About the Fulbright

(Must be a US citizen)

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program funds two main types of fellowships in more than 135 countries worldwide. They offer grants in nearly all fields and disciplines, including the sciences, professional fields and Creative and Performing Arts.

Fulbright offers two main types of programsFull Grants for Study/Research, and an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). Applicants may also in some cases apply for a Critical Language Enhancement Award to help get their language ability up to a proficient level. In addition to these two categories, Fulbright also offers fellowships in the creative and performing arts as well as the mtvU Fulbright  (a specialized award centering around international music); more information on these programs can be found on the Fulbright website.

The Research Grant is for a year of post-graduate study and research abroad. In order to apply for this, you need to have a project/program in mind and find a faculty member or researcher in the appropriate country that will work with you and provide you with a letter of affiliation.

The other grant is called the ETA, or English Teaching Assistantship. This grant is ideal for recent grads (your application is due in September of your senior year) because it is much more focused on mutual understanding and cooperation. As an ETA, you spend about 20 hours a week helping students (of all ages; it depends on the country) improve their language abilities and knowledge of the United States. However, since you are only doing this about 20-30 hours/week, another 10-20 hours each week should be integrating yourself into the local community. When applying for this award, you should have sort of a mini-project in mind. For example, if you are interested in healthcare, you could propose volunteering in a clinic, with a particular NGO, etc. If you played a sport in high school or college, you could propose working with local children after school and setting up a sports league.

For more information on the mtvU and the arts fellowships, please refer to the Fulbright website

The Application 

The Fulbright Full Grant application is all online  (except for the possibility of the creative and performing arts) and consists of:

  • A detailed application form
  • letter of affiliation from a university or faculty member in the country you are applying to
  • three letters of recommendation (I strongly encourage you to have at least 2 of these letters be from academics)
  • transcript
  • sometimes a language evaluation (depending on the country you are applying to; typically only for commonly-taught languages)
  • a one-page single-spaced Personal Statement (sort of your intellectual biography)
  • a two-paged single-spaced Statement of Grant Purpose.


The ETA application is also online and consists of:

  • a detailed application form
  • three recommendations [these are online forms, NOT letters] (While two of these should probably come from academics, if you have a writer who could speak to your ability to adapt to a foreign culture that would be good)
  • transcript
  • sometimes a language evaluation (depending on the country you are applying to; typically only for commonly taught languages)
  • one-page single-spaced Personal Statement (sort of your intellectual biography)
  • one-page single-spaced Statement of Grant Purpose.


No matter which type of fellowship you apply for, I highly recommend that you check out the fantastic suggestions made by author Joe Schall in his book “Writing Personal Statements and Scholarship Application Essays.” The book is hard to find in print, but Schall has made it available for free online. Not only does he go through the nuts and bolts of writing all sorts of application essays, but he provides you with examples of successful Fulbright essays! Please, please, please make use of this great resource. You should also take advantage of the podcasts, youtube clips and other aids on the Fulbright website.

Timeline and Due Dates 

The 2013 Fulbright campus deadline is September 15—all of your application materials MUST be uploaded to the application website by 11:59pm; and the final campus submission deadline will be October 7. The official deadline on the Fulbright website is Tuesday October 15, but I need to review all materials as well as add documentation to all submissions before they go to Fulbright so need a few days to finalize things.

The way the application process works for F&M is that you will initially work with me to put together a working rough draft of both of the application essays. By August 1, I will assign you to work with another member of the faculty fellowship committee who will also make suggestions on your application. You are encouraged to seek out other faculty members for assistance as well—the more eyes, the better.  You’ll need to have your entire application complete (transcript, affiliation letter if needed, and all letters of recommendation) and uploaded to the Embark application website by 11:59pm on September 15.

In mid-September you will have a 15-minute campus interview with our fellowships committee. The interview serves several purposes--one, we want to make sure that all of your relevant information and experience appears in your application, so we want to get to know you a bit better. Second, our committee needs to provide Fulbright with an evaluation of your application and potential for success. After the interview, you will receive written feedback from the committee, and will have until October 7 to make any changes to your application.  Then by 11:59pm on October 7 you’ll need to resubmit your entire, completed application for the final time.


I have lots of tips on how to choose a country, what types of supplemental projects might work, what pitfalls to avoid, etc. and am always happy to work with you as you wade through the application process. If you'd like to schedule a meeting with me please email Jill Graham


Writing Fulbright Letters of Recommendation  

The Fulbright US Student Program funds one-year post-graduate awards for study and research in more than 120 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. 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.” A litany of vague superlatives (“John is bright, conscientious and hard-working”) is of little value. The letter must bring the student to life with specific examples of exemplary achievement and ability as they relate to the aims of the Fulbright program and the evaluation criteria.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Make it special. Generic, uninformative and/or poorly written letters are the #1 reason for application failure in the Fulbright competition.
  • Make it letter-perfect.  Typos, misspellings, errors of grammar and syntax can harm an application. PROOF, PROOF, PROOF! And don’t rely on spell-check!

Important information about the letter submission process and deadlines:

  • When 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. If you cannot find this email, ask the applicant to resend it via Embark.
  • 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 by sending a request to support@embark.com or by calling 415-615-1805. The system does not allow me to do this for you.
  • Please submit your letter online by Sunday, September 15. We need the letter for our campus interviews. Following the campus interviews, you may be asked to request unsubmission (see above) and make revisions. If this is the case, be sure to re-submit no later than noon (EDT) Tuesday, October 15.  At that time all applications are automatically sent to the Institute of International Education and the online system is shut off. If your letter is late, it cannot be added to the application, and the student’s chances of success will be greatly reduced.

Thank you for your support of the applicant and the Fulbright Program. If you have questions, please contact me, Dr. Monica Cable, Director of Fellowships, Franklin & Marshall College, mcable@fandm.edu.  You may also find the tips on the Fulbright website useful: http://us.fulbrightonline.org/instructions-for-reference-writers.


Elements of a Good Research Proposal 


What this should include:


Use a double title to convey the most compact information. For example—Icelandic Igloos: Inuit Architecture Below the Arctic Circle.

General Theme

What are you going to study/examine/explore? Put this in the form of one question.

Specific Goals

What is the key question you will try to answer in the course of your research? What are the major things you hope to learn by the completion of the final project? What is the disciplinary lens you are using for your research (which field)? Use a series of sub-questions here if needed.

Research Site

Where will you execute your work? (At a university? At schools? In certain communities? Rural locations?) Who will be involved in your research? (What people are you working with? Interviewing? Engaging with?)


Why is this project worthwhile? What will you learn? Why is this theme important at this time for this country or in general? How does this relate to your areas of interest or background? How will it contribute to your academic or professional training? What is the importance of the organization you will work with or the skill you will study? What practical application does the project have? It is not necessary to answer all of these questions, but you should be able to explain the worth of your project on several levels.


How will you do what you propose to do? Will you attend meetings, observe experts, organize an event, collect oral histories of specific people, interview a larger sample, document in film? What are the steps you intend to follow?


How will your project play out over 9-10 months? What will you do when, where, and why?


Do you need special materials, books, photocopies, or anything else?

Community Engagement

How do you plan to become part of the local community beyond your project? Volunteer activity? Participation in organizations? Exercise of your hobbies with local people?

Final Product(s)

What will you have to show for this project at the end? A paper? Portfolio? A dance? A report for the community? Any benefit to the community?

Have you taken a look at the Fulbright essay examples on Joe Schall's website?


Elements of a Good ETA Statement


What this should include:


Use a double title to convey the most compact information. For example—Lost in Translation: English Teaching and Joke Telling in Taiwan.

General Theme

Why do you want to teach? Why do you want to teach English? Why do you want to teach English in this country?

Specific Goals

What do you hope to bring to your students? What previous experiences, courses, or training will help you do this? What do you hope to learn from your students and your supervising faculty? What do you hope to learn about the language and culture of your host country? What is your philosophy of language teaching and learning?

Teaching Methods

How will you engage your students and make language learning something they enjoy and give great energy towards? What hobbies or interests can you incorporate into your lessons to make them more proficient speakers of English? How can you learn about their culture while teaching them about your own? What would a great sample lesson look like for the age group you will be teaching?

Free Time

What do you plan to do in your free time to learn more about the host community and culture? **Include this only if the country you are applying to requests it in the Fulbright materials (see the country info).


What kinds of material/realia (a good word: look it up) will you bring with you to help you enliven your teaching? Songbooks? Poetry? A musical instrument? Art materials? Etc.

Community Engagement

How do you plan to become part of the local community beyond your teaching? Volunteer activity? Participation in organizations? Exercise of your hobbies with local people?

Your Trajectory

What is your career goal? Does it relate to teaching or education? How does your goal relate to this proposal for teaching?

Remember Joe Schall and his fabulously helpful website!!!