10 min

Everything you need to know about Fulbright US Student program

There are many types of scholarships for students and graduates, and some might let you get a taste of what it is like to work or study in a foreign country!

The Fulbright Scholarship is one of the most well-known and prestigious scholarships in the world. Through the program, U.S. citizens (students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists, and artists) may be eligible for scholarships or grants to study, conduct research, teach, or exercise their talents abroad, and citizens of other countries may be eligible to do the same in the USA.

Founded in 1946, the program aims to improve mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of other countries. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program is active in over 160 countries across the world. Each year, 8000 scholarships are awarded, half of which goes to international students.

Fulbright grants aren't for students who want to spend a semester studying overseas. In most situations, you will need to have finished your bachelor's degree before you can even be considered for participation. If you are a senior in college, a graduate student, or a working professional, this award may be just the right thing for you!

If you are a US citizen

If you are a US citizen who has not resided for more than 5 years in a foreign country, you can consider few types of Student awards:

  1. Open Study/Research Awards

The Fulbright Study/Research Award is the traditional award opportunity where an applicant creates a proposal for a specific country.

With this award, you can create and finish an independent study or research project, take classes as a non-degree student at a foreign university, or enroll directly in a graduate degree program at a local university. When applying for this grant, you must submit a project or research plan that explains why your project must be carried out in the suggested nation.

Field-Specific Award Opportunities include Art grants, Business grants, Journalism grants, STEM and public health grants.

  1. English Teaching Assistant Awards

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant places you in a school or an education center overseas to assist in teaching English language classes. In addition to teaching, you will be required to serve as a cultural ambassador by giving lectures about American culture and participating in community events.

  1. Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship

The Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship is a unique research/study opportunity for applicants who seek to employ digital media and storytelling to strengthen cross-cultural ties with one or more host countries. Professional National Geographic Editors will provide you with training, assistance, and mentorship as part of this prize.

How much is the scholarship worth? There is no specific cash value for Fulbright Scholarships, because the cost of living varies by host country. However, if you are awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, you may expect to have your transportation, lodging, boarding, and incidental expenditures covered, as well as health and other benefits. In some countries, it may even include book and research allowances, tuition, and language study programs.

If you are not a US citizen

If you are not a US citizen, then you may consider the following programs:

  1. Fulbright Foreign Student Program

This program operates in more than 160 countries. Eligibility and selection criteria for this program vary greatly by nation.

For example, in India, the Fulbright Foreign Student Program is administered by the United States – India Educational Foundation (USIEF). For students, it offers the Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowships that are designed for outstanding Indians to pursue a master’s degree program at selected U.S. colleges and universities in many different areas of study. For doctoral and mid-career professionals, it has The Fulbright-Nehru Doctoral Research Fellowships, Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowship, the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, and others, including the teaching assistant and scholar-in-residence programs.

Fulbright-Nehru Master’s Fellowship covers J-1 visa support, travelling, tuition (at least partly, in some cases), accommodation costs, as well as accident and sickness coverage. The requirements include a bachelor degree and at least 3 years of working experience in the field. The deadline is in June for the degree program that starts next year in September.

  1. Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program

This program operates in more than 50 countries. The Fulbright FLTA Program places you in American universities where foreign cultures and languages are taught for one year. You will be required to assist the teaching. talked to some of the Fulbright graduates who shared their Fulbright experience and gave some tips for future candidates.

Alexandra Yingst:

I came to Iceland on a Fulbright in 2016 to attend the University Centre of the Westfjords in Ísafjörður. While there, I studied women involved in fisheries in the Arctic, with a focus on the Westfjords of Iceland. Iceland has a rich history of women working at sea, but today, the majority of women involved in fish processing are from other countries. I was therefore looking at their quality of life in the workplace, and in the community as well. I loved my life in Iceland so much that I came back in 2019 to start a PhD in Global Studies at the University of Iceland! Even though I am no longer a Fulbright student, I've stayed close with the Fulbright community in Iceland, and I always enjoy meeting the new students and scholars who come to Iceland on a Fulbright.

I decided to apply to the Fulbright program, because I am interested in learning about other cultures, and I wanted to collaborate internationally on issues that I feel strongly about, such as sustainable fisheries and gender equality. The Coastal and Marine Management master's program in Ísafjörður was perfect for me, because I could actually live in a fishing community, rather than just study one from afar. I spent months preparing my Fulbright application, and the University of Pittsburgh helped me every step of the way. Once I arrived in Iceland, the network of people that I met through the Fulbright program opened up many doors for me, both for my research and personal life. I am still connected to many of the people who I met through the Fulbright program in Iceland, and those connections continue to enrich my life.

John Johnson:

During my Fulbright grant, I lived and worked in Volgograd, Russia, in the 2013-2014 academic year. I was affiliated with Volgograd State University and conducted my research in the local historical archives there. My research topic was about the reconstruction of Stalingrad after the Great Patriotic War. Additionally, I had the opportunity to connect with students at the university who were studying English, as well as faculty members there. I was also invited by the local TV station to help film a short documentary (the documentary was about agro-tourism in Volgograd oblast, and they invited me to meet the local people there).

I decided to apply for a Fulbright grant for several reasons. First, I had already spent a couple summers in Russia studying the language, and I knew I wanted to spend even more time there to further familiarize myself with the culture. Second, I was interested specifically in the local history of Stalingrad, and to get this historical perspective there was really no option other than spending some time on the ground in the archives there. Finally, I fully share Fulbright’s mission to develop international connections and improve mutual understanding and sincerely wanted to contribute myself.

I wouldn’t say it is very difficult to go through all the steps to get a Fulbright scholarship, but it is something that one needs to take seriously. It’s important to consider why you want to receive the grant, and to develop good relationships with professors who can give you recommendations. Finally, it’s important to stay calm during the interview. This is of course easier said than done, but as much as possible it’s necessary to stay calm and be open and engaging.

Olga Chistanova:

Before applying to Fulbright, I’ve heard a lot about this program and wanted to participate. Originally, I am from the Khakass republic, Russia, I’ve got the Bachelor’s degree in German philology, Master’s degree in History from the Khakass State Universityб and worked at the Khakass National Museum. I wanted to study museums and museology, always dreamt to become a good specialist in this field, to work in UNESCO or ICOM preserving cultural heritage.

During my Fulbright grant, I studied for two years at Syracuse University, College of Visual and Performing Arts, and earned Master of Arts in Museum Studies. At SU, I studied museology and other disciplines in applied formats. We were preparing exhibitions, working with 3-D modeling, and visiting many museums in the USA. This experience, including studying and living in another country, helped me to grow up, to acquire an unforgettable experience. The education also helped me to find a job. After a couple of months of study, I was hired as Executive Director of the Russian Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).