Everything you want to know about “Fulbright”

What is it? How can you apply? What are the requirements? And many more…

Many people, including myself, had these questions in mind the first time I heard about THE Fulbright scholarship. My jaw dropped when I knew what it is and what it offers. Therefore, I want to share this with you as a personal perspective and as a Fulbright scholar pursuing a master’s degree in the US.

First things first, #Fulbright is a prestigious fully-funded scholarship offered by the home country government in partnership with the United States. The goal is to send scholars and students in Masters and Ph.D. degrees to study in US universities for 2 years (Masters) or conduct 12 months of doctoral research.

Zahra Ketoun, Moroccan Fulbright grantee, Rochester Institute of Technology, MA in Deaf Education

How you can apply?

Before the selection:

Before taking any test, write or request anything, decide which field you want to pursue your Masters in. This will help you find US universities that align well with your goals and what you want to learn and achieve.

I’ve seen people who want to apply for Fulbright, and they want to pursue a master’s, but when it comes to what they want to study, they are clueless or in the broad prospect. Let me tell you this:

You know yourself better than anyone else, you know your skills and limitations; hence, figure out what you want to do before applying to Fulbright. Being all over the place will be against you in the process of the application and interview, so be careful!

Anyways, as a candidate, you are required to:

  • Find US universities that align with what you want to study.
  • Take the GRE and TOEFL and get good scores depending on your field of study and the universities requirements (always try to score a little bit higher than what is required as a safety procedure)
  • Write your personal statement and study objectives; this should be well written and concise.
  • Request 3 letters of recommendation; two/three from your professors and/or one from your employer if that applies.
  • Start the online application; you will have the option to save and come back later and make sure to complete the application form, review it, and submit it before the due date.
  • Now you will wait for the email!

You are selected for the interview:

You will receive an email saying that you are invited for an interview.

The Commission will set up a time and a date that you have to agree to.

They will ask you some questions, and you will have to answer to every single one of them. I don’t want to make this blog a very long one; therefore, if you are curious about how the interview looks like, then wait a little bit for my other blog coming out soon.

Welcome to Fulbright but you are not done yet:

Congratulations on your selection!! YAAY! Now, you are a Fulbright Nominee!

You will receive an email from the embassy or Commission in your home country with an official letter stating whether you are accepted or not.

If you are admitted, then you will read in the letter either an official nominee or an alternate nominee. DON’T panic if you are an alternate nominee, I was an alternate nominee, and I can explain.

An official nominee means that this person secured their place as a nominee and can go ahead and start the university applications with the guidance of their advisor assigned by the commission/embassy; these candidates’ funding is available and secure.

An alternate nominee means that you are accepted as a nominee, but if funding is available. You will be able to apply for universities the same as an official nominee, but funding is not guaranteed. However, Fulbright makes sure everyone selected gets the chance to study in the US by negotiating with universities to lower their fees or offer a partial scholarship and so on. What you will keep in mind is that if you receive such a letter, please accept the nomination and start your university applications. You never know!

This is an example of the first paragraph that you will read in the email:

“The Selection Committee of the Commission has reached its decisions on the applicants for entrance to American universities in the fall of 2018, and we have recommended that you be named an alternate nominee. This decision indicates that the Committee believes that you merit the opportunity to undertake the study program for which you applied only if our budgetary circumstances permit. Although we cannot guarantee financial support now, we strongly suggest that you proceed with the steps leading toward admission to American universities. In that way, if and when we learn that the Commission can offer you a grant for this cycle, you will be ready to take advantage of it. You need to begin by advising us at the Commission as soon as possible, in writing, whether you wish to accept your nomination as an alternate or not.”

What does this scholarship offer you?

  • It is FULLY FUNDED; this means that you will pay NOTHING. However, this applies after getting through the interview and be selected.
  • If your GRE and TOEFL are not good and you were selected, then you will have a chance to pass them again for free to increase your scores.
  • Transportation from your home country to the US at the start of your program and from the US to your home country after graduation is all covered under Fulbright.
  • Monthly stipend depends on where you will be living in the US but don’t worry about this because Fulbright makes sure you are living comfortably so you can focus on your education.
  • Books allowance each semester to buy your books.
  • Health insurance; Basic health insurance (it does not cover vision tests or dental issues but it is more than enough)

NEXT?

Now, you will contact your Fulbright advisor and set up a meeting to know each other and discuss the online applications and your questions regarding the applications.

You will then start applying for those universities you selected when you first applied. Typically the maximum is 4 universities but may vary depending on your field of study.

My field of study was Deaf education, so it wasn’t effortless for me to select a university that aligns well with my goals. Hence, I applied to 2 universities in the beginning and added one more at the end later on as a safety measure in case those 2 universities rejected my application.

So, it depends on your field of study! Just make sure to communicate with your Fulbright advisor, and all will be fine.

Now, you will submit those applications and wait…. (you might wait longer depends on each university)

You got an offer!

Your Fulbright advisor will contact you with an offer from a US university that typically accepted your application. You will be asked to accept or deny the offer.

To be honest, the first offer you will get is the one that you will accept. Simply because you were waiting for months for the good news, and you don’t want to reject it and regret it later on as nothing guarantees that the next university will accept you.

Once you accept the offer, WELCOME to the Fulbright Family!!

Now, You will:

  • Have to send any documents that your advisor requests
  • Be assigned an academic advisor in your department
  • Sign a lot of papers
  • Apply for your visa and once you get it
  • Book your flight and start your journey!!

WHOOOOH! That was long, tiring, and overwhelming, right?

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” -Pele

Keep this in mind and: good luck