On Monday, we had a Fulbright session full of great information for students considering doing research abroad with the Fulbright program. Francisco Herrera, extramural funding advisor from Graduate Division, gave an overview of the Fulbright application process and shared this flyer which covers the basics of the Fulbright application (application components, deadlines, website, tips, etc.).
Courtney Gosnell, funding peer advisor, reminded students of the fellowship proposal library in the Graduate Student Resource Center and encouraged them to stop by to view successful Fulbright applications from previous years. These can be a great resource as you try to get an idea of what Fulbright is really looking for.
Finally, Dr. John Hajda (who has been involved with Fulbright and the faculty review committee here at UCSB for years) shared some great tips for writing successful Fulbright applications. Below we summarize some of the interesting information and advice he shared with students:
- Faculty Interviews: On-campus interviews for Fulbright typically involve three faculty members (usually not from your department) and last approximately 20 minutes. They will ask you to give a brief summary of your project (30 seconds to 1 minute) where you cover the "what, where, and why" and will then ask various questions. Some of these will focus on your project and what you plan to do while others may focus on your country of interest or other topics. They often make a point to ask challenging questions to see how you respond in difficult circumstances.
- Campus Committee Evaluations: The UCSB faculty committee will fill out an evaluation on you that speaks to your academic/professional qualifications, believability/feasibility of your project plan, language qualifications, maturity/motivation/adaptability, as well as the type of impression you would make as an ambassador of the U.S. They will give you a rating from 1 to 4 (1=exceptional, 4=do not recommend). You won't ever know what rating you received, but Dr. Hajda encouraged students not to stress too much about this (as most students who go through the process and put effort into their proposals will NOT receive 4s and the ratings only carry so much weight (since every university varies in how easily they give out high ratings)).
- Country of Interest: Knowledge of the host country you plan to go to is important in both your interview and application. Many applicants are up to date on current events in the country and have a true interest in and passion for that country. In your application, it also helps if you are hoping to establish life-long partnerships with the country (going back to conduct research there on a regular basis or establishing collaborators there).
- Framing your Writing: Keep in mind that many different individuals will be reading and reviewing your proposal so avoid discipline-specific jargon if possible and make sure your proposal is interesting and understandable to someone not in your field. Your application will be reviewed by a faculty committee at UCSB (most likely not from your department), a Fulbright committee that specializes in your country of interest (faculty from a variety of disciplines), as well as a screening committee in the host country (the make-up of this panel will vary but will likely include non-faculty members from the U.S. Embassy and others nominated by the host country (perhaps members of their Department of Education)).
- Personal Statement: Make sure your personal statement doesn't just speak to you as an individual, but also talks about the country and why you are passionate about that country in particular.
- Statement of Grant Purpose: Give your proposal a clear descriptive title (don't use the format of "vague phrase: what the proposal really is about"). Consider starting your proposal with a narrative or story or you can hit the reader with your primary research question up front (you'll notice different styles of opening if you read through some of the sample proposals). Make sure to have a very clear, well-thought out research plan (including information about contacts or collaborations you've made that will help you to execute the project).
- Ready to Apply? Check out the Fulbright application page for a lot of great information and to begin the application.
- Have Questions? Some of the Fulbright information, rules, benefits, etc. vary by country. Each region (representing several countries) has a program manager who is a great contact for specific questions about your country and the application process. If you have general questions about Fulbright or the application process at UCSB, you can contact Francisco Herrera at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to set up an appointment to view successful fellowship proposals or to learn more about finding other funding opportunities outside of Fulbright, you can contact funding peer advisor Courtney Gosnell at email@example.com.