Cultural Exchange Fulbright

The Cultural Exchange Fulbright is awarded for study or research abroad, and is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE) on behalf of the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Around 630 awards for 140 countries are offered each year. The awards are for both western and non-western countries.

IIE information on their programs, as well as on the countries or regions to which you may apply is available at the IIE website. Applicants to a given country or region will be considered for all awards to that country that are appropriate. The majority of Fulbright Grants will be reserved for advanced graduate students who, in most cases, will be engaged in research for the doctoral dissertation, but it is also the policy of the Board of Foreign Scholarships that awards be available to other graduate students, graduating seniors, and candidates who wish to further their careers in the creative and performing arts.



  1. Applicants must be US citizens.
  2.  Preference is given to candidates who have not had prior opportunity for extended study abroad (more than six months) subsequent to earning their BA degree. Candidates who have received the majority of their high school and undergraduate educations at institutions in the US will receive preference.
  3.  Applicants must hold a BA degree or the equivalent before the beginning date of the grant. Applicants may not hold a doctoral degree at the time of application. Holders of the MD degree or the JD degree are eligible for the IIE Fulbright.
  4.  Applicants must have sufficient proficiency in the written and spoken language of the host country.
  5. Candidates are to be in good health, with a Certificate of Health required from finalists.
  6. Strong preference is given to students who have not previously held a Fulbright grant. Students who held an English Teaching Assistantship may apply for a study/research grant, provided that two years have elapsed.

Tenure and Stipend

Most of the grants are awarded for programs of study or research that will require an academic year. However, where sufficient justification is provided (for very advanced predoctoral candidates and candidates in the creative arts), applicants may submit requests for grants of not less than six months. Grantees are usually affiliated with institutions of higher learning in the host countries. In most cases, graduate students are engaged in independent research, and are responsible for arranging their own institutional affiliations and especially their own contacts with individual scholars. Candidates should be prepared in their Fulbright applications to provide evidence of advisory arrangements with scholars in the host country. For further details on institutional options, see the individual Country Summaries

  1. Round-trip transportation to the host country
  2. Funding to cover room, board, and incidental costs, based on the cost of living in the host country
  3. Accident and sickness health benefits
  1. Book and research allowances*
  2.  Mid-term enrichment activities
  3.  Full or partial tuition
  4.  Language study programs
  5. Pre-departure and in-country orientations

* Grantees with projects that require extensive research support, in-country travel, study materials, or equipment should explore additional funding from other sources to supplement the Fulbright funding.

Please review the relevant Country Summary for specific details.

Procedure for Candidates in Applying

All currently enrolled GSAS students – whether in Cambridge or abroad and not in residence –must apply through the GSAS Fellowships Office Director, Cynthia Verba, as authorized Fulbright Program Advisor; this is the only correct way to submit. (Students in the Harvard professional schools apply through their own schools.)

The following steps should be taken for registered GSAS students:

  1. To obtain IIE information on IIE programs, as well as on the country or region to which you are applying, go to the IIE website.
  2. Create an online profile to begin the application process. When you get to the question of naming your institution, after clicking Harvard, be sure to answer the next option, which is Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which will then indicate your authorized Fulbright Program Advisor as Cynthia Verba (
  3. Observe that the deadline for GSAS students for submitting completed electronic applications is Tuesday, September 17, 2019. This is the only deadline that pertains to candidates; do not confuse it with the final deadline in October, when Cynthia Verba must submit all campus applications to the IIE.
  4.  Know that there will be an applicant interview for all enrolled applicants. This will like take place during the second half of September. The Fellowships Office will compile a list of applicants from the Fulbright application portal and contact students to schedule the interview.


Any student who has a significant problem meeting the campus deadline for any of the required items in the application should speak directly to Cynthia Verba. If recommendations or language reports are missing when the deadline has arrived, it is essential to meet the deadline with whatever materials you have and then submit the rest as soon as possible.


At-large applicants also apply online, but do not apply through the campus Fulbright representatives. The at-large option should be used by those unable for any reason to participate in the campus process. The at-large candidate must indicate in the online application that they are applying  at–large. They will then go into a separate application management system and must observe the indicated IIE deadline, typically in early October. In the past, at-large candidates have had a success rate that matches the campus pool results.

Application Materials:

The following materials are required for a complete Fulbright application:

  1. Application forms 1-5
  2.  A Foreign Language Report to be completed by a professional language teacher, or a professor who is fluent in the language. The only way you can use the same person for this Report and for a Reference letter is if the person can use a separate e-mail address for each.
  3.  Three references, to be uploaded by the referees
  4. A transcript from each institution attended
  5.  A letter of affiliation, required for many countries, and considered a good idea even if not required
  6. Applicants in the creative and performing arts are required to submit samples of their work.

Research Activities Involving Human Subjects

Research projects that deal with human subjects where there might be even a slight element of risk to the subjects must be reviewed by the Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects, the FAS Institutional Review Board (IRB). The review procedure is kept fairly simple and swift in borderline cases, which would probably apply to most student projects. Information about the committee, its fairly broad definition of “risk,” its meeting schedules, and the committee application form can be found on the IRB website

Selection Criteria

The following are the principal criteria used in judging applicants:

  1.  The applicant’s academic or professional record.
  2. The feasibility of the proposed study project. This takes into consideration: a) the level of the applicant’s training to do the project, and b) the resources of the host country or institution for doing the project. A discussion of resources should also emphasize why the project needs to be carried out in the country of application.
  3. The applicant’s personal qualifications, with special emphasis on maturity and adaptability to a different cultural environment and ability to represent the US abroad.

Stages in Selection and Notification

The IIE’s National Screening Committee, consisting of specialists in various fields, makes recommendations to the supervising agencies abroad for further review. Applicants will be notified of their status in the preliminary stage of the competition by January 30. Final selection of grantees is made by the Board of Foreign Scholarships. Winners will be notified sometime in late spring.

Current and Former Cultural Exchange Fulbright Recipients:
2018-19: Mo Torres, Fellow, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Commission (Brazil)
2014-15: Jessica Tollette, Fellow, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Commission (Spain)
2007-08: Alison Denton Jones, Fellow, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Commission (China)
2006-07: Lydia Bean, Fellow, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Commission (Canada)
2000-01: Daniyal Zubari, Fellow, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Commission (Canada)
1995-96: Karen Farquharson, Fellow, Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Fulbright Commission (South Africa)