University of Illinois

Fulbright Grant




Meet some recent Fulbright applicants: Rosalie Ierardi, Joe Johnson, Sammi Wong, Matt Grobis, and Tiffanie Bui.



One year of study or research in any country where there is a Fulbright Commission. Some shorter term and English teaching programs available. While most Fulbrights are available to any country in any discipline, there are also a number of discipline specific awards offered. Seniors, graduate/professional students, and graduates are eligible to apply. Must be a U.S. citizen.

Who they are looking for:




Former applicants Tiffanie Bui, Rosalie Ierardi, and Matt Grobis discuss qualifications for the Fulbright grant.


The Selection Committee rates candidates based on their academic or professional qualifications (especially in relation to proposed projects), the validity and feasibility of the proposed project, language qualifications, evidence of maturity, motivation, and adaptability to a different cultural environment, knowledge of host country, and the impression a candidate will make abroad as a citizen representing the United States. Fulbrights are more than academic awards; Fulbright commissions look for extracurricular activities in and out of an applicant's field, leadership potential, and general community involvement. Specific criteria pertaining to your country may be found at Multimedia presentations and interviews of past recipients are available on both iTunes (free subscription for “Fulbright Program”) and YouTube. Further, read more about recent Illinois Fulbright Scholars.

"Priority" Deadline: July 1, 2014

Students are encouraged to submit a priority application for the Fulbright Grant. The priority deadline is July 1 for students wishing to study, teach English, or conduct research abroad in 2015-16. University faculty and staff who are familiar with the Fulbright will review materials received by this date, while only The National and International Scholarships Program will review materials submitted after this date. In either case, we will provide feedback on your application and are willing to work with you through the summer on subsequent revisions. Current Illinois graduate students also are encouraged to schedule a One-on-One Review with the Graduate College Fellowships Office, at least a month before the deadline.

Illinois applicants for the Fulbright should submit the following materials online, with letters of recommendation sent as attachments to

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. A complete Fulbright Application, submitted online through the Fulbright site, including a Personal Statement, Statement of Proposed Study or Research, and uploaded transcripts from all colleges attended. However, no other supplementary materials or foreign language reports are needed at this time.
  3. 3-4 Letters of Recommendation - primarily academic (drafts acceptable).
    Do not request letters online through the Fulbright system. Those who are applying for a full Fulbright grant should request that letters of recommendation addressing their project be sent as e-mail attachments to the scholarships program. Those who are applying for a teaching assistantship should ask their referees to fill out and send an English Teaching Assistantship Reference form, instead of writing a letter.

Further information about priority deadline requirements

REQUIRED Campus Deadline: September 2, 2014 at 12:00 noon

Whether or not you turned in a priority application, a complete Fulbright application must be submitted to the National and International Scholarships Program in order to be considered for a Fulbright. Fulbright requires our campus to review and rate all applications. This rating goes forward confidentially with your application. Thus, it is extremely important to turn in a polished application for the campus review committee by this date. Although you may have the option of revising your application based on this committee's feedback, the campus committee's ratings will not change. The committee will consist of university faculty and staff who are familiar with the Fulbright Grant, the geographic region of your application, and your general field. The committee will evaluate your application based on a review of your materials and an interview (often testing requisite foreign language skills). Regardless of the rating you earn from the campus committee, all applications are forwarded to the Fulbright Commission (however, lower rated applications rarely receive much attention at the national level). Click here to obtain an idea of the types of questions your application should address and that may come up in an interview.

          Required information:

  1. A signed Scholarship Waiver (if not submitted since June -- either scanned or in hardcopy).
  2. 3 Letters of Recommendation, submitted online.
  3. A complete Fulbright Grant application, including: a) application form, b) statement of proposed study or research, c) personal statement, d) uploaded transcripts, e) foreign language report(s) (if required ), and f) any letter(s) of affiliation or acceptance for research or university coursework (not needed for ETA grants).

  4. Supplementary materials, only for candidates in the arts or creative writing. Four hard copies of supplementary materials are necessary, e.g. four CDs.

Final Submittal Deadline: October 8, 2014 at 5:00pm

The applicant must submit the complete Fulbright application electronically with any final revisions by this deadline. Arts candidates also need to upload their sample materials. Additionally (after your interview so recommenders have a chance to revise their letters based on any proposal changes), you will need to ensure that all letters of recommendation specifically tailored toward your application as a Fulbright Scholar are submitted online by this date. Note that references for English Teaching Assistantships require a different form than those for other research or study awards. Research or study grant letters should be written to the attention of the "Fulbright National Screening Committee".

An applicant pursuing a Fulbright grant to undertake research or coursework at an overseas university also must mail his/her admissions application to the university of choice by the admission deadline for that institution.

The Final Stages:

In late January, students are notified if their application has been recommended for forwarding by a national panel to the various in-country panels. Finalists also will be required to mail their official transcripts at that time. The in-country panels then review the finalist applications and further narrow the field. A select few countries conduct telephone interviews of finalists, usually by early April. The National and International Scholarships Program will coordinate mock telephone interviews for those students called to an interview. Students are announced as recipients, alternates, or nonawardees between March and June. Once a Fulbright is awarded, IIE will put recipients in touch with returning Fulbrighters upon request. Also, recipients may obtain copies of midterm and final reports of previous winners.

General Application Tips:




Recent Illinois Fulbright applicants share tips on applying.

Winning Fulbright applications from Illinois are available for viewing at the National and International Scholarships Program. You may also find some from other universities online.

Personal Statement: Your personal statement should be an intellectual biography. The instructions are not totally correct -- that is, they really are more interested in your intellectual development than in knowing that you are the 3rd child of divorced parents, UNLESS, of course, you are studying the affects of divorce on children. You should also demonstrate a clear commitment to and description of how you will engage with the host country community.

Research/Study Proposal: Approach your statement of proposed study/research like a newspaper article (answer: what, where, why, how). Create an introductory paragraph that briefly summarizes your proposal, and then go on to further explain. Do not use discipline jargon, as most reviewers will not be familiar with your area of study. For students who are just completing their undergraduate degree, many country Fulbright programs allow them to do coursework at a university with a smaller research component. In this case, your statement of proposed study/research should discuss the types of courses you would like to take and how this coursework fits in with your future plans. Those who are applying for teaching assistant positions should focus on portraying why they would like to undertake a teaching assignment (what you will gain from teaching and being in that country), experiences they've had relating to the overseas assignment they are seeking (how you will contribute), how they will use the experience upon returning to the U.S., and how they will spend their time abroad outside of the classroom. The last paragraph of all proposals should include the duration of your sojourn and date of departure.

Letters of Recommendation: Letters should focus more on addressing the applicant's proposal and less on past achievements. Letter writers should not use the online Fulbright system until after you have interviewed with the campus committee. Otherwise, they will not be able to make any changes to their letters. Once you have interviewed, your letter writers should then submit their letters, with any changes, on the Fulbright online system.

Letters of Affiliation: Use your current academic and professional contacts to assist you in finding an affiliate for your research project. A Worldwide Colleges and Universities database may also prove helpful. Contact the Scholarships Program for additional advice on locating potential affiliates.

Application Technical Details:

  • On page 1, if you are a new M.A. student in fall 2013, check "B.A." and not "M.A." Likewise, if you receive your M.A. between now and the application deadline and are continuing for a Ph.D., check "M.A." and not "Ph.D."

  • In Question 15A, regarding host country engagement, they are really looking for how you plan to meet people from your host country OUTSIDE of your project.
  • If you studied abroad previously, on page 2, include the institution(s) where you studied abroad. If your study abroad courses and grades are not listed on your U.S. transcripts, you need to obtain transcripts from the overseas institutions as well.

  • Letters of placement or affiliation should address the feasibility of your project and whether or not appropriate facilities are available.

  • The Foreign Language Report (page 8) should be completed if you need a foreign language to do your research (even if you are going to an English-speaking country).

  • For students applying in the arts, the supplementary materials are VITAL -- even more important than the paper application. Supplementary materials are the only items submitted in hardcopy and will only be returned if SASE is provided.

Fulbright Website and Application:

For official information on the Fulbright Grant (which supersedes any information provided here) and access to the online application, please go to: