FAQs for Students

Frequently Asked Questions


  • Watch tutorial videos and webinars to learn more about each award type.
  • Complete an award search to narrow down opportunities by educational background, grant type, and world area.

(Info from: https://us.fulbrightonline.org/applicants/getting-started)

The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S.   Typically, successful grant recipients have some prior teaching experience.

The quality and feasibility of your Statement of Grant Purpose are very important in the selection process for the ETA award. Your proposal should clearly describe what you will be able to bring to the classroom in the host country, as well as explain any ideas you have on how to reach students coming from a different pedagogical tradition.

The quality and feasibility of your Statement of Grant Purpose are very important in the selection process for the Research Grant. Your proposal should show the selection committee that you have the qualifications to successfully execute the project.

IIE defines dependent as (1) a spouse, or (2) a relative (child, parent, sibling) who is financially dependent on the grantee. The dependent must accompany the grantee abroad for at least 80% of the grant period in order to receive the dependent benefit. In some countries, a modest dependent’s allowance may be available. Transportation and insurance are not provided for dependents.

Grantees must provide evidence that health insurance, including emergency medical evacuation, has been obtained for their accompanying dependents. Grantees who plan to take dependents must, as a condition of the grant, submit a statement of their ability to finance transportation and, if necessary, maintenance support for them.

Dependent support varies by country and may not be available in your target country. Please check the specific requirements for your target country for more information.

Your recommenders should be people who can best speak to your ability to carry out your proposed project. Your recommendations should discuss your intellectual and professional preparedness as well as your ability to represent the U.S. abroad. The recommendation letter should NOT simply be a character reference, as this will be of no value in assessing your ability to complete the proposed project. You should request your letters of recommendation at least 6 weeks before your target deadline -- either the TC institutional deadline if you're applying internally or the national deadline if you're applying at-large.

You must submit three (3) letters of recommendation. If you’re applying for the research Fulbright as an internal TC applicant, at least two (2) of your recommendation letters must be written by TC faculty members, adjuncts, and lecturers.

The Fulbright Program requires a complete academic record of your higher education. You must provide transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions from which you received degrees. Transcripts must also be submitted from other institutions where you studied and received credit for coursework. You may submit documentation of certificates (i․e․ non-degree programs) only if relevant to your Fulbright Grant Purpose․ However, do not submit extraneous documents as they will not enhance your application․

Applicants who fail to submit required transcripts will be considered ineligible.

  • You must upload one unofficial academic transcript from each post-secondary institution from which you received (or expect to receive) a degree. Additional transcripts should be uploaded for coursework and grades not reflected on degree-granting transcripts.
  • Make sure that the document that you submit clearly shows your name, the name of the institution, and appears as an academic record that is organized chronologically--with course dates, titles, credits and grades. Screenshots of online academic portals (e.g. a course schedule) will NOT be accepted.
  • Graduate-level students who do not include undergraduate transcripts will be considered ineligible.
  • Consult the transcript and upload instructions page for more detailed information.


Timeline and Deadlines

In most cases, programs last 8-10 months and must correspond to the academic calendar of the host country. Exceptions may be made for grants with full-time research projects.

Departure dates correspond to the academic calendar of the host country. Approximate dates of the academic years in the various countries can be found in the country summaries. Please take note of required orientation programs in the host country, which is also included on the country summaries page.

In most cases, award dates must correspond to the academic calendar of the host country. Exceptions may be made for grants with full-time research projects. In any case, grants must begin by March 31, 2024 for the 2023-2024 academic year. Research applicants are expected to provide a timeline for their project in the Statement of Grant Purpose.

Applying through TC

No, you do not have to be a full-time student to apply through TC as an internal applicant. 

However, students who wish to apply through TC as internal applicants must be:

  • Enrolled in a degree program; and
  • Registered for at least five credits or the equivalent for both Fall 2021 and Spring 2022

Enrollment during Summer 2022 is not required.

TC students who do not meet the above enrollment requirements (e.g. students commencing their degree program in Spring 2022) are welcome to apply as at-large candidates. A list of resources for putting together your applications can be found under the "Application Components & Resources" tab here. You are also welcome to attend the webinar sessions in March, April, and July 2022.


At this time, only current students who meet the following requirements can apply through TC:

  • Enrollment in a degree program
  • Registration for at least five credits or the equivalent for both Fall 2021 and Spring 2022

TC students graduating in Spring 2022 or Summer 2022 can apply through TC. Alumni who have graduated in Fall 2021 or earlier are welcome to apply as at-large candidates. Alumni can also explore options for applying internally through their undergraduate or previous graduate institutions.

A list of resources for putting together your applications can be found under the "Application Components & Resources" tab here


Advantages of applying through TC as an internal applicant are:

  • The possibility of receiving institutional endorsement, subject to the recommendation of the Faculty Review Committee
  • The likelihood of submitting a stronger application as you will receive feedback from the Office of International Affairs (OIA) and the Faculty Review Committee
  • The opportunity to receive guidance from TC/CU Fulbright alumni on strengthening your application

The Intent to Apply form is optional and is intended for TC students who would like OIA’s support with their application at an earlier stage.


The Preliminary Application (and the Faculty Endorsment) forms are mandatory only if you want to apply as an internal candidate through the College.

The Intent to Apply and the Preliminary Application are both closed for the 2023-2024 award cycle. Please check back in Spring 2023 for links to the form for the 2024-2025 award cycle.

Language Proficiency Requirements

Although it is sometimes not required, language proficiency is an advantage, especially if it is documented. 

Even if a country indicates that English will be sufficient for carrying out the proposed project, for purposes of community engagement, you should have at least a basic level of language skill prior to leaving the U.S. for the host country. If you have little or no knowledge of the language, in your application you may discuss your plans to study the language prior to beginning a grant. 

For programs where language skills are “recommended” or “not required”, if you possess some language skills relevant to the host country, you should submit both a Language Self Evaluation and a Foreign Language Evaluation Form.

  • Check the award catalogue for your country of interest. To be competitive, assume that language proficiency is a requirement.
  • To support the goal of cultural exchange, you should be able to demonstrate at least hospitality level language skills.
  • If you have yet to reach that level, be sure to include a study plan to satisfy this requirement in your application.
  • If you have previously learned a language and find that having official documentation of your attained proficiency level would strengthen your application, you may consider taking a recognized Foreign Language Proficiency Test (e.g. DELF/DAEL/JLPT).

For programs where language skills are required, you must submit both a Language Self Evaluation and a Foreign Language Evaluation Form.

  • Fulbright prefers that your Foreign Language Evaluation Form be completed by a professional language teacher, preferably a university professor. Columbia University language departments usually have one professor that will do Fulbright language evaluations.
  • If you do not have someone yet in mind to do your evaluation, please contact the CU language departments directly to request names of possible evaluators.
  • You could also source for a foreign language instructor on language instruction platforms (e.g. iTalki) and seek their expertise in evaluating your language proficiency.
  • If the language is not commonly taught and a professional language teacher is not readily available, you can use a college-educated native-speaker.

If you are applying for a research grant, you should aim for the language level required to successfully carry out your proposed project. For example, if you’re doing bench research at university, it may be acceptable to apply with a beginner level. However, if your project involves interviewing locals, you would need a higher level or even fluency.

Host Country

Review the country pages and English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) pages for the number of awards, foreign language requirements, host affiliation requirements and preferred disciplines (for Research Award), and placement type and locations (for ETA) for each hosting country. Please check to confirm that your country of interest offers your desired award type (ETA or Research Award) for the upcoming cycle. The country-specific requirements vary every year, so it is crucial that you meet the requirements of your desired host country.

For the updated country-specific information for the 2023-2024 award cycle, please refer to the sites above in late Spring 2022.


You can review the award search, which allows you to narrow down opportunities by educational background, grant type, and world area. 

You can consider shortlisting potential host countries based on the factors below:

  • These countries offer resources that can support your proposed research project (Research award only).
  • You are proficient in the national languages of these countries.
  • You are familiar with the cultural, historical, and political contexts of these countries.



For most programs, although they are still eligible to apply, applicants who have had extensive, recent experience in the host country are at a competitive disadvantage. 

Candidates who have not resided or studied in the host country for more than six months, not counting undergraduate study abroad, are preferred.


Host Affiliation (Research Grant Only)

Affiliation arrangements vary by country and may not be required at the time of application. Carefully review the affiliation information provided in the award summary for your host country. All academic grantees must have an affiliation in the host country.

Countries differ in the kinds of host affiliations that are acceptable. Examples of affiliations include universities, laboratories, libraries, non-governmental organizations, and so on. Pay special attention to the requirements, as some countries may require recipients to attend classes and/or affiliate with academic institutions.

(Info from: https://us.fulbrightonline.org/applicants/application-components/academic)

We are unable to suggest potential host organizations, facilitate connections or help applicants secure host affiliation letters. It is your responsibility to identify, contact, and secure a letter from a host institution. 

Obtaining an affiliation letter from overseas can be a time-consuming process, especially over the summer months as many contacts may be unreachable or slow to respond. We encourage applicants to begin networking and contacting potential host institutions at least six (6) months before the national deadline. The process can require a series of email exchanges and Zoom meetings before you’re able to receive verbal confirmation of support and then eventually the host affiliation letter.

Here are some suggestions on how to kick-start this process:

  • Academic Networking: Consult with your advisor, instructors, academic mentors and/or international students who have ties to your target country to see if they can connect you with relevant faculty or experts. It may also be helpful to engage with your undergraduate network if you're a recent graduate. Don't be afraid to share your project ideas or even a brief summary of your Statement of Grant Purporse. The more serious you are about applying, the more likely it is that you'll get a positive response.
  • Fulbright Alumni: Search the Fulbright grantee directory (Note: The Fulbright grantee directory lists all TC and CU grantees under "Columbia University”) and reach out to Columbia University (CU) grantees who have been to your target country; ask them for more information about their process and if they would be willing to connect you with their local contacts. From our experience, Fulbright alumni are very open to sharing their experiences and resources. Similiarly, we encourage you to reach out to visiting Fulbright professors in the U.S. or U.S. Fulbright Scholars who received grants to your host country. Directories are available here.
  • Google: Conduct Internet searches of faculty at potential host institutions with shared research interests, or organizations in the host country that work with issues related to your topic. Attend virtual events (e.g. panels, workshops, lectures, etc.) organized by these organizations and/or featuring prospective host faculty. When reaching out to a prospective host, your experience or takeaways from the event can serve as a natural conversation starter.

No, you do not need to be previously affiliated with the individual/institution in your host country. The affiliation letter should come from the individual/institution with whom you are proposing to work with on your current application.

After identifying the appropriate host institution and the individual at that institution best suited to serve as an adviser for the proposed project, contact the potential adviser to determine if they are willing to write an affiliation letter. Before requesting the letter, you should provide the author with a copy of the Statement of Grant Purpose. The affiliation letter should indicate the author’s willingness to work with you on the intended project and it should speak to the feasibility and validity of what is being proposed. The letter should also indicate any additional resources or contacts that the adviser can provide to support the work.

Scanned versions of the original hard-copy letters with hand-written signatures should be uploaded into the application. Letter writers can either send the original hard-copy letters or electronic copies to the applicants.

Since affiliation letters are not confidential, you will upload the letter yourself into the online application system. Affiliation letters written in a foreign language must be translated into English and both the original letters and the English-language translations must be uploaded into the application. An ‘official’ translation of the letter is not required.

Instructions on uploading letters of affiliation are available in the Fulbright online application system. IIE will NOT accept any affiliation letters via email or fax.

The letter should adhere to the proper format as follows:

  • The affiliation letter must be printed on institutional letterhead and must be signed by the author.
  • Copies of email correspondence will not be accepted.
  • Do not upload any documents other than a letter of affiliation to this field of the online application.

(Info from: https://us.fulbrightonline.org/applicants/application-components/academic)

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