be financially supported while doing so then Fulbright may be an excellent opportunity for you. Fulbright Grants are available to all undergraduate and graduate students regardless of language fluency, degree or teaching experience.

UVM Fulbright Application Process

  • March: Fulbright application goes live on the Fulbright website
  • Intent to Apply Due (May 1, 2020): Deadline to declare Intent to Apply for a Fulbright Grant, 5 p.m. EDT. 
  • Mid-September (Sep 10, 2020): Campus deadline for Fulbright applicants. All applicants must submit their application online through the Embark system by 11:59 p.m. EDT.
  • By Late September/Early October: Applications submitted back to applicants for final revisions
  • Early October (Oct 4, 2020): Online application must be submitted on Fulbright U.S. Student Program website by 5 p.m. EDT.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for a Fulbright, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen by November 1
  • Recipient of a bachelor's degree before the beginning date of the grant
  • In good health

Before You Start Your Fulbright Application, You Should Know ...

Fulbright is essentially 150 programs within one program. You are allowed to choose one country to apply to, and each country has different academic and personal qualities that they look for in applicants. Be sure to read each country summary carefully and think critically about if and how your background, interests, project idea and future goals fit into what the country is looking for. This can sometimes make for a complicated and often confusing application process. Try not to let the complications discourage you.

Here are some tips:

  • Once you've begun looking through either the brochure or the website, you will soon realize that the Fulbright differs tremendously from country to country. In some places, like France and the UK, the Fulbright is incredibly competitive, and it is virtually impossible for anyone other than a top graduate student pursuing dissertation research to win a Fulbright in those countries. In other places, a comparatively high percentage (20-30%) of applicants receive grants.
  • Candidates are usually expected to have some degree of language proficiency appropriate to their projects, but specific language requirements vary tremendously from country to country, and within one country, from project to project. Many positions teaching English assume no preexisting knowledge of the host-country's language.
  • All regular Fulbright grants (i.e., all except TA-ships) require candidates to have an institutional affiliation during their time abroad. In most cases, you will have to arrange this affiliation in advance. Faculty in your major department or in a related language department can help you learn more about appropriate places to seek affiliation. You will then need to write (probably email) individuals at that institution, seeking their sponsorship. Save this correspondence to use as supporting documentation.
  • Most graduating seniors seeking a regular Fulbright grant will be attending university lectures, supplemented by independent work. You should not necessarily expect close supervision from your faculty sponsor.
  • Perhaps the easiest way for a graduating senior to win a Fulbright is to apply to teach English as a Fulbright TA in one of several different countries. No specific teaching experience is required, although previous work as a TA or in some other similar capacity can help you write a stronger application. Although teaching takes up the bulk of your working time (and the bulk of your application), you are encouraged to develop a "secondary project" to work on during your time abroad.
  • Bear in mind that the purpose of the Fulbright is to promote international understanding. Your ability to serve as a good informal ambassador of the US is as important as your intellectual and academic credentials.

Application Process

ALL STUDENTS must declare their intent to apply for a Fulbright Grant. In addition, students applying for a Fulbright are strongly encouraged to meet with UVM's Fellowships Advisor (email link) at least once before the internal application deadline.

Internal Application

All application materials must be submitted for the UVM Campus Deadline (above), including letters of recommendation. Submission Instructions:
1. Complete the online application form. Fulbright applications are available on the U.S. Student Program website.
2. Make sure everything is uploaded into your application, including all essays, affiliation letters, transcripts, letters of recommendation and language evaluations.
3. Hit "Submit" by the campus deadline. (The third step is perhaps the most important part. When you hit submit your application goes to UVM's Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, & Undergraduate Research (not to Fulbright!). This enables the Fellowships Advisor to distribute your application to the Fellowships Committee. So be sure to complete this step).

On the basis of this application, you will be interviewed by the Fellowships Committee on campus in late September. After the on-campus interview, the Committee will complete a Campus Evaluation Form, which will be submitted to the Fulbright Commission. You will also receive some feedback on your application and have a short time period in which to revise materials for your final application. The better and more polished your initial application, the likelier you are to have a strong interview, a strong Committee Evaluation, and the strongest possible final application.

External Stage: Final application must be submitted online by the external deadline (above).

Notification Process

At the end of January, applicants learn whether the central screening committee has recommended them. Recommended students' applications are then sent on to individual countries, where the final decisions are made regarding awarding of grants. Timetables vary greatly from country to country.

Research Grants: Tips for Letter of Recommendation Writers

The Fulbright US Student Program funds one-year post-graduate awards for study and research in more than 150 countries. Success in the Fulbright competition depends not only on the quality of the student's application, but also on the strength of letters of recommendation. The following are some suggestions for writing effective recommendations for students applying for research-based Fulbright Grants:

Address the applicant's "Fulbrightness." Fulbright applicants are evaluated on: (1) the merits and feasibility of the proposed project, (2) knowledge of the host country, (3) academic and other qualifications, especially in regard to the proposed project, (4) language qualifications, if applicable, (5) evidence of maturity, motivation and ability to adapt to a different culture, (6) impression the applicant will make as a citizen-ambassador of the US. Since the student you are writing for is applying for a research-type grant, your letter should address the merits of the proposed project and as many of the other criteria as you feel you can speak to. Keep in mind that the Fulbright program is not only an educational exchange program; it is a cultural exchange program.

Tell "stories." Vague statements ("John is bright, conscientious and hard-working") are of little value in this competition. The letter must bring the student to life with specific examples of achievement and ability as they relate to the aims of the Fulbright program and the evaluation criteria.

Write about the applicant. Fulbright selection committees don't care about an institution's US News ranking or other bragging points. Nor are they interested in the recommender's credentials and accomplishments, except as they may provide important background and context for the letter. In short, put the spotlight on the applicant. Also, avoid "hearsay." Don't base your letter on second-hand observations ("Professor Jones informs me that Jane's work was the best in his class"). Write about what you have witnessed.

Speak to Your Audience: You can assume that the people who will read your letter for the Fulbright competition are academics and diplomatic officials who have an expertise in the region the student is applying to. However, they are most likely not experts in the subject the student is studying. Think of them as a highly-educated lay audience. Readers will be looking to you to add depth and perspective to the student regarding their "Fulbrightness," their intellectual ability and potential as a cultural ambassador, so be sure to address those topics. Finally, keep in mind that letters that are too short or too long may hurt the applicant. Generally speaking, a one to two page single-spaced letter suffices for this competition. Letters should be signed, on letterhead, and uploaded as PDFs.

Finally, some administrative details:

  1. All letters need to be submitted onlineWhen the applicant registers you in the Embark Online Application system as a recommender, you will receive a message from Embark with directions for uploading your letter. IMPORTANT: If after submitting your letter online you discover errors or wish to make revisions, you must ask that the letter be "unsubmitted" and returned to you bysending a request to support@embark.com or by calling 415-615-1805. The system does not allow the Office of Fellowships Advising to do this for you, however, if you need assistance please feel free to reach out to the fellowships office.
  2. Letters can be addressed to: Fulbright Scholarship Selection Committee.
  3. Students must submit their Fulbright applications by the UVM internal deadline. Touch base with the student if you're confused about any deadlines.

English Teaching Assistantships: Tips for Letter of Recommendation Writers

The Fulbright US Student Program funds one-year post-graduate awards that place students in a classroom as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). ETA awards are available in over 70 countries; students who have demonstrated community engagement and a desire to take part in a cultural exchange using education as a medium are strong fits for Fulbright's teaching program. Fulbright ETAs are not responsible for designing curricula or teaching full courses. Rather they serve, under supervision, at their assigned placements and will be expected 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, as needed.

Success in the Fulbright competition depends not only on the quality of the student's application, but also on the strength of the recommendations. For the ETA competition, the Fulbright Program requires the submission of a reference form and not a general letter of reference. The Fulbright Program will NOT accept reference letters for ETA applicants. Once a student registers you as their reference, you will receive an e-mail with a secure link to the reference form. The following are some suggestions for writing effective recommendations for students applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship:

Address the applicant's "Fulbrightness." Fulbright teaching assistants are evaluated on: (1) the merits and their reasons for wanting to use education as a medium for cultural exchange in their country of application, (2) knowledge of the host country, (3) academic and other qualifications, including leadership and community engagement activities that may be transferrable to the host country, (4) language qualifications, if applicable, (5) evidence of maturity, motivation and ability to adapt to a different culture, (6) impression the applicant will make as a citizen-ambassador of the US. Keep in mind that the Fulbright program is not only an educational exchange program; it is a cultural exchange program.

Tell "stories." Vague statements ("John is bright, conscientious and hard-working") are of little value in this competition. The form must bring the student to life with specific examples of achievement and ability as they relate to the aims of the Fulbright teaching assistantship. Such anecdotes may be related to a student's classroom experience, leadership experience, community engagement, or ability to serve as a cultural ambassador.

Highlight communication skills. Facility with and knowledge of English usage, grammar, spelling, and writing is important in the teaching assistantship position. You may be able to comment on the applicant's abilities in those areas from tests or papers they have prepared for your course or from formal presentations, classroom discussion or individual interviews with the applicant.

Speak to Your Audience: You can assume that the people who will read your letter for the Fulbright competition are academics and diplomatic officials who have an expertise in the region the student is applying to. Readers will be looking to you to add depth and perspective to the student regarding their "Fulbrightness," their intellectual ability and potential as a cultural ambassador, so be sure to address those topics.

Finally, some administrative details:

  1. All reference forms are submitted online: When the applicant registers you in the Embark Online Application system as a recommender, you will receive a message from Embark with directions for accessing your form. IMPORTANT: If after submitting your form online you discover errors or wish to make revisions, you must ask that the letter be "unsubmitted" and returned to you by sending a request to support@embark.com or by calling 415-615-1805. The system does not allow the Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, & Undergraduate Research to do this for you, however, if you need assistance please feel free to reach out to the fellowships advisor (email link).
  2. Students must submit their Fulbright applications by the UVM internal deadline. Touch base with the student if you're confused about any deadlines.

For More Information ...

Visit the official Fulbright website.

Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, and Undergraduate Research
50 University Heights North, Suite 017
Burlington, VT 05405
Phone: (802) 656-4658
E-mail with specific questions: fellowad@uvm.edu | General Emails for FOUR: FOUR@uvm.edu