Alumni’s Guide to the Fulbright Scholarship

I still remember that August day in 2008 when I got a call from the US Embassy in Ljubljana informing me that I have unofficially won the Fulbright Scholarship. It was a huge milestone in my life as the Fulbright experience shaped not only my professional career but also how I view the world and who I’ve become since.

Fulbright Pin Logo

My planning and preparing the application started many months earlier. Back then, the information on how to win a Fulbright scholarship was scarce and I wrote this guide to share my experience and advice on the application process. You can also read about what you will go through once you begin your research visit in the USA that could help you when you become a Fulbright Scholar.

As of November 2017, this guide has helped 100.000+ friends from 206 countries. If you find it useful, please share. You can also post questions in the comments and I’ll try to point you into the right direction.


  1. Muhammad Quraish Khan

    December 25, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Dear Madam/Sir

    Would you please tell me that where can I find the Fulbright pin as shown on your site.Thanks

    Best Regards

  2. dear sir,how are you?well,am kebba and i want to have a scholarship to your country..and how can start to apply for it?

    • PhDfriend

      May 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Hi Kebba. First of all, you could only get a Fulbright to my country (Slovenia) if you were a US citizen. To apply for a Fulbright to the US, contact your local US Embassy.

  3. I would like to apply for a Fulbright to pursue a PhD. I just completed my GRE test and my scores are not so great (Verbal 156, Quant 143). Do you think I should still apply for the scholarship. I think the rest of my experience is good. I saw a comment on a site where they asked the person to redo the test but they still granted the person the scholarship. What do you suggest in my case? Apply or wait the year, re-sitting the GRE test in the meantime.

    • PhDfriend

      May 6, 2012 at 10:37 am

      AFAIK, most Fulbrighters (foreigners researching in the US) are already grad students of some sort. The full PhD, multi-year scholarships are rare and depend on the country of applicant residence. You should contact your local US Embassy for details.

  4. Faith Noordam

    May 16, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I have been surfing online more than three hours as of late, but I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty price enough for me. In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the internet can be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  5. Sir I would like to inquire as to what proper sets of documents are required. And due to the change in format of GRE what would be an appropriate score.

    • AFAIK, all necessary instructions are usually included in the application documents. However, it was not required for me to include a GRE score in my application.

    • Hi Rohit
      I want to know you about GRE exam, how should preparation of it.

  6. I have applied for the Fullbright PhD scholarship 2013. My GRE score is Analytical Writing = 3.0, Verbal = 520 and Quantitative = 560. I am not sure whether this score is good enough for this scholarship. Please let me know that should I need to reappear in GRE exam.

    The other thing I would like to know is that, I have my MS degree from University of Southern California Los Angeles in 2009. As I have already spend 2 years in US during my MS studies, does this make any good/bad effect on my chances of being selected ??

    • Dear Adnan Aslam … I wasn’t required to take a GRE for my Fulbright, so you should contact your US embassy for requirements for your country. As for your previous studies in the US, I think it would be a disadvantage if lots of interesting candidates apply. However, that’s my feeling and not a general truth.

  7. hello sir…..
    currently i am pursuing phd(6 months) on Indian mythology……i want to pursue this topic in u.s.a’s university…….for scholarship in Fulbright for phd , do i need 5 years of teaching experience????

  8. Sir, I have a question regarding work (job) experience, i was to pass and get my bachelors (a Four year-degree) two years ago in march 2011, but i failed in a subject and instead of clearing it then, i started doing a job(with university’s permission). I worked for 18 months and then left it in September 2012, now that i have re-enrolled my remnant subject in my university after leaving my job and i am working on it and hopefully will pass the subject before April this year. Kindly guide me that if i apply to Fulbright this year, will my job (working) experience count, will they reject me on basis of a late (6 year) degree, or how to overcome this disparity of a late degree. kindly reply so that i may make my mind regarding Fulbright.
    Thank you alot.

    • PhDfriend

      February 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      AFAIK, job experience is a plus. Anyhow, failing a class isn’t. Late degree doesn’t seem to be a problem … check with your US Embassy.


  9. Hi Sir,
    I am nominated as “Principal” Candidate for 2013-2014 Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral and Professional Research Fellowship. I am waiting for my final approval of IIE. I too got the invitation for an orientation program at Kolkata India on 13th May to 15th May. I am quite excited for that. I just wanna know how to manage my research work during Fulbright tenure at US. I got an acceptance from CMU professor, I rare had words with him after that acceptance, because I was waiting for my final selection. Now I am not getting it to how to proceed with the conversation and my research work. These days I am totally untouched with my research and not getting it how to get back to my work. I also need your suggestion and comments on how to proceed my research at US after reaching there. Kindly put some light on research in US during fulbright tenure

  10. hi sir
    i have already submited my application but i didnt send my transcripts because in march2013 i graduated from university and i hav’nt recieved my transcripts yet, what do you thind does my application will be accepted?

  11. Good day

    I wonder if you can help, I hope so.

    My daughter applied for the Fulbright scholarship here in South Africa last year and was informed her application was successful. We all of course cheered and were very very proud of her.

    She went for the pre tests etc and all but the orientation for which she received her invitation last week.

    Then all of a sudden last night she received a mail to say that the scholarship had been cancelled due to lack of funds.

    Now I find this dastardly as plans have been set in place for here attendance in the US, she is blind and married and a lot of things had to be organised for this to happen, which if this is the case is now moot.

    She and her husband would now be left out in the wilderness to try and get there lives back on track after receiving his news.

    Please can you let me know if there is anything we can do to reverse this decision.

    Warm Regards

    • That’s really unfortunate. This is most probably due to your local lack of funds issue, as the USA usually deliver on their promises/contracts. Contact your local US Embassy, and ask for help. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  12. Hello PhDfriend…….could you please send me your personal statement, statement of purpose, the purpose of fulbright nehru program etc. I am not able to write these things on my own.

  13. Sir,
    I want your help regarding the Fulbright fellowship. I am about to submit my application. Please provide me suggestions where I can find a good invitation letter sample. So that I can proceed with my application.
    Please help.


  14. Hi There,

    I have been offered fullbright to pursue my masters in US. I have 2 universities in mind and i want to avoid the risk of IIE choosing a different univerisity than those universities.
    Hence, is it possible to apply to the same program through fullbright and then perosnally as well? Does this affect the university funding decision?

    Thanks in advance and keep up the good work.

    • Hey. I recommend consulting your Fulbright representative and staff at the Universities you’re applying to. It pays off to be honest about your intentions. From my experience, the IIE are fond of applicants that already know what/where they want to research.

  15. Hello,
    I’m among the Fulbright JSD nominees for Masters by the local commitee of my country, Mauritania. We are 5 and the Fulbright Board usually select three principals among the fives. I received a call from our local commitee and they said that they received a notification saying that I should register for another TOEFL to improve my score (I got 87 before) for a better placement though we didn’t get the final results. My question is: Does it mean I’m selected? Or my score was weak?

    • I’d say your chances are good. Go ace that TOEFL! 🙂

      • Good to hear…thanks!! By the way, I’ll take this opportunity to thank you for this great job. You are amazing. After finding your website, I no longer bother myself browsing to find information on Fulbright. Hats off 🙂

        • Thank you very much, I’m glad you appreciate 🙂 Get in touch if you get a Fulbright!

          • I did the TOEFL and received the same score lol…In the meantime I received an email from Umass Boston (one of those universities I chose in my online applcation)acknowledging receipt of my application in a their master program. But we are still waiting for the final result. What do you think?

          • Hey! I’m selected as a principal for a master’s degree in International Relations 😀 !!! Now, I’m waiting for the Institue for International Education to find a school for my placement. I hope they will find it very soon and everything will be fine at the end… Thank you PhDfrind for everything !!

  16. Hi, I have been recommended for the Fulbright- Nehru Visiting Research Fellowship 2013-14, depending upon funds. I got 93 marks in TOEFL. How does the TOEFL score matter. How much chance do I have of finally making it to US on the said Fellowship ? And, what is a ‘principal’ application ? I was recommended as a ‘principal applicant.’

    • TOEFL is binary, either it’s good enough for them, or it isn’t. I don’t know what a principal applicant is, never heard of such a thing, and the chances depend on your performance (application and interview) and the performance of all other applicants 🙂

      • @PhDFriend, I have already been recommended by the National Selection Committee in India. All I know as for now is that my name has been recommended to Fulbright Board Washington, D.C. for final approval. I also received my TOEFL score (93). Is this score good enough ? (How much the score matters).So, at this stage, does all the recommended applicants get the fellowship, finally?

        • Internet based TOEFL of 93 should be enough. If the Fulbright Board in DC approved you, you’ve got good chances. Now it is up to your local US Embassy, so get in touch with them. Or — be patient and wait 🙂

  17. Hi,

    Really good info. Thanks a lot!
    I found this very interesting and am looking forward to apply for Fullbright scholarship. I have done my Post-graduate diploma from India and an working in a Market Research organization in UAE for the past 3 years.
    A. How do i apply for the fullbright scolarship?
    B Do i need to give any competetive examination?

    • Download the ebook, a lot of your questions are answered there. In a nutshell, figure out where is your US Embassy (from the information you provided, I’d say it’s in India), and talk to them about your specific desires and situation. Good luck 🙂

  18. Hello:

    I have got selected for Fulbright Nehru Master’s Fellowship 2014-15. The Universities have also got short listed by IIE. My TOEFL score is 96. IIE has asked me to reappear TOEFL which I did but I am not sure whether I will get better score this time. If I do not, then would IIE send my application with 96 score? as amongst the 4 universities, 3 need ‘100 or above’ TOEFL score to be eligible.

    Kindly reply.

  19. Dear PhdFriend,
    I just concluded my degree programme back here in my country and i have been searching for postgraduate scholarship i would be eligible for. If I may ask, what does it take to become a Fulbrighter. Hoping to hear from you soon. Thanks

  20. Hey! I’m selected as a principal for a master’s degree in International Relations 😀 !!! Now, I’m waiting for the Institute for International Education to find a school for my placement. I hope they will find it very soon and everything will be fine at the end…I just want you to read and clarify this passage from the email I received “We remind that a Fulbright award is contingent upon three separate approvals and confirmations. First, each candidate must receive approval of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Second, there must be confirmation of funding. And finally, there must be confirmation of placement at an appropriate U.S. institution. Once this three stage process has been completed, IIE will be in contact to confirm placements. This usually occurs in April to June.” Thank you PhDfrind for everything; I really appreciate your kindness and availability !!

  21. Hey!
    I am post doc Fulbright scholar for 13-14 and I wanted to know more about receiving possible extension as it seems to me I may not be anle to wind up in another 6 months. The CIES contact said its possible to get an extension for upto 6months however the home country office said there is no extension on Fulbright ! Interestingly, the orientation booklet says it possible to apply… Any thoughts?

    • Hi. I can give you only my thoughts, this is not a subject I looked into. I think that extension on the grant itself (more money) is less likely than the extension of your J-1 Visa, which should allow you at least staying in the US and finishing research. So first, I would try to arrange a visa extension and then (with the visa already extended) work on trying to extend the grant itself.

  22. HI I am Gaurav Gupta and doing PhD from Punjabi University (India). My area of PhD is Marketing (Management) and core area is Brand Management. I want to apply for.

    Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships

    Following guidelines have been given :

    You will be affiliated to one US host institution for your grant. USIEF strongly recommends all applicants to identify institutions with which they wish to be affiliated and to correspond, in advance, with potential host institutions.

    I want to know how to approach any university regarding this

  23. Hii PhD friend
    I have completed my masters in biotechnology and now I want to do PhD in Infection biology. I am interested in doing my PhD abroad. The current profile of mine holds 309 in GRE, 106 in TOEFL, 9.03/10 CGPA in my master’s and 9.12/10 CGPA at my bachelor’s.I have published one research article in PLos One and another article is at pipeline. Will I be able to get a full scholarship with this profile? With out a scholarship I can’t afford studying abroad. Please guide me regarding this.

    • PhDfriend

      March 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      Your credentials should be sufficient. However, the Fulbright is as much about the achievements, as it is about the character, perspective, and also luck. I suggest you go for it 🙂

  24. Hi,
    i am doing phd in indian university. i want to apply fullbright scholarship but i dont have TOFEL. is it necessary to have?

  25. hi i am 39 year old and majored in english literature and TEFL (teaching of english as a foreign language. i have 12 years of teaching experience and presently working as english instructor at college. i am also law graduate and practised for 2 years but then switched over to teaching. i heard about fulbright scholarship but i dont know the exact recommended proceedure and requirements. IS GRE and TOFEL ara a must though i am english degree qualified and has good english speaking and understanding proficiency. can i apply for other scholorship in other discipline than English teaching i mean in media or law. is age limit a restrictive factor. looking for comprehensive guideline. thank you

    • hi i havent yet received your reply to my question. i am desparately waiting. i have done masters in 2000 and today it is 2014 am i elegible for fulbright scholarship though i am still having 14 years teaching experience. please dont tell me to read ebook i need your personal true comments. thanks

      • PhDfriend

        March 24, 2014 at 2:58 pm

        Hi. Some of your questions are covered on other pages of this site, and others should be emailed to your local US Embassy, where they know exactly what types of scholarships they can offer you and whether you fit their requirements. This is a too specific question, and I cannot offer you a qualified answer. Good luck!

  26. I am doing PhD in microbiology in Karnataka i want scholarship .
    how to get please suggest me.

  27. Dear Sir/ Madam,
    I am Research Scholar and a PhD student at SMVDU university J&K. My area of Resaerch is Assortment planning for Small retailers in India.I am applying for Full bright Nehru Doctoral Reaserch Fellowship. Is is important to have a Consent from a Prof working in the host university for conducting research with him.

  28. Hi there,

    I am interested in applying for the ETA program. I am not sure if I am to find a university in the host country by myself or if Fulbright associates will help me. Can you offer any help?


  29. How many students like selected for bright scholar ship per years,What are important criterias
    IS there any scholarship available so that I can find suitable Host myself.

  30. How many graduates will be selected per year for bright scholarship. What are major milestones you feel for bright scholarship in applying process.
    Is there any other scholarships are available?

  31. Hi..
    I have applied for the fulbright doctoral fellowship. I did my B.Tech in chemical engineering from a local college with 69.7% (I passed 3 subjects in supplementary examinations) Then my M.Tech is from IIT Madras with a CGPA of 6.94. Now I’m pursuing Ph.D in IIT Guwahati. Are these credentials enough to get shortlisted for the fellowship???
    I also have an invitation letter from Caltech. Will this boost my chances???
    Please clarify…

  32. Dear Dr. Friend,

    I’m interested in the ETA scholarship in a few countries like South Korea and Spain. However I’m currently 31 (I didn’t finish a BA until I was 27) and many countries state preference for candidates under 30. Should I still apply? I’ve had little luck in landing positions that advance my career.
    , I’d hate to think my age is working against me too.

  33. Hi there,

    I am an Indian national doing a PhD in Hong Kong. I want to apply for a full bright scholarship. Is it possible to apply for this outside your home country?


  34. is psychology a part of the fulbright program?

  35. I am an Afghan National and have MS in Management Sciences. Could you please tell me, can i apply for Fulbright PhD scholarship?.

    In eligibility criteria mentioned in the Fulbright website the science or technology is mentioned but it is not clearly mentioned, the students who have studies management can apply for Fulbright PhD scholarship. If you can help me.

  36. I am an Afghan National and have MS in Management Sciences. Can i apply for Fulbright PhD Fellowship?.

    Thank you,

  37. Sir/Madam,

    I am perusing my M.Phil now and looking for Fullbright scholarship in the USA for my Ph.D programme. How should I proceed to it? My research area is Migration.

    Best Regards.

  38. Sir/Madam,

    I am from India and perusing my M.Phil now and looking for Fulbright scholarship in the USA for my Ph.D programme. How should I proceed to it? My research area is Migration.

    Best Regards.

    • Hi, it depends on many factors and mostly on the Fulbright scholarships you have available in your country. I’d start by contacting your local US embassy. Good luck!


    April 21, 2017 at 2:39 am

    Is it necessary to have a publication to be selected in fullbright scholarship? The scholarship program tries to select students with good academic career. Did they mean the fullbright fellows need to be the rank holders of any universities or institute during their studies?

    • phdfriend

      April 21, 2017 at 7:26 am

      Hi, I didn’t have a strong publication when I applied and I’m sure that the evaluators know, that a strong publication at the early stage of ones’ career is in most cases a result of a strong mentor more than a strong candidate. The scholarships can be very different country to country, so it is best to ask your Fulbright representative at your local US Embassy about the specifics. All best and good luck 🙂

  40. Jeanett Nicolai

    May 20, 2017 at 5:01 am

    Practical post , I learned a lot from the details , Does someone know if I can get ahold of a blank UK SSCS1 example to work with ?

  41. Dear Sir/Madam, Is there a sample for Letter(s) of Invitation from hot institution? It will be nice if I get one.

  42. Dear Sir/Madam, Is there a sample for Letter(s) of Invitation from hot institution? It will be nice if I get one.

    • phdfriend

      April 3, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Dear Vesaj Ratna. I am sure institutions already have mock-ups of such letters and they will provide one for you. Best!

  43. Hello

    My Professor (host institution, USA’) asking about a ‘Template’ of ‘A letter of invitation’ host institution United States. So, he can follow that to provide mine.

    Please guide me about it or provide me a Template for this.


  44. Hi there I have been nominated for the fullbright foreign student program, and I was given voucher for toefl test what happen if dont get 100points

  45. Hello Sir,
    This is Preeti from India. Last time I applied for Fulbright Doctoral Fellowship but I did not get through. I want to apply this time as well. My area of research will be fiction based on the stories of refugees. Could you please guide me for applying with a strong proposal this time?

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