FAQs for Students

Frequently Asked Questions

General Fulbright Program Questions

Refer to the information under "Important Deadlines & Timeline" tab here.

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; information about orientation programs are indicated in the Country Summaries.

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, 2022 for the 2021-2022 academic year. Research applicants are expected to provide a timeline for their project in the Statement of Grant Purpose.

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

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

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.

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.

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
  • Registered for at least six credits or the equivalent for both Fall 2020 and Spring 2021
  • Continuation into Fall 2021 (enrollment in at least five credits or the equivalent)

Enrollment during Summer 2021 is not required.

TC students who do not meet the enrolment requirement above (e.g. students graduating in Spring 2021) 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, May, and July 2021.

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


  • Enrollment in a degree program
  • Registration for at least six credits or the equivalent for both Fall 2020 and Spring 2021
  • Continuation into Fall 2021 (enrollment in at least six credits or the equivalent)

However, alumni 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

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-Fulbright alumni on strengthening your application

If you would like to apply through TC, submitting a "Preliminary Application" by the deadline of July 15, 2021, 5PM ET is mandatory, and you are highly encouraged to declare your "Intent to Apply" as early as possible ahead of the deadline of June 15, 2021, 5PM ET.


You must submit three letters of recommendation. The authors of these letters should be the three individuals who can best speak to your ability to carry out the project being proposed; they should discuss your intellectual and professional preparation, and 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.

If you’re applying for the Research Grant through TC as an internal applicant, at least two of your recommendation letters must be written by TC faculty members.

You should request your letters of recommendation at least four 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.

Language Proficiency Requirements

Yes, language proficiency is an advantage, especially if it is documented, even though this is sometimes not required.

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

  • 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 internal applicants applying through TC, OIA might be able to subsidize a portion of your test fees. More information on this will be provided to internal applicants at a later date.
  • Fulbright prefers that your foreign language evaluation be done by someone with a college education; even better if they have some sort of institutional title. 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 language departments directly to get names of an evaluator.

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; if your project instead involves interviewing locals, you would need a high level or fluency.

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