Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Fulbright Program?
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program provides participants-chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential - with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Grants are available for U.S. citizens to go abroad and for non-U.S. citizens with no U.S. permanent residence to come to the U.S. The Fulbright Program is an important element of the United States' bilateral relationships with countries around the world. U.S. and foreign governments jointly set priorities for the exchanges.
When was the Fulbright Program created?
The Fulbright Program was established by the U.S. Congress in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.
Who sponsors the Fulbright Program?
The primary source of the funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Fulbright Program under policy guidelines established by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board with the assistance of binational Fulbright Commissions in 49 countries, U.S. embassies in more than 100 other countries and cooperating agencies in the United States.
How many Fulbright Program grants are awarded annually?
The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.
More than 380,000 "Fulbrighters" from over 160 countries have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.
How many countries participate in the Fulbright Program?
Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide. View a list of participating regions and countries.
What is the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB)?
The J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FFSB), composed of 12 educational and public leaders appointed by the President of the United States, formulates policies for the administration of the Fulbright Program, establishes criteria for the selection of candidates and selects candidates nominated for awards.
What are binational Fulbright Commissions?
Binational Fulbright commissions and foundations, most of which are funded jointly by the U.S. and partner governments, develop priorities for the program, including the numbers and categories of grants. More specifically, they plan and implement educational exchanges, recruit and nominate candidates for fellowships; designate qualified local educational institutions to host Fulbrighters; fundraise; engage alumni; support incoming U.S. Fulbrighters; and, in many countries, operate an information service for the public on educational opportunities in the United States.
Currently, 49 commissions are active. Each commission or foundation has a board, composed of Americans and citizens of the participating nation.
In a country without a commission or foundation, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy develops and supervises the Fulbright Program.
What kind of grants are available through the Fulbright Program?
The Fulbright Program offers over 8,000 grants each year to U.S. and foreign students, scholars, teachers, artists, scientists and professionals. View a full list of Fulbright grant categories and programs.
How would you describe a typical "Fulbrighter"?
There is no one single profile of a typical Fulbrighter. In order for the Fulbright Program to be successful in its goal to promote mutual understanding, Fulbrighters must represent the richness and diversity of their home countries. Fulbrighters come from small villages and huge cities. They range from recent university graduates to established experts in their fields. They are students, researchers, and teachers at all types of public and private educational institutions including primary and secondary schools, community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, and large research universities. They are also visual and performing artists, journalists, scientists, engineers and other professionals. Fulbrighters come from a wide range of socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Many are seasoned travelers, yet for some, the Fulbright grant will be their first experience abroad.
All Fulbrighters share a strong academic background, leadership potential, a passion for increasing mutual understanding among nations and cultures, and the adaptability and flexibility to pursue their proposed Fulbright project successfully.
What is the difference between Fulbright "students" and Fulbright "scholars" in the Fulbright Program?
Fulbright "students" are participants in the Fulbright Student Program, which enables graduating college seniors, graduate students, early career professionals and artists to study, teach, or conduct research. A bachelor's degree (or equivalent) is generally required by the start of the Fulbright grant period. Some exceptions may apply, especially for artists.
Fulbright "scholars" are participants in the Fulbright Scholar Program, which enables college and university faculty members with a Ph.D. (or equivalent terminal degree) to teach and/or conduct research. The Fulbright Scholar Program is also open to artists and professionals. A small number of grants are also offered annually to U.S. international education administrators through the Fulbright Scholar Program.
Is it appropriate for Fulbright Student Program participants to refer to themselves as "Fulbright scholars"? Do you have preferred terminology when referring to Fulbright participants?
Because the Fulbright Program is a scholarship program, any participant may refer to himself or herself as a "Fulbright scholar," even if that participant did not receive a Fulbright Scholar Program grant. "Fulbrighter," or a more specific grant category (e.g., "Fulbright U.S. Student," "Fulbright Visiting Scholar," "Fulbright U.S. teacher," etc.), is the preferred terminology. Fulbright Program participants may also be referred to as "Fulbright grantees" or "Fulbright fellows" regardless of program affiliation.
Where may I find a directory of Fulbright students and scholars?
A list of recent Fulbright students and scholars from the United States, organized by U.S state or territory, are available through the Fulbright Impact page.
Fulbright partner organizations also have searchable online directories. Scholar online directories go back to 2006. The U.S. Student Program online directory goes back to 1965. The Foreign Student Program directory goes back to 2005. (Please note that for security and privacy reasons, these directories are not comprehensive.)
If you have a question about a grantee from a year not in the online directories, please email us with your inquiry.
How do I apply for a Fulbright?
The Fulbright Program's application process is lengthy and rigorous, and prospective applicants are encouraged to consider carefully their intentions, goals, future plans and prospective projects before applying for a Fulbright grant. Applicants for the Scholar and Teacher Exchange programs may also need to consider additional work-related issues (for instance, campus leave policies) before applying.
The competition for Fulbright Program grants is merit-based. Eligibility criteria will vary by program and by country. Candidates are selected based on a variety of factors, that may include (but are not limited to) academic qualifications, project feasibility, personal leadership ability, and available grant funds.
Fulbright operates on a yearly application cycle, which generally (but not in all cases) opens approximately 15 months before the anticipated start of the grant with a deadline approximately 11 or 12 months before the grant's start date. For instance, the U.S. Student Program's application is generally available in May with an October deadline for grants beginning the summer or autumn of the next year. Specific exceptions to this are the Fulbright-mtvU grant for U.S. students, the Fulbright Specialist Program for U.S. academics and professionals, and the Distinguished Fulbright Awards in Teaching Program for U.S. and international teachers.
Application procedures are based on an applicant's country of citizenship or country of permanent residency. Please note that non-U.S. citizens with legal permanent residency status in the United States are not eligible for Fulbright grants.
Are Fulbright grants only intended for the humanities and social sciences?
No. Fulbright grants are available for a variety of disciplines and fields, including the performing and visual arts, the natural sciences, mathematics, engineering and technology. Fulbright encourages applications from all fields, including interdisciplinary ones.
May I study medicine on a Fulbright grant?
Yes, but only in the fields of public health and global health. The Fulbright Program will not fund applicants seeking to enroll in a medical degree program nor does it offer grants to those who wish to conduct clinical medical research or training involving patient care and/or contact.
For non-U.S. citizens who wish to study clinical medicine in the United States, the U.S. Department of State has designated the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) as the sole agency authorized to sponsor alien physicians for internship, residency and specialized clinical training in the United States. Fulbright grantees cannot simultaneously be sponsored by ECFMG; therefore, proposals for medical research involving clinical training, patient care or patient contact cannot be approved under the Fulbright Program.
Are Fulbright grants available for study and research in "third countries?"
No. For instance, if you are a Nigerian citizen wishing to study in Norway, the Fulbright Program cannot fund your studies in Norway. As a U.S. Government-sponsored program that operates on a binational basis with other countries, the Fulbright Program only funds non-U.S. citizens for study, research and teaching in the United States and U.S. citizens for study, research and teaching outside the United States.
I am a citizen of one country but am currently a permanent resident in another country. Am I eligible for a Fulbright grant?
Generally, if you are eligible to hold a passport of your country of permanent residence, then you are eligible to apply for a Fulbright grant from that country. Countries with Fulbright Commissions may require applicants to be resident citizens according to the policies jointly set by the U.S. and host country governments. Please contact the Fulbright Commission or the U.S. Embassy in your country of permanent residence for more information.
Non-U.S. citizens who have legal permanent residency status in the United States are not eligible for any Fulbright grants.
U.S. citizens who are applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and currently reside abroad are eligible unless they are residents of and applying to one of the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Chile, China, European Union member states for European Union grants, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Israel, Jordan, Korea, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam. This follows the policy of the relevant binational Fulbright Commission or the U.S. Embassy in the host country.
I am a dual citizen of the U.S. and another country. Am I eligible to apply?
U.S. citizens who also hold citizenship in another country are eligible to apply for a Fulbright grant from the United States. U.S. applicants to certain countries may not be eligible to apply to the other country if they possess citizenship of that country. The visa application process may also be slowed if selected grantees are dual citizens of the U.S. and the country to which they applied. Please check the grant information and country information pages for the U.S. Student Program or the U.S. Scholar Program for more information about citizenship issues that may affect eligibility.
Any dual U.S. citizen regardless of the other citizenship cannot apply from another country for a Fulbright grant to the United States as all U.S. citizens are ineligible for Fulbright grants to the U.S.
I am a foreign (non-U.S.) citizen living in the United States. Am I eligible for a Fulbright grant to start or continue study in the U.S.?
No, you are not eligible for a Fulbright grant to study in the United States as a non-U.S. citizen already in the U.S. The Fulbright Program funds U.S. citizens for study and research abroad and non-U.S. citizens who are not already in the U.S. for study and research in the United States. Non-U.S. citizens must apply to the program from their home countries and are generally required to be resident there at the time of application.
Does Fulbright provide funding for group trips abroad for U.S. citizens?
Yes. The Fulbright-Hays--Group Projects Abroad Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, provides grants to support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor. Projects may include short-term seminars, curriculum development, group research or study, or advanced intensive language programs. All other Fulbright grants are for individual grantees.
Is there an age limit for applicants?
The Fulbright Program does not have age limits for participants.
I am a U.S. citizen and would like to study, research, teach or volunteer abroad. Can Fulbright help me even if I do not want to apply for a Fulbright grant?
Although Fulbright encourages citizens worldwide to participate in international educational and cultural exchanges, the Fulbright Program cannot officially recommend or endorse specific programs outside Fulbright's purview.
The State Department also sponsors other exchange opportunities for U.S. citizens.
The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs maintains a study abroad website for U.S. students.
I am a foreign student interested in studying in the United States, but not with a Fulbright grant. Where can I go for advice?
The U.S. Department of State sponsors a worldwide network of education advising centers for foreign students wishing to study in the United States. To locate the center nearest you and for general information about studying in the United States, please visit the EducationUSA website.
The State Department also sponsors other exchange opportunities for non-U.S. citizens to come to the United States.
A directory of funding opportunities for study in the U.S. is available, courtesy of the Institute of International Education, which administers parts of the Fulbright Program on behalf of the U.S. State Department.
In addition, many U.S. colleges and universities have international offices that advise prospective international students. For more information, please contact directly any colleges and universities that interest you.
How does the Fulbright Program work?
The U.S. Congress appropriates money to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). This Congressional appropriation makes up the majority of the Fulbright Program's funding. Part of this appropriation goes to the U.S. Department of Education for the administration of the separate Fulbright-Hays Program.
In addition, partner governments also contribute funding to the Program through the binational Fulbright Commissions and other organizations. Private donors, including organizations, corporations and individuals worldwide, also contribute to Fulbright's funding. Furthermore, in-kind donations from both the private and public sectors globally support the Fulbright Program. Host universities contribute significantly to the program by offering partial or full tuition waivers to participants. On occasion, ECA may receive funds through an interagency transfer from another government agency, such as USAID, to fund Fulbright grants.
ECA works with binational Fulbright Commissions, the Public Affairs Sections (PAS) of U.S. Embassies worldwide and partner organizations to administer the Fulbright Program.
U.S. applicants (U.S. citizens) apply either through their university or college or at-large to the cooperating agency responsible for the program in which they are interested.
The cooperating agencies then recommend U.S. applicants who have passed initial screening to the binational Fulbright Commissions or to the U.S. Embassies (in countries without a Commission) in the application country for their recommendation.
Non-U.S. applicants (non-U.S. citizens) apply to either the Fulbright Commission in their country of citizenship or the U.S. Embassy in their country of citizenship (in countries where there is not a Fulbright Commission).
The binational Fulbright Commissions and U.S. Embassies recommend both U.S. and non-U.S. candidates to the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board (FSB). The FSB makes the final selections for candidates.
Placement of selected applicants varies by the type of grant. Generally, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program participants propose their own institutional affiliation in the host country when applying. Participants in the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant and English Teaching Assistant programs are assigned their host institutions. The Fulbright Scholar Program and the Fulbright Teacher Exchange programs generally match participants with host institutions wanting their particular expertise or area of specialization.
What do Fulbrighters do?
Fulbrighters play a variety of roles, both during and after their Fulbright experiences. These roles include being students, scholars, teachers, lecturers, researchers, mentors, artists, philanthropists, cultural ambassadors and social entrepreneurs.
What is it like being a Fulbrighter?
Each Fulbrighter's experience is unique and depends on a variety of factors, including project details, location, and language abilities. Despite the variety of experiences, Fulbrighters all describe their experiences as life changing and having a profound influence on their professional and personal endeavors.
You may read stories from individual Fulbright alumni to learn more about what it is like to be a Fulbrighter.
Why is the Fulbright Program unique?
Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world, supported for more than half a century by the American people through an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress and by the people of partner nations. The program -- working with universities, schools, binational Fulbright commissions and foundations, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector -- actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies and selects nominees through open, merit-based competitions. From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which other countries and governments work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs.
What is expected from Fulbrighters?
In addition to carrying out their proposed projects, Fulbrighters are expected to involve themselves in the host community, sharing their culture while at the same time observing the host culture. After their grant periods, Fulbrighters are encouraged to bring what they have learned through this cultural exchange home and teach others about the cultures they have experienced. Fulbrighters are also encouraged to continue the Fulbright experience by reaching out to their home communities, participating in Fulbright alumni activities and networking with other Fulbrighters.