The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for recent graduates and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Applicants for Study/Research awards design their own academic projects and will typically work with advisers at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education. Study/Research supports one academic year (approximately 10 months) of specialized study, independent research, or a creative arts project. Your Study/Research Statement of Grant Purpose (project proposal essay) may include plans to undertake coursework, either as a non-degree student or as a first-year enrolled graduate student at a university in the host country. It will also likely include plans to respond to specific, clearly stated questions or knowledge gaps in your field of study by completing a well-defined and feasible academic or artistic project, similar to a thesis.
If your primary interest is in gaining hands-on work experience abroad, there are two alternative types of Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant which you might consider — the English Teaching Assistantship program, and the Binational Business Internship, detailed on our Postgraduate Internships page.
During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.
Placements are available in approximately 140 host countries in multiple world regions: East Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa, South and Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Western Hemisphere.
Unless otherwise stated in the host country summary, Study/Research candidates are required to affiliate (seek a formal mentoring relationship) with an academic or artistic mentor at a university or other organization (such as a research, cultural, or other nonprofit organization). Candidates who intend to perform academic research or conduct a creative arts project will need to identify at least one discipline-specific mentor with appropriate expertise. As part of the application process, you will be required to research such disciplinary experts in the host country in order to make contact with them independently. SOP staff provide strategic guidance and tips on establishing first contact with potential affiliates, but we do not maintain a list of potential affiliates or arrange affiliations on behalf of candidates. You will need to continue your dialogue with your affiliate over the summer to ensure that your affiliate has opportunities to offer significant input on the design of your Study/Research project proposal.
Candidates who plan to take coursework in the host country must affiliate with a university and satisfy any university-specific and academic department-specific requirements for graduate program admissions or non-degree course enrollment. You will work independently to research the available universities and correspond with their staff on any additional application materials that the university or department may require you to submit.
Fields of Study
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program places no limitations on your major or field of study. However, some countries give preference to majors in specific fields of study. Consult the host country summary to see whether there are stated preferences.
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.
To apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program through the SOP advising process, applicants must:
- Be undergraduate juniors (graduating next academic year), graduating seniors (graduating this academic year), or recent alumni (within 12 months of graduation).
- Be citizens or nationals of the United States of America at the time of application. Permanent residents are not eligible.
- Complete your undergraduate degree before travel (often, but not always, by the end of Summer Session I). Consult the host country summary for the program start date.
- Meet the language requirements of the award to which they are applying, demonstrated by submitting a Foreign Language Evaluation. Consult the host country summary for the language proficiency requirements.
- Demonstrate sufficient competency to complete their project and adjust to life in the host country.
For most programs, applicants who have had extensive, recent previous foreign experience in the host country are at a competitive disadvantage but are still eligible to apply. In some cases it may not be feasible for a dual national to participate in a Fulbright program in the country of his or her other nationality due to host country law or policy. However, enrollment in a formal study abroad program as an undergraduate will not be considered a disadvantage. Please see Eligibility, including the Ineligibility section, for details.
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.”
The scholarship does not stipulate a minimum GPA. However, to be competitive, SOP advisors recommend that Study/Research 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 research or creative and performing arts experience; evidence of exceptional achievements related to your course of study, such as publications, presentations, performances, exhibits, etc.; leadership roles in academic, extracurricular, or service organizations; and related work experience/internships.
Total value of the award varies by country. Grant benefits for all Fulbright U.S. Student grants include:
- round-trip transportation to the host country
- funding to cover room, board, and incidental costs, based on the cost of living in the host country
- Accident & Sickness Health Benefits
- 24/7 support line for urgent and non-urgent situations
- 12 months of non-competitive eligibility (NCE) hiring status within the federal government
In some countries, grants may also include:
- book and research allowances*
- mid-term enrichment activities
- full or partial tuition
- language study programs
- pre-departure and in-country orientations
Specific information concerning finances for each country is described in the host country summary and/or posted on the local Fulbright Commission website.
Recent Recipients, Finalists, & Semi-Finalists
As of 2020, UCI has had 68 undergraduate and recent alumni Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant recipients. Read about recent recipients and semi-finalists on our Recipients page.
- In 2020, Aditi Mayer (Literary Journalism, International Studies) received a Study/Research Grant to India and also became the first UCI recipient of the supplemental National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.
- In 2018, Madeline Collins (Korean Language and Culture) received a Study/Research grant to South Korea to support master’s level study at Yonsei University. Sarah Shiori Mahoney (Anthropology), Angela Romea (Anthropology), Shashank Somasundaram (Biological Sciences), and Blaine Valencia (Film & Media Studies) were named Alternates (waitlisted for funding). Julianna Cressman (Dance) and Aya Labanieh (French, Philosophy, Comparative Literature) were named Semi-Finalists.
- In 2017, Alexander Alvara (Aerospace Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Mechanical Engineering) received a Study/Research grant to Canada. Joshua Cook (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Chemistry) was named an Alternate (waitlisted for funding), and Tiffany Thompson (History) was named a Semi-Finalist.
- In 2016, Sara Arellano (Political Science) received a Study/Research grant to Colombia; Emma Austin (English) received a Study/Research University Master’s in Creative Process grant to Ireland; Sunny Yang Liu (Anthropology, International Studies, Public Health Sciences) received a Study/Research grant to Nigeria; and Stella Liu (International Studies) received a Study/Research Sustainable Design grant to Singapore. Medha Asthana (Anthropology, Business Administration) was named an Alternate (waitlisted for funding). Christopher Galeano (International Studies, Political Science, Sociology), Rosemary Gomez (Political Science; Criminology, Law & Society), Brennan Lagman (Social Ecology), Ricardo Light (Urban Studies), Paul Lowood (Economics, German Studies), and Nayiri Partamian (International Studies) were named Semi-Finalists.
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.
Approximately 950 Study/Research applicants receive a grant each year. Competitiveness varies significantly from host country to host country. Your odds of receiving a Study/Research grant 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.
UCI graduate students: As our office supports undergraduates, please contact the Graduate & Postdoctoral Scholar 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.