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Starting your Fulbright Scholar Proposal

Overview of the Fulbright Scholar program

The Fulbright Scholar Program primarily provides opportunities for U.S. scholars to undertake teaching and research projects abroad for periods that range from a few weeks to twelve months. The program is sponsored by the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by CIES (Council for International Exchange of Scholars), has opportunities for U.S. Scholars, Visiting Scholars, and U.S. Institutions.

The Fulbright Scholar program for U.S. Scholars has these awards

  • U.S. Scholar Award:
    6-12 month stints to teach, conduct research, or do both in one host country. This is the classic program that most people mean when they talk about “a Fulbright.”
  • Distinguished Chair Award:
    3-12 month prestigious appointment to lecture, research, or both.
  • Postdoctoral/Early Career Award:
    Similar to Core program, but oriented toward recently minted scholars seeking to deepen expertise, acquire new skills, work with additional resources, and make connections with others in their fields.
  • Global Scholar Award:
    Stints ranging from 3 to 6 months of total time within one academic year or spread over two consecutive years to conduct advanced regional or trans-regional research and/or teaching in two or three countries in one or more regions.

Requirements and deadlines

Although the Fulbright Scholar Program is open to both academics and professionals, approximately 80 percent of available awards require a Ph.D. or terminal degree.

Applications to the flagship “Core” program are due in late summer or early fall.

Applications to the 2021-2022 competition are due on Tuesday, September 15, 2020.

Other programs have other deadlines.

Fulbright Specialist program

A few Carleton faculty and staff members have participated in the Fulbright Specialist Program, which makes short-term awards (ranging from 2 to 6 weeks) that promote linkages between U.S. scholars and professionals and their counterparts at host institutions in over 140 countries. Specialist applications are accepted at any time.

Finding the right Fulbright program and site

The Fulbright website’s Overview tab suggests that prospective applicants start by searching the Awards Catalog for interesting sites – countries, cities, and institutions. An “award,” in Fulbright parlance, is a single program in a specific country. Each “award” has at least one “grant” (i.e., a grant for a specific university or field), but many awards offer more than one grant (i.e., one grant at one university, another at a different university, a third at an NGO, et cetera). The 2021-2022 Awards Catalog includes 454 “awards” across more than 100 countries:

  • Africa, Sub-Saharan: 42
  • East Asia and the Pacific: 51
  • Europe and Eurasia: 254
  • Global/Multi-country: 17
  • Middle East and North Africa: 35
  • South and Central Asia: 15
  • Western Hemisphere: 61

Research in the award catalog can be supplementing with helpful online resources such as

In addition, Charlotte Whited, Carleton’s Fulbright Liaison, can offer guidance with all aspects of the application process: cwhited@carleton.edu, 507-222-5833.

Beginning a Proposal

All applicants must apply online. Refer to these application instructions.

The Grants Office staff can assist with selection of a Fulbright “award,” the formulation of an application, and the online submission of an application on the Fulbright Scholar Program Application Login page.


Components of a Scholar application

Teaching Award components include

  • application form (online application portal)
  • project statement (3 to 5 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); statement requirements
  • CV/resume (up to 6 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins) tailored to the award, including publications list; CV requirements
  • course syllabi (2 or 3 syllabi, up to 10 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); syllabi requirements
  • recommendation letters (3 required); letter requirements
  • possibly also a letter of invitation, language proficiency evaluation, and discipline-specific supplemental materials, such as a portfolio for applicants in the creative/performing arts (portfolio requirements).

Research Award applications require

  • online application form (online application portal)
  • project statement (3 to 5 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); statement requirements
  • CV/resume (up to 6 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins) tailored to the award, including publications list; CV requirements
  • bibliography (select, up to 3 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); bibliography requirements
  • recommendation letters (3 required); letter requirements
  • possibly also a letter of invitation, language proficiency evaluation, and discipline-specific supplemental materials.

Teaching/Research Award applications include

  • application form (online application portal)
  • project statement (3 to 5 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); statement requirements
  • CV/resume (up to 6 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins) tailored to the award, including publications list; CV requirements
  • course syllabi (2 or 3 syllabi, up to 10 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); syllabi requirements
  • bibliography (select, up to 3 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font size, 1-inch margins); bibliography requirements
  • recommendation letters (3 required); letter requirements
  • possibly also a letter of invitation, language proficiency evaluation, and discipline-specific supplemental materials

Noteworthy

Good resources are available, especially individuals with experience as Fulbrighters.

Carleton Fulbrighters

Larry Cooper, Political Science, Core Scholar in the Czech Republic, 2010 (lcooper@carleton.edu, 507-222-4111)

Susan Jaret Mckinstry, English, Specialist in Communication in Russia, 2014 (sjaret@carleton.edu, 507-222-4325)

Justin London, Music, Core Scholar in Finland, 2014, and the U.K. 2005-2006 (jlondon@carleton.edu, 507-222-4397)

Tsegaye Nega, Environmental Studies, Teaching/Research Core Scholar in Ethiopia 2017-2018

David Tompkins, History, Lecturer/Researcher in Germany, 2009-2010 (dtompkin@carleton.edu, 507-222-4215)

Harry Williams, History, Core Scholar in China, 2011-2012 (hwilliam@carleton.edu, 507-222-5241)


FAQs

What should I include in my project statement?

Address the following:

  • What you propose to do
  • How you propose to do it
  • Why the project is important
  • What benefits the project will produce for your host, your discipline, you, and your home institution (employer)

Above all, the project statement must answer the question, “Why Fulbright?” Explain the connection between your specific project (teaching, research, or teaching/research) and the Fulbright program, versus other sources of support for international study or travel. The Fulbright program is above all one that values international experience as a unique form of education and training. How does your project require such international experience, both generally (living and working outside the U.S.) and specifically (taking up a grant in a particular foreign site).

From whom should I obtain my letters of reference?

Fulbright staff offer these guidelines:

  • One from someone who can speak to you as a scholar
  • One from someone who can speak to your research (or teaching)
  • One from an administrator who can affirm that the applicant will be able to take up the award

What is the best way to obtain a letter of invitation?

An applicant can obtain a letter of invitation to the host by any number of methods, from asking a colleague who works at the host site to “cold calling” an appropriate official there. The nature of the personal relationship is far less important than the impact of the Fulbright grant on both the American awardee and the host institution. The letter of invitation should above all speak to that impact!

When and how will I be notified of an award?

Final notification, via letter and email, of an award occurs between January and June following the August submission, depending on the program. The review process is two-tiered: first by discipline then by country/region. Find a timeline tab on the Fulbright Scholar Program page.

I have more questions: where can I go for answers?

In addition to contacting Christopher or the Carleton Fulbrighters (contact information above), look for the FAQ tab on this Fulbright Scholar Program page.