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Fulbright Season Is Here!

Learn more about international opportunities for graduate students through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

March 3, 2017

By Kay Ágoston, Director of Graduate Fellowships

Of all the grant and fellowship programs I advise Mason graduate students on, the most popular is without a doubt the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.  Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE), the Fulbright program is one of the premier nationally competitive awards available to U.S. students.  Originally created in the aftermath of World War II, the goal of the program is to promote mutual cultural understanding and academic exchange between the United States and the rest of the world by offering high-achieving students and recent graduates the opportunity to undertake a year-long experience abroad.  Each year the Fulbright U.S. Student Program sends approximately 1,900 students overseas – among them Mason students.

Maybe next year, you.

The application for the 2018 cycle of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program (for awards in the 2018-19 academic year) will open on April 3, 2017. In the coming weeks and months, Fulbright information sessions will be offered at both the Fairfax and Arlington campuses – more on that below.  If you’ve always wanted to learn more about Fulbright opportunities, now is the time!

Who May Apply?

Applicants to the Fulbright program must be U.S. citizens who hold a Bachelor’s degree (or will hold one by the start of the grant) but have not yet completed a Ph.D.  Candidates from all fields of study are eligible.  This covers everyone from graduating seniors and recent college graduates (who, for example, hope to spend a year overseas before continuing on to graduate study) to Ph.D. students working on dissertation research.  Master’s students are eligible, as are those who have completed a Master’s degree but hope to enrich their graduate education through a Fulbright experience.  Students and recent graduates in Law, Business, and the arts are also welcomed.

Where Can I Go and What Can I Do?

The starting point for graduate students thinking about Fulbright is to decide what country you want to go to, and what you want to do there.  A large number of countries around the world participate in the Fulbright program.  You can see a list here. You may only apply to one country in a given year.

As for what you can do, there are three basic types of Fulbright grant:

  • Research/Independent Study/Arts grants support the awardee for one academic year of independent overseas research or study. The applicant must propose a project and a plan for completing it during the period of the grant. The project may consist of field research for a master’s or doctoral thesis, but it can also simply be an independent project unconnected to a degree program. Students in creative arts fields may propose an independent Arts project. Research/Study and Arts applicants must have a well developed project idea and the necessary contacts and skills (including language skills) to independently carry out the project.
  • English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) grants support to the awardee to spend one academic year working as an assistant instructor in at ESL/EFL classroom in the host country. ETA applicants must demonstrate a genuine interest in teaching and/or mentoring youth, and the capacity to serve as a good assistant language instructor and representative of the United States abroad.
  • Fulbright-Clinton Public Policy Fellowships offer an 8-10 month work placement inside a foreign government ministry in a participating country. This program is open only to students who will have completed a Master’s-level degree (or be enrolled in a doctoral program) by the start of the award, and who have policy-relevant academic and professional experience.

In addition to the grants described above, some countries offer specialized grants that are specific to that country. You can learn about these by reading the country profiles on the Fulbright web site.

Bear in mind that not every country has a Fulbright program, and not every country offers every type of grant. Calendars and requirements (including language requirements) may also vary from one country to the next.

Thinking of Applying?  Want to Learn More?

If you are interested in learning more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the first step is to attend an information session.  Information sessions will be offered throughout the fall and spring on both the Fairfax and Arlington campuses, and are open to all Mason students.  The session provides important information about Fulbright opportunities, as well as a detailed explanation of the application process and next steps.  Presently the following information sessions are scheduled:

At the Fairfax Campus
Friday, March 31, 12-1 pm, JC Meeting Room C
Monday, April 3, 3-4 pm, JC Meeting Room C
Tuesday, April 4, 12-1 pm, JC Meeting Room C
Monday, April 10, 12-1 pm JC Meeting Room C
Tuesday, April 18, 3-4 pm, JC Meeting Room B
Wednesday, April 26, 5:30-6:30 pm, JC Meeting Room B

At the Arlington Campus
Wednesday, March 29, 3-4 pm, Founders Hall 716
Wednesday, March 29, 6-7 pm, Founders Hall 118
Wednesday, April 12, 6-7 pm, Founders Hall 118
Wednesday May 3, 2-3 pm, Founders Hall 118
Wednesday, May 3, 6-7 pm, Founders Hall 118

Any additional sessions will be announced at the Graduate Fellowships web site under “Upcoming Events.”

Fulbright applications are due early in the fall semester:  After the competition opens on April 3, the first major deadline will be September 15, 2017, when completed application files must be submitted for university endorsement.  The application is time consuming, and the summer months are therefore the most important time for crafting application essays and gathering required documents.

The Office of Graduate Fellowships provides extensive support and advising services for Mason graduate student Fulbright applicants.  Our goal is to help you navigate the application process successfully and put forward your strongest possible application.  We look forward to seeing you at an info session this spring!

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