Use this checklist to prepare a competitive Fulbright-IIE application. Read the information before you start to help prompt your thinking and writing. It also will prompt additional questions for which you must find answers before you submit the application.  Finally, use the checklist to evaluate your application draft for completeness, clarity, and competitiveness. Did you…

  1. ___ Preview the Fulbright application and read the instructions at IIE’s website?
  2. ___ Identify tips for preparing a competitive application? Start here.
  3. ___ Find and read the tips provided by IIE-Fulbright?
  4. ___ Make a schedule that includes starting well before your institution’s internal deadline or, if you are no longer a student, the Fulbright deadline? Give yourself time to write and revise, to get feedback from advisors or previous Fulbrighters, and to get very strong letters of support.
  5. ___ Contact your campus Fulbright Program Advisor (FPA), if you are a current student? Institutions and contact names are listed on the Fulbright web site.
  6. ___ Make a list of all documents you need and begin to acquire them for your application?
  7. ___ Request reference letters from those who can comment on your project, skills, and qualities?
  8. ___ Request official transcripts from all your post-secondary (since high school) institutions so you can upload them with your application?
  9. ___ Get an affiliation letter (of invitation, acceptance, or support) from a scholar or institution in your host country?
  10. ___ Make sure the country you select is Fulbright-eligible? If not, contact the World Area Program Manager.
  11. ___ Make sure your project fits the program guidelines for your host country? (Review the Country Program Summary here.
  12. ___ Propose a project that can be completed in six to 12 months?
  13. ___ Determine if your project requires your school’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval? If so, did you indicate when you did/when you will receive IRB approval?

Writing Your Application: Did you…

  1. ___ Prepare a well-written, concise one-page personal essay that explains what you care about, why you want to do this project, and why you are the best person to be funded for this effort?
  2. ___ Write your proposal for a “brilliant but general” audience?
  3. ___ Include concise answers to the questions “Who? What? Where? Why? And When?” in the first paragraph or two?
  4. ___ Describe with whom you will work (and why) in your host country?
  5. ___ Justify the selection of this country and this location?
  6. ___ Describe clearly and succinctly what you will do in your project?
  7. ___ Describe your goals and methods or approach you will take in your project?
  8. ___ Link this project to your lager academic and professional goals? What will doing THIS project lead you to accomplish NEXT?
  9. ___ Make very clear your commitment to engaging and interacting with people and communities in your host country? (And HOW you will do this.)
  10. ___ Identify any cultural or political factors that could affect your project…and how you will address or manage these?
  11. ___ Explain why this is an important project? Why will other people think this is important?
  12. ___ Write responsibly by acknowledging or citing the ideas and work of others?
  13. ___ Include information about your comprehensive (generals, qualifying) exams and approval of your dissertation proposal (for doctoral students)? If you are in the arts, did you include work samples?
  14. ___ Indicate how your language skills are adequate for the requirements of your project?
  15. Find an appropriate evaluator of your language skills (a language professor at your or another school, for example)? If it is not a language professor completing the form (which may be the case for a “lesser taught” language), then explain why you are using a native speaker. 
  16. ___ Show how you are continuing to develop your language skills (if/as needed) to be ready for this project?
  17. ___ Address any weaknesses that a reader may find in your skills, language, readiness, or project feasibility?
  18. ___ Show that you have met/will meet any special visa or research clearance requirements?
  19. ___ Know that if you fail to meet visa or other requirements, you will not be able to select another country?
  20. ___ Select a multi-country project? If so, then did you follow all additional requirements?
  21. ___ Show how your project is a good match with the Fulbright and IIE missions of promoting cross-cultural interaction and understanding?
  22. ___ Include a reasonable timeline and schedule for your project?
  23. ___ Request strong letters of recommendation from three references?
  24. ___ Make your application a “good read?” (Good projects win.)

Polishing Your Application: Did you…

1. ___ Discuss your proposal with your advisor to get guidance, feedback on your draft, and a strong letter of support?

2. ___ Get feedback from someone familiar with your host country and from someone familiar with the Fulbright program?

3. ___ Give your application to a friend, another applicant, or a Fulbrighter and ask for feedback on the following:

a.   Can you find the purpose, goal, research question, or hypothesis of the proposed project fairly quickly? Is it clear and concise? Within the first paragraph or two of the Statement of Purpose, did you get a good understanding of what the author will do in the host country…and why?

b.   Did the author establish the importance of the project? Was it explicit?

c.   Did the author write for the intended audience? How can you tell? Did the author avoid jargon? Write clearly? Express ideas logically? Coherently? Overall, is this proposal clear? Is there anything you did not understand? Were there any questions about the proposed project that the author failed to answer? Were any points that need to be clarified or explained?

d.   Did the author convince you that he/she is capable of doing this project? Did you learn enough about the author’s previous experience, skills, commitment, and passion for this topic/project to convince you to give him/her funding?

e.   Did you easily find the place in the proposal that explains how this project is a good fit with the Fulbright mission of promoting cross-cultural interaction and understanding? How did the author explain how and really convince you rather than just telling you, “My project will promote cross-cultural interaction and understanding.”? 

4. ___ Make sure you followed instructions for length, font, margins, and what should appear on each line in the header.

For more information, please consult the IIE web site, your host country Program Officer, and, if you are a student, the Fulbright Coordinator at your home institution. Thank you to Kerry Gluckman, Fulbright Coordinator at Columbia University, for her feedback on this checklist and her guidance, wise counsel, and endless patience.
Sample Fulbright essays are posted on the Temple University Study Abroad web site here.