fulbright application process

When I applied for my Fulbright grant last year, I found that while there were lots of blogs talking about the experiences of Fulbright scholars abroad, there was very little out there documenting the process of applying for, being notified about, and preparing for the grant. So over the next few months, I plan to use this blog to address some of those topics. (I’ve even created a new “Fulbright Process” category for the posts.)

First, a bit about what the Fulbright is. It’s a bit confusing, because there’s not one Fulbright program, there are many. The State Department has a site listing and describing them. For most US faculty, the Fulbright US Scholar program is what they’re talking about when they say they “got a Fulbright.” That program supports US scholars in doing research or teaching in other countries. For US students, it’s typically either the Fulbright US Student program (which supports studying in another country), or the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program (which sends recent grads to teach English abroad).

All of the US Fulbright programs are funded primarily by the Department of State, often with some support from the countries hosting scholars. So yes, my trip to Croatia is your (and my) tax dollars at work! Thanks!

As you might have gathered, what I applied for (and got) was a Fulbright US Scholar grant. That grant program, while funded by the State Dept, is administered by a non-profit organization called CIES. Their site is where the catalog of awards for US scholars, and the application materials, can be found. I applied through the “Core” scholar program, which is the largest of the programs. Each year, they publish a catalog of available awards, sorted by both country and specialty. Last year, there were up to six awards available for Croatia, although most were limited to specific disciplines. The awards can be research only, teaching only, or a mix; I applied for a teaching grant, because the non-teaching work I’ll be doing there (curriculum development) really falls under the larger teaching umbrella. (You can browse through the current catalog to see the range of opportunities available.)

The application deadline for these positions is typically August 1st of the year *preceding* your intended travel. So I had to have my application in by August 1st of 2013 for a 2014-15 academic year grant. Then, you wait. A pretty long time. Here’s what the timeline they provide on their website looks like:

Fulbright Timeline

There’s a lot of play in all of those segments, you might notice!

I’m sure it varies not only by year but also by discipline and region, but here’s how my timeline worked out:

  • August 1: Application submitted to CIES
  • December 6: Email from CIES notifying me that I’d made it through the peer review process, and my application had been forwarded to Croatia for final consideration.
  • April 21: Email notifying me of my selection as a Fulbright Scholar.
  • Mid-May: A handful of emails from CIES related to administrivia, and a “save the date” reminder of a mandatory pre-departure orientation meeting in DC in late July.
  • June 30: An avalanche of detailed information about the orientation, the mechanics of the grant, and Croatia itself.

At the end of July I’ll be attending the pre-departure orientation (PDO) in DC, where I’ll get more details, and meet CIES and Dept of State personnel as well as other scholars (both past and current). I’ll write up my experiences there after the event is over.


  1. I was interested in you Fullbright blog that I came across as new member of the expat blog. I wondered if there was any other programme that you might know of that applies to UK teachers in a similar way to teach in Croatia?

    Hope to hear from you .

    A. R-D

    • So sorry…this apparently got caught in my blog’s spam filter 🙁

      I’m not aware of specific UK-based fellowships for study or teaching abroad, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there 🙂

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