The Fulbright Fellowship

UCI (Big 10 Pre-Application) Advising Deadline:

April 6, 2020 at 12:00 noon Pacific Time (U.S. & all other countries of citizenship) for Fall 2021 travel abroad

Access the Big 10 Pre-Application between late February – early April annually to begin the optional advising process.

For Reference Only: 2019 Application Process Overview


Established by Congress after World War II to promote international understanding, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a project-based scholarship that supports full-time study or professional experiences abroad after graduation. There are two main types of Fulbright scholarships:

  • Study/Research supports one academic year of specialized study, independent research, or creative arts project (available in approximately 140 countries).
  • English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs) support one academic year of teaching experience (available in approximately 80 countries).


Because the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered through the U.S. Department of State, the program is restricted to U.S. Citizens. You must finish your bachelor’s degree before travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. However, you do NOT need to have earned a bachelor’s degree by the time you apply.

Campus endorsement (nomination) is required for enrolled juniors, and optional for graduating seniors and recent alumni within 1 year of graduation. The typical applicant is an undergraduate junior, beginning the advising process one year before graduation. Seniors or alumni within 1 year of graduation are provided advising services on a space-available basis.

Please note that external scholarship agencies will consider all of your credit-bearing coursework from any college or institution as part of the review process (including CSU, community colleges, private colleges or other UC campuses/Extension programs, and including units earned while in high school). Grades from other colleges will be included in calculation of your overall GPA for eligibility purposes.

The scholarship does not stipulate a minimum GPA. However, to be competitive, SOP advisors recommend that applicants achieve at least a 3.5 GPA and demonstrate a strong record of experience related to the selected grant type and proposed project. Relevant qualifications may include 1 or more years of leadership or mentoring roles in academic, extracurricular, or service organizations; research experience or publications (especially for Study/Research); tutoring or teaching experience (especially for ETAs); arts exhibits or performances (especially for creative projects); and/or significant work experience/internships.

Study/Research applicants who plan to apply to a country where English is not the primary language should have sufficient proficiency in the local language to carry out their proposed study, and must submit a Foreign Language Evaluation confirming these skills. Some countries may establish higher levels of expected proficiency, which will be noted in the host country summary.

Odds of winning are improved by applying to countries with comparatively low ratios of applicants to slots; in particular, consider destinations other than the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

Individuals who have studied abroad in a university program are considered to be desirable candidates, but those who have lived or worked abroad (outside of formal study abroad programs) are encouraged to apply to a host country where they have not yet lived. Since Fulbright is an international exchange program, apply to a country where you would not yet be considered “a cultural insider.”

UCI graduate students: As our office supports undergraduates, please contact the Graduate Resource Center for graduate fellowship advising services.

UCI faculty: As our office supports undergraduates, we are not able to provide advising to Fulbright Scholar Program applicants. Please contact the Office of Global Engagement for assistance with international travel and collaborative agreements, and the Office of Research for grant-writing guidance.

International graduate students and researchers: Please contact your home country’s Foreign Fulbright Program administration for more information. Please note that our office does not provide advising to Foreign Fulbright applicants. The Office of Global Engagement may assist with letters of invitation for foreign students or researchers.

Application Process

To begin the SOP advising process,  complete a Big 10 Pre-Application. In April and May, SOP staff review Pre-Applications and meet with potential applicants to discuss their candidacy and subsequent steps.

SOP has limited advising capacity and prioritizes currently enrolled undergraduates and highly competitive candidates in our optional advising process. If you are a graduating senior and miss SOP’s Pre-Application deadline, or if it has been more than 1 year since your graduation from UCI, please apply directly to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

After completing the Pre-App and meeting with SOP staff to discuss your candidacy, you will work on drafts of your application and receive strategic coaching from SOP staff. The electronic application typically includes an application form, 3 letters of recommendation, transcripts, and 2 essays. Study/research candidates also submit a minimum of 1 letter of affiliation from their desired host university or organization. Creative and performing arts applicants also submit a supplementary materials portfolio in the form and genre they propose to study.

SOP staff will also provide guidance to your recommendation letter writers.

  • Study/Research grants require three letters of recommendation from individuals (especially professors or research mentors) who can confirm your strengths in your proposed field of study or research.
  • English Teaching Assistantships require three ETA reference forms from individuals who can confirm your abilities to teach, tutor, and/or mentor youth in the English language.

The UCI Fulbright committee will interview candidates in August to determine whether their applications have earned campus endorsement (nomination) and will offer feedback for refining the application. SOP staff and the office of the Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education will write comprehensive nomination letters for each endorsed candidate and will send your complete application materials (including reference letters) and the nomination letter to the Fulbright program in advance of the October national deadline.

Semi-finalists will be notified in early Winter Quarter, and winners are announced in Spring Quarter on a country-by-country basis.

Degrees Funded

English Teaching Assistantships support one academic year of teaching experience abroad, whereas Study/Research grants fund one academic year of  of graduate or specialized study, independent research, or creative arts project. Some Fulbright countries offer binational business internships, journalism & communications grants, science and public-health specific grants, or graduate degree awards. As these options frequently change, please see the field-specific awards list on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website for details.

Recent Recipients and Selection Procedures

As of 2019, UCI has had 67 undergraduate and recent alumni Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant recipients. Read about recent recipients and semi-finalists on our Fulbright Recipients page.

In 2018-19, Madeleine Hart and Joyce Nguy received Fulbright grants. No Semi-Finalists or Alternates were named.

In 2017-18, Julianna Cressman, Aya Labanieh, and Priya Sri-Tharan were named Semi-Finalists; Shashank  Somasundaram, Angela Romea, Sarah Shiori Mahoney, and Blaine Valencia were named Alternates (waitlisted); and Madeline Collins and Leanne Lupone received Fulbright grants.

In 2016-17, Tala Piriouzian and Tiffany Thompson were selected as Semi-Finalists; Joshua Cook was selected as an Alternate; and Alexander Alvara, Daniela Estrada, and Amy He received Fulbright grants.

In 2016, Christopher Galeano, Rosemary Gomez, Brennan Lagman, Ricardo Light, Paul Lowood, and Nayiri Partamian were selected as Semi-Finalists. Medha Asthana was selected as an Alternate. Tala Pirouzian was selected as a Finalist, but the host country program was cancelled due to political unrest. Sara Arellano, Emma Austin, Sunny Liu, and Stella Liu received Fulbright grants.

Fulbright U.S. Fulbright Program grant recipients have strong academic records, good language preparation for the country intended, and a feasible project plan. They make a persuasive case for why they would benefit from study in a particular country and/or at a particular university, and articulate a passion for positive cross-cultural exchange.

Semi-finalists will be notified in early Winter Quarter, and winners are announced in Spring Quarter on a country-by-country basis.

Total value of the award varies by country. Grants generally provide round-trip transportation, language or orientation courses (where appropriate), tuition, books, maintenance for the academic year based on living costs in the host country, and health and accident insurance. Specific information concerning finances for each country is described in the host country summary and/or posted on the local Fulbright Commission website.

Fulbrights are prestigious, career-enhancing awards. They also confer special status on winners during their year of foreign study, as outstanding, officially recognized representatives of their country. Famous Fulbright recipients include Thomas Pickering, John Lithgow, and Renee Fleming. At least 47 UCI faculty have also received Fulbright grants.

For More Information
Further information and applications are available on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website.

Access the Big 10 Pre-Application between late February – early April annually to begin the application process.

SOP is able to advise competitive undergraduate candidates at UC Irvine only.

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