Fulbright Grants

Fulbright grants and other grants for graduate study and teaching abroad
administered by the Institute for International Education
Supplementary Instructions
Wesleyan University

Important Notice for All Wesleyan Applicants 

It is of crucial importance that you begin the application process early, preferably in the spring or summer before your senior year. The application has many components, and it takes time and effort to draft a good proposal and autobiographical statement, request recommendations and the language evaluation, obtain transcripts, and collect information and letters of support from institutions abroad. It is also vitally important that you work from the beginning with the Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA), who will guide you through the application process. The FPA is Prof. Krishna Winston of the German Studies Department (402 Fisk, tel. 860-685-3378); e-mail kwinston@wesleyan.edu.

Fulbright Advising Drop-In Hours

In the fall of 2014, Prof. Winston will hold drop-in hours; for the times, please e-mail her or check the sign by her office door.  If you are unable to come during one of those times, please call for an appointment.

Information for Alumni/ae

If you are registered at a university that participates in the Fulbright Program, you should apply through that school’s Fulbright Program Advisor. You are welcome, however, to seek advice and guidance from the Wesleyan FPA. If you are not currently in school, you are still eligible to apply for a Fulbright, and the FPA will provide you with the same services as on-campus candidates. Any alumnus/a living within easy travel distance of Middletown will be entitled to come for a campus interview (see below).

Information on Fulbrights

The Fulbright program is administered for the U.S. Department of State by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York. The IIE Fulbright Web site can be found at http://www.fulbrightonline.org. Click on "U.S. Students." You should read the general information as well as the summaries for the countries in which you are interested.

Read these supplementary instructions carefully, as well as the detailed instructions on the Fulbright Web site, and refer to them often while completing the application.


Please note that only U.S. citizens may apply. That includes naturalized citizens but not permanent residents.

Some of the countries offering grants have stated a preference for advanced graduate students. Read the individual country summaries carefully to determine whether you may/should apply.

Statistical Chances

The Statistics will give you an idea of the odds of your getting a grant to a particular country. You probably should not apply for a grant for t he United Kingdom unless you have a very strong proposal that can be carried out only there. Preference clearly goes to advanced graduate students, although no such preference is stated. Marshall scholarships, while very competitive, may actually offer better chances for study in the UK.

Selecting a Grant

About 900 grants are available for study and/or research; affiliation with an accredited institution of higher learning is required in almost all cases. In some countries the Fulbright Commission arranges your affiliation; in others you are expected to arrange it yourself. Teaching assistantships for English (ETAs) are also available in 67 countries, with new countries being added every year. Some are for elementary, middle, or high schools, others for universities or teacher-training institutes.

You may apply for only one grant, i.e., you may not submit applications for several countries at once (except in Latin America or Africa, where multi-country proposals are acceptable), or for both study/research and teaching fellowships. The third type of Fulbright is a grant for work in the creative and performing arts.


There are two deadlines: the campus deadline and the final deadline by which the FPA must release all the applications to the IIE.Your completed application, including supporting materials, must be submitted electronically by 4:00 P.M. on October 3, 2014Extensions can be granted only in true emergencies, and only by the FPA. Your referees and the foreign-language evaluator must submit their references electronically by 4:00 PM on October 10, 2014. Please inform your referees of this deadline! Without their letters, the FPA cannot take them into consideration as she completes the Campus Committee Evaluation Form.

Note that the October 17 deadline listed on the IIE Web site is for at-large candidates only; it is also the final date by which the FPA must release the applications of all enrolled students and alumni/ae. Unless you are an alumnus/a applying at large, you must submit your application electronically by the campus deadline.

Getting an Application

The application is available only on line, through the Fulbright Web site. Once you register as an applicant and register your referees, the online system (Embark--not IIE) will notify them of the process for submitting their recommendations. Please remind your recommenders to keep a copy of their recommendation. It has happened in the past that an application has been lost, so the availability of copies can make the difference between your receiving a grant or not.

Form and Appearance of the Application

Please follow the application instructions very carefully. Correct spelling, accurate grammar and syntax, and clarity of expression are very important. There is an absolute limit of 2 pages on research proposals. For English-teaching assistantships, the statement of purpose has a 1-page limit.

The Statement of Grant Purpose

A. Study/Research

Prepare a draft of the project description as soon as possible. You should consult with your major advisor, thesis director, and/or other mentors. The FPA wants to see your draft at a relatively early stage. The proposal typically goes through numerous revisions--sometimes as many as ten!--so give yourself plenty of time.

The project should be an undertaking you can complete in one academic year, or it should involve laying the groundwork for study to be continued in graduate school. Some applicants plan to earn a degree abroad. Fulbright funding will normally cover only one year of study.

Graduating seniors are usually expected to formulate a project that can be carried out at a university or other institution of higher learning, making use of available courses and library holdings. Extensive supervision from faculty members cannot be expected abroad, but a letter of affiliation, showing that you have been in contact with a faculty member or department and would be welcome, is very importantit must be sent with a signature, on official letterhead, and uploaded into the application. Initiate correspondence by e-mail or snail mail as soon as possible. Letters that arrive after the dossiers have been mailed to New York can be forwarded to the IIE only if you are recommended by the U.S. screening committee.

The project should be interesting and well thought-out, but it need not be strikingly original, unless you are an advanced-degree candidate. In the latter case, the project should entail research that will make a contribution to the field. It is very important not to “cook up” a project as a pretext for getting to live and study abroad. The weaknesses in such a project will be immediately apparent to experienced readers of proposals.

You should indicate what previous training qualifies you to carry out the project, and suggest how the proposed study abroad ties in with your plans for the future, if you have definite plans.

The project should not be politically or socially sensitive. Fulbright fellows are considered unofficial ambassadors for the United States, and should be prepared to display diplomatic tact. Except in the case of advanced graduate students or graduating seniors already trained to work with human subjects, the project should not depend on interviewing of a personal nature. Research that entails use of restricted archives or study of controversial contemporary problems should not be proposed except in special circumstances.

For most countries, studying the language should not be a major part of the project; for exceptions, read the individual country summaries carefully.

No final product is required. You are not expected to write a thesis, monograph, or detailed account of your findings, although you may, of course, write anything you like. Some country programs require that you enroll in courses, for which you may have to write papers and/or give oral reports. Because of the open-ended nature of the grant, your seriousness of purpose, ability to work independently, and academic and personal integrity will be of particular importance to the Campus Fulbright Committee, the national screening committee, and the binational commission or diplomatic post that makes the final selection and assignment (subject to approval by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board).

N.B. In most cases, you may study at only one university or institute. Unless you are doing field work, your proposal should generally reflect an intention to stay in one location to carry out the project. That does not mean that you cannot go to visit museums or theaters in various places, or travel on weekends! For a few countries, multi-country applications are acceptable (see the instructions online ).

B. Teaching Assistantships (for a listing, see us.fulbrightonline.org/uploads/files/eta/ETA_one-pager.pdf)

The statement of grant purpose consists of an explanation of why you want to teach English abroad, what skills and experience you have accumulated, insights you have gained into the process of language-teaching and -learning, and ideas for age-appropriate activities, lessons, and projects you might implement in the classroom. Mentioning materials you might bring from home is usually helpful. Note that the level varies for the different countries that offer teaching assistantships. For instance, in Turkey the assistantships are at universities, while in France they are at lycées. The last paragraph of your proposal should describe what you plan to do in your spare time--it should not be a formal study project, since you may well not have access to a university or have time during the day to attend classes. Making use of the cultural resources of the country in some way is your best bet for this informal project. Examples might be: studying the folklore or cuisine of a region, joining a musical group, or reading a local author.

C. Creative and Performing Arts

Grants in the arts are judged by professional artists and awarded on the basis of talent. The special instructions for applicants in the arts indicate how samples of your work are to be submitted. Generally some form of institutional affiliation is expected, even if you plan to work with a private teacher.

Language Skills

For most countries, knowledge of the principal language is required. The degree of fluency necessary may vary according to the project. For instance, your language skills must be advanced for work in archives or study of literature, whereas for study of painting they can be less developed. If you have not studied the language recently, you should plan to enroll in courses during the year in which you are applying for a grant. If no course is readily available, you should take any steps necessary to improve your fluency. Students weak in the required language are at a distinct disadvantage. For some countries, Critical Language Enhancement Awards are available. Be sure to check out this opportunity if you are studying Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Korean, or Russian.

Sources of Information

The more you know about universities, faculty, and curricular offerings in the country to which you are applying, the stronger your application. The Internet is an excellent resource, though not for all countries. Libraries have directories of international scholars; check with a reference librarian. Faculty members at Wesleyan may have useful contacts. The IIE’s Web site provides updated information. When in doubt about whether a certain project is feasible, call the IIE at 212 984-5330 and ask to speak to the program officer for the country you have in mind.

Writing the Statement of Grant Purpose

Every project has to have a title that summarizes as concisely as possible what you propose to do. The proposed project and where you plan to carry it out should be stated in the first sentence. Remember that this is a proposal, not a research paper, expository essay, or personal essay. You need to say what you plan to do, what resources you will need, what methodology you will use, and what contacts you have established in the country.

Organize your material. Make every word count. Do not assume that your reader is thoroughly acquainted with your subject matter. Do the necessary background research. Write clear, straightforward prose. Observe the length limit. Avoid reciting facts, either in the proposal or the Personal Statement, that are available elsewhere in the application. Follow all instructions that come with the application

Don’t forget to include a timeline, a discussion of your methodology, and a statement as to how your project will promote cross-cultural interaction and mutual understanding.

There is no template for a successful application. A proposal is successful within a very specific and individual context, which includes factors such as: the candidate’s academic preparation (major, language skills, research experience, knowledge of the country); the project’s “fit” with resources available in a given country (courses, archives, experts); the candidate's personal suitability for study in the proposed country; the role the project will play in the candidate’s future career, etc. The FPA’s counsel and the advice of faculty experts will be your most important guides. It is also useful to look at the topics pursued by previous Fulbright grantees. You will find the grantees' names and topics on the Fulbright Web site in the "Grantee Directory." If you can obtain e-mail addresses for former Fulbrighters, you will find that they are often very willing to give advice.

Personal Statement

This part of the application is NOT a resumé. It is meant to offer a picture of the person behind the project, so it is appropriate to talk about your family, how you were raised, the formative influences and experiences in your life, your interests, your plans, and your reasons for wanting to study abroad. Avoid pretentiousness and purple prose. Be sober but engaging, trying to give an account of yourself that will show why you are a promising candidate. If specific schools you attended, regions or locales in which you grew up, numbers of siblings, etc., are relevant, by all means mention them, but avoid falling into a sing-song recitation of boring facts that you try to dress up with enthusiasm, e.g., “I attended first grade at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Elementary School in Rutland, Vermont, where my teacher, Miss Brooks, awakened my passion for reading and arithmetic . . .” You are limited to the one page provided. This component of the application is important, so be sure to get drafts to the FP A early enough so that you can do several major revisions.

Some Stylistic Notes

In your proposal and personal statement, avoid the conditional (“I would . . ., I should like to. . .”); be positive and write as though you expect to receive the grant (“I intend to study . . , I will examine . . .”). Too much tentativeness makes your readers doubt your commitment to the project.

Do not use strings of questions; they convey an impression of helplessness. Instead formulate questions as topics you plan to investigate. Avoid jargon and avoid gushing (e.g., adjectives such as "amazing," "incredible," and verbs such as "adore", "love," "have a passion for" ). Americans' tendency to describe things as "fun" is considered childish in other countries. "In-depth" and “going forward” are clichés to avoid. Do not use the word “throughout” when you mean “during” or “in.”

Specific Parts of the Application

Form 1: Use the “field of study menu” to identify your field of study. Do not make up a field, or try to put in two fields.

Form 1A: There is a small space available for an abbreviated listing of fellowships, etc. Additional details may be entered on Form 2.

Form 2: Give your GPA as calculated on the 4-point scale.

Language and reference forms: These must be submitted on line. Complete instructions are on the Fulbright Web site, so they will not be repeated here. Remind your referees of the October 10 deadline.

References: Please, please, please give the referees enough time to write. Speak to them as early as possible, get their suggestions on the project, even show them drafts if they are willing to provide advice on the writing.

These are academic references, not character references. Do not ask administrators of the University for a reference unless they have taught you or supervised you closely in the same activity you are proposing for the Fulbright. If you have two majors, divide the references between them, unless one is completely irrelevant to your project. You may use professors with whom you have studied abroad or at other schools in the U.S. as referees. Check with the FPA as to their suitability. Provide your reference-writers with a copy of your statement of grant purpose in final or near-final form so they know exactly what you propose and can judge and comment on the quality of the proposal. Recommenders for English teaching assistantships must fill out a form rather than write a letter. 

Transcripts: You will need to obtain a transcript for every post-secondary institution you have attended, unless you attended under the auspices of Wesleyan and your grades appear on your Wesleyan transcript (e.g. , Univ. of Regensburg under the Wesleyan Program in Germany).The transcript(s) must be scanned and uploaded.  Please follow the directions carefully.

Don’t forget to proofread, proofread, proofread!

The Campus Interview

Soon after the application deadline you will have a 15-minute interview with the Campus Fulbright Committee. This is not a selection committee but a group of faculty members experienced in international studies who will assess the quality and feasibility of the proposed project, your academic and linguistic preparation (if possible, part of the interview will be conducted in the required foreign language), and your personal characteristics as they pertain to independent study or teaching abroad. A report from the Campus Committee will accompany your application, along with a rating (not a ranking). All applications received are forwarded to the Institute of International Education.

Stages of the Competition 

All applications are released to the IIE by the October deadline. The U.S. national screening committees meet in November or December. You will be informed in early February whether you have been recommended. Being recommended is no guarantee of receiving a grant. Final notification may come as early as March or as late as August, depending on the country. You may be selected as an alternate, in which case you will be asked whether you wish to remain a candidate, on the chance that another grantee may withdraw. Alternates sometimes receive grants in late summer, although notification usually comes earlier. In the past, Wesleyan students with alternate status have often received grants, so it is well worth your while to remain in the pool.


Wesleyan students have long been successful Fulbright applicants. Competition for these grants has become fierce in the last few years, however, with the number of applicants nationwide increasing by leaps and bounds. Applications from Wesleyan seniors and alumni/ae have gone from an average of 15 only a few years ago to 35 or more . This volume puts a strain on the FPA, who is also a fulltime faculty member and administrator, so please try to find the answers to your questions about application technicalities either in these instructions or in the very detailed and clear instructions on line.

Updated 3/14