How to Complete a Fulbright Graduate Study Application

Before you begin working on your Fulbright grant application, carefully read this Fulbright Overview page (click on all the links and tabs!) to make sure you are eligible and to learn whether this award will further your educational and personal goals. Follow the steps below for applying and receiving our support. By following these instructions, you'll be sure to produce an application that represents you authentically and favorably. Start in the spring semester or early summer, and work on your application in time to submit by internal deadline September 12, 2023, at NOON.

What to do & when to do it

Step 1: Explore on your own and with us

When you apply for a graduate study grant, you have some choices to make. What kind of degree program will you pursue? Which university will you go to? What country makes the most sense for you? Fulbright offers two kinds of graduate study grants: 1) open awards that allow you to study in any field at any accredited university in the country, or 2) partnership/named awards that restrict your options in terms of field and/or university. Some degrees are offered in English (in the UK as well as in other countries) and some have other language requirements. Kiko Aebi '16, Netherlands

  • You can explore on your own the Fulbright list of graduate degree grants AND university websites to find a grad degree and grant to shoot for. Study grants are offered in about 80 countries.
  • Partnership university grants are offered at over 40 universities in the UK and many elsewhere.
  • To identify UK universities that are tops in your field, consult this recent REF ranking by subject of UK unis. Note that for some university grants, the odds are almost impossibly high. After you've found a few programs, check this listing of recent application statistics to make a strategically-wise choice about which grant to shoot for.
  • Under the category of research grants, applicants may pursue training in the creative and performing arts. Take a look at examples of these on the RISD Fulbright page.  
  • Check the Fulbright country & grant type pages to make sure that what you propose to do will be supported for that country, and that you meet the required qualifications. Some countries only offer research, not graduate study.  Some countries require language facility even if the grad program is taught in English. Before you get too excited about a degree program, check Fulbright's country pages
  • After exploring universities and programs, consult with faculty in your field of interest to get their advice on the programs you find. Start this process in the spring semester before the fall application deadline, so you have time to get their advice. 

You can learn information that may factor into your country choice on the State Department website.  

Explore with us, too! We want to meet with you to discuss your options for degree programs and country.  Request an appointment here so we can get the ball rolling. Once you've decided on a country, you're ready for Step 2!

Step 2: Open an application

The Fulbright app asks you to enter a lot of information - biographical details, extracurricular activities, awards, travel history, work experience, and more. Open the application and begin to fill it in. You can enter data and save as you go. It also asks you to compose three short paragraphs you might think of as a why, a how, and a what: 


(1) Why do you wish to be a Fulbright grantee and specifically pursue this graduate degree? Why is this program in this country appealing to you? (1750 characters) 
(2) How will you get involved with your community within the university and outside of the campus? How will you meet people in order to share your culture and values as a U.S. citizen with the host community? (1750 characters) 
(3) What do you plan to do upon your return to U.S.? How will having this degree make a difference to those plans? What work or further study will you pursue? (850 characters). 

Some people wait until they've finished their essays to answer these questions. That's okay! But begin thinking about your answers now and draft some ideas in a separate doc. It will help you form the overarching story of your application. Watch this powerpoint to help you think these questions through: Pulling it Together with Purpose: the Fulbright Application

If you have any language skills for your destination country at all, complete the language self-evaluation within the app. It can help your chances, even if it's not required! 

You'll work on Step 2 throughout the summer. Once you've started, you can move on to Step 3!

Step 3: Reach out to recommendation writers

Reach out to three potential recommendation writers to explain your intentions and ask if they'd be willing to write on your behalf. You can do this in person, over email, or on the phone. Ask early - at the end of the spring semester or beginning of the summer, if possible. They don't have to write the letter immediately, but knowing they've already agreed will reduce your stress  and you'll only have to reminde them when the deadline draws near. Jane Bragdon '20, Turkey

For the grad study grant, at least two of your writers should be faculty who have taught you as a mature student. If you've done/ are doing a senior thesis, your advisor is likely a good choice. Opt for faculty whose expertise is in the field you plan to study. They can comment not only on your academic prowess, but also on how the program is a good fit for you. The third letter can be from a staff person, coach, or work supervisor who can speak in detail to your potential to be an outstanding cultural ambassador.  Ask your recommenders to read our Fulbright Overview page so they understand the Fulbright and what the reviewers hope to learn about you in the letter. 

After they've said "yes," you can then enter their names and contact info in the Fulbright online application. Trigger the recommendation request through the portal about four weeks before the internal deadline (or sooner, if they wish it). Show your recommenders drafts of your essays before they write. You may need to wait until the beginning of August to do that, so you can trigger the request then.  
Started the process of requesting recommendations? On to step 4!

Step 4: Request an affiliation letter

In order to make use of the study grant (if you win it) you'll have to also get into the university. Your acceptance letter to the university is called a "letter of affilition" by the Fulbright folks. And they want you to upload such a letter at the time of application to Fulbright, if possible. But this is often not possible. University application deadlines usually come later than the Fulbright deadline. As a placeholder, request a "letter of affiliation" from a faculty member in the degree program at the university vouching for your potential to get into the program. 

Here's how to do that: First, read the university website to find a faculty member whose research or courses interest you. Ask them to have a virtual conversation with you. Sounds scary, but they usually say "yes" if you ask in a respectful way. Here's a template for an email you can use to request a meeting. Once you've had a conversation, request an affiliation letter. Your contact may be unsure how to write that letter. Here is a template your affiliate can use to write their letter. Once they send the letter to you, upload it to your application. Note: this might take months to come to fruition! Reach out in the spring or early in the summer. Sometimes the letters come in just in the nick of time!

Step 5: Draft your statement of grant purpose

The Statement of Grant Purpose (SOGP) is one of two essays you'll write for the application. It is the first one the reviewers will read, so we think you should write it first. But before you start writing, you need to do some thinking! Early in the summer (say, June) complete this Graduate Study SOGP Questionnaire. It will help you think through all the info you should put in your essay. Once you submit it, we'll read it and tell you if there is anything you need to consider further before drafting the essay.  
Samuel Chen '17, Indonesia ETA and Netherlands study grant 

Draft the statement of grant purpose: include the context for your interest in this field; describe the program you are pursuing, highlighting courses or research you intend to undertake as part of the program; demonstrate how you are prepared for the degree; mention faculty whose work interests you; point out the cultural appeal of the university and its community; and explain how it will lead to your future career or education. Send it to Christine as a Word doc for feedback. She'll respond within a week. You'll revise and re-send until you both agree it is ready for internal submission. From the start, use the required format (below) so you know how much room you have to play with. Before you write, it may help you to read a few essays from former AC Fulbright grad study winners here. 
Once you've got a solid draft, you can move on to Step 5!

Format: 1-inch margins, 1.0 spacing, Times New Roman, 12-point font. Do not use the Header tool. Rather, put the lines below within the 1" margin.  At the top of page 1, write: 
Line 2: Your Name, Country of Application, and Field of Study from Program Info page 
Line 3: Your Project Title as it appears in the Program Information page of application 
On page two, enter the above or only Last Name, Grant Purpose, Page 2. 
Start in Word then convert to a pdf before uploading.

Step 6: Craft your story - the personal statement

The second essay you will write is your Personal Statement. It is best tackled once you've got the SOGP in good shape to avoid repetition. This essay is your chance to show the reviewers how you will represent the U.S. as a cultural ambassador from your own experience as a citizen, a student, a person. Draw from your personal history, family background, intellectual influences, educational, professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them), and how these experiences have affected you in order to introduce yourself and what you value to your readers․ Include your specific interests, career plans, and life goals, as they relate to the Fulbright opportunity․ To see how others have done this, go back to the sample essays.

There is no pre-draft form for this one!  Write the Personal Statement draft as early in the summer (but after you've tackled the SOGP) as you can and send it to Christine as a Word doc for feedback. She'll respond within a week. You'll revise and re-send until you both agree it is ready for internal submission. From the start, use the required format  below) so you know how much room you have to play with. Do not use the Header tool. 
Got the essays in good shape? On to Step 7!

Format: 1 page, single spaced, 1-inch margins, Times New Roman, 12-point font. At the top, type within the 1" margin:
Line 2: Your Name, Country of Application, and Field of Study from Program Info page
Start in Word then convert to a pdf before uploading.

Step 7: Gather supporting documents

In addition to the recommendations, Fulbright wants to see other documents that attest to your academic qualifications, namely transcripts and (if required for your country) language evaluations.  Marvin Bell '19E, France

Request your official AC transcript and study abroad or transfer college transcripts early enough to get them in the portal by the internal deadline. While Fulbright says they allow unofficial transcripts, because the name of the college must appear on it, AC students must use an official version. To aid you in this process, complete an “Electronic Transcript Request” and enter Christine Overstreet ( as the recipient. Christine will convert the file to a Fulbright-approved format and send it to you to upload to your application following Fulbright's instructions on requirements and how to upload. The numerical GPA you enter in the application should be the one listed within Workday or on your transcript. 

For transfer or study abroad transcripts, follow instructions at the relevant institution for requesting an electronic version and have it sent to Christine as above. 

Request Language Evaluations from qualified instructors! Language evaluations are required for some countries. Even if not required, getting an evaluation is wise if you have any language skills at all for the country. Fulbright offers language evaluator instructions and a sample form here but instructors will complete an online form accessed through an email you trigger within the application. If your language evaluator is also a recommender, you must enter two distinct email addresses for the two requests. The language evaluation is desired by the AC internal deadline. 
See sample instructor evaluation form. Got these docs ordered and uploaded? You're ready for Step 8!

Step 8: Check for accuracy and completion, then submit

  • Proofread everything you've written for the application - short entries, small paragraphs, essays, language self-evaluations for typos. We suggest you print the app and read it out loud to yourself, word for word. (We promise you won't catch errors if you review the app on your phone.) Upload your essays.
  • Check to see if your recs and language evals are in. If not, send gentle, polite reminders. (If they're really late, send howlers. JK. But do remind them.) If you're waiting for a transcript, upload a placeholder doc with the name of the intended transcript on it.
  • Submit by the internal deadline! (No worries. We can unsubmit it at any time up until October 7th, and we will!)

    All done? Yippee! You're ready for Step 9!

Step 9: Join us for an interview

All Amherst College students will be endorsed to move forward to the Fulbright national competition. However, Fulbright asks us to conduct a campus interview and to write an evaluation of you as a candidate based on the interview and your written materials. We love this part! We get to talk to you in person or over Zoom! You'll meet with the Faculty Committee on Student Fellowships for your interview.

After you submit your app, we'll send a Doodle poll to schedule your 20-minute interview. Sign up for your interview slot and prepare yourself for the conversation

What do we mean by prepare? Review your own application, and think about what more you can tell us, both about your graduate study goals and your desire to immerse yourself into the culture of the country. How are you learning more about the host country? Reading novels set there? Viewing movies set in the country? Reading about that region of the world in The Economist or other journals? How are you learning about what is happening in your field of study there? Scouring newspapers ora cademic journals? Talking to faculty here or students in the program there? Attending university webinars? Get ready to bowl us over with all the ways you are trying to learn about this country even before you get there.

Interview accomplished? Great! You're nearing the finish line. Go to Step 10!

Step 10: Sprint to the finish!

After your campus interview, we'll un-submit your application in the portal and send you final suggestions for improvement. For this round of feedback, we'll address the essays again if needed, but mostly focus on those short paragraphs. If we have noticed them, we'll alert you to any typos. However, as this application represents YOU, well, then YOU should make sure your app is error-free! Revise and proofread one more time, then hit submit by Wednesday, October 4th at NOON. This will give us time to review it again and, if needed, return it to you if we find any errors.

As you are making your final revisions, we'll be writing your campus committee evaluation - our chance to highlight the skills and attributes that we think will make you and outstanding Fulbrighter. We'll attach those to your app in time for the final national Fulbright deadline of October 10th. (We don't like to leave things until the last minute. We respect your work too much to do that!)

One more thing: apply to the university!

You have one important step that other Fulbright applicants don't have - applying to the university. While university applications usually don't open until after the Fulbright deadline, apply in time to gain acceptance by January 2024, if possible. Mark your calendar for when the university application will open, and apply as soon as you can. Scour the university website for sources of funding other than the Fulbright. That way, if you don't with the grant, you might still be able to go with alternate funding. If you apply and gain acceptance by January, it can help your chances of winning the Fulbright. You'll be able to send Fulbright your acceptance letter in January if you are named a semi-finalist. (More on that at the bottom of this page.) 

What happens next?

The Fulbright process takes so long that we joke that people sometimes find out they won and forgot they even applied! After submitting, you wait, but wait actively! That is, be alert to the stages of selection and any emails you may receive from Fulbright. From here, they'll contact you directly about how you are faring in the competition. Tell us what you hear from them, as soon as you here it, so we can continue to support you.


OCT 10

National Deadline (5PM ET; you snooze, you lose)


Applications are screened for technical errors (that's why it's important to proofread!) by the staff at IIE, then sent to that National Screening Committees, comprised of faculty members from all over the U.S.


National Screening Committees select applications to send to the host countries for consideration


You are notified by email of your status as a semi-finalist (app is sent forward to the host country) or not (application goes no further). This is when you will upload your uni letter of acceptance if you get one. It will go with the rest of your app to the destination country.


U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission staff along with interested partners in the country review your application. They may invite you for a Zoom interview. (If they do, tell us! We'll help you prepare.) By the end of April (countries notify at different times) you will receive an email telling you that you're a finalist (you've won the grant!) or not. Tell us what you here! We'll celebrate with you or offer a shoulder to cry on. Either way, we'll still be here to support you. 

Have questions? Please contact us.

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall


Physical address: 100 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002

Mailing Address: AC #2214, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002